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Chinese President Xi Jinping and Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang at the Presidential Palace, Hanoi, Vietnam, Nov. 6, 2015 (AP photo by Na Son Nguyen).

China’s Charm Offensive Isn’t Defusing Tensions in the South China Sea

Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series on the South China Sea territorial disputes and the various claimant countries' approaches to addressing them.

When Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Hanoi early last month, he did so with understandable fanfare and scrutiny. His was the first visit to Vietnam by a Chinese president in a decade. It came just weeks before the annual ASEAN and East Asia Summits, and only a few months ahead of the Vietnamese Communist Party congress to be held in early 2016. Given the timing, observers in China and Vietnam, as well as abroad, assumed that Xi hoped to return the bilateral relationship to a more even keel after it was driven to its lowest level in years following the May 2014 deployment of a Chinese oil rig in disputed waters and subsequent rioting against factories in Vietnam, which were wrongly believed to be Chinese-owned. ...

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