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With China also hurrying to strengthen its navy, the Sino-American competition for superiority in the Asia-Pacific region appears bound to intensify.

"Through hard work, mutual respect, and by continuing to address the past while we work toward a better future, we have gone from former enemies to close partners", Kritenbrink said in the Navy statement.

Determined to protect its claims in the South China Sea, Hanoi has emerged as the leading - if not lone - voice of resistance against Chinese maritime assertiveness. Danang saw heavy fighting during the war as the site of a major USA military base, but those gathered showed no sign of bearing a grudge.

The arrival of the Carl Vinson strike group's 5,500 sailors marks the first time such a large contingent of American military personnel has landed on Vietnamese soil since the last of the U.S. troops withdrew in 1975. Some Vietnamese officials are concerned that China could respond to the US visit by maintaining its own presence in Vietnamese waters.

In January, the Defense Department labeled China and Russian Federation "revisionist powers" seeking to undermine the worldwide order.

USA military and administration officials presented the visit as a "routine" affair that would help build "people to people connections", as Lt. Commander Tim Hawkins told journalists visiting USS Carl Vinson. The carrier also stopped in the Philippines in February.

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The Carl Vinson is filling in for the Japan-based USS Ronald Reagan, the Navy's only forward-deployed aircraft carrier.

Around 5,500 sailors will set foot on vietnamese soil in the first visit by an American aircraft carrier since the v\Vietnam war.

China's Foreign Ministry responded to the USS Carl Vinson's visit on Friday by expressing hopes that exchanges between the US and Vietnam would "contribute to regional peace and stability in a positive and constructive way, instead of adding any unsettling factors". About 58,000 American soldiers and an estimated 3 million Vietnamese were killed in the war.

United States carriers frequently ply the South China Sea in a rising pattern of naval deployments, and are now routinely shadowed by Chinese naval vessels, naval officers in the region say.

In recent years, Vietnam has consistently been at the forefront of multilateral diplomatic efforts, particularly in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), to criticize China's massive reclamation activities across disputed land features in the South China Sea.

The United States normalized relations with Vietnam in 1995 and lifted an arms embargo in 2016, and the two former adversaries have steadily improved bilateral relations in all areas, including trade, investment and security.