“Over time what we’ve seen is a progressive deepening and broadening of the [bilateral] relationship,” Obama said. “And what became apparent to me and my administration at this point was … that it was appropriate for us not to have a blanket, across-the-board ban.”The U.S. implemented the ban during the Vietnam War, which ended in 1975 after the army withdrew forces from Saigon. North Vietnam ambushed the city, reunited the two Vietnams, and renamed the capital Ho Chi Minh City after the revolutionary leader.
China performed a series of test flights for the first time Saturday on a newly constructed runway in the South China Sea. The 3,000 meter airstrip sits atop a Fiery Cross Reef, an artificial island constructed by the Chinese in the Spratly Islands region. The airstrip is long enough to accommodate a variety of aircraft including 4-engine jets, military transport planes, and the nation's most advanced fighters. A spokesperson with the Chinese Foreign Ministry claimed a civil flight test was performed with civilian aircraft.
The Spratly Islands are one of the world's most highly contested regions and are claimed by Vietnam, China, and Taiwan. They are also claimed in part by the Philippines, Brunei, and Malaysia. Responding to China's activities on Saturday, Vietnam launched a formal diplomatic protest and it is expected that the Philippines will follow suit. Vietnam's response comes after an improvement in American-Vietnamese relations as China's presence in this region becomes a shared threat to both America and Vietnam. Defense Secretary Carter's vocal opposition to China's activities has further emboldened countries bordering the South China Sea.
China has evacuated more than 3,000 of its citizens from Vietnam and is sending ships to retrieve more of them after deadly anti-Chinese violence erupted last week over a territorial dispute between the two countries. Five Chinese ships will travel to Vietnam to help with the evacuation, the official Chinese news agency Xinhua reported Sunday, citing the Ministry of Transport. One of the ships has already set off from the southern island province of Hainan, the ministry said. Sixteen critically injured Chinese citizens were flown out of Vietnam on Sunday morning on a chartered medical plane organized by Chinese authorities, Xinhua said. Two Chinese citizens were killed and more than 100 others were injured in the violence that hit parts of Vietnam last week, according to the news agency. Some of the worst violence appeared to have taken place in the central coastal province of Ha Tinh. Foreign factories, particularly those run by companies from China and Taiwan, were burned and looted by rioters outraged over Beijing's decision to send an oil rig into waters of the South China Sea that both countries claim as sovereign territory.Protests are usually not permitted in Vietnam, but were initially allowed until violence erupted and the situation grew out of control, according to CNN. Authorities there are now trying to stop the protests. Reuters reports that police in a few areas of Vietnam on Sunday were directing those gathering for rallies to disperse. The conflict began earlier this month when China first parked the aforementioned oil rig in the disputed waters, triggering back and forth demands from both sides to retreat. From the Associated Press via Yahoo News:
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