Da Nang,Vietnam: Old foes and bitter Cold War combatants, the United States and Vietnam shored up nascent military relations on Sunday as a US nuclear super-carrier arrived in the waters off Vietnam's coast. It was a clear message to regional giant China that its recent moves to stake overlordship of the region would not go unchallenged.
Nuclear-powered carrier USS George Washington arrives in these waters 35 years after the Vietnam War came to a close. Its visit comes hot on the heels of a recent announcement by China that it had full sovereignty over the South China Sea. It also comes hard on the heels of a recent sinking of a South Korean naval vessel, ostensibly by North Korea.
The USS George Washington was engaged in naval exercises off the North Korean coast along with the South Korean navy before it departed for Da Nang.
The visit of the super carrier, ostensibly, is to commemorate 15 years of normalized diplomatic relations between the Vietnam and the United States. But it is only the most recent manifestation of increasingly warming relations between the two nations.
Both countries are increasing the depth of their relationship through cooperation in a number of areas, which includes a deal to share civilian nuclear fuel and technology. This last month, the US has also openly challenged Chinese claims to sovereignty over the South China Sea and asked it to instead work with ASEAN nations, who are the rim countries of this vast expanse of water, and resolve all territorial claims to thousands of islands that dot the sea.
Last month, China was stunned when US secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton, issued such a call during an Asian security meeting in Vietnam's capital, Hanoi. China had specifically asked the US not to raise the matter at the meet and was taken aback at the strong challenge to its territorial suzerainty from Washington.