| 16 July 2024, Tuesday |

US and Vietnam ink historic partnership in Biden visit, with eyes on China

U.S. President Joe Biden on Sunday secured deals with Vietnam on semiconductors and minerals as the strategic Southeast Asian nation lifted Washington to Hanoi’s highest diplomatic status alongside China and Russia.

The U.S. has been pushing for the upgrade for months as it sees the manufacturing dynamo as a key country in its strategy to secure global supply chains from China-related risks.

A half-century after a lengthy and brutal Cold War-era conflict, Biden arrived in Hanoi to a ceremony organized by the ruling Communist Party that included school children waving American flags and honour guards carrying bayoneted rifles.

Biden noted the strides that had been taken toward improved ties.

“We can trace a 50-year arc of progress between our nations, from conflict to normalization, to this new elevated status,” he said.

The partnership with Vietnam is part of the Biden administration’s push “to demonstrate to our our Indo-Pacific partners and to the world, the United States is a Pacific nation and we’re not going anywhere,” Biden told reporters after the meeting in Hanoi.

Vietnam is navigating frosty relations between Washington and Beijing as the tech and textile exporter seeks its own foothold in the international competition to be a low-cost manufacturing hub.

Top Chinese officials, possibly including President Xi Jinping, are expected to visit Vietnam in the coming days or weeks, officials and diplomats said, as Hanoi seeks to maintain good relations with all super powers.

Biden also said in Hanoi he had talked with Xi’s deputy at the G20, and that the two talked about stability.

Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, 79, remarked on the 80-year-old U.S. president’s appearance inside party headquarters, saying “You have nary aged a day and I would say you look even better than before.”

  • Reuters