The message of the US Secretary of State’s unplanned visit to Vietnam

31/10/2020    10:15 GMT+7

The unexpected visit by US Secretary of State Michael Richard Pompeo to Vietnam reflects the development of Vietnam – US relations. Pompeo’s visit to Vietnam took place after his visits to four Asian countries.

According to the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, at the invitation of Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh, US Secretary of State Michael Richard Pompeo officially visited Vietnam on October 29-30 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Vietnam-US diplomatic relations. 

A US diplomat said that Pompeo’s visit to Vietnam was not on schedule.

Thông điệp chuyến thăm bất ngờ của Ngoại trưởng Mỹ đến Việt Nam
Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The surprising schedule of Mr. Pompeo showed the development of the Vietnam – US relations. Pompeo’s visit to Vietnam took place after his visits to four Asian countries, including India, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Indonesia. 

The rising star in regional politics 

Among Southeast Asian countries, Indonesia is an important partner of the US for its political position as well as national capacity, as Indonesia is the “big brother” of Southeast Asia and ASEAN. 

However, Vietnam is also considered a “rising star” in the region. Vietnam’s recent economic growth is impressive, despite the Covid-19 pandemic. Vietnam is also one of the countries successfully controlling the pandemic. 

In addition, Vietnam has been a leading country in raising its voice over the East Sea conflicts when China took unilateral action threatening peace and stability in the East Sea. 

Unlike the Philippines under President Duterte, which is inconsistent in the East Sea issue, Vietnam’s policy is always stable and consistent. As the Chair of ASEAN this year, Vietnam has made efforts to promote the East Sea issue at multilateral forums. 

Regional economic center 

The US has also shown its wish to see Vietnam to become a “medium power”, an economic hub of Southeast Asia. 

The US has actively demonstrated that intention through specific activities. At the Indo-Pacific Business Forum held recently in Hanoi, Director of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) in Vietnam, Ann Marie Yastishock, announced the Vietnam Low Emission Energy Program II. This is a 5-year program with a budget of $36 million which aims to accelerate Vietnam’s transition to a clean energy system. 

American groups – Bechtel Group, General Electric, and McDermott – on October 29 signed a $3 billion agreement to jointly provide equipment for the Bac Lieu liquefied gas power plant project. 

Speaking online at the Indo-Pacific Business Forum, US Secretary of State Pompeo said that the US is committed to assisting its allies and partners to thrive. “We always stand side by side with our Indo-Pacific partners for the prosperity, freedom and friendship of all parties.” 

Mr. Pompeo thanked Vietnam for its outstanding performance in co-hosting the forum and being the chair of ASEAN in such a challenging year as 2020. 

CEO of the US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) Adam Boehler commented: “Vietnam is a wonderful friend and a strong growth market. I spoke with Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Chi Dung about our expansion into Vietnam’s infrastructure. We are delighted to use the US ways of economic development to foster the partnership between the two countries.” 

General strategy 

For the US’s purposes, the two sides have found common ground in strategic interests. Vietnam’s biggest goal is economic development, which is also in line with the US target. 

Vietnam also wants an international order that complies with international law, so it supports the US views on the East Sea issue in this respect. 

The East Sea issue will be an important content in the discussion between leaders of the two sides at the upcoming meetings. Vietnam wants the US to promote its superpower role in maintaining freedom of navigation and overflight in accordance with the provisions of international law in the East Sea. 

Vietnam also wants the US and its allies and partners to make efforts to uphold international law in the East Sea, in the face of ambitions that run counter to international law. 

NUS offers $2-million aid for Vietnam to surmount natural disasters’ consequencesAt the meeting (Photo: VNA)The US has decided to provide Vietnam with an aid package worth 2 million USD to help the country overcome the consequences of natural disasters, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo has said.Pompeo, who has been on an official visit to Vietnam to celebrate the 25th founding anniversary of Vietnam-US diplomatic relations, announced the aid during a meeting with Minister of Public Security Gen. To Lam in Hanoi on October 30.
The US Secretary of State extended his condolences to residents in Vietnam’s central region over great losses caused by floods.For his part, Lam said the meeting contributed to further strengthening bilateral security cooperation and deepening the Vietnam-US comprehensive partnership, thereby serving as a foundation to consolidate and promote strategic trust.The Vietnamese minister spoke highly of the outcomes of cooperation in national defence – security between the two countries in the recent past and voiced his hope that Vietnam and the US will continue close and practical collaboration to deal with common security challenges in the region.Vietnam and the US have made strides in security and law enforcement cooperation, he noted, adding that the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) has become an important partner of various US agencies.The MPS will play an active role in enhancing cooperation in specialised sectors and the Vietnam-US bilateral relationship, Lam promised. VNA

Hoang Viet

(Lecturer at the HCM City University of Law, member of the Marine and Island Law Research Committee, Vietnam Bar Federation).

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visits Vietnam

Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh held talks with US Secretary of State Michael ….

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