Vietnam: Old U.S. Foe Proves Useful in Asia

Discussion in 'China' started by maomao, Nov 18, 2011.

  1. maomao

    maomao Veteran Hunter of Maleecha Senior Member

    Apr 7, 2010
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    Once America's fierce war-time adversary, Vietnam is now emerging as one of Washington's most important new allies in providing a diplomatic and commercial counterpoint to China's growing clout, and Washington's warming relationship with Hanoi perhaps best illustrates America's full-court press in the region across a broad spectrum of fronts.

    In a notable reversal from the war years, a U.S. Navy vessel called in at Vietnam's Cam Ranh Bay naval base in August for the first time in more than three decades. The USNS Richard E. Byrd spent seven days undergoing repairs at the shipyards there, which have been occupied by French, American, Soviet and, finally, Vietnamese forces over the course of 60 years. The visit added to strengthening ties between the two countries' navies, after the U.S. and Vietnam also held joint noncombat-training exercises in July.

    Cam Ranh Bay was one of the U.S.'s largest military bases during the Vietnam war, and the scheduled repair stop came close on the heels of American statements that the busy shipping lanes of the South China Sea should be left free—a clear warning to China's claims to sovereignty over the entire region, and a move which infuriated Beijing and its increasingly assertive naval forces.

    Military strategists describe the site as hugely attractive—a deep-water bay offering protection from the frequent typhoons that batter the region and which also provides a strategic base on the South China Sea. Vietnam's leaders are refurbishing the tightly-guarded facility in a bid to encourage other countries' vessels to regularly stop by for repairs or military exercises, effectively internationalizing shipping lanes nearby and counterbalancing China's reach in the region.

    It's also a useful way for the U.S. to forge stronger ties. One of Washington's top diplomats, Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell, argues that a stronger American presence could help secure the economic growth of all countries in region, including China, by ensuring stability and preventing small regional spats from escalating into more disruptive conflicts.

    "I would argue that in many respects the last 30 or 40 or 50 years in which we've seen remarkable progress economically and politically in many ways have been underwritten by the full presence of the United States, and we will seek to continue that effort and to diversify it," he said in Bangkok last month.

    Read Full Article: Vietnam Is Central as U.S. Shifts to Asia -
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