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Top China envoy visits Vietnam amid looming court ruling

  • Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi, left, shakes hands with Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh at the start of a bilateral conference in Hanoi, Vietnam Monday, June 27, 2016. Yang is on a two-day visit to Vietnam to try to promote cooperation amid growing tension over Chinese growing assertiveness in the South China Sea. (AP Photo/Tran Van Minh)

    Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi, left, shakes hands with Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh at the start of a bilateral conference in Hanoi, Vietnam Monday, June 27, 2016. Yang is on a two-day visit to Vietnam to try to promote cooperation amid growing tension over Chinese growing assertiveness in the South China Sea. (AP Photo/Tran Van Minh)  (The Associated Press)

  • Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi speaks during a cooperation conference with Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh in Hanoi, Vietnam Monday, June 27, 2016. Yang is on a two-day visit to Vietnam to try to promote cooperation amid growing tension over Chinese growing assertiveness in the South China Sea. (AP Photo/Tran Van Minh)

    Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi speaks during a cooperation conference with Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh in Hanoi, Vietnam Monday, June 27, 2016. Yang is on a two-day visit to Vietnam to try to promote cooperation amid growing tension over Chinese growing assertiveness in the South China Sea. (AP Photo/Tran Van Minh)  (The Associated Press)

  • Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi, left, shakes hands with Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh at the start of a bilateral conference in Hanoi, Vietnam Monday, June 27, 2016. Yang is on a two-day visit to Vietnam to try to promote cooperation amid growing tension over Chinese growing assertiveness in the South China Sea. (AP Photo/Tran Van Minh)

    Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi, left, shakes hands with Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh at the start of a bilateral conference in Hanoi, Vietnam Monday, June 27, 2016. Yang is on a two-day visit to Vietnam to try to promote cooperation amid growing tension over Chinese growing assertiveness in the South China Sea. (AP Photo/Tran Van Minh)  (The Associated Press)

A top Chinese diplomat is visiting Vietnam amid a looming ruling by an international court on the South China Sea.

State Councilor Yang Jiechi's visit comes as the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague is expected to issue a ruling soon on a case filed by the Philippines contesting Beijing's claims to most of the South China Sea.

Beijing says that more than 40 countries support its position, a claim doubted by experts.

Tran Cong Truc, former head of government's border committee, said Yang may try to lobby Vietnamese leadership on the issue but that Vietnam's stance on opposing Chinese claims will not change.

Vietnamese Foreign Minister told Yang that bilateral relations will continue a positive trend despite challenges such as the disputes seas.