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06 March 2018, 02:00 | Damon Campbell
Vietnam seeks to pacify China as USS Vinson visit signals warming ties
The arrival of the aircraft carrier marks the biggest United States military presence in Vietnam since 1975. This signals that the rise in China's influence and economy, which is bringing together countries who were previously foes and creating huge changes in the areas geopolitical landscape.
"Our nations' relationship has reached new heights in the past few years, and USS Carl Vinson's port visit to Vietnam is a reflection of that", said Swift.
"This is a historic day and we are honored to receive such a warm welcome here", Rear Adm. John Fuller, the strike group commander, said in a statement. "Through hard work, mutual respect, and by continuing to address the past while we work toward a better future, we have gone from former enemies to close partners".
During their stay, US sailors will play friendly basketball and soccer matches with locals, hold navy band concerts and visit a center for victims of Agent Orange, the toxic defoliant sprayed over large swathes of land by the USA during the Vietnam War.
While some Chinese commentators have used the Vinson's presence to demand an even greater Chinese military build-up in the South China Sea, official reaction from Beijing has been relatively muted since the stop was announced in January.
Last year, Vietnam deployed six submarines purchased from Russian Federation to Cam Ranh Bay, but it can not oppose Beijing alone.
Which airlines have canceled flights today? The unsafe flying conditions have also caused the popular budget airline easyJet to cancel further flights. They said: "We expect flights to/from Cork, Belfast, Knock to operate as scheduled".
"Even as it moves forward with the U.S., Vietnam has been engaging China over South China Sea tensions", said Le Hong Hiep, a Vietnam expert at Singapore's ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute.
Danang is the city where 3,500 Marines landed in March 1965 as the first American ground troops in the Vietnam War.
The carrier's crew will also take part in five community service projects across Danang, including visits to a social protection centre, mental illness treatment centre and Red Cross orphanage, he noted.
The visit includes a number of cultural and community events, such as basketball and soccer matches between United States sailors and locals, an orphanage visit and naval band concerts. In response, the administration of former President Barack Obama launched a policy of using U.S. Navy vessels and aircraft to patrol the South China Sea and assert freedom of navigation rights. 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.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters Friday that China hopes the "exchanges between [the USA and Vietnam] would contribute to regional peace and stability in a positive and constructive way, instead of adding any unsettling factors". In May 2017, Vietnam hosted a Japanese helicopter carrier in Cam Ranh Bay for what was called a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief drill. Washington appears to be keeping that diplomatic card in reserve while gauging Beijing's reaction.
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