China said Friday it hoped that normalized relations between the U.S. and Vietnam would benefit regional peace. The comments come on the heels of Washington’s consideration to lift a three-decade arms embargo on Vietnam.
U.S. President Barack Obama will be visiting Vietnam later this month. American officials reportedly said he is considering lifting the embargo, which Vietnam said it would welcome. The former wartime foes are now closely watching China’s growing military assertiveness in the contested South China Sea region.
“From the Chinese government’s point of view, we are happy to see Vietnam develop normal relations with the relevant country,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said. “We also hope this relationship can benefit regional peace, stability and prosperity.”
The arms ban on Vietnam was relaxed in late 2014 and is one of the last major remnants of the Vietnam War era. The lifting of the embargo would also mark an important step in the ties between the two 21 years after normalization began, Reuters reported.
Vietnam is reported to be in discussions with Western and U.S. arms manufacturers for several years to bolster its fleet of fighter jets, helicopters and maritime patrol aircraft. The country has stepped up efforts to build a military deterrent as China works toward claiming most of the disputed South China Sea.