China and Vietnam should promote the sound and stable development of their relationship, Chinese Ambassador to Vietnam Xiong Bo has said.

Xiong made the remarks in a recent interview prior to the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two neighbouring countries.

On January 18, 1950, the newly-born People’s Republic of China (PRC) became the first country in the world to establish diplomatic ties with Vietnam, Xiong said.

“Over the past 70 years, despite wind and rain, the China-Vietnam relationship has grown mature, where friendship and cooperation have remained the mainstay,” he said.

The “special friendship defined by comradeship and brotherhood”, which is forged by older-generation leaders of the two countries, are valuable assets for bilateral relations and should always be cherished, the Chinese ambassador said.

Next month, the Communist Party of Vietnam will celebrate its 90th anniversary, with it being 90 years since the parties of China and Vietnam started friendly exchanges, Xiong said.

President Ho Chi Minh established Vietnam’s communist party in Hong Kong, undertaking revolutionary activities in China for 12 years and forging deep friendships with the older generation of Chinese leaders, he said.

From the Ho Chi Minh sea trail to the site of the Vietnam Revolutionary Youth League in Guangdong, and the 40 cemeteries across Vietnam where 1,446 Chinese martyrs who fought with Vietnamese people against the U.S. invasion are buried, there are many historic examples of the China-Vietnam friendship, he said.

“The traditional friendship forged and fostered by the older-generation leaders of the two parties and two countries is a precious treasure of the China-Vietnam relationship, and is worth cherishing and remembering forever”

Despite twists and turns, the communist parties of China and Vietnam, facing a complex and daunting international situation in the 1990s, decided to strengthen their relationship and open a new chapter for its development, he said.

Since the normalisation of the China-Vietnam relationship in 1991, both sides have upheld the principles of “long-term stability, future orientation, good-neighbourly friendship and all-round cooperation,” seeing each other as a “good neighbour, good friend, good comrade and good partner,” Xiong said.

“Owing to the strategic planning and personal guidance of the top leaders of the two countries, the China-Vietnam relationship has moved in the right direction in recent years … and achieved new results,” he said.

Xiong said the two countries have maintained close high-level exchanges and communication, while their economic and trade ties are growing closer.

For years, China has been Vietnam’s largest trading partner and largest source of foreign visitors, while Vietnam remains China’s largest trading partner in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the eighth largest worldwide, he said, adding that overseas visits to Vietnam exceeded 18 million, with around one third from China.

“For 20 years, we jointly built a peaceful and harmonious border of friendly cooperation and brought important benefits to the two peoples,” Xiong said.

“On top of that, people-to-people exchanges and mutual understanding between the two countries have also deepened,” he said.

Noting booming exchange of visits between the two countries, he added that friendly exchange activities like the China-Vietnam People’s Forum and Youth Festival have also played a positive role in strengthening people-to-people ties.

“The journey of the China-Vietnam relationship over the past 70 years has offered many important inspirations to both sides,” Xiong said, adding that the destinies of the two parties and the two countries have always been closely entwined, influencing and reinforcing each other.

“Our inter-party and inter-state relationship resembles a community of shared future with strategic significance, nature and unique advantage that distinguishes the China-Vietnam relationship from other bilateral relationships,” Xiong said.

History shows that the two countries must show mutual respect if they are to strengthen their reciprocal cooperation and achieve shared development, he stressed.

Noting that the world is undergoing profound changes unseen in a century, Xiong said: “what stands in stark contrast with the disorder in many parts of the world is the effective governance of China and the stability of Vietnam.”

China’s economy has performed steadily and continues to be an important engine of the world’s economic growth, while Vietnam has maintained an economic growth rate of 7 percent for two consecutive years, with its multiple economic indicators registering a new high, Xiong said.

Their communist leadership and socialist systems are fundamental drivers to promoting the sound development of the China-Vietnam relationship, Xiong added.

“Under new circumstances in the new era, the overall development of the China-Vietnam relationship and its strategic significance have become more outstanding,” he said, stressing that this year is crucial to both countries.

China will eradicate absolute poverty and achieve its first centenary goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects. Meanwhile, Vietnam is stepping up its preparation for the 13th Party congress. It has assumed the role of ASEAN chair and non-permanent member of the UN security council, and will play a bigger role in international and regional affairs, he added.

“It is all the more important for China and Vietnam to strengthen their solidarity and cooperation, join hands to overcome difficulties and forge ahead, seizing opportunities for shared development,” Xiong said.

The two sides need to consolidate their political mutual trust and make sure that the China-Vietnam relationship goes far and steady, Xiong said. “We need to maintain high-level strategic communication, always view the China-Vietnam relationship from a strategic height and broader perspective, and adhere to the right direction of our bilateral relationship.”

Noting that both countries are at a crucial stage of promoting reform, Xiong said it is important to step up the fostering of the synergy between the Belt & Road and the “Two Corridors, One Economic Circle,” and pursue a comprehensive approach to promoting cooperation in key areas, including infrastructure, production capacity, and cross-border economic and tourism cooperation.

He added that China supports Vietnam in fulfilling its important mandates as ASEAN chair and a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council and is ready to work with Vietnam to uphold multilateralism and free trade.

The two countries need to effectively manage disputes and properly address sensitive issues, Xiong said, stressing that bearing in mind the long-term and broader picture while properly addressing the maritime issue is of paramount importance to the sound development of their bilateral relationship.

The two sides need to earnestly implement the important high-level consensus of the two parties, two countries and relevant agreements, stay committed to friendly negotiations in properly managing disputes and not let the maritime issue affect the broader picture of their bilateral relationship, he said.

He stressed that it is important to actively engage in maritime cooperation, explore common development, create enabling conditions to the final settlement of the maritime issue and to comprehensively promote practical cooperation.

China and Vietnam need to attach more importance to people-to-people exchanges and cooperation, strengthen cooperation in culture, education, tourism, youth development and media, and hold more diverse friendly exchange activities welcomed by the people, in an effort to provide strong public support for the development of the China-Vietnam relationship, he said.

“The China-Vietnam relationship is at a new historical start,” Xiong said.

And as long as the two sides continue to uphold the values of the relationship, “it will surely continue to … bring more tangible benefits to the two peoples and make greater contributions to world peace, stability and human progress,” he added.