Ever insinuating itself into long-standing maritime boundary disputes around the South China Sea, the Obama Administration had long centered their “Asia pivot,” and the need to “confront” China militarily, on the Philippines. Recent Philippines official comments suggest they aren’t welcoming that role.
But maybe Vietnam is about to supplant the Philippines as the regional excuse for US involvement, with Defense Minister Lt. Gen. Nguyen Chi Vinh today publicly endorsing US “intervention” in the region as a way to add to regional peace and stability.
Vinh insisted Vietnam would support the intervention of any of its “partners,” including the US, into the region. Vietnam has territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea, centering on the Spratly Islands. The two fought a brief skirmish in the area in 1988, during which China sunk multiple Vietnamese ships.
A half dozen nations have conflicting claims in the South China Sea, and the US has made it a matter of policy to back the claims of every nation so long as they conflict with China. Though the islands in the sea are by and large uninhabited, there is considerable interest in the maritime rights because of potential undersea oil reserves.
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