Editor's note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series on the South China Sea territorial disputes and the various claimant countries' approaches to addressing them.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter was in Hanoi today, where he and Vietnamese Defense Secretary Phung Quang Thanh signed a “joint vision statement” that outlines expanded military ties and increased maritime security cooperation. Carter also announced plans to give Vietnam $18 million for the purchase of coast guard vessels from the United States.
Carter’s visit comes as tensions in the South China Sea are on the rise, given China’s aggressive island-building campaign. Though other countries have built facilities on disputed islands in the South China Sea, China’s are exceptional for their size and scope. As Timothy R. Heath explained last month for World Politics Review:
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