Kerry criticizes China, announces new US maritime security aid to Southeast Asia amid tensionsPublished 9:54am Monday, December 16, 2013
HANOI, Vietnam — Taking clear aim at China’s growing aggressiveness in territorial disputes with its smaller neighbors, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced Monday that the United States will boost maritime security assistance to the countries of Southeast Asia amid rising tensions with Beijing.
On his first visit to Vietnam as America’s top diplomat, Kerry pledged an additional $32.5 million for members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to protect their territorial waters and navigational freedom in the South China Sea, where four states have competing claims with China. Included in the new aid is up to $18 million for Vietnam alone that will include five fast patrol-boats for its Coast Guard. With the new contribution, U.S. maritime security assistance to the region will exceed $156 million over the next two years, he said.