New Vietnam PM says won’t pursue military buildup in South China Sea

Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc is seen during an interview at the Government Office in Hanoi, Vietnam May 25, 2016. REUTERS/Kham

Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc is seen during an interview at the Government Office in Hanoi, Vietnam May 25, 2016. REUTERS/Kham

Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said on Wednesday his country was not pursuing a military buildup over the South China Sea and would work with allies to seek peaceful solutions to disputes, with no use of force.

Speaking in a rare interview with some foreign journalists after a visit by U.S. President Barack Obama, Phuc said the South China Sea dynamic had grown in complexity and needed regional friends and strategic partners to ensure harmony and avoid any disruption to maritime trade.

His comments came two days after Obama removed a decades-old lethal arms embargo on Vietnam, allowing the communist country’s military to engage closer with its U.S. counterparts and procure American defense technology.

“Vietnam does not pursue military buildup, but Vietnam pursues protecting our sovereignty, firstly with peaceful measures, diplomatic measures and even justice measures,” Phuc said.

“Vietnam is a country that loves peace and Vietnam resolves international and regional issues based on international laws … in the spirit of not using force and not using force to threaten each other.”

Phuc made no reference to China during the interview and it was unclear what he meant when he used the word “justice” as a means of preserving Vietnam’s sovereignty claims.

He took office last month and is a member of a leadership triumvirate that has the difficult task of maintaining the Communist Party’s close ties with its Chinese counterpart, while under pressure from its people to stand up to Beijing’s growing maritime assertiveness.

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The end of the U.S. arms embargo, one of the last vestiges of the Vietnam War, could be a big boost to what experts say is Vietnam’s pursuit of a deterrent by modernizing its forces to defend a long coastline and forge stronger security ties.

But Phuc said the priority was bringing Southeast Asian states and partners like Japan, to agree to de-escalate tension peacefully and not by “using force to threaten”.

“I repeat this again – no conflict,” he said.

“Vietnam does not have a militarization policy but we have necessary measures of working together with other countries … to ensure peace, freedom of navigation, aviation and commerce.”

Phuc hailed as a success Obama’s three-day visit, which ended on Wednesday. He said Vietnam’s leaders and people had welcomed him with affection and friendship.

“He himself said the welcome of Vietnamese people has touched his heart,” he said. “(He was) very moved and very thankful.”

Asked about whether Vietnam’s political system and conservative values were conducive to realizing its economic ambitions, Phuc said his country’s pursuit of trade liberalization showed communism was not an obstacle.

“Our country is a country led by the Communist party, but our country is a country following a market economy,” he said.

“We can’t say Vietnam is a conservative country. A market economy must be dynamic, it can’t be conservative.”

He said a key priority for Vietnam was managing its spiraling public debt and keeping the ratio below 65 percent of gross domestic product while maintaining annual growth of 6.5-7 percent for the next five years.

Source: Reuters “New Vietnam PM says won’t pursue military buildup in South China Sea”


4 Comments on “New Vietnam PM says won’t pursue military buildup in South China Sea”

  1. Tyler reber says:

    I was curious how Vietnam would respond to the embargo lift. A lot of people made foolish and inappropriate speculations that weapons would be sold to Vietnam as a poke at china.

    But no weapons deal was made, nor any sign that Vietnam had an interest in buying US weapons. All that happened is Vietnam has another choice.

    Will Vietnam buy expensive US weapons if it’s focus is peaceful solutions? Even if they did buy, they would only be useful to war with its small neighbors.

    If I were to speculate, the move was to end the embargo to make it appropriate to give Vietnam weapons like so many other countries.


    • Fu Man-Chu says:

      It is apparent the Vietnamese PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc is very much aware that Obama’s attempt at normalising U.S.’s relations with Vietnam is very much for U.S. interest and not for Vietnam’s interest. It is still fresh in the memory of Vietnamese that Washington attempted to take over the colony of Vietnam from France when the Vietnamese were fighting to oust the invading foreign French colonial forces whose occupation was temporary disrupted due to the war in Europe. The older generation are still very much in anger and bitterness at the wholesale wanton massacre of Vietnamese by the psychopathic yankees, not to mention the awful destruction wrought upon the country by an unthinking unfeeling terminator style American war machine. Obama should not expect too much. Like the embarassing incident with Raoul Castro of Cuba, his pretentious charm was held at arms length literally by Raoul. So too will his fake friendliness be limited to handshakes only in Vietnam. Putin and Russia comes first and anytime before Obama and Washington.


  2. Joseph says:

    It is curious how Vietnam has suddenly become US new unwilling best friend. There is usually quiet coming out from Phillipines since Duterte was elected president. It is just as the US tried to grab ally, forcefully if necessary, to legitimate their presence in SCS. Vietnam is after all, according to the American, is the last ally it has in SCS, eventhough Vietnam does not seem to think so. Lifting the arm embargo to Vietnam seems to be a big deal to the American, but it is just considered symbolic by the Vietnamese. After all, the Vietnamese know best from Vietnam War that American arms are not good to be blown away, not for defense investment. The thousands of Huei that the Vietnamese blown away during Vietnam War, made it the most helicopter ever produced. And they did it with Chinese ammunition too.


  3. Steve says:

    The article states President Obama was welcomed by the Vietnam leaders with affection and friendship. Does the new generation of Vietnamese realise how the Vietnam war was erupted thru lies and deceit by the US leadership, slaughtering over 3,000,000 of it’s citizens. The US has effectively granted Vietnam with preferential client status in military weapon procurement. I can only assume that the leaders in Vietnam maybe considering another Hague arbitration depending on the response of the Philippine tribunal award against China, when PM Phuc said he will consider justice measures. An air of delusion.