Taking advantage of the visit of Joe Biden, the Government of Vietnam raised the US to the special status of a comprehensive strategic partner, a notable strengthening of the relationship between the two countries. This is an unusual turn in a country where a catastrophic battle for the White House is taking place, and is explained by Washington’s growing tension with China.
During his visit on Sunday, Biden said the rapprochement took place over a “50-year arc of progress,” and stressed that his trip was not intended to provoke China. However, the American president stopped in Hanoi from the G-20 summit, where Western partners are strengthening commercial relations with India with the aim of isolating China.
The US president met briefly at the G-20 in New Delhi with Chinese Premier Li Qiang, in a meeting the White House described as cordial. Chinese President Xi Jinping was absent from the meeting, giving no reason.
Vietnam maintains a complex balance, due to its proximity to the US and Russia. Until now, Hanoi has actually designated China and Russia as integral strategic partners, a role that now also extends to the US. For its part, the White House hopes that a rapprochement will make it possible to reduce the purchase of Russian arms in Vietnam.
In economic terms, trade between the US and Vietnam has seen a significant increase since 2019, a direct effect of the trade and tariff war started by Donald Trump, which Biden continued. US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo noted during this trip that Vietnam is highly regarded by American CEOs as a place to diversify supply chains that were previously dependent on China.
Biden has a full day of visits and meetings in Vietnam on Monday, but will leave in the afternoon, flying east, to enter the United States via Alaska, to commemorate the 12th anniversary of the September 11 massacre in terrorist at the military base in Anchorage. The president will arrive in Washington in the early hours of Tuesday, September 12.