Reuters reports Vietnam is courting Western military contractors in its effort to maintain the power balance in the sea that is so contentious it has at least three names — South China Sea on Western and Chinese maps, East Sea in Vietnam, and West Philippine Sea if you happen to live in Manila.
Vietnam is prepared to spend several hundred million dollars to increase its capacity for surveillance and patrols in the region that hosts half of the world’s oil tanker traffic.
In the past, Vietnam has relied on Russian submarines and other military equipment hardware. But now Israel is considered the front-runner to win a coveted electronics surveillance contract.
The U.S., meanwhile, is pressuring the Vietnamese government to improve its human rights record before granting American military contractors permission to do business there.
More on Vietnam’s arms from the west