The Straits Times
Published on Aug 22, 2014
David Koh For The Straits Times

US-Viet romance puts China in a fix


The intrigue in the US-China-Vietnam triangular relationship deepened on Aug 13, when General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the United States Armed Forces, visited Vietnam and met top military and political leaders. No doubt, China will watch with weary eyes, and perhaps even lament that this romance between its competitors is all its own doing.

Gen Dempsey, sent by Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel, said Mr Hagel and President Barack Obama told him: "The place for you right now is Vietnam."

His visit is the first by a top military commander from the US since 1971. And it was made despite other urgent military situations in the Middle East and eastern Europe.

The historic visit followed the return of US Senator John McCain from a trip to Hanoi a week earlier, and the visit of Vietnamese Political Bureau member Pham Quang Nghi to the US late last month.