Pentagon Chief Visits Hanoi, Manila to Shore Up Defense Relations Amid Stronger Anti-China Push

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have worked for years with China to draw up a Code of Conduct for the South China Sea – a diplomatic alternative to the military solution offered by the US, which regularly sails aircraft carriers through the waterway and stages provocative incidents in China’s and Vietnam’s claimed waters there.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin met with Vietnamese and Philippine officials on Thursday in an attempt to shore up support for Washington’s push to oppose Chinese influence in Southeast Asia.

In Hanoi, Lloyd met with Vietnamese Defense Minister Phan Văn Giang, Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính, and President Nguyễn Xuân Phúc, where he discussed enhancing cooperation between the two nations on defense and in several other areas, ranging from natural disaster relief and COVID-19 assistance to addressing the legacy of the war the two nations fought in the 1960s and 1970s, according to the Associated Press.

It’s unclear what that coast guard cooperation would look like, but last weekend, the USCGC John Midgett, a 378-foot Hamilton-class cutter built in the early 1970s, arrived in Vietnam after being donated to the country’s coast guard, according to VN Express. It was the second such donation, after the USCGC Morgenthau was donated in 2017.

Legacy of US’ Bloody War in Vietnam

The day prior, Austin visited Hỏa Lò Prison in Hanoi, which Americans call the “Hanoi Hilton” and held American prisoners of war,…

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