HANOI – China’s rise has altered the dynamics within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and across Asia, as was on display at recently concluded summits meetings in Hanoi. Chinese naval expansion and increasingly assertive claims to disputed maritime areas in the East and South China Seas has prompted Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and others to reaffirm their enthusiasm for America’s security umbrella after some ambivalence in recent years. Japan and India, China’s main Asian rivals, are increasingly looking to each other, and to Southeast Asia, as a hedge against China’s rise, which has taken a hard turn in recent months. Prime Ministers Naoto Kan and Manmohan Singh met after the Hanoi summits, which were overshadowed by the mud-slinging coming from the Chinese and Japanese delegations. “Prime Minister Kan was keen to understand how India engages China,” India’s foreign secretary, Nirupama Rao said after that meeting. As well as increasing ties with Japan, India’s slow-to-action ‘Look East’ policy, which has brought the self-proclaimed world’s largest democracy into disrepute over its feting of the Myanmar junta, is likely to be enhanced in coming years, as highlighted in the statement issued after the India-ASEAN summit.
BANGKOK — Last week, just over fifteen years after the US and Vietnam normalised relations marred by decades-old war, the naval destroyer USS John S. McCain docked in the central Vietnamese city of Da Nang to mark the anniversary. The ship is named after the grandfather of 2008 US presidential candidate John McCain, a former prisoner of war in Vietnam. Commanding officer Jeffrey Kim said that “over the last 15 years, we’ve established trust, a mutual respect, and I know that, in the coming years, our friendship and relationship will continue to become better.”According to a Vietnamese scholar who requested anonymity, the tighter relations are seen as a good thing inside the country. “Vietnamese view the US rather positive as the war is becoming history in the memory of a new generation,” he commented in an email.