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Vietnam is seeking to purchase a variety of military equipment from the United States, including to improve its surveillance capabilities in the South China Sea

U.S. Vice President Harris meets Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Zheng in Hanoi on August 25, 2021 (Reuters)
U.S. Vice President Harris meets Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Zheng in Hanoi on August 25, 2021 (Reuters)

Several U.S. defense contractors are believed to have held talks with Vietnamese defense officials on military equipment deals.

Reuters (Dec. 14, 2022) — Major U.S. defense contractors such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and Raytheon met with officials from Vietnam’s Defense Ministry and Ministry of Public Security during Vietnam’s major military equipment exhibition last week, Reuters (Dec. 14, 2022) quoted sources as saying that the talks were “promising” to reach a final deal.

Traditionally, Vietnam has mainly imported weapons and equipment from Russia, but after Russia was subject to international sanctions for its invasion of Ukraine, Hanoi is more interested than ever in importing military equipment from the United States, including military equipment that can help improve Vietnam’s air and maritime surveillance capabilities in the South China Sea.

The U.S. lifted an arms embargo on Vietnam in 2016, and exports of equipment to Vietnam over the past few years include nonlethal weapons such as coastal guard ships and training aircraft.

U.S. arms exports to Vietnam face multiple barriers, including Washington’s concerns about human rights in Vietnam and concerns about the impact arms exports could have on Vietnam’s tensions with China.

Vietnam significantly expanded land reclamation projects in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea in the second half of this year to consolidate its claim to the disputed water, according to a report just published by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington-based think tank.

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Vietnam’s recent reclamation is small compared to China’s 3,200-hectare reclamation between 2013 and 2016, but far larger than its previous expansion, indicating a big step toward consolidating its sea claims, the report said.

(This article is based on a Reuters report.)

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