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China Cancels Vietnam Meeting Over South China Sea Spat

China Cancels Vietnam Meeting Over South China Sea SpatChina Cancels Vietnam Meeting Over South China Sea Spat

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi canceled a scheduled one-on-one meeting with his Vietnamese counterpart in Manila at the last minute on Monday due to a spat over the South China Sea, according to people familiar with the situation.

China was upset over the wording of a communiqué released by foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations on Sunday night that expressed concern over land reclamation on disputed islands, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the information isn’t public. China saw Vietnam as pushing for that language to be included in the statement, they said, Bloomberg reported.

The statement said that some of ASEAN’s 10 foreign ministers expressed concern “on the land reclamations and activities in the area, which have eroded trust and confidence, increased tensions and may undermine peace, security and stability in the region.” Vietnam Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh is among top diplomats from more than 20 countries attending meetings in Manila this week.

A spokesman with the Chinese delegation suggested that the one-on-one meeting wasn’t the only opportunity where the ministers could’ve had discussions. The two participated in other multilateral meetings in Manila, including one between China and the 10 ASEAN ministers.

“The two have already met,” said the spokesman, without making further comment. Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry didn’t immediately respond to faxed questions about the meeting.

Tensions between China and Vietnam have increased in recent months over disputed territory in areas of the South China Sea that are rich in oil and gas. In June, a Spanish oil company reportedly stopped drilling off Vietnam’s coast after threats from China.

 

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