Vietnam-US relationship: comprehensive and strategic
This is the time to review the relationship between Vietnam and the US,
Pham Quang Vinh, former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, and former Vietnamese Ambassador to the US (2014-2018) told VietNamNet on the occasion of US Vice President Kamala Harris’ visit to Vietnam.
US Vice President Kamala Harris. Photo: Reuters
In your opinion, what is the message of the US Vice President's visit to Southeast Asia this time?
When a vice president, the number two figure of the United States, pays a visit to the region, even in the first months of her term, the first message is undoubtedly that Southeast Asia is very important in relations with the US. The US attaches importance to Southeast Asia in the common strategy on the Asia-Pacific and Indo-Pacific regions.
President Biden, referring to national security guidance, stressed that the Indo-Pacific - a dynamic region in both geostrategy and geo-economics - is one of the focuses of the US and this country. Affirming its engagement with this region, the US is strongly re-consolidating the partnership system and at the same time wishes to work with all countries to build a rule-based order for peace, security and prosperity.
The US Vice President chose two countries for this trip, Singapore and Vietnam, which - from the US perspective - have the momentum for bilateral cooperation development and play a significant role in regional peace and security.
What can you say about the time of the visit?
Firstly, the new US administration started its term in late January 2021 and since then the US and the world have been in a very special situation: the time for prevention of the Covid-19 pandemic. This is also the time for the new administration to implement a series of internal and external strategies.
The US has begun to implement foreign strategies in both Europe and Asia. As the US more clearly shapes and implements its foreign strategy actively, the Asia-Pacific becomes a very important region.
The US attaches great importance to ASEAN and its state members as multilateral and bilateral partners.
It seems that after a period of focusing on domestic affairs and disease prevention, after the initial phase of being a little distracted from Southeast Asia, this is the time, through high-level visits, the US strongly affirms its desire to be associated with the region.
At this time, the US and countries in the region have many similar interests in cooperation to maintain peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific, prevent the Covid-19 epidemic, and maintain economic growth and supply chains.
Ambassador Pham Quang Vinh.
How do you evaluate the Vietnam - US relations so far this year?
Under Mr. Biden's administration, Vietnam - US relations continue to develop, which is clearly reflected in the continued communication of the two sides at all levels.
While the epidemic is complicated, the economic and trade relations between the two countries continued to develop. Last year, two-way trade reached more than $90 billion and it was $53 billion for the first half of this year.
The US continued its cooperation with Vietnam in dealing with war consequences such as cleaning up Bien Hoa airport, and mine detection and disposal. Recently, the two sides signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in searching, gathering and identifying Vietnamese martyrs' remains. In July, the US transferred a Hamilton-class coast guard ship to Vietnam.
In short, the US always attaches importance to and wants to further promote bilateral and multilateral relations with Vietnam. The US has continued to affirm the guiding principles of the relationship such as emphasizing respect for each other's political institutions, and an independent, strong and prosperous Vietnam.
What do you think about the relationship between the US and the region, and particularly Vietnam, in the coming time?
The Vietnam-US relationship is already at a strategic level, and broadly speaking, this relationship is both comprehensive and strategic.
A dynamically developing Southeast Asia, with a shaped regional structure, is actively contributing to peace and security to the benefit of each country and the whole region. Powers in the world all support the central role of ASEAN. The US will continue its engagement with the region and attach importance to the role of ASEAN.
What will be the cooperation between the US and ASEAN when both traditional and non-traditional security challenges arise? Regarding disease prevention, the US has made a series of commitments to help countries around the world, especially Southeast Asia. To date, the US has donated 23 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines along with equipment and cash to ASEAN countries, including Vietnam.
This is the time to review and rename the relationship between Vietnam and the US to match the actual level of cooperation. In fact, Vietnam-US ties are both strategic and comprehensive as mentioned above.
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected the implementation of plans between Vietnam and the US, but the two sides have maintained the momentum of cooperation and even expanded cooperation in some new areas such as disease prevention.