US Navy Carrier visits to Vietnam, puts China on alert

The port call by the USS Carl Vinson to Vietnam follows a visit to the Philippines last month

The port call by the USS Carl Vinson to Vietnam follows a visit to the Philippines last month

The USS Carl Vinson arrived Monday in the central city of Danang and will remain for several days. "They will also play basketball and soccer games with locals, while the navy band will give concert performances", Voice of America News reported.

The Carl Vinson carries 6,000 crew members, stretches more than 1,000 feet and weighs more than 100,000 tons.

Top leaders from both the United States and Vietnam discussed the possibility of an aircraft carrier visit a year ago in an effort to further relations. "The message the USS Carl Vinson sends is that the U.S. will maintain its naval presence in the South China Sea and that Vietnam supports the presence of the U.S. Navy as long as it contributes to regional peace and stability". U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis laid the groundwork for the Carl Vinson's visit in a trip to Vietnam shortly afterward.

"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", the ambassador added.

The war in Vietnam started in 1957 as partisan confrontation in the south of the country.

It marked the largest American military presence on Vietnamese shores since 1975, signaling the emergence of an unlikely alliance between Washington and the Southeast Asian communist regime. Danang saw heavy fighting during the war as the site of a major USA military base, but those gathered showed no sign of bearing a grudge.

With more than 3,000 American navy officers and sailors staying in top hotels in Da Nang until Friday, it will be a big opportunity to promote tourism in Vietnam.

Huynh Quang Nguyen, a taxi driver, echoed the sentiment. "Increased cooperation between the two countries in economic, diplomatic and military areas would serve as a counterbalance to Beijing's", he said.

"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", Swift said.

He was speaking about the growing influence of China across the region.

China has been aggressive in asserting claims in the South China Sea area, and has built islands on reefs and militarized those facilities.

The US has always said it does not take sides in the South China Sea dispute, but the US Navy has consistently run so-called "freedom of navigation" operations through disputed waters, a clear challenge to China's territorial ambitions. "They might be irritated but gradualism is the key word here.Vietnam will only embrace the a pace that doesn't cause an over-reaction from China".

Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English, based on reports from the Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.

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