China and Vietnam at odds over disputed oil rig in the South China Sea

Associated Press
In this Sunday, May 4, 2014 file image made from video released by Vietnam Coast Guard, a Chinese coast guard vessel, right, fires water cannon at a Vietnamese vessel off the coast of Vietnam after China deployed an oil rig in disputed South China Sea waters. A top Chinese diplomat will visit Vietnam this week after China's deployment of a giant oil rig off Vietnam's coast in May increased tensions. (AP Photo/Vietnam Coast Guard, File)

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In a decision likely to anger China, the US is partly lifting a 40-year ban on arms sales to former foe Vietnam to help boost defenses in the tense South China Sea.

The historic easing of the ban in place since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975 will only apply to maritime equipment, State Department officials stressed, and comes amid warming ties and as Hanoi makes "modest" improvements to human rights.

"What's driving this is not a sudden desire to transfer military equipment to Vietnam writ large, but a specific need in the region," said one official, highlighting what he called Vietnam's lack of capacity in the disputed waters and America's own national security interests.

"It's useful in trying to deal with the territorial disputes in the South China Sea to bolster the capacity of our friends in the region to maintain a maritime presence in some capacity." (AFP)



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