March 1, 2016 / 3:32 AM / 2 years ago

China's Xi says shares 'common destiny' with Vietnam, looks to repair ties

China's President Xi Jinping arrives at Orly airport, outside Paris, France, November 29, 2015 ahead of the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) held in Le Bourget, near Paris. REUTERS/Yoan Valat/Pool

BEIJING (Reuters) - China and Vietnam share a “common destiny”, Chinese President Xi Jinping told a visiting Vietnamese envoy, as the two continue to repair ties damaged by their competing claims in the disputed South China Sea.

The two communist-led states claims in the South China Sea came to a head in 2014 when Beijing parked an oil rig in waters off the Vietnamese coast, leading to anti-China riots.

Since then they have exchanged high-level visits, including a trip by Xi to Hanoi last year.

“China and Vietnam share a common destiny, so do the Communist Party of China and the Communist Party of Vietnam,” Xi told Hoang Binh Quan, a special envoy of Vietnam’s communist party chief Nguyen Phu Trong, state news agency Xinhua said late on Monday.

“Developing bilateral ties conforms to the fundamental interests of the two countries and their people,” Xi added.

Last month, tensions heightened between the two nations over territorial sovereignty in the South China Sea after Taiwan and U.S. officials said Beijing had placed surface-to-air missiles on Woody Island, part of the Paracel archipelago which China controls.

Vietnam called China’s actions a serious infringement of its sovereignty over the Paracels.

Xi also called for the proper handling of differences between the two nations in order for their “comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership to develop in a sustained, healthy and steady way”.

Xi added that China was willing to work with Vietnam to maintain the frequency of high-level visits and to carry on the two countries’ important tradition of the party chiefs sending special envoys to communicate with each other.

Reporting by Jessica Macy Yu; Editing by Ben Blanchard and Joseph Radford

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