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, 00:13
The USS Carl Vinson arrived in Vietnam Monday for a port call, marking the first time a USA aircraft carrier has visited the country in more than 40 years. With China also hurrying to strengthen its navy, the Sino-American competition for superiority in the Asia-Pacific region appears bound to intensify.
The two countries "have gone from former enemies to close partners", the USA ambassador to Vietnam, Daniel Kritenbrink, said in a statement.
The visit comes amid China's increasing military buildup in the Paracel islands and seven artificial islands in the Spratlys in maritime territory also claimed by Vietnam.
"The Philippines has just rolled over, China is continually militarizing and if the U.S. doesn't maintain a presence in the region, Vietnam's got nowhere to hide", Thayer said. Danang saw heavy fighting during the war as the site of a major US military base, but those gathered showed no sign of bearing a grudge.
"The visit marks an enormously significant milestone in our bilateral relations and demonstrates U.S. support for a strong, prosperous, and independent Vietnam", declared Daniel Kritenbrink, the USA ambassador to Vietnam.
In January, the Defense Department labeled China and Russian Federation "revisionist powers" seeking to undermine the global order.
Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet Adm. Scott Swift, echoed similar sentiments. The vessel can carry up to 90 on-deck aircraft.
Since 2009, Vietnam has sent officials to visit the US's aircraft carriers when they went through the global waters near the country's coast.
The U.S., which is an extra-regional country, has been taking the side of China's rival claimants in the regional disputes.
China's Foreign Ministry responded to the USS Carl Vinson's visit on Friday by expressing hopes that 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". The American government hopes to use its involvement with Vietnam and other countries to extract more favorable economic cooperation from Beijing, said a diplomatic source in Washington familiar with Japan-U.S. relations. About 58,000 American soldiers and an estimated 3 million Vietnamese were killed in the war.
"The carrier has not been here [in Vietnam] for 40 years". It is now Vietnam's third-largest city and a place many people visit for vacation.
"The USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier is the epitome of modern naval power", Carlyle Thayer, emeritus professor at the Australian Defence Force Academy and an expert on the South China Sea, wrote in a policy briefing in late February.
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