Biden’s Engagement with Vietnam Focuses on Ensuring Global Stability, Not Encircling China

President Joe Biden emphasized that his visit to Vietnam was not aimed at starting a “cold war” with China but was instead part of a broader effort to promote global stability by strengthening relationships in Asia while tensions with Beijing persist. Speaking at a news conference in Vietnam’s capital after attending the Group of 20 summit in India, Biden clarified that the purpose of the visit was not to contain China but to establish a stable foundation. The United States’ elevated diplomatic status as Vietnam’s comprehensive strategic partner demonstrates the evolution of their relationship from the bitter past of the Vietnam War and reflects a broader regional effort to counter China’s influence. Biden expressed his belief that the world should not approach international relations through a Cold War lens, emphasizing the importance of generating economic growth and stability worldwide. The president highlighted the opportunity to strengthen alliances worldwide and maintain stability as the main focus of his trip. Biden began his news conference by noting his extensive travel itinerary, showcasing his administration’s efforts to build alliances. He also mentioned his meeting with Chinese Premier Li Qiang during his visit to India, marking the highest-level interaction between US and Chinese officials since last year’s G20 summit. The president described the meeting as non-confrontational and aimed at promoting stability in the relationship between the two countries. Following his arrival in Vietnam, Biden met with the country’s leaders, welcoming the new partnership and expressing his hopes for progress on climate, the economy, and other issues during his 24-hour stay. Biden recognized Vietnam as a friend, reliable partner, and responsible member of the international community, citing examples of how veterans like John Kerry and the late John McCain have worked to build a relationship with Vietnam after the war. Both Biden and Trong, general secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam, emphasized the critical partnership between the US and Vietnam during this crucial time. While the leaders did not explicitly discuss China’s influence, Vietnam’s decision to elevate its relations with the US suggests a desire to diversify alliances as American and European companies seek alternatives to Chinese factories. Biden’s visit to Vietnam included an elaborate reception ceremony, and both leaders expressed joy at the opportunity to meet again after their previous encounter in Washington eight years ago. The president’s packed schedule and jet lag appeared to take a toll on him, and he humorously concluded his news conference by saying he was going to bed. Reports of Vietnam pursuing a deal to purchase weapons from Russia were addressed by Jon Finer, Biden’s principal deputy national security adviser. Finer acknowledged Vietnam’s longstanding military relationship with Russia but assured that the US continues to work with countries like Vietnam to limit their interactions with Moscow due to concerns over war crimes and violations of international law. Although US trade with Vietnam has accelerated, further growth is dependent on improvements in infrastructure, worker skills, and governance. While Vietnam is considered a favorable location to diversify supply chains, it may not match China’s manufacturing scale due to the vast difference in population sizes.

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