Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden to update Americans on omicron; Congress back Former defense secretary Esper sues Pentagon in memoir dispute Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by Boeing — Major Russia weapons test stokes tensions MORE on Wednesday announced while visiting Vietnam that the United States would be providing the country's coast guard with a surplus American ship, The Associated Press reports.
At a speech earlier in the day at the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam, a government university, Esper criticized China for using coercion and intimidation against smaller Asian nations as it continues to try asserting its influence and power across the region.
“We will not accept attempts to assert unlawful maritime claims at the expense of law-abiding nations,” Esper said in the speech.
"The United States firmly opposes intimidation by any claimant to assert its territorial or maritime claims, and we call for an end to the bullying and unlawful activities," he said.
The ship will be delivered to Vietnam's coast guard sometime next year and is part of America's larger long-term effort to improve bilateral relations with the country.
Vietnam is one of the region's most vocal critics of China's territorial claims in the South China Sea and has accused China of wading into Vietnamese-controlled waters.