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Mike Pompeo tours Asia on a China-bashing tour

Joint statement

A joint statement by Pompeo and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said: “We look forward to continuing to work together to build on our relationship and to make the region — throughout Southeast Asia, Asia and the Indo-Pacific — safe and peaceful and prosperous.”’ Phuc said he hoped for “sincere cooperation” between the two nations to support peace in the region.

US State Dept. critical of Chinese actions in Mekong Area and claims in South China Sea

Although not mentioning China explicitly by name, the US State Dept. issued a statement before Pompeo’s visit slamming China for activities in the Mekong River and the South China Sea where China and Vietnam have conflicting claims. The US State Dept. criticized China for damming parts of the Mekong River claiming that China’s “malign and destabilizing actions in the Mekong region, including manipulating the river water flows, negatively affect millions of people who depend on the river for their livelihoods.

Concerning the South China Sea,
the State Department said the US “stands with our Indo-Pacific allies and partners in protecting their sovereign rights to offshore resources in the South China Sea.” Last July the Trump administration had formally rejected most of China’s claim to the South China Sea.

US activity

The US frequently sails warships through disputed water to counter China’s claims, With US China tensions at the highest point in years the region claimed by China has seen a significant increase in US military activity. Just this week, Pompeo visited India, Sri Lanka, the Maldivesl, and Indonesia. In India Pompeo together with Mark Esper, Secretary of Defense signed a military agreement with India that will give India more access to satellite data that will increase the accuracy of its missiles and drones. In the Malidives, Pompeo announced that the US will open an embassy in the country for the first time.

Paracel Islands dispute

Nguyen Phu Trong the president of Vietnam has called for talks with China on completing claims in the South China Sea including the Paracel Islands in a call he made to Chinese president Xi Jinping on Tuesday. China has been continuing military drills near the Paracel Islands. Both countries claim the territories.

Trong suggested the two countries
should “work together to address their existing problems especially on maritime issues according to the Vietnames communist party news outlet Nhan Dan. The Chinese foreign ministry has said that the two leaders stressed the need for cooperation over conflict. Xi claimed that relations between Vietnam and China along with their ruling communist parties had reached a new historic starting point. This year was the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two parties. Xi also praised the party leadership in both countries claiming that their mutual aid during the COVID-19 pandemic reflected their comradely relations.

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