Based on the 1993 agreement on basic principles guiding the settlement of territorial border issues between the two countries, the two sides have agreed that resolving maritime issues should abide by six basic principles.
An agreement on these six principles was signed between Vietnam and China in Beijing on October 11, 2011.
Under the agreement, the relationship between the two countries should follow the motto “Friendly neighbourliness, comprehensive co-operation, long-term stability and looking towards the future” and the spirit of “Good neighbours, good friends, good comrades and good partners” while handling maritime issues through negotiations and friendly consultations.
Both countries should attempt to find basic long-term solutions for settling disputes related to maritime issues based on respect for legal evidence and other relevant factors such as the history and stance of each side, according to the agreement.
During the process of negotiating maritime issues, both sides should abide by agreements and the consensus reached by the senior leaders of the two countries and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties on the East Sea (DOC). While resolving maritime disputes involving other countries, both sides should also consult with those countries, the agreement says.
It also states that, while looking for a basic, long-term approach for settling maritime issues in the spirit of mutual respect and equal and mutually beneficial treatment, both sides should discuss interim and temporary solutions, including research and negotiations on joint development in the sea, without impacting each side's stance or policies.
The two sides should address maritime issues incrementally and speed up the demarcation of territorial waters off the Tonkin Gulf, in addition to discussing co-operation in developing these waters. Both sides should also foster co-operation in less sensitive fields including marine environmental protection, sea science research, search and rescue operations and natural disaster mitigation and prevention.
The agreement also noted that the two sides should alternately hold biannual meetings between the heads of Government-level border negotiation delegations and extraordinary meetings if necessary. The two sides have also agreed to establish a direct hotline between the government-level delegations to help with the timely resolution of maritime issues.