For the first time since the Vietnam War, the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier is paying a visit to a Vietnamese port, seeking to bolster both countries' efforts to stem expansionism by China in the South China Sea.
But the arrival on Monday of the USS Carl Vinson also illustrates Hanoi's complex and evolving relationship with Beijing over the disputed South China Sea.
"Through hard work, mutual respect, and by continuing to address the past while we work toward a better future, we have gone from former enemies to close partners", he said.
US carriers frequently cross the South China Sea in a rising pattern of naval deployments, and are now routinely shadowed by Chinese naval vessels, naval officers in the region say.
The warship is anchored just two nautical miles off Danang, a port city with high historical significance where American troops first landed for war.
Vietnam's foreign ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang said the visit will "contribute to maintaining peace, stability, security, cooperation and development in the region".
Separately from this week's mission, USA officials say American warships continue sailing without prior notice close to China-occupied islands and atolls, an aggressive way of signalling to Beijing that the US does not recognize its sovereignty over those areas. "The visit also builds on the positive momentum of the comprehensive partnership between the US and Vietnam, and will not only serve to strengthen the bilateral defense relationship, but will also help enhance cultural and professional ties".
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The presence of the USS Carl Vinson, a U.S. Navy supercarrier, highlights the growing alliance between the U.S. and its erstwhile foe, and it could rattle the regional superpower China.
The nuclear-powered carrier will anchor off the port city of Danang, where U.S. combat troops first landed in the war, making this a highly symbolic location. Pacific Fleet. "I am confident that engagements like this will further expand the comprehensive partnership between the United States and Vietnam".
We've seen several, so yes, we've seen Chinese ships, ' Rear Admiral John Fuller, Commander, Carrier Strike Group 1, told reporters in Danang. "Also, we'd like to thank Vietnam for the excellent logistical support that makes this visit possible".
In July 2016, an worldwide court ruled that the so-called "nine-dash line"-a demarcation line China uses to lay claim to parts of the South China Sea-is inconsistent with global laws governing maritime resources".
The United States has long had a robust naval presence in Southeast Asia, in part to ensure the openness of the South China Sea trading routes. "Besides, the Americans have a habit of screwing up their allies as they did to the South Vietnamese authorities in the end of the Vietnam War", he added.
United States military ties with Vietnam have deepened since 2016, when Obama lifted the decades-old embargo on USA arms sales to the country as part of his Asia pivot.
Huynh Quang Nguyen, a taxi driver, echoed the sentiment.