The US sees Vietnam as a key component of its strategy for the region and has sought to leverage the country’s rivalry with China to expand its influence
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh in Hanoi on Saturday to discuss upgrading bilateral ties between the two nations.
“We now hope to be able to take [relations] to an even higher level,” Blinken said after the meeting.
Blinken’s visit to Vietnam highlights the Biden administration’s efforts to boost ties with Southeast Asian nations to counter China’s growing assertiveness in the region.
Commitment to strengthening partnership
Both leaders expressed their commitment to strengthening their partnership, with Blinken praising the “extraordinary progress” in the bilateral relationship and emphasizing the importance of human rights, a US State Department spokesperson said.
Chinh said both sides were “looking to further strengthening, further elevating our bilateral ties to a new height,” after a phone call last month between President Joe Biden and the head of Vietnam’s ruling Communist Party, Nguyen Phu Trong.
The Biden-Trong call could lead to a meeting between the two leaders in July or other high-level meetings.
Countering China’s influence
Vietnam, a crucial Southeast Asian trading partner, has been wary of China’s military claims in the South China Sea and has been receptive to Washington’s efforts to expand its influence in the region.
The United States sees Vietnam as a key component of its strategy for the region and has sought to leverage the country’s rivalry with China to expand its influence.
However, Vietnam is cautious about upgrading ties with the US, fearing the potential impact on its relationship with China.
Developing a coalition in Southeast Asia to counter China and prevent any possible action by Beijing against Taiwan has been a challenging endeavor for the United States as the countries in the region are hesitant to provoke their powerful neighbor — which is not only a significant military force but also an important trading partner and investment source.
As part of this effort, Blinken broke ground on a new $1.2 billion (€1.08 billion) US embassy compound in Hanoi, which is intended to demonstrate the administration’s commitment to improving ties.
The development comes a mere fortnight after the fiftieth anniversary of the withdrawal of American combat troops from South Vietnam, which signified the conclusion of America’s direct military intervention in the Vietnam War.
Source: Deutsche Welle