US Aircraft Carrier Makes First Visit to Vietnam Since War
US Aircraft Carrier Makes First Visit to Vietnam Since War
San Diego-Based USS Carl Vinson Making Historic Port Call in Vietnam
07 March, 2018, 00:12
However, analysts nearly universally interpreted the visit as "a clear shot at Beijing, created to counter China's aggressive island building and militarization in the South China Sea", as CNN wrote.
A U.S. Navy band will play a concert in Danang during the Vinson's visit, and sailors from the carrier are scheduled to spend time at a treatment center for people who were exposed to Agent Orange chemicals during the war.
China claims most of the South China Sea and has challenged traditional USA naval supremacy in the western Pacific. About 58,000 American soldiers and an estimated 3 million Vietnamese were killed in the war.
The visit, which is being billed by USA officials as a historic chance to build relationships with the Vietnamese, is being interpreted as a message to Beijing as the US seeks to bulk up its presence and influence in the South China Sea. In June 2012, then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta visited the USNS Richard C. Byrd in Cam Ranh Bay - the logistics hub of US forces during the Vietnam War.
"The visit marks an enormously significant milestone in our bilateral relations and demonstrates United States support for a strong, prosperous, and independent Vietnam", declared Daniel Kritenbrink, the USA ambassador to Vietnam.
The visit includes a number of cultural and community events, such as basketball and soccer matches between USA sailors and locals, an orphanage visit and naval band concerts. 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 is perhaps the only stakeholder still taking a strong stance against Chinese aggression in the South China Sea, now that Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has largely folded his cards.
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It was said that the military of the two countries intend to exchange technical experience.
"This is a historic day and we are honored to receive such a warm welcome here", Rear Adm. John Fuller, the strike group commander, said in a statement.
Huynh Quang Nguyen, a taxi driver, echoed the sentiment.
Yet it is far from assured if the highly symbolicUSS Carl Vinson's high-profile visit will soon translate into a tangible military alliance against China.
Analysts say the port call, which follows a visit to the Philippines last month, is a chance for the United States to flex its military muscle in Asia.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters Friday that China hopes the "exchanges between [the USA and Vietnam] would contribute to regional peace and stability in a positive and constructive way, instead of adding any unsettling factors". "Increased cooperation between the two countries in economic, diplomatic and military areas would serve as a counterbalance to Beijing's", he said.
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