Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) - On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and the United States, the Secretary General of the Communist Party of Hanoi, Nguyen Phu Trong, will visit Washington to discuss the "nine major pillars" of cooperation between the two countries and the renewed threat of Beijing in the South China Sea.
The meeting, which will take place in early July (although the exact dates have not been published), is the first ever visit by the highest office of the Vietnamese Party to the United States.
Ted Osius, US ambassador to Hanoi, is confident that this will be "a historic meeting. American leaders are ready to welcome the Vietnam delegation in this important visit". The Vietnamese Secretary-General retinue will be numerous, given the multiple topics to be discussed. Apart from the issue of China, other items on the agenda will include policies, security, economy, trade, education, health, environment and relations between the two States.
The Vietnamese media report that on June 25 Beijing relocated a Chinese oil platform HD-981 (v. Photo) in the waters of the South China Sea, about 167 km from the coast of Vietnam, in the exclusive economic zone of Hanoi, which is claimed also by China.
The Vietnamese press writes today that "the maritime authorities of Vietnam are closely monitoring the position of the China HD-981 oil rig." In May last year, Beijing had located the rig in the same area, in a move branded as provocative by both Vietnam and the States of South-East Asia.
According to China’s Maritime Safety Agency, the platform will search for of oil and natural gas in Lang Shui, north-east of the Paracel Islands (an archipelago subject of disputes), from June 25 to August 20. The Chinese government has banned all foreign vessels from entering in '"work area" of the platform, which has a two-kilometer radius.
On June 25, the Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Tu Quan, confirmed - as already announced two weeks ago - that Beijing is completing the construction of military and civilian bases in the Spratly Islands, disputed by Vietnam and many countries of the south-east Asia.
Hanoi and Washington fear that the Chinese artificial islands could be used for military purposes and to impose Beijing control’s on navigation in the South China Sea, an area rich in oil and natural gas, with an annual turnover of more than 5 trillion dollars.