“The ship’s presence underlines the U.K.’s commitment to the Indo-Pacific, at the heart of which lies the U.K.’s partnership with Vietnam,” said British Embassy in Hanoi in a statement, reported Radio Free Asia…reports Asian Lite News.
British Royal Navy’s frigate Her Majesty’s Ship (HMS) Richmond reached Vietnam on Friday through Taiwan Strait, on a four-day friendly visit, that has irked China which has condemned the vessel’s passage through the sensitive strait as “a meaningless display of presence with an insidious intention.”
A picture of HMS Richmond arriving at Cam Ranh Bay was posted by the British Envoy to Vietnam.
“The ship’s presence underlines the U.K.’s commitment to the Indo-Pacific, at the heart of which lies the U.K.’s partnership with Vietnam,” said British Embassy in Hanoi in a statement, reported Radio Free Asia.
The statement also said that the frigate will conduct “bilateral cooperation activities” with Vietnam.
A few days ago China condemned the frigate passage through the Taiwan Strait, but UK made it clear that Taiwan Strait is part of international waters and free and open Indo-Pacific region.
HMS Richmond also broadcasted its location while passing through the strait. This move seemed to provoke China and it dispatched military units to follow and monitor the frigate’s passage.
The Royal Navy has also deployed two patrol vessels to the Indo-Pacific on a five-year mission to bolster Britain’s presence in the region, reports Radio Free Asia.
Earlier in July, the UK Secretary of State for Defence Ben Wallace made his first-ever visit to Vietnam.
Radio Free Asia commented that Hanoi has always been careful not to offend Beijing and the HMS Richmond’s visit is not being featured yet in main official news outlets such as the Nhan Dan (the Communist Party’s mouthpiece) and Quan Doi Nhan Dan (the Vietnamese army’s newspaper).
However, the media outlet said that China’s increasing assertiveness, especially in the South China Sea where the two neighbors have overlapping claims, has led Vietnam to expand its military and strategic cooperation with other nations.