Could China’s Aggression in the South China Sea Boost U.S.-Vietnam Relations?

Could China’s Aggression in the South China Sea Boost U.S.-Vietnam Relations?
China’s reclamation of Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands, South China Sea, May 11, 2015 (Photo by Ritchie B. Tongo for European Pressphoto Agency via AP Images).

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR Newsletter and Engagement Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curates the week’s top news and expert analysis on China.

Vietnam lodged an official protest with China after a Chinese coast guard ship collided with a Vietnamese fishing boat near the disputed Paracel Islands in the South China Sea on Thursday. Hanoi accused the Chinese ship of ramming and sinking the Vietnamese boat before capturing and detaining its crew of eight fishermen on a nearby island. Vietnamese state media reported that two other Vietnamese fishing boats attempted to rescue them, but were also detained.

China, however, claimed that the Vietnamese boat illegally entered the area and failed to leave after it was ordered to do so by the Chinese coast guard. It “suddenly turned sharply” and hit the Chinese vessel, causing it to sink, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Friday. The Chinese coast guard released the detained fishermen and the two fishing boats Thursday night.

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