USA carrier arrives in Vietnam, putting China on notice

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Vietnam held a ceremony on Monday afternoon to welcome the USS Carl Vinson on a historic visit marking the first time a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier has docked in the country since the Vietnam War ended. 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.

USS Carl Vinson is anchored at Tien Sa Port in Danang, Vietnam, Monday, March 5, 2018.

United States warships have visited Vietnam several times since November 2003, when a USA frigate, the USS Vandegrift, made the first port call to the country since the Vietnam War ended.

The relationship between Vietnam and the U.S. has reached new levels in recent years and the visit of the USS Carl Vinson is proof, Admiral Scott Swift, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, said. Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei also have claims in the sea.

US carrier Carl Vinson docks in Danang for 1st time since Vietnam War
San Diego-Based USS Carl Vinson Making Historic Port Call in Vietnam

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.

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.

The BBC's Jonathan Head, who is in Danang, says that while co-operation between the United States and Vietnam's military has grown it is still limited, and Vietnam has to manage the messaging of this visit carefully.

A USA aircraft carrier arrived in Vietnam on Monday for the first time since the end of the Vietnam War.

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The US and Vietnam have seen an extraordinary turnaround in relations since the end of the war in 1975.

This drives Vietnam to cooperate more closely with the USA and Japan as it seeks diplomatic leverage against China.

The former Coast Guard cutter Morgenthau was transferred to Vietnam previous year, becoming the largest ship in the nation's fleet.

They also engaged in exchanges with the crew members to enhance mutual understanding in the spirit of the bilateral Comprehensive Partnership and as an effort to maintain peace, stability, cooperation and development in the region and the world.

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President Donald Trump has insisted he will remain engaged in Asia, but his strategy has been led by his "America First" clarion call, insisting that Vietnam buy more military equipment from America and reduce its yawning trade deficit. However, a visit by an aircraft carrier is of a different level and something that government officials in Beijing will be paying close attention to.

"The USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier is the epitome of modern naval power", Carlyle Thayer, emeritus professor at the Australian Defence Force Academy and an expert on the South China Sea, wrote in a policy briefing in late February. Washington appears to be keeping that diplomatic card in reserve while gauging Beijing's reaction.

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