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US, Vietnam set to bolster ties, aim to jointly counter China

As the US aims to drive supply chains from China and both countries attempt to undermine Beijing’s military and diplomatic power in Asia, US President Joe Biden makes a stop in the capital city of Vietnam on Sunday. The two nations are anticipated to declare themselves strategic allies during his visit.

The most influential official in Vietnam, Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, will give Biden a formal welcome when he arrives at the Presidential Palace on Sunday afternoon. After that, Biden will travel to the Party headquarters where he will meet with Trong and make a public statement.

The visit takes place as bilateral commercial and investment ties strengthen as the South China Sea territorial conflict between China and Vietnam heats up. China, Russia, India, and South Korea are the other four nations that Vietnam has designated as “comprehensive strategic partners,” the same title that the US is anticipated to use.

Executives from Google (GOOGL.O), Intel (INTC.O), Amkor (AMKR.O), Marvell (MRVL.O), GlobalFoundries (GFS.O), and Boeing (BA.N) are anticipated to meet Vietnamese tech leaders and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Hanoi on Monday, highlighting Vietnam’s growing significance as a “friendshoring” destination for U.S. technology companies.

Vietnam’s exports to the United States increased 13.6% last year to $109.39 billion, with shipments of clothing, footwear, electronics, cellphones, and wooden furniture leading the way.

Nearly 50 years have passed since the bitterly unpopular Vietnam War, which pitted South Vietnam’s U.S.-backed government against North Vietnam’s Communist government, which was supported by the Soviet Union.

According to US national security adviser Jake Sullivan, it is “a remarkable step in the strengthening of our diplomatic ties” and underscores the “leading role” Vietnam would play in the US alliance in the Indo Pacific.

“Working together to foster reconciliation, the US and Vietnam have been overcoming a terrible shared legacy of the Vietnam War for decades. Our service members and veterans have led the way in this effort,” he told the media.

Washington has been attempting to transform its “comprehensive” relationship with Hanoi for the past ten years into a “strategic” cooperation. Given the potential for provoking either Russia, another long-standing ally, or China, a vast neighbour that provides essential inputs for its critical export trade, Vietnam has exercised caution.

Vietnam has recently held numerous high-level defence meetings with top Russian officials and is in discussions to update and expand its arsenal, which is built primarily of Russian components.

A US government commission claimed last week that Vietnam was regressing in terms of religious liberty and that it was heading in the same direction as China in terms of the regulation and control of religion.

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