US Denies Cold War with China in Historic Visit to Vietnam

President Joe Biden has denied that the US is trying to contain China’s international influence after signing a historic new agreement with Vietnam.

More than 50 years since American troops last left Vietnam, Biden traveled to Hanoi to sign an agreement that would bring the two former enemies closer than ever before.

The Comprehensive Strategic Partnership with Vietnam marks a significant enhancement of the United States’ relationship. It is the culmination of Washington’s efforts over the past two years to strengthen ties with Vietnam, seen as key to countering China’s influence in Asia.

This is no small achievement either. The partnership with Washington is the highest-level diplomatic relationship that Vietnam has ever forged, one of China’s oldest and most loyal friends.

Biden told reporters in Hanoi that America’s actions were not about containing or isolating China but about maintaining stability in accordance with international rules.

“I think we’re thinking too much in terms of Cold War. It’s not about that. It’s about generating economic growth and stability,” Biden told reporters in Hanoi on Sunday, in response to a question from the BBC.

“I want to see China succeed economically, but I want to see them succeed according to the rules,” he said.

The signs of improved relations have irked Beijing, which has called it evidence of America’s “Cold War mentality.”

But Hanoi has thought this through, says Le Hong Hiep of the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore, adding that the agreement with the US is “symbolic rather than substantive.”

Vietnamese Dream The title may be symbolic, but closer ties could mean better business deals and reduced dependence on China.

Vietnam has a young, highly educated workforce. It also fosters an entrepreneurial spirit, making it very attractive to American investors – especially those looking to move their manufacturing bases out of China.

Major names like Dell, Google, Microsoft, and Apple have shifted parts of their supply chains to Vietnam in recent years. The US also sees it as a promising market for weapons and military equipment as Hanoi looks to distance itself from Moscow.

Washington also wants to help Vietnam become an integral part of the world semiconductor supply chain and develop its electronics sector – an area of controversy as the US tries to limit China’s access to advanced technology.

However, Vietnam may not see its new partnership with the US as an either-or choice. As Beijing’s economy slows down, Hanoi’s closer relationship with Washington is seen as purely pragmatic.

“I was in America for seven years, and I know about the American dream, and I got that opportunity. But I think I have a bigger dream. The Vietnamese dream,” says Nguyen Huu Phuoc Nguyen, one of the co-founders and CEO of Selex Motors.

He stands in his company’s warehouse, pointing to the production line of his electric scooters.

Mr. Nguyen started this business five years ago. Now he has contracts with major delivery companies from Grab to Lazada.

He was raised in a small village in central Vietnam without electricity. In his lifetime, he has seen his country go from one of the poorest in the world to one of the fastest-growing economies in Asia.

“I want to contribute to building a prosperous and sustainable Vietnam, fully utilizing the opportunities and potential we have. We have missed many opportunities. But I feel this is the right time, and we are the right generation to make it happen.”

As he speaks, Chinese delivery company bosses are waiting in the wings to discuss deals. Also watching are officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, accompanying the BBC on its rare visit to Vietnam.