News / Asia

    In Vietnam, Calls for US-led Naval Initiative in South China Sea

    FILE - This aerial photo taken through a military plane window shows China's alleged reclamation of Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, May 11, 2015.
    FILE - This aerial photo taken through a military plane window shows China's alleged reclamation of Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, May 11, 2015.

    Vietnam's social network users have welcomed a plan to establish an informal naval coalition led by the United States, expressing hope it will contain China's expansion in the South China Sea.

    The chief of the U.S. Pacific Command, Admiral Harry B. Harris Jr., proposed last week to join the navies of Japan, Australia and India in preserving freedom of navigation in contested waters.

    The call was made as China expands land reclamation efforts in an assertive push that worries Vietnam, one of the South China Sea's maritime claimants.

    Social media user Vo Tan Hung told VOA's Vietnamese service that Beijing "must reconsider its aggressive moves in the contested waters if the coalition is born."

    Some go further by likening members of the prospective naval quartet to "quadrilateral pillars," a reference to the four top jobs in Vietnam's political system.

    Earlier plan

    Japan, which disputes Beijing's role in the East China Sea, floated a similar proposal in 2007, but the idea was dropped in the face of Chinese protest.

    While Australia is reportedly considering Harris' idea, the positions of India and Japan are unclear.

    Responding to the suggestion, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Beijing had "no objection to normal exchanges and cooperation between relevant countries, but such cooperation shall not target a third party."

    Meanwhile, Duong Danh Dy, an expert on China-Vietnam relations, said the birth of the group "will benefit Vietnam."

    "Beijing cannot disregard its smaller neighbors like Vietnam in the presence of regional powers," he said. "China cannot do whatever it wants."

    While top Vietnamese officials say they are sticking to their foreign policy of not siding with other countries to counter any third nation, the Southeast Asian country has been strengthening defense ties with a number of countries, including the Philippines, which is among the most vocal claimants to the disputed waters.

    FILE - The USS Curtis Wilbur, a 8,950-ton Aegis destroyer of the U.S. Navy, arrives at a naval base in Busan, South Korea, June 4, 2010.
    FILE - The USS Curtis Wilbur, a 8,950-ton Aegis destroyer of the U.S. Navy, arrives at a naval base in Busan, South Korea, June 4, 2010.

    After the USS Curtis Wilbur, an American destroyer, sailed near an island controlled by Beijing, but also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan, Vietnam's Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying Hanoi respected "innocent passage" of ships through territorial waters in accordance with international law. Some observers said Hanoi's statement appeared to support regional freedom-of-navigation exercises by its former foe.

    More military spending

    Apart from expanding its relations with world powers, Vietnam has also boosted military spending, becoming the world's eighth-largest arms importer from 2011 to 2015, according to a recent report published by the Stockholm-based International Peace Research Institute.

    Tran Bang, veteran of the Sino-Vietnam border war, said the move shows Vietnam's clear awareness of its foreign threats, China in particular.

    "Beefing up defense capability is necessary for Vietnam to defend itself," Bang said. "It is right to do so as its giant neighbor [is] ready to make aggressive moves at any time."

    In related news, Vietnam opened Cam Ranh, its strategic port facing the South China Sea, on Tuesday, with President Truong Tan Sang saying it "would play a part in stabilizing regional peace."

    Two Japanese warships are expected to make a port call there after escorting a submarine in a visit to the Philippines next month, Vietnamese media reported. Tokyo and Hanoi agreed last year to conduct their first ever joint naval exercise.

    This report was produced in collaboration with VOA's Vietnamese service.

    You May Like

    US Lawmakers Vow to Continue Immigrant Program for Afghan Interpreters

    Congressional inaction threatens funding for effort which began in 2008 and has allowed more than 20,000 interpreters, their family members to immigrate to US

    Brexit's Impact on Russia Stirs Concern

    Some analysts see Brexit aiding Putin's plans to destabilize European politics; others note that an economically unstable Europe is not in Moscow's interests

    US to Train Cambodian Government on Combating Cybercrime

    Concerns raised over drafting of law, as critics fear cybercrime regulations could be used to restrict freedom of expression and stifle political dissent

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    by: Richmond from: USA
    March 13, 2016 4:10 AM
    The threat of force is the foundation of law , without it, law is just a piece of trash paper ...
    If China is as strong as US militarily, it will throw the international law into a trash can .... US drawed red line, acedt strongly when dealing with under developed countries in Middle East ... Hopefully US don't look like an injured tiger when facing China.

    by: Mike from: LA
    March 11, 2016 12:50 PM
    "Thirty seven years ago, 600,000 Chinese troops invaded northern Vietnam to "teach Vietnam a lesson" for ousting the Beijing-backed Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. China withdrew its troops after a month."----sited by

    These Chinese are really disgusting.

    by: Nizmo from: Canada
    March 10, 2016 2:41 PM
    China is like a little frog sitting at the bottom of a well thinking that it's at he center of the universe. Every single country near China has been arming themselves to the teeth. China has a few trillion USD but their plan/logic to conquer the world is full of holes.

    by: willim li from: canada
    March 10, 2016 2:16 PM
    Well, Vietnamese should over throw their Viet Chong government first to be trusted by USA. Learn how to riot from Ukraine? lol
    In Response

    by: Alex from: Phoenix, AZ
    March 11, 2016 4:26 AM
    Unfortunately, in the past decade, there hasn't been any successful people-power uprisings that ushered in successful democratic change. Myanmar's Saffron revolution of 2007 failed. Ukraine's Maidan failed. Kyrgyzstan's failed. Thailand's Red/Yellow movements failed. Middle East Arab Spring revolutions have failed in every single country. ... Myanmar peaceful democratic change was pure luck when the military junta decided to give power to civilian administration.

    So any violent people power uprising in Vietnam is definitely NOT recommended because the instability would just irrational chaos and contagion.

    by: American Eskimo from: San Jose, USA
    March 10, 2016 11:46 AM
    Perhaps, those Vietnamese who posted comments here are born after the war or simply forget about the rapes, the massacres, the indiscriminate mass-killing carpet bombings and the chemical weapons such as napalm and agent-orange. A new war in Asia will create refugees, death and destructions of what had achieved after the war. Do not fall into the charm of USA propagandas regarding freedom of navigation, democracy and human right. USA use whoever to achieve her ulterior motive and afterward you will be forsaken and not knowing why.

    So wake up!!!!!!!! China is genetically and culturally bonded with Vietnamese albeit there are conflicts and they will out, like all conflicts in those thousands years prior it had worked out, without USA as agitator. Smell the koffee.
    In Response

    by: Alex from: Phoenix, AZ
    March 11, 2016 4:18 AM
    American eskimo, although you raised valid points, you do not grasp the whole picture. Thousands of years of conflict with China, Vietnam knows all too well that they are an opponent that you must stand up to otherwise you get swallowed like Tibet, East Turkestan, Inner Mongolia, etc.
    Even without the USA, do you not see that Hanoi procures arms from Russia? Vietnam will always fight back whether if Washington decides to intervene in the South China Sea or not.
    In Response

    by: Tido from: San Jose
    March 10, 2016 1:04 PM
    That is the most idiotic comment i ever read, China and Vietnam are enemies for 1000 years and still is today. Yeah America done those terrible stuff during the Vietnam war but do they still do it today to Vietnam? NO. Now China on the other hand been bullying Vietnam ever since the South China Sea incident, and always sink Vietnamese fishing boats.

    We may share the same culture but we have our own heritage and we are not related to the Chinese. If anything, i think it is best for the Vietnam to be an alliance with US since it can ensure Vietnam's territorial claim in the South China Sea.
    In Response

    by: Mike from: LA
    March 10, 2016 12:37 PM
    And China Invade Vietnam right after the Vietnam War. To so call teach Vietnam a lesson. So Screw you and china.

    by: Mary Pham from: Vietnam
    March 10, 2016 6:20 AM
    Clearly, Chinese territorial aggression receives a range of resentment from quiet opposition to direct confrontation. China knows it and has 2 different fears as well as 2 possible countermeasures. Let's make them work for both: 1) Yes, Australia, Japan, India and the US (even EU, New Zealand, S. Korea...are welcome), represent out-of-the-region interests with strength and global policing forces. 2) The Philippines and Vietnam must continue as victimized claimants and directly, improve bilateral defensive anti-China acts while gradually, win over Malaysia and Indonesia.

    With the UNCLOS's Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling Chinese 9-dashed claim illegal, these 2 groups can create 1,2 punch from inside and outside with the international criminal China in the middle.

    by: Tuan Pham from: Hanoi
    March 10, 2016 4:01 AM
    As a Vietnamese, I fully support this coalition! Hope it puts China under control.

    by: Anonymous
    March 10, 2016 1:14 AM
    USA is trying hard to create a coalition to contain China so as to maintain her hegemony in Asia.
    So far only 2 malay-polenisian Pacific Islanders, white-want-to-be Japan and lap-poodle Philippines are are sure in.
    India and Vietnam are flirting with USA to maximize aids.
    In Response

    by: Alex from: Phoenix, AZ
    March 10, 2016 5:37 AM
    China just jealous because it has NO allies except Pakistan, Cambodia & N. Korea. Great allies, Beijing - one crazy impoverished islamist terrorist state, one ex-Khmer Rouge dictator ship, one Kim dynasty fat troublemaker!!!
    Whereas Tokyo, Canberra, New Delhi, Manila, Seoul, Hanoi are all siding with Washington.

    by: Alex from: Phoenix, Arizona
    March 09, 2016 9:29 PM
    I think the quadrilateral initiative is indeed welcomed and needed to maintain the regional peace and stability. Everyone knows that ASEAN cannot speak up neither strongly nor directly against Beijing. Four members dispute its domination of the sea, while the others oppose Chinese control of the sea but are only quiet about it because they are scared to speak up against China. That's why the other regional powers like these 4 countries, the US, Japan, India & Australia, with backing of ASEAN members, ought to unite to contain China's aggressive posture.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roari
    June 28, 2016 10:33 AM
    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora