Thu, Nov 21, 2019 - Page 6 News List

US to give Vietnam ship for coast guard patrols

Reuters, HANOI

The US yesterday announced that it would 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.

US Secretary of Defense 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, such as 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 would be Vietnam’s second cutter from the US Coast Guard, which just two years ago transferred a Hamilton-class cutter to Vietnam.

By providing the ships, the Us hopes to enable Vietnam to assert its sovereignty and deter China.

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

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

Speaking earlier at the Vietnamese Ministry of National Defense in Hanoi, 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.

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