The president of the United States, Joe Biden, highlighted this Sunday during his visit to Vietnam the deepening of cooperation with this country bordering China, a trip that is expected to be focused on trade in semiconductors and rare earths.
Biden arrived this Sunday from India, after participating in the G20 summit, and was received with pomp by Nguyen Phu Trong, the general secretary of the Communist Party that governs Vietnam.
The objective of the visit is to sign an “expanded strategic alliance” which is the highest level of diplomatic cooperation that Vietnam has, a country where the United States deployed its troops in a war that ended in 1975.
“This can be the beginning of an era of even greater cooperation,” Biden said in his meeting with Nguyen Phu Trong.
“Vietnam and the United States are key partners at what I would say is a very critical moment,” said the American president, who was received by a band of military personnel dressed in gala clothes and a crowd of schoolchildren who waved flags of both countries.
The main objective of Biden’s visit to Vietnam is the same as that of the G20 summit: to rally support in the face of China’s growing influence.
Washington and Hanoi have reached an agreement on the production of semiconductors in Vietnam “for the benefit of the American industry” and with the aim of making it less dependent on the Asian giant, according to a statement released on Sunday.
Vietnamese Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong and US President Joe Biden. AP Photo
The United States sees Vietnam – a technology producer that also has rare earth reserves – as important in its strategy to reduce its dependence on China, after years of supply chain disruptions and tensions with Beijing.
The Vietnamese leader praised Biden upon his arrival at the presidential palace in Hanoi and told him: “You have not aged a day, in fact I would say you look better than ever.”
The American president – who is 80 years old, is campaigning for re-election in 2024 and is often criticized for his age – responded with a smile.
Vietnam seeks to give the impression that it does not take sides with either the United States or China, but shares Washington’s concern about Beijing’s claims in the disputed South China Sea, where Hanoi also has claims.
Russia and war
Before Biden’s arrival, The New York Times reported that Vietnam is secretly negotiating a new arms deal with Russia, despite the sanctions imposed by Western powers on Moscow.
Finer referred this Sunday to the military cooperation relations that Russia and Vietnam have maintained for decades.
According to the senior US official, there is “growing unease among the Vietnamese” regarding this relationship and stated that Washington and its allies can help Hanoi “diversify its partners.”
On Monday, the US president will meet with his counterpart, Vo Van Thuong, and Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh.
Biden said he raised the issue of human rights in his meeting with Trong and pledged to continue “frank dialogue.”
The president arrives in Vietnam a few days after the United States Government Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) criticized that in this country there are “persistent” violations in this matter and that the situation seems to be getting worse.
Biden – who is critical of China on human rights – is largely silent on the situation in Vietnam and activists fear he will not press the issue during the visit.
To visit Hanoi, Biden had to leave the G20 summit before the end, whose leaders agreed on a joint declaration that avoided divisions over the war in Ukraine and the fight against climate change.
Biden’s agenda includes a visit to the memorial of his friend John McCain, the late Republican senator who fought during the Vietnam War, was captured and endured a long captivity, but later helped rebuild relations between the two countries.