BEIJING, JAN. 22 -- A Chinese spokesman denied today that China and Vietnam have halted their border hostilities, but other sources, including Vietnamese officials, said the fighting is much lighter than in previous years.
In answer to a question from a reporter, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said, "Recently, the Vietnamese troops have kept up their provocations and harassment against China along the Sino-Vietnamese border."
But a news agency report from Bangkok quoted a Vietnamese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman as saying that China had reduced its shelling of the tense border area.
Ho The Lan, deputy head of Vietnam's Foreign Ministry information department, told reporters in Hanoi yesterday that "the situation along the Vietnam-China border has been quiet, generally speaking."
In Beijing, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said recent Vietnamese action against China consisted of shelling Chinese troops' positions and firing "inflammatory bombs and various kinds of bullets."
The spokesman said the Vietnamese also sent armed personnel "to sneak into Chinese territory for sabotage activities. The Chinese frontier guards have as a matter of course made counterattacks against the Vietnamese troops' provocations," the spokesman said.
But the spokesman had no reports of any casualty figures and the actions he described sounded minor compared with past dry season clashes between the two sides. Last January, both sides claimed that as many as 1,900 troops were killed in a fierce three-day clash.
The reports of decreased tension along the border coincided with increased diplomatic activity focusing on the status of Cambodia.