As US President Joe Biden makes his first-ever visit to Vietnam, there are high hopes for a significant boost in diplomatic relations between the two countries. This visit holds the promise of an important milestone in their relationship, with Vietnam poised to bestow upon the United States the coveted title of its “comprehensive strategic partner,” the highest echelon in Hanoi’s three-tiered diplomatic ranking system for its allies.
Biden’s 24-hour visit to Vietnam is set to include meetings with top Vietnamese Communist Party leaders and a poignant tribute to the late Senator John McCain. Beyond the symbolism, this visit marks the culmination of a bipartisan effort in Washington to fortify relations with Vietnam, driven partly by the goal of countering Chinese influence in Asia.
With notable curiosity arising due to the scarcity of details from The White House about anticipated agreements, major news outlets present varying (and similar) viewpoints on US President Biden’s first visit to Vietnam.
The Washington Post: “Closer Ties Amid Chinese Concerns”
The Washington Post looks at President Biden’s visit as a move to strengthen economic and technological ties between the US and Vietnam in response to growing Chinese assertiveness in the region. It underscores the significance of Vietnam’s choice to deepen relations with Washington, potentially balancing Beijing’s influence.
NPR: “Deepened Economic Cooperation on the Horizon”
NPR sees President Biden’s visit leading to an upgrade in US-Vietnam relations and the deepening of economic cooperation. It highlights the economic importance of this relationship, with the United States becoming Vietnam’s largest export market. During Biden’s visit, the agenda is expected to focus on technology, innovation, and regional stability.
ABC News: “From Conflict to Partnership”
ABC News views President Biden’s visit as a significant milestone, marking the transformation of US-Vietnam relations from a history of conflict to a potential partnership. The undisclosed details of expected agreements aim to enhance economic and technological ties. Vietnam’s role in the Indo-Pacific region and the potential for facing common challenges together are key aspects.
AP News: “Showcasing US Alliances”
AP News emphasizes President Biden’s goal of showcasing the US and its like-minded allies as superior economic and security partners compared to China, particularly in the Indo-Pacific region. The article discusses plans to bolster the lending power of international organizations as an alternative to China’s Belt and Road initiative. It also mentions Vietnam’s role in this strategy and the territorial disputes in the South China Sea.
Reuters: “Addressing Religious Freedom Concerns”
Reuters raises concerns highlighted by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) regarding Vietnam’s backsliding on commitments to ensure religious freedoms during President Biden’s visit. The human rights dimension could pose an obstacle to cooperation despite efforts to elevate diplomatic relations. The article discusses USCIRF’s recommendations and Vietnam’s stance on religious freedom.
VNExpress: “Celebrating a Decade of Partnership”
VNExpress highlights President Biden’s upcoming visit to Vietnam, commemorating a decade of the Comprehensive Partnership between the two nations. President Biden’s visit is significant as it’s his first to Vietnam since taking office in early 2021. During the visit, the online newspaper expects the discussions will be focused on deepening cooperation in various areas, including technology, education exchanges, addressing climate change, and enhancing regional stability. The economic ties have thrived, with bilateral trade exceeding $123.86 billion in 2022. Vietnam is the United States’ largest export market and the eighth-largest commercial partner. Cooperation in education and national defense has also strengthened, marked by the lifting of the lethal arms ban in 2016 and the transfer of Coast Guard cutters. The visit underscores the growth and diversification of relations across economic, diplomatic, and defense sectors.