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.

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    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.

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