Vietnam hosted what it described as the first official port visit by a Chinese warship. The frigate docked Tuesday in the central Vietnamese city of Danang, which is where the first U.S. soldiers came ashore in 1965. Vietnam and China are working on improving their sometimes strained relations, but many Vietnamese distrust China.
Morning Edition, NPR, November 18, 2008
Hear the radio report:
A Chinese Navy warship is visiting Vietnam this week, only the second such visit since Vietnam and China normalized relations in 1991, Vietnam’s government spokesman confirmed. The Chinese Navy training vessel Zheng He, which carries more than 400 military personnel, docks at the port of Danang from November 18-22.
The “friendly visit” of the Chinese warship to Vietnam, government spokesman Le Dung told a press conference in Hanoi, will “help to promote friendship and cooperation between the two ministries of defence as well as the two peoples.”
Vietnamese political experts welcomed the visit, and said it would be better if there were more such visits.
“Vietnam’s agreement to receive a Chinese Navy ship at this time makes sense,” said Bui Truong Giang, deputy director of the Centre for International Security and Strategic Studies in Hanoi. “Vietnam has agreed to receive the US’s and many other countries’ warships, like Japan and Australia. Why shouldn’t Vietnam receive Chinese warships?”
|Admiral Zheng He|
“This visit is significant because the Chinese [ship] is calling at Danang, which has operational control over the East Sea,” Carl Thayer, a Vietnam expert at the Australian National Defence University, wrote via email. He said the visit followed other confidence-building measures such as Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung’s visit to China in October.
Dung said the ship’s officers would meet city leaders in Danang and hold talks with Vietnamese Navy and other military officers.
The two countries’ marines are scheduled to stage several activities during the visit, including playing volleyball against each other, Dung said.
The Zheng He recently visited Cambodia and Thailand.
The Zheng He is named after the Chinese admiral who led the country’s huge fleet in expeditions across the Indian Ocean in 1405 and 1433.
China’s navy grows in sophistication ans size every year. Photo: China Daily, via Reuters