Vietnamese Laud Improved Relations with US, Tentative on Biden

A handful of Vietnamese interviewed during U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s recent visit here expressed support for the apparently warming relations between the two countries.Austin met with Vietnamese President Nguyen Xuan Phuc during his visit, and U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris will be in Vietnam and Singapore this month on a trip, the White House said, during which she “will engage the leaders of both governments on issues of mutual interest, including regional security, the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and our joint efforts to promote a rules-based international order.”Thanh Thanh, who studies international relations in Hanoi, said that in the 25 years since normalization, Vietnam-U.S. relations have generally been stable and developed, and said she expected that to continue.“In the context of Vietnam and Southeast Asia in general playing an important role in the U.S. Indo-Pacific strategy, I think, looking forward, the two countries will continue to try to maintain peace to ensure the interests of both sides,” she told VOA on July 29.For those who benefit from the bilateral ties, a good relationship between Vietnam and the U.S. makes sense.Duong Thi Thu Thuy, a Vietnamese who was born in the 1970s and now works with a U.S. medical technology firm that is developing a laser therapy clinic system in Vietnam, looked forward to Austin’s visit with anticipation.“Through social media and my friends, I knew that the U.S. secretary of defense, Mr. Lloyd Austin, would visit Vietnam. I was very excited waiting for the day he was to come because this would be a good sign of expanding and deepening the Vietnam-U.S. relationship. Surely this is a good sign because it has been so long since the visits of former U.S. presidents,” she said.Thuy, formerly an English teacher during the 1990s and now based in Ho Chi Minh City, has reasons to support a good relationship between Vietnam and the U.S.“I have cooperated and developed products for an American factory in Vietnam. The Vietnam-U.S. relationship therefore has a good impact on our business environment. For example, it facilitates my trips to visit manufacturing factories in America, and easily learn about the American market,” she said.Many here are confident about the future of bilateral relations.“I think the relationship will develop more and more, and benefit the two countries and the people of the two in economy, culture, education and training, science and technology, etc.,” said a medical staff member, who asked not to be further identified.  In addition, she said she expects her children would benefit from improved U.S.-Vietnam relations, enjoying the results of Vietnam’s international integration, such as studying in the United States or elsewhere, making friends and traveling abroad more easily.“The relationship between Vietnam and the U.S. in the past years has had a positive impact on both countries, especially when the U.S. has supported Vietnam in training high-quality health workers and providing aid to the health sector in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said.A retired worker in publishing industry also lauded the benefits of cooperation with the U.S.“U.S. technology companies such as Microsoft, Facebook, and Google have come to Vietnam. They helped the citizens, especially the youth, even in remote areas, access world civilization,” he said.In addition, he said, the presence of a Vietnamese community in the U.S. would be a reason for him to support a stronger relationship between Hanoi and Washington.“Remittances sent by Vietnamese people in the U.S. every year are significant, helping the domestic economy. We also have relatives living in the U.S., so I have realistic feelings and a deep understanding of this,” he said.Most of those people who spoke to VOA also spoke favorably about U.S. presidents, especially those who visited Vietnam, or took a specific role in important milestones in Vietnam-U.S. relations, such as former Presidents Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump.Asked about President Joe Biden, interviewees credited him with COVID-19 vaccine donations and the recent move to resolve currency disputes with Vietnam.However, they also agreed that it is hard to comment about Vietnam-U.S. relations this early in his administration.“The relationship is stable, and there are not many significant developments,” Thanh Thanh said.Some others even see the relationship as “not much changed,” or say they are “not impressed yet.” 

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