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

During his visit to Vietnam, President Joe Biden emphasized that it was not an attempt to start a “cold war” with China, but rather a part of a broader effort to promote global stability by strengthening U.S. relationships in Asia amidst tensions with Beijing. Biden clarified that the goal was not to contain China, but to establish a stable foundation. The visit took place as Vietnam elevated the United States to its highest diplomatic status, comprehensive strategic partner, highlighting the significant progress made in their relationship since the Vietnam War. The expanded partnership reflects a larger effort in Asia to counter China’s influence as U.S. companies seek alternatives to Chinese imports. Biden emphasized that the approach should not be viewed through a cold war lens, but rather as an endeavor to foster economic growth and stability worldwide. The purpose of his trip was to strengthen alliances around the world and maintain stability. Biden traveled to Vietnam from Washington and New Delhi before heading to Alaska to commemorate the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. During his visit, Biden revealed that he had a brief meeting with Chinese Premier Li Qiang in India, which was not confrontational and focused on stability. He expressed his satisfaction with the new strategic partnership with Vietnam and expressed hope for progress on various issues such as climate and the economy. Biden described Vietnam as a friend, reliable partner, and responsible member of the international community. Both leaders acknowledged the importance of their countries’ partnership at a critical time. While the discussion did not explicitly address China’s rise, it is clear that China’s growing influence influenced the expanded partnership between the U.S. and Vietnam. With China’s economic slowdown and consolidating political power, Biden sees an opportunity to bring more nations, including Vietnam and Cambodia, closer to the U.S. sphere of influence. During the visit, Biden was warmly welcomed with a ceremony and expressed pleasure in reconnecting with Vietnamese leaders. Despite reports of Vietnam considering a weapons deal with Russia, Biden’s deputy national security adviser assured that the U.S. would continue to work with Vietnam and other countries to limit their interactions with Russia. While trade between the U.S. and Vietnam has increased, further growth is limited by the country’s infrastructure, workers’ skills, and governance. However, Vietnam is viewed favorably by CEOs as a destination for diversifying supply chains. Although imports from Vietnam to the U.S. have nearly doubled since 2019, it is unlikely to match the scale of Chinese manufacturing due to the vast population disparity between the two countries.

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