According to the US DoD, China has "resumed its coercive interference in Vietnam's longstanding oil and gas activities in the South China Sea (SCS), directly contradicting Chinese Minister of Defense Wei Fenghe’s pledge at the Shangri-La Dialogue that China would “stick to the path of peaceful development”.
The Pentagon also said in its statement that Beijing "will not win the trust of its neighbors nor the respect of the international community by maintaining its bullying tactics", adding that "its actions to coerce ASEAN claimants, station offensive military systems, and enforce an unlawful maritime claim raise serious doubts over China's credibility".
A majority of islands in the South China Sea are controlled by Beijing, however, many of those territories are also claimed by other countries, including Vietnam, Cambodia, Brunei and the Philippines.
China recently claimed the entire South China Sea as a sovereign territory and built many military bases on artificial islands over sensitive marine habitat. The United States and other regional nations view the sea as an international waterway. Washington routinely defies Beijing with patrols by US and allied warships in so-called freedom of navigation exercises.
Earlier this year, US Assistant Secretary of Defence for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs Randall Schriver said that the US was seeking stronger military ties with Vietnam as it continues to enhance the country's military capabilities amid an alleged growing Chinese threat.