US and Vietnam should not cross S.China Sea red line with carrier visit: expert

By Li Ruohan Source:Global Times Published: 2018/1/29 23:08:40

The US and Vietnam should not cross the red line to provoke China on the South China Sea issue and China has the ability to fight any proactive moves, Chinese experts said ahead of a US aircraft carrier's scheduled port visit to Vietnam in March.

The planned visit of the USS Carl Vinson was announced last week and still needs the final approval of Vietnamese officials, the New York Times reported.

The carrier's visit will mark the largest presence of US forces in Vietnam since the Vietnam War ended in 1975, the report said.

The visit will also be welcomed by countries nervously eyeing China's move in the South China Sea, Reuters reported.

"Compared with other countries that have disputes with China in the region, Vietnam has the strongest military capabilities. The US expects Vietnam to be the strongest force it could count on to counter China in the South China Sea," Li Jie, a Beijing-based naval expert, told the Global Times on Monday.

Meanwhile, Vietnam also needs to use US influence to resonate its claims in the international community and to contain China in the region, Shen Shishun, an Asia-Pacific expert at the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times on Monday.

However, the two countries' military cooperation in the South China Sea should not cross the red line of violating China's core interests, as their relations with China are moving toward a positive track with increased trust, Shen said.

China and Vietnam agreed to deepen their comprehensive strategic cooperation under new circumstances after the leaders of the two countries met in Vietnam in November 2017, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Though there's no need to worry about the planned visit, China should remain alert of the US move in the region and resolutely fight back any proactive moves to defend its sovereignty and rights, and it is capable of doing so with strong economic and military capabilities, Shen added.

China should continue its legitimate construction activities on the islands and reefs in the South China Sea, such as airports and missile facilities, Li added.

The South China Sea issue should be resolved by countries directly involved and the US should stop meddling in the marine flashpoint to make things worse, Li warned.

Experts also noted that closer US-Vietnam relations are challenged by political mistrust and a growing concern that Vietnam's export-oriented economy will stumble from the "America first" policy.

China was Vietnam's largest trade partner in 2017, followed by South Korea and the US, and Vietnam's exports to China reached $35.3 billion, a 60.6 percent increase from the previous year, Vietnam News reported earlier this month. 
Newspaper headline: US carrier to visit Vietnam

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