Sunday, 18 November, 2018

US Navy carrier visits Vietnam to improve bilateral relations

USS Carl Vinson is anchored at Tien Sa Port in Danang Vietnam Monday March 5 USS Carl Vinson is anchored at Tien Sa Port in Danang Vietnam Monday March 5
Melinda Barton | 07 March, 2018, 10:25

Derek Grossman, an expert at the American global policy think tank RAND, said that while the future of U.S. -Vietnam defense cooperation remains unclear, the relationship is likely to focus on helping Vietnam enhance its maritime awareness and security capabilities at sea. Vietnam is one of the claimants to the South China Sea, a disputed region that has been witnessing increased Chinese military presence.

However, Saywer did say China's land reclamation and militarization of islands is causing "angst" in the region. Obviously this is a little bit disturbing from their point of view and what consequences could this have on the relations between Beijing and Washington?

During the visit, commanders of the US Navy ships are scheduled to pay courtesy calls to leaders of Da Nang city, the Commander of the Vietnam Navy, and the High Command of the Naval Zone 3. "The visit also builds on the positive momentum of the comprehensive partnership between the US and Vietnam, and will not only serve to strengthen the bilateral defense relationship, but will also help enhance cultural and professional ties".

U.S. officials refused to be drawn on the apparent tensions with China, insisting the trip was a routine deployment.

That announcement came during a two-day visit to Hanoi by U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis and followed months of backroom military diplomacy between Hanoi and the Pentagon.

"They understand well the strategic rationale behind the rapprochement between Vietnam and the USA", he said.

Vietnam, while traditionally wary of its huge northern neighbour, shares China's system of single-party rule and intolerance for political dissent.

"I will work closely with my Vietnamese partners and we will develop ideas and options for what makes sense for both of us", he said.

"By spoiling relations with China, Vietnam will get nothing".

The United States wants to see a strong, independent and prosperous Vietnam, she added. "It is basically a kind of hedging strategy, a kind of balance of power strategy", he said.

The first US Marines arrived in Danang in 1965, marking the beginning of large-scale American involvement in the war, which ended in 1975 with the North's victory, reunifying the country. In addition to the territorial disputes already cited, they clashed in a border war in 1979 and from time to time there are episodes of tension between them, such as anti-Chinese demonstrations in Vietnam in 2014 in which two workers of the Asian giant who were in the neighboring country were killed.

Da Nang, which was a major USA military base during the war, is now Vietnam's third-largest city and is in the midst of a construction boom as dozens of resorts and hotels pop up along its scenic coastline.

Several Danang residents said Monday that they welcomed the Navy visit.

John Short: I don't think much, the last global diplomatic issue was the ruling by the worldwide Court of Arbitration in the Hague which ruled in favor of the Philippines and against China's claim, but it was like tree falling in an empty forrest, nothing much happened in its wake, China continued its build up, America says it's for free navigation. It's interesting, I was in Danang recently, and this is where the United States super carrier is docking, but along the shore there's incredible Chinese investment of hotels and resorts, where the Chinese tourists are skipping the harsh Chinese winter to go to more tropical Vietnam. "Increased co-operation between the two countries in economic, diplomatic and military areas would serve as a counterbalance to Beijing's expansionism".