US Defense Secretary Esper accuses China of intimidating smaller Asian nations
HANOI, Vietnam — U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Wednesday accused China of using coercion and intimidation against smaller Asian nations to impose its will in the South China Sea. He urged Vietnam and others in the region to push back.
“The United States firmly opposes intimidation by any claimant to assert its territorial or maritime claims, and we call for an end to the bullying and unlawful activities,” Esper said.
As part of a long-term effort to forge closer relations with Vietnam, Esper announced that the U.S. will provide Vietnam‘s coast guard with a surplus American ship. He said it would be provided next year, but he gave no details on payment or exact timing.
Esper met with several top government officials and paid a visit to the city’s Hoa Lo prison, dubbed the “Hanoi Hilton” by American servicemen held there during the Vietnam War. The late Sen. John McCain was held there after he was shot down in his Navy jet over Hanoi in 1967.