Anthony Blinken, US Secretary of State, to Work Toward Strengthening US-Vietnam Relations

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has arrived in Vietnam to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the two countries' comprehensive partnership. His visit follows two weeks after a phone call between General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong and US President Joe Biden.

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Seek Strategic Upgrade of US-Vietnam Ties
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Photo: AP

Ambassador Pham Quang Vinh, the former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and former Ambassador of Vietnam to the United States, recently discussed the visit of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to the country. Vinh expressed his optimism about the visit, saying that it will open the door for greater cooperation between the two countries. He also highlighted the important role that the two nations play in maintaining regional security and stability.

The most extensive, effective, and practical stage of development

Recently, numerous esteemed US delegations have traveled to Vietnam in the wake of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit. What can we anticipate?

The U.S. State Department is duly informed of the purpose of the visit, which was to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Vietnam-U.S. Comprehensive Partnership and to exchange ideas in all areas of bilateral and regional cooperation with Vietnam.

The visit comes in honor of the 10th anniversary of the two countries’ comprehensive partnership. The 2013-2023 period is the most extensive, fastest, and most substantive of the 28 years of Vietnam-US relations. It is also the most effective period of development for the two countries.

This is a time of remarkable progress in politics, international relations, economic cooperation, trade, investment, and other areas such as national security, science and technology, and education.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to Vietnam comes just two weeks after a high-level telephone conversation between General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong and US President Joe Biden.

I am confident that during this visit, the two sides will take a retrospective look at the bilateral relationship and work together to set out a clear roadmap for the future of the relationship. This is also the most important aspect of the 10th anniversary of the Vietnam-US Comprehensive Partnership.

Looking to the future but not the past

When reflecting on the last decade since the establishment of the Comprehensive Partnership between the two sides, what comes to mind?

From 2013 until the present day, the United States has seen three different presidents – from Barack Obama to Donald Trump to the current President, Joe Biden.

In its relations with Vietnam, the United States has consistently maintained the principle of mutual respect for each other’s political institutions. This is an enduring principle of the US, not one that is bound to any presidential term. The US also underscores its commitment to help ensure that Vietnam remains strong, independent, and prosperous. In the above-mentioned high-level phone conversation, the concept of “self-strengthening” was also emphasized.

All components of the Vietnam-US Comprehensive Partnership have been cultivated, particularly with respect to economic and commercial progress.

I recall at the outset of my tenure as Vietnam’s Ambassador to the United States – in 2014, shortly after the two sides established the Comprehensive Partnership – that the trade between our two countries had reached an impressive US$36 billion.

By the time I had completed my term in mid-2018, the trade between the two countries had already reached a staggering US$70 billion, almost double what it had been before. Today, by the end of 2022, that figure has risen to an even more impressive US$123 billion.

Thus, in the last decade of the Comprehensive Partnership, the trade between the two countries has tripled. This is due to the fact that in terms of economic and trade relations, the two countries complement each other, offering great potential for development. In addition, the growth rate of two-way trade between the two countries has been around 17-19% each year over the last ten years.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Seek Strategic Upgrade of US-Vietnam Ties
Ambassador Pham Quang Vinh: ‘I look forward to the relationship of the US Secretary of State with Vietnam, with the relationship between the two countries’. Photo: Le Anh Dung

The story of collaboration in overcoming the aftermath of war is one that is certainly worth telling. The United States is immensely grateful for Vietnam’s humanitarian assistance in tackling the consequences of the war, including the search for the remains of American soldiers.

This is also a motivation for the United States side to recognize their responsibilities in humanitarian cooperation with Vietnam, especially in the areas of demining, supporting the disabled who were affected by the war, helping to identify missing Vietnamese soldiers, and ultimately, dioxin detoxification.

New chapter in bilateral relations

When Blinken served as the First Deputy Secretary of the US Department of State, he visited Vietnam twice, followed by two remarkable trips: the historic visit of General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong to the US (2015) and President Obama’s visit to Vietnam (2016); and now this visit. What are your thoughts on this occasion?

I find it quite charming. During the time of President Obama, Antony Blinken, who had been the First Deputy Secretary of the State Department, visited Vietnam about one to two months prior to the two major visits mentioned above.

Notably, in May 2015, Antony Blinken made a visit to Vietnam about a month prior to a momentous event in the relationship between the two countries. It was the first visit of a General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam to the United States, which took place in the early part of July 2015.

At that time, on May 19, 2015, Blinken referred to General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong’s visit to the United States and meeting with President Obama at the White House as “a historic visit.”

He also stated that the US is eagerly anticipating the visit, viewing it as a powerful demonstration of the potential of the relationship between the two countries, which has shifted from one of adversaries to one of partners.

On July 6, 2015, the day before General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong’s historic meeting with President Obama at the White House, Antony Blinken penned an op-ed titled “Strategic Opportunities to Advance US-Vietnam Relations”. In it, he suggested that the General Secretary’s visit could mark the beginning of a new chapter in the relationship between the two countries.

I eagerly anticipate the US Secretary of State’s “charisma” when engaging with Vietnam, which is essential to maintaining the strong relationship between the two countries.

Rosie Nguyen