U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is visiting Vietnam to discuss how to respond to the actions of an “increasingly assertive China” in the region (Thom Shanker, “In Vietnam, Gates Faces Balancing Act With Assertive China,” New York Times, 10 October 2010):
Defense Secretarylanded on Sunday in , where the narrative of a past war with the United States has faded as the leadership here openly seeks American support to counter an increasingly assertive . …
Vietnam’s worries over Chinese encroachment can be seen in its recent choices for weapons purchases. Last year, Vietnam signed deals with Russia to buy six Kilo-class diesel-powered hunter-killer submarines for $1.8 billion and eight Sukhoi jet-fighters for another $500 million, according to the Congressional Research Service.
Both weapons are designed for protecting territorial waters and air space, and the arms deals illustrate Russia’s desires to support nations trying to curb China’s power.
The United States, while seeking to constantly improve diplomatic and military relations with Vietnam, has offered little in the way of weapons, mostly focusing its assistance on military training and officer education. Washington has continuing human rights concerns with Vietnam, mostly about ensuring freedom of religion here.