Biden Announces New Level of US Partnership with Vietnam in Contrast to China's Ambitions
US President Joe Biden arrived in Hanoi on September 10th, following the G-20 summit in India. This marks his first visit to the country as the US leader, and he wasted no time in expressing warmer and more active ties with Vietnam.
"I believe we have a tremendous opportunity," Biden told Nguyen Phu Trong, the leader of the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam, during their meeting in Hanoi. "Vietnam and the United States are important partners at this very critical time. I say this not out of courtesy, but because I mean it sincerely." It's worth noting that the United States aims to strengthen its presence in the region, offering an alternative to China's ambitions in Southeast Asia.
During the September 10th meeting, Vietnam officially marked its relationship with the United States as a "comprehensive strategic partnership," the highest level Vietnam uses in its relations with China and India.
This comes despite a complex history. Apart from references to a war that ended just half a century ago, the partnership with the United States is complicated by more recent events. Vietnam has openly turned to Russia for military equipment purchases, even when the US imposed sanctions on Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine.
As part of the visit, Vietnam Airlines JSC is expected to sign an initial agreement to purchase around 50 Boeing Co. 737 Max aircraft worth $10 billion, according to Bloomberg News. This would be a significant breakthrough for Boeing, as Vietnam Airlines has historically bought aircraft from Airbus.
Semiconductors and rare earth minerals were also on the agenda during Biden's visit, as the United States seeks alternative sources to China. While in Vietnam, the US President met with leaders of local and American companies.
According to the US Embassy in Vietnam, in 2022, Vietnam was the United States' eighth-largest trading partner, with a trade turnover of $139 billion. Over the past three decades, US investments have thrived in Vietnam's open-market economy, despite the country's communist leadership.