On July 22, UK Defense Minister Ben Wallace visited Hanoi to discuss bilateral defense cooperation, including maritime security.
The British Embassy in Vietnam announced Minister Wallace’s three-day visit to Vietnam from July 21-23: “During talks with Vietnam’s Defense Minister, General Phan Van Giang, the two sides discussed bilateral defense relations, including maritime security. Minister Wallace affirmed that the bilateral relationship between the UK and Vietnam is developing strongly under the new Agreement on Strategic Partnership, in which defense and security are one of the focuses.”
New British aircraft carrier is coming to the South China Sea
The Vietnam People’s Army newspaper (People’s Army) reported on the meeting between Mr. Wallace and Mr. Giang, including the passage: “The UK shares views with Vietnam in resolving the East Sea [South China Sea] issue, affirming the importance of freedom of navigation and overflight, upholding the rule of law, emphasizing that disagreements should be resolved by peaceful means, based on international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982.”
During his meeting with Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, British Defense Secretary Wallace shared Britain’s vision of the Indo-Pacific strategy and the General Report on National Policy on Security, Development and External Relations.
Defense Minister Wallace emphasized: “This visit is a great opportunity to discuss common security challenges facing Vietnam and strengthen defense cooperation.”
A wreath of the British Defense Minister is placed at the Vietnam Heroic Martyrs Memorial in Bac Son, Hanoi, on July 22, 2021.
Minister Wallace visited and laid a wreath at the Monument to Heroes and Martyrs in Bac Son, Ba Dinh, Hanoi, according to the British Embassy. It is known that this memorial is the place to commemorate tens of thousands of Vietnamese soldiers who died in the border war with China on February 17, 1979.
The British Defense Minister also met with Mr. Le Hoai Trung, head of the Foreign Affairs Department of the Communist Party of Vietnam’s Central Committee, to discuss opportunities to strengthen bilateral relations. The British Defense Minister welcomed Vietnam’s support for the UK to become a Dialogue Partner of ASEAN. This will open the door to further tighten UK defense cooperation with Southeast Asia, still according to the British Embassy.
The visit to Vietnam is the last leg of Defense Secretary Wallace’s Asia tour, which includes Japan and South Korea. “The visit confirmed the UK’s Indo-Pacific strategy and the UK’s commitment to expanding defense ties with key partners in the region in order to address international relations. common threat,” the British Embassy said.
In related developments, on July 22, Vietnamese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang said that US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s visit to Vietnam next week will continue to contribute to the framework of the Vietnam-US Comprehensive Partnership.
The visit of the US Defense Secretary continues to contribute to the trusting relationship between the peoples and militaries of the two countries, implements agreements reached by senior leaders of the two countries, and contributes to the framework of the Vietnam-US Comprehensive Partnership,” Hang said.
At the same time, Ms. Hang added that Mr. Austin will visit Vietnam for two days from July 28-29, but did not detail Mr. Austin’s activities during this visit.
The US Embassy in Hanoi quoted the US Department of Defense spokesman as saying about the Asia tour, including Singapore and the Philippines, by Minister Austin “This visit will underscore our commitment to the United States’ longstanding interest in the region, as well as its interest in maintaining the rules-based international order in the region and promoting ASEAN centrality.”
Meanwhile, Vietnamese Foreign Ministry’s Spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang on July 22 spoke out about the UK’s deployment of two permanent warships in Asian waters, according to the Voice of Vietnam (VOV).
When asked about this information, according to VOV, Ms. Hang said: “Vietnam’s consistent policy is that maritime activities of countries inside and outside the region need to comply with relevant regulations of international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982 (UNCLOS 1982).”
A spokesman for Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry spoke two days after Reuters reported that Britain said it would deploy two warships permanently in Asian waters after the Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier and its escorts. arrived in Japan in September through waters where China is vying for influence with the United States and Japan.
Hang also added that countries need to “responsibly contribute to maintaining peace, stability, security, safety, order, rule of law, and maritime cooperation for common interests, in accordance with line with the aspirations of countries in the region and the international community,” according to Voice of Vietnam.
The plans for a high-level visit by the aircraft carrier strike group come as London strengthens its security ties with Tokyo, which has voiced growing alarm in recent months about China’s expansion in the region, including Taiwan, according to Reuters.
The British news agency added that in a joint statement in Tokyo with his Japanese counterpart Nobuo Kishi, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said “Following the first deployment of the battle group, the UK will designate two warships to be permanently stationed in the region from the end of this year.”
After the group’s arrival in Japan, Minister Kishi said, the Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier and its escorts will split up to make separate visits to US and Japanese naval bases along the way. Japanese archipelago, according to Reuters.
The news agency added that the British aircraft carrier is currently carrying F-35B stealth jets on its maiden voyage. The ship will dock at Yokosuka, home to the Japanese fleet command, and the USS Ronald Reagan, the only previously deployed US aircraft carrier.