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President Joe Biden’s Anticipated Visit to Hanoi: Strengthening US-Vietnam Ties

Photo: Reuters

As the world turns its attention towards Asia, U.S. President Joe Biden is set to arrive in Hanoi, Vietnam on Sunday afternoon, marking a significant step in the administration’s efforts to strengthen bilateral ties and counter growing Chinese influence in the region. This visit, a first for Biden since he assumed office, highlights the strategic importance of Vietnam in the U.S.’s recalibrated Asia-Pacific policy. The Biden administration’s outreach to Vietnam is part of a larger strategy aimed at solidifying American presence in the Asia-Pacific region. As China continues to increase its military, economic, and political influence, the U.S. seeks to reassure its allies and partners about its commitment to the region’s stability and prosperity. Vietnam holds a special place in this strategy, given its geographical proximity to China, historical relations, and its growing economic clout. The U.S.-Vietnam relationship has evolved significantly since the normalization of diplomatic relations in 1995, with the two countries now cooperating on a range of issues from trade and investment to security and public health.

The bilateral ties between the two countries have never been stronger. The U.S. is now one of Vietnam’s top trading partners, and the two nations have deepened their security cooperation, particularly in the South China Sea where China’s assertive actions have raised concerns. President Biden’s visit to Hanoi is expected to build on this momentum. He is likely to discuss ways to further deepen trade relations, possibly through discussions about Vietnam participating in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), a high-standard trade agreement that the U.S. originally helped craft before withdrawing in 2017. On the security front, Biden’s visit will likely focus on enhancing military cooperation and intelligence sharing. The U.S. could seek to support Vietnam’s capabilities in maritime security and surveillance, a significant step in ensuring a free and open Indo-Pacific. However, the elephant in the room will undoubtedly be China. The U.S.’s attempt to counter China’s influence in the region is a delicate balancing act. While Vietnam is wary of China’s intentions, it also shares a long history and a complex relationship with its larger neighbor. Therefore, any conversation about China will require tact and diplomacy. Biden’s visit will likely emphasize the U.S.’ commitment to a rules-based order in the region and express support for the resolution of disputes, such as those in the South China Sea, through peaceful means in accordance with international law. The visit to Hanoi is an important opportunity for the U.S. to demonstrate its commitment to its partners in the Asia-Pacific region. It provides a platform for President Biden to articulate his administration’s vision for the region and to strengthen ties with a key partner. As President Biden steps off the plane in Hanoi on Sunday afternoon, his visit will signal not just the U.S.’s commitment to Vietnam, but also to a broader strategy of maintaining a strong, active presence in the Asia-Pacific region. Amidst the challenges posed by a more assertive China, the U.S. is making clear its intention to remain a pivotal player in the regional dynamics.  The coming days promise to be a crucial juncture in the history of U.S.-Vietnam relations and the broader geopolitics of the Asia-Pacific region.

By Roberto Casseli

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