China and Vietnam agreed on Wednesday to set up a hotline to resolve fishing incidents in disputed South China Sea waters that have been a frequent source of tensions between the two ideological allies.
China claims virtually the entire South China Sea and its island groups, while Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries claim some areas. The islands sit amid some of the world’s busiest commercial sea lanes, along with rich fishing grounds and potential oil and gas deposits.
Last month, Vietnam accused China of damaging a fishing boat that it said was operating in Vietnamese waters, risking the lives of 15 crew members. China said the Vietnamese fishing boat was fishing illegally around islands in Chinese waters.
The countries also signed nine other agreements Wednesday during a ceremony witnessed by Chinese President Xi Jinping and Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang, including one strengthening strategic cooperation and another on Chinese banks providing low-interest loans to Vietnamese companies.
Sang also held talks with Xi during his three-day visit aimed at boosting economic ties with China, Vietnam’s communist ally and biggest trading partner. It was their first meeting since Xi became president in March.