The USS Chung-Hoon visited Da Nang on April 21. (Photo courtesy of US Navy)
Vietnam is seeking assistance from Japan to strengthen its maritime policing in the disputed South China Sea against the threat of Beijing, according to the Tokyo-based Sankei Shimbun.
The PLA Air Force a few days ago sent 40 warplanes to escort a flotilla of eight naval vessels around the disputed Diaoyutai (Diaoyu or Senkaku) islands in the East China Sea to ward off a planned landing on the uninhabited islands by Japanese nationalists. Tokyo has decided to hold a talk with Hanoi on maritime security in May. With Japan and China locked in a standoff in the East China Sea, Vietnam has competing claims in the South China Sea over the Paracel and Spratly islands.
The Spratly chain is the most contended group of islands in the region, claimed in whole or in part by China, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei.
Japan has previously agreed to provide 10 patrol ships to the Philippines, which has an ongoing dispute with China concerning the Scarborough Shoal. Vietnam has reportedly also asked for 10 Japanese ships to patrol the areas it claims. As Japan has no more older ships to provide, the country may eventually have to construct new vessels for the Vietnam Marine Police.
The South China Sea dispute has also provided an opportunity for Vietnam to develop closer security ties with the United States. In 2009, officers from the Vietnam Marine Police began to receive training from the US Coast Guard. The guided-missile destroyer USS Chung-Hoon visited the Vietnamese port of Da Nang on April 21.