Monday, 20 August, 2018

United States carrier arrives in Vietnam, putting China on notice

US carrier to make landmark visit to Vietnam the first since 1975 United States aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson will berth in Danang for a five-day stay
Rosie Leonard | 07 March, 2018, 00:14

On March 5, US aircraft carrier Carl Vinson and two other warships of the US Navy entered the Vietnamese port of Danang.

The Vinson arrived with two escort ships, cruiser USS Lake Champlain and destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer.

More broadly, Vietnam has rapidly expanded its naval capabilities, including the purchase of kilo-class submarines from Russian Federation and the development of its naval facilities in the highly strategic port of Da Nang.

Sailors will also visit a center for victims of Agent Orange, a defoliant used by the USA military during the war, according to a report in The New York Times.

So Vietnam's communist leadership is taking care to avoid any steps that might upset relations with its giant neighbour, our correspondent says.

"This visit marks a significant milestone in our bilateral relations and demonstrates the USA support for a strong, prosperous and independent Vietnam", Defense Department spokesman Army Col. Robert Manning III told Pentagon reporters this morning.

India and Vietnam have officially agreed to enhance cooperation in three key areas, with leaders also issuing statements that the countries will work together to ensure freedom of navigation in the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean.

While in Vietnam, sailors from the Carl Vinson will participate in sports competitions, community service projects, and receptions.

Vice Admiral Phillip G. Sawyer (right), Commander of the U.S. Navy's 7th Fleet, greets Vietnamese officials after the U.S. aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson pulled into port in Danang on March 5, 2018.

China is now the de facto superpower in this region, and by far the most important trading partner for Vietnam.

For Vietnam, which has objected most strongly to China over issues in the South China Sea, the expanding US involvement in Asia has been fortunate. "They demonstrate our commitment to regional prosperity and stability", he said.

The United States normalized relations with Vietnam in 1995 and lifted an arms embargo in 2016, and the two former adversaries have steadily improved bilateral relations in all areas, including trade, investment and security.

Danang was a major U.S. military base during the Vietnam War.

In October 2016, two US ships - the submarine tender USS Frank Cable and destroyer USS John S. McCain - also visited Cam Ranh Bay.

In recent years, Vietnam has consistently been at the forefront of multilateral diplomatic efforts, particularly in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), to criticize China's massive reclamation activities across disputed land features in the South China Sea. In this way Hanoi aims to deepen the stakes of other major powers in protecting its resources and maritime claims in the South China Sea.

Vietnam remains the most vocal claimant in the South China Sea dispute as the Philippines has backed off under China-friendly President Rodrigo Duterte.

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