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THE WEEK AHEAD

HANOI : A Neighborhood Visit

November 15, 1994

Only a few months ago, Vietnam and China were exchanging bellicose threats based on their respective claims to the isolated Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. But on Saturday, Chinese President Jiang Zemin is scheduled to arrive in Hanoi for a "good neighbor" round of meetings with senior Vietnamese officials.

The visit by Jiang symbolizes the ambiguity of Sino-Vietnamese relations. Regarding the Spratlys, the desolate archipelago that sits above what geologists claim may be a vast reserve of oil, the two enemies talk tough. Diplomatically, however, the Chinese and Vietnamese have made steady progress since normalizing relations in 1991.

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