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Vietnam Elevates US Relationship to Comprehensive Strategic Partnership

Hanoi, Vietnam – Vietnam has marked a significant milestone in its diplomatic relations with the United States by elevating their partnership to the highest diplomatic status – the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. This historic move underscores the evolution of their relationship from the “bitter past” of the Vietnam War.

US President Joe Biden, who departed early from the G20 Summit in India to visit Vietnam, clarified that his visit was not intended to initiate a “cold war” with China. Instead, it was part of a broader strategy aimed at fostering global stability by building strategic ties throughout Asia during times of increased tension with Beijing.

“It’s not about containing China,” President Biden emphasized during a news conference in Hanoi, “It’s about having a stable base.”

President Biden’s visit to Vietnam holds particular significance, occurring more than five decades after the last American soldier left Vietnamese soil. Vietnam, a long-standing and steadfast ally of China, has now elevated its diplomatic relationship with the United States to an unprecedented level.

The US President stressed his commitment to de-escalating tensions with China and finding alternatives to Chinese factory imports. Biden expressed the view that framing international relations in “cold war terms” is not productive. Instead, he emphasized the importance of fostering economic growth and stability globally.

“We have an opportunity to strengthen alliances around the world to maintain stability. That’s what this trip is all about,” President Biden declared.

During his visit, President Biden disclosed that he had met with Chinese Premier Li Qiang, who represented Beijing in India as President Xi Jinping’s delegate. This meeting marked the highest-level interaction between US and Chinese officials since last year’s G20 summit in Indonesia.

Reflecting on the decades-long journey between the two nations, President Biden noted, “We can trace a 50-year arc of progress between our nations from conflict to normalization to this new elevated status.” This significant development came alongside discussions with Nguyễn Phú Trong, the general secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam, and other Vietnamese leaders.

President Biden hailed Vietnam as “a friend, a reliable partner, and a responsible member of the international community.” He welcomed the new Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and expressed optimism about progress on various fronts, including climate change and the economy, during his 24-hour stay in Hanoi.

Vietnam’s decision to elevate its relationship with the United States reflects its strategic considerations as the West seeks alternatives to Chinese manufacturing. Given China’s recent economic slowdown and President Xi’s consolidation of political power, President Biden sees an opportunity to strengthen America’s relationships with nations like Vietnam and Cambodia.

The statistics indicate a growing economic connection between the United States and Vietnam. American imports of Vietnamese goods have nearly doubled since 2019, reaching approximately $127 billion annually, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. However, it is important to note that Vietnam’s population of 100 million cannot match the scale of Chinese manufacturing. In 2022, China, with a population of 1.4 billion, exported four times as many goods to the United States compared to Vietnam.

President Biden’s itinerary also includes a stop in Alaska on his way back home to commemorate the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks, underscoring the enduring commitment to global security and diplomacy.

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