During his two-day visit here this weekend, President Biden described his meeting with Vietnam’s General Secretary, Nguyen Phu Trong as a “truly historic moment.” The two leaders took steps to raise the relationship to a new level, and Vietnam’s highest tier of international partnership.
Trong announced, “President Joe Biden and I, on behalf of both countries, have jointly agreed to elevate the relation between Vietnam and the United States to a comprehensive strategic partnership, for peace, cooperation, and sustainable development.”
Biden added, “And we’re excited about that. A critical step for our nations that reflects the strength of our relationship as we take on the challenges that matter most to the future of our region and, quite frankly, to the world.”
Although Vietnam is a strong ally of China, the U.S. sees Vietnam as a key country in counterbalancing its influence in the region.
Trong previously granted the same level of relations to China and Russia, but he also pledged that his country would work hard to implement the agreement with the U.S.
President Biden expressed his intention to keep the right balance in America’s relationship with China.
“The world is better off if China did well. What I am not going to do is I am not going to sell China material that would enhance their capacity to make more nuclear weapons, to engage in defense activities that are contrary to what is viewed as most people would think are positive developments in the region. But we are not trying to hurt China.”
Aside from promoting economic and technological partnership, Biden’s visit also touched on human rights issues and religious freedom.
Mike (not his real name), says Christians still suffer from strong persecution in some provinces of Vietnam. As a matter of fact, Vietnam is still included in America’s list of Countries of Particular Concern.
He believes the President’s visit can shine a light on the persecution and hopefully bring a change.
“I think it is a great opportunity to share what the church is going through. When we have religious freedom, we are able to do programs that can help the country,” he said.
While some are critical of the Biden Administration for partnering with the Vietnamese government, some hope President Biden can influence the government to be more tolerant of religious practice.