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Friday, June 14, 2024

President Biden to Strengthen U.S.-Vietnam Ties with Strategic Partnership Deal

President Joe Biden is poised to achieve another diplomatic victory in his efforts to enhance U.S. influence in the Indo-Pacific region. Sources indicate that next month, during a state visit to Vietnam, Biden will sign a strategic partnership agreement with the Southeast Asian nation. This move is intended to deepen ties between Washington and Hanoi, especially as tensions with Beijing escalate.

Elevating U.S.-Vietnam Relations

The forthcoming agreement marks a significant step in the ongoing efforts to bolster the U.S. presence and influence in Asia, countering China’s expanding economic, diplomatic, and military power in the region. The strategic partnership with Vietnam follows a series of successful diplomatic initiatives pursued by President Biden, aimed at reasserting American influence in Asia.

The agreement will pave the way for enhanced bilateral collaboration, particularly in Vietnam’s high technology sector. This includes cooperation in areas like semiconductor production and artificial intelligence, aligning with Vietnam’s aspirations for technological development and innovation.

Shifting Dynamics in the Indo-Pacific

As the U.S. continues to pursue closer ties with countries in the Indo-Pacific, the agreement with Vietnam holds special significance due to the backdrop of increasing tensions between Hanoi and Beijing. Long-standing territorial disputes in the South China Sea have strained relations between the two neighbors, particularly in light of Beijing’s claims of authority over vast portions of the region.

The timing of the agreement coincides with recent developments, including Hanoi’s decision to ban the Barbie movie due to a scene referencing China’s territorial claims and satellite imagery revealing China’s construction of an airfield on an island claimed by Vietnam.

A Delicate Balancing Act

However, experts highlight that the strategic partnership agreement doesn’t necessarily indicate Vietnam’s departure from its ties with China in favor of closer alignment with the United States. Instead, Vietnam is expected to carefully navigate its relationships with both global powers.

According to Scot Marciel, a former U.S. diplomat with experience in East Asia, Vietnam is not positioning itself against China; rather, it aims to improve relations with the U.S. while maintaining a balanced approach.

Strengthening Historical Ties

The agreement signifies a continuation of the improving U.S.-Vietnam relations that have evolved since the two countries established diplomatic ties in 1995. Over the years, cooperation has grown, with the U.S. becoming one of Vietnam’s key trading partners. This partnership also includes initiatives such as a Peace Corps presence in Hanoi and U.S. naval ships making port calls at Vietnamese harbors.

The strategic partnership deal is expected to send a clear message to Vietnam that closer ties with the United States are a priority. It serves as a recognition of the progress made and an encouragement for future collaboration.

A Shift in Dynamics

While the agreement builds upon the existing Comprehensive Partnership established by President Barack Obama in 2013, it also highlights the U.S.’s efforts to catch up with Vietnam’s deepening relationships with China and Russia. Vietnam’s history of strategic partnerships with both Beijing and Moscow underscores its pragmatic approach to maintaining friendly nonalignment, especially given its complex history with China and the support it received from Russia.

Nonetheless, President Biden may face criticism for emphasizing values-based foreign policy while strengthening relations with an authoritarian one-party state like Vietnam. Concerns over human rights issues and Vietnam’s repressive policies may overshadow the strategic partnership deal in the eyes of some observers.

As President Biden continues to navigate the complex geopolitical landscape of the Indo-Pacific, the U.S.-Vietnam strategic partnership deal will be closely watched for its implications on regional dynamics, U.S. influence, and the evolving power balance in the region.


Q1: What is President Biden’s aim in signing a strategic partnership agreement with Vietnam?

A1: President Biden aims to deepen ties with Vietnam and strengthen U.S. influence in the Indo-Pacific region, particularly in the face of rising tensions with China.

Q2: What areas of collaboration will be covered by the agreement?

A2: The agreement will encompass bilateral collaboration in Vietnam’s high technology sector, focusing on areas such as semiconductor production and artificial intelligence.

Q3: How does the agreement fit into the broader U.S. strategy in Asia?

A3: The agreement aligns with President Biden’s efforts to counter China’s growing influence in the region and reassert U.S. leadership in Asia.

Q4: What challenges does Vietnam face in its relations with China and the U.S.?

A4: Vietnam aims to strike a balance between maintaining relations with both global powers while not positioning itself against China, given the complex historical context.

Q5: How might the agreement be perceived by critics?

A5: Critics may raise concerns about the U.S. strengthening ties with an authoritarian state like Vietnam, especially given human rights issues and repressive policies.

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