Japan has promised Vietnam ships to strengthen its forces in the South China Sea, with the two nations describing large-scale land reclamation there as a threat to peace — a veiled reference to China. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also pledged on Tuesday some $835 million in infrastructure loans after holding talks with Nguyen Phu Trong, in his first visit to Japan as general secretary of Vietnam’s ruling Communist Party. Both countries are locked in separate maritime territorial disputes with an increasingly assertive China and are strengthening cooperation as a result.
A statement after the talks said the leaders “expressed their serious concerns over recent and ongoing developments in the South China Sea”, although they stopped short of referring directly to Beijing. These “large-scale land reclamation and building of outposts have increased tensions, eroded trust and confidence, and threatened peace and stability in the region and the world”, they said. China claims the right to almost all of the South China Sea, parts of which are also claimed by the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam.