USS Carl Vinson Arrives in Vietnam for Historic Visit

07 March, 2018, 00:12 | Author: Rachel Mcdaniel
  • US carrier Carl Vinson docks in Danang for 1st time since Vietnam War

In July 2016, an worldwide court ruled that the so-called "nine-dash line"-a demarcation line China uses to lay claim to parts of the South China Sea-is inconsistent with global laws governing maritime resources".

Vietnam and China have competing claims in the South China Sea, which has been of increasing concern to Hanoi.

"During the war, I was scared when I saw American soldiers", said Tran Thi Luyen, 55, who runs a small coffee shop in the city.

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.

Cultural exchanges are planned during the Carl Vinson's stay through Friday, and some of the carrier's crew will visit memorials to those who died from American use of the herbicide Agent Orange during the war, according to US news media.

Danang, which was a major US 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.

Sailors are expected to participate in cultural and professional exchanges during community service projects and receptions.

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The U.S. and Vietnam first announced in January that the USS Carl Vinson would be making a stop in Vietnam, and Hanoi's diplomats have been working to calm their Chinese counterparts ever since.

It has also sought to join the Transpacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), now resuscitated as TPP-11 (minus the United States), in order to expand its export markets and sources of capital and technology. In 2014, Beijing deployed an oil rig in disputed waters near Vietnam, which led to a standoff between naval vessels and sparked violent anti-China demonstrations in Vietnam. "Now the aircraft carrier comes with a complete different mission, a mission of peace and promoting economic and military cooperation between the two countries".

On Monday, the USS Carl Vinson docked at Da Nang in a four-day port call that the commander of the Carl Vinson strike group touted as a "pretty big and historic step".

Huynh Quang Nguyen, a taxi driver, echoed the sentiment.

Le, however, added that China knows Vietnam is not likely to side with the USA militarily to challenge Chinese expansion.

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.

The presence of the USS Carl Vinson, a U.S. Navy supercarrier, highlights the growing alliance between the U.S. and its erstwhile foe, and it could rattle the regional superpower China. "Increased cooperation between the two countries in economic, diplomatic and military areas would serve as a counterbalance to Beijing's expansionism".

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