Vietnam just hosted an event at the Hanoi Airbase that attracted 174 exhibitors from 30 countries who are looking to create partnerships with the country and become its top weapons distributor.

US Ambassador Marc Knapper told the media that the fair “represents a new stage in Vietnam’s efforts to globalize, diversify and modernize, and the United States want to be part of it.”

The US and Russia compete to become the main weapons supplier for Vietnam, the strategic Southeast Asian country that borders China. This competition has intensified recently as both countries attempt to gain a foothold in the region and capitalize on the growing demand for advanced weaponry.

This arms race is rooted in geopolitical considerations: both the US and Russia seek to increase their influence in Asia by supplying Vietnam with military hardware. For example, the US, which has long had a strong presence in East Asia, views Vietnam as an important ally against Chinese expansionism, while Russia is keen to counterbalance Washington’s hegemony by establishing closer ties with Hanoi and providing it with modern arms.