Mccain: U.S. To Help Vietnam Defend Itself
U.S. Senator John McCain, strongly criticizing China’s illegal reclamation in the East Sea, said last week the U.S. would help Vietnam defend its coastline in the face of provocative Chinese behavior.
McCain, US-VN relations
U.S. Senator John McCain (2nd L), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, speaks with the media in HCMC last Friday while Jack Reed of Rhode Island (L), Dan Sullivan of Alaska (2nd R) and Joni Ernst of Iowa look on.
Speaking to the media last Friday during a visit to HCMC by him and three other senators, Jack Reed of Rhode Island, Joni Ernst of Iowa, and Dan Sullivan of Alaska, McCain said, “I don’t think there’s any doubt that we want to help the Vietnamese defend themselves.”
When asked by Bloomberg about the lifting of the U.S. arms embargo against Vietnam, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee said the U.S. had already lifted some restrictions on maritime weapons and would weigh relaxing further restrictions on the sale of weapons to Vietnam.
He said military-to-military relationships between Vietnam and the U.S. had improved and that those ties could continue to be improved, which he said made it possible for Vietnam to get certain types of weapons to enhance its capability of coastline protection.
“We have recently made important strides as demonstrated by the U.S. decision last year to ease our lethal arms embargo, which we need to do more of.”
Strongly criticizing China’s actions, especially unprecedented land reclamation, in the East Sea, globally known as the South China Sea, McCain said those actions are challenging the sovereignty of Vietnam and its ASEAN neighbors, as well as “longstanding U.S. national interests and the principles of the liberal world order.”
The U.S. has got information that China is placing mobile artillery on the artificial islands which the Chinese government has illegally built in the East Sea, he said, describing this action as “a disturbing development and an escalatory development.”
He underscored the need to “make the Chinese understand that their actions are in violation of international law, and that their actions are going to be condemned by everyone in the world.
“This buildup and the placement now of military assets is a direct violation of all of those principles. The United States won’t shrink from these challenges.”
He reiterated America’s firm position of continuing to send military aircraft and ships to the East Sea to conduct patrols within 12 nautical miles of reefs which China has been building up in Vietnam’s Truong Sa islands (Spratly).
Senator McCain quoted U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter as saying last week: “The United States will fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows, as we do all around the world.”
Recently a U.S. surveillance aircraft flew over the artificial islands China has been illegally building in Truong Sa and it was the first time USS Fort Worth had become the first littoral combat ship to operate in international waters near China’s artificial islands.
McCain said the U.S. is committed to preserving international law, which means freedom of navigation.
“No one country will determine the future of the Asia-Pacific region. That future, I believe, will instead be shaped by the growing majority of Asians who have rising expectations for good governance, opportunity, rule of law, and the prospect of peace and equal justice among all nations, all nations large and small.”
Senator Jack Reed underlined the need to settle disputes by peaceful means. “We have heard over and over again how concerned the people are here about the activities of the Chinese. Sovereignty disputes should be resolved through legal, peaceful means.”
Reed urged all the countries in the region to work together, respect the sovereignty and rights of their neighbors and ensure that the norms of international law are respected by every country.”
McCain ruled out the possibility of a conflict between the U.S. and China, saying the U.S. will use diplomacy and economic measures to show what the Chinese are doing is unacceptable behavior for one of the world’s superpowers.
“We are not going to have a conflict with China. But we can take certain measures which will be disincentives to China for them to continue this kind of activity.”
He emphasized what China has been building up in the East Sea are not islands but areas of reclamation, so the U.S. will not respect any kind of sovereignty over those areas of reclamation.
Senator Dan Sullivan noted China’s actions would lead to its isolation. “Is there any other country in the region or globally that is supportive of what China is doing and saying about reclamation activities? As far as we can tell, the answer is no.”