18 June 2014
Last updated at 05:02
Yang Jiechi arrived in Hanoi on Tuesday as he prepares to begin talks with Vietnamese officials
China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi is in Vietnam for talks aimed at easing tension over territorial disputes.
China’s foreign ministry said Beijing hoped to have a “frank and deep exchange of opinions”.
Last month, China moved an oil rig to waters deep into territory claimed by both countries off the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea.
Vietnam reacted angrily, and anti-China riots and attacks on factories left several people dead.
Many of the factories were in fact Taiwanese owned.
In response, China pulled many of its citizens out of Vietnam, and trade between the two countries has suffered badly.
Since then, Chinese and Vietnamese boats have been squaring off in waters near the rig, with a Vietnam boat sinking after it collided with a Chinese ship in late May.
Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Le Hai Binh said the oil rig would be discussed during talks with Mr Yang.
Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a statement that she hoped Vietnam could “focus on the big picture”.
Mr Yang posed for pictures with Vietnamese Foreign Minister Binh Min before starting a round of meetings.
Mr Yang’s visit is the highest-level direct contact since the oil rig was moved on 2 May.
China has said the rig will remain in its present location until August.
China’s coast guard has been patrolling the waters around the oil rig Haiyang Shiyou
The moving of the oil rig to disputed waters sparked anti-China protests across Vietnam in May
The protests culminated in riots that left several factories burnt and four dead
Both countries have also taken the dispute to the United Nations, and have submitted dossiers on their claims to UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon.
Beijing had accused Vietnam of “provocations” in the South China Sea, claiming its ships had been rammed more than 1,400 times by Vietnamese vessels.
Beijing has also in recent weeks called Vietnam’s claims to the Paracel Islands “absurd and laughable”.
But China is also going ahead with its own plans to boost its presence in the disputed area.
Over the weekend Beijing announced it will build a school in the Paracel Islands.