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Li Kaisheng, a research Fellow at the Institute of International Relations in Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, said Vietnam's frequent talks with the US and Japan about the South China Sea should not be viewed as benign.
"Japan's help to upgrade Vietnamese Coast Guard vessels is aimed at inciting Vietnam to confront China at sea," he said in a commentary in the state-run Global Times.
"It is good to widen your circle of friends. However, if the intention is to guard against your neighbours, then it will create destabilizing factors in the future. This is true of interpersonal relationships, and also international ones," he said.
Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc recently visited Japan when both sides signed a total of 43 foreign direct investment agreements valued at over $22 billion.
Political security also formed an integral part of the meeting as both expressed "deep concerns" over the developments in the South China Sea. Japan pledged to provide $350 million to help upgrade Vietnamese Coast Guard vessels and their patrol capability.
Prior to his visit to Japan, Phuc and US President Donald Trump issued a joint statement to enhance their comprehensive partnership. The US transferred a Hamilton-class cutter to the Vietnam Coast Guard.
Li said: "The involvement of countries from outside a region should not act to destabilize regional cooperation."