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U.S. to provide ship to Vietnam to boost South China Sea patrols

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U.S. to provide ship to Vietnam to boost South China Sea patrols

By Phil Stewart, James Pearson

 

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U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper reviews the Vietnamese guard of honour during a welcoming ceremony in Hanoi, Vietnam November 20, 2019. REUTERS/Kham

 

HANOI (Reuters) - The United States announced on Wednesday it will provide Vietnam with another coast guard cutter for its growing fleet of ships, boosting Hanoi’s ability to patrol the South China Sea amid tensions with China.

 

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper disclosed the decision during an address in Vietnam, which has emerged as the most vocal opponent in Asia of China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea.

 

In his speech, Esper took aim at China, which he accused of “bullying” neighbors, like Vietnam.

 

“China’s unilateral efforts to assert illegitimate maritime claims threaten other nations’ access to vital natural resources, undermine the stability of regional energy markets, and increase the risk of conflict,” Esper told students at the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam.

 

The vessel will be Vietnam’s second cutter from the U.S. Coast Guard, which just two years ago transferred a Hamilton-class cutter to Vietnam. By providing the ships, the U.S. hopes to enable Vietnam to assert its sovereignty and deter China.

 

More than four decades after the Vietnam War ended, ties between the United States and Vietnam are increasingly focused on shared concerns over Chinese expansion.

 

China claims 90% of the potentially energy-rich South China Sea, but Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also lay claim to parts of it, through which about $3 trillion of trade passes each year.

 

Beijing in July sent a ship for a months-long seismic survey to an area internationally designated as Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) but also claimed by China.

 

Vietnam said earlier this month it could explore legal action in the dispute, a move previously taken by the Philippines - where Esper visited earlier this week.

 

In 2016, the Philippines won a ruling from the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague that invalidated China’s claim over most of the South China Sea.

 

Speaking earlier at Vietnam’s defense ministry, Esper said the international rules-based order “has come under duress.”

 

“Collectively, we must stand up against coercion and intimidation, protect the rights of all nations, big and small,” Esper said.

 

The United States accuses China of militarizing the South China Sea and trying to intimidate Asian neighbors who might want to exploit its extensive oil and gas reserves.

 

In April, the United States delivered six patrol boats worth $12 million to Vietnam’s Coast Guard. Those vessels were in addition to another twelve “Metal Shark” patrol boats it provided to Vietnam in the last two years.

 

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-- © Copyright Reuters 2019-11-20
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I wonder if it will arrive already equipped with a complete (if rather dated) set of charts of Vietnamese coastal waters...

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43 minutes ago, Emdog said:

The enemy of my ex-enemy of my ex-ally enemy  is my.... oh, too early & my dementia is acting up... politics does make strange bunk mates.

I'd like to see USA give USS Maddox to Vietnam. That was the destroyer that was fired on that led to infamous Gulf of Tonkin resolution that gave LBJ a blank check for escalation of VN war.

and a lot of lads that never came home would think what about this exactly.

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Sensible to be doing this. Veetnaaam needs to be able to defend its own waters, without the Usofans being directly involved. It would be helpful if the Europeans understood that approach better.

 

On the other hand there's the Mahatir approach, that he expressed a few weeks ago: Of course, if the Chinese attacked we would surrender immediately. What would be the point of resisting?

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3 hours ago, legend49 said:

They cant keep their noses out of other countries issues. Karma will happen.

? Free passage through international waters is to be defended against unilateral claims to sovereignty over 90% of the South China Sea by the PRC. That is in the interests of all using the sea shipping. Overlapping territorial water claims are to be settled diplomatically, not by seizing territories claimed by others. IMHO (and that of the International Court in the Hague). Aside from this, we would, no doubt find room to agree that the US (and other countries) should not bully militarily or financially to get their own way disregarding the interests of other evolved countries.

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Make that "ships," plural, and I'll be more impressed.

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