US President Joe Biden has announced his plans to visit Vietnam in the near future as part of his strategy to enhance relations with Hanoi while addressing growing concerns over China’s influence in Southeast Asia. Biden conveyed his dedication during a speech in New Mexico, highlighting the potential for positive changes in the current global landscape.
Over the years, the US and Vietnam have developed increasingly close trade ties and share mutual anxieties about China’s expanding power in the region. The ongoing tensions between Beijing and Southeast Asian nations, including Vietnam and the Philippines, have been aggravated by China’s wide-ranging maritime claims in the South China Sea.
Efforts to boost diplomatic relations between the US and Vietnam gained momentum in April when US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Hanoi en route to a Group of Seven (G7) foreign ministers’ meeting in Japan. During his visit, Blinken emphasized the opportune moment to elevate the existing partnership and build upon a decade of comprehensive collaboration.
Despite their shared interests, the US and Vietnam have faced challenges concerning human rights issues in Vietnam. Blinken has stressed the importance of progress in human rights as a critical element for unlocking the full potential of the Vietnamese people.
As tensions continue to simmer in the South China Sea, with China’s increasing assertiveness and competing territorial claims, Vietnam has been carefully maneuvering to balance its relations between the US and China, an important economic partner. The region remains a focal point for potential conflicts, and there are concerns that any misjudgment could lead to a military confrontation.
While the US does not have territorial claims in the South China Sea, it has maintained a presence through naval patrols to ensure freedom of navigation in a vital trade route. The US-China relationship has also witnessed recent efforts to improve ties, including Blinken’s visit to China in June. This engagement follows an earlier trip that was cancelled due to an alleged incident involving a Chinese spy balloon.
Biden’s upcoming visit to Vietnam showcases his commitment to strengthening ties in the region and addressing China’s growing influence. However, the delicate balance between enhancing relations with Vietnam and managing concerns related to China highlights the complex geopolitical landscape in Southeast Asia.