News / Asia

Clinton Promotes US Investment, Human Rights in Vietnam

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) poses for a photo with Vietnam's Communist Party's General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong at the Party's Head Office in Hanoi, July 10, 2012.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) poses for a photo with Vietnam's Communist Party's General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong at the Party's Head Office in Hanoi, July 10, 2012.
HANOI — U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Vietnam where she is promoting U.S. investment and raising human rights concerns.

Secretary Clinton says the Obama administration is looking for ways to expand trade and investment with Vietnam, which was up 17 percent between 2010 and 2011 to nearly $22 billion.

General Electric has two new deals: a $36 million steam turbine project and a $50 million capacitor project to increase efficiency and allow Vietnam to better regulate its national energy grid.

Clinton says a new regional trade agreement called the Trans-Pacific Partnership will lower trade barriers between Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, New Zealand, Australia, Peru, Chile, and the United States.

Economists say Vietnam would be one of the countries to benefit most from the deal, which partners hope to conclude by the end of the year.

Vietnamese Foreign Minister Phan Binh Minh says the agreement will further accelerate trade with the United States.

The foreign minister says trade between the United States and Vietnam is increasing every day - important investments that include some of the world's largest companies such as Microsoft, Cargill, and ExxonMobil. This is the potential to develop a better economic future for both countries, he says, and open opportunities for everyone in Vietnam.

Speaking to reporters in Hanoi after her meeting with Foreign Minister Minh, Clinton said the Trans-Pacific Partnership will also raise standards for labor conditions, environmental protections, and intellectual property.

"Higher standards are important because if Vietnam is going to continue developing and transition to an innovative, entrepreneurial economy for the 21st century, there will have to be more space created for the free exchange of ideas to strengthen the rule of law and respect the universal rights of all workers, including the right to unionize," said Clinton.

The latest State Department human rights report says Vietnamese political rights are severely restricted, that national assembly elections are neither free nor fair, and that the justice system is strongly distorted by political influence and endemic corruption.

"So I also raised concerns about human rights, including the continued detention of activists, lawyers and bloggers for the peaceful expression of opinions and ideas," said Clinton. "In particular, we are concerned about restrictions on free expression online and the upcoming trial of the founders of the so-called Free Journalist Club."

Those bloggers are charged with conducting propaganda against the state through the Club for Free Journalists, which was established in 2007 to promote independent journalism and freedom of expression.

Vietnam says the State Department human rights report makes regrettable conclusions and "partial remarks based on inaccurate information."

Clinton says single-party states kill innovation and discourage entrepreneurship, which are vital for sustainable growth.

"I know there are some who argue that developing economies need to put economic growth first and worry about political reform and democracy later," she said. "But that is a short-sighted bargain. Democracy and prosperity go hand-in-hand. Political reform and economic growth are linked."

During her talks with Vietnamese leaders, Secretary Clinton pledged continued help in cleaning up the dioxin defoliant Agent Orange used by the U.S. military during the Vietnam War.

The two countries are also working to identify the remains of missing U.S. and Vietnamese soldiers from the conflict. The bodies of nearly 700 Americans have been identified and repatriated since 1995. Nearly 1,300 military personnel remain missing in action.

Secretary Clinton is using this trip to reinforce Washington's so-called "Asia pivot" after more than a decade of focusing on Iraq and Afghanistan.

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by: John from: North Carolina
July 11, 2012 9:53 AM
If we hold to tradition, U.S. business interests will be served at the expense of human rights and religious freedom. The Obama administration, much like the Bush regime, makes a weak show of asserting the importance of human rights, but significant contributions by U.S. corporations politically will negate any change in human rights. We should be ashamed that our greatest allies during the war, the Montagnards and Khmer Krom, are thrown on the alter of capitalism as a sacrifice. Shame on Obama, Clinton and the State Department. This country no longer stands for the priceless values of freedom.

by: Jacques de Goldfiem from: France
July 10, 2012 3:30 PM
What is most important for Hilary Clinton ? Business or Human rights ?
In Response

by: Peter from: Texas
July 11, 2012 3:59 PM
It's not important for her, in fact there no longer any difference between who is "officially" in power in the USA. Correct answer: Human rights of exploited people is always of a great interest for the rulers of the USA (in terms of increasing the number). Since Reagan, freedom and democracy has steadily decline in the USA and all is left the only fading glimpse of what it use to be.

by: Raymond Murdock from: Washington DC
July 10, 2012 10:28 AM
This note could be called "a smiling woman in the world of the men and the politics" is not you forgive nothing. With this firmness subtle with that Mrs. Clinton works. Lack chivalry, kindness in the protocols. DON'T they?

by: Adam Bray from: Phnom Penh
July 10, 2012 8:56 AM
But what about Vietnam's American prisoner, Nguyen Quoc Quan? A peaceful, pro-democracy activist and American citizen, he is being held indefinitely in Vietnam and threatened with the possibility of execution. How can Mrs. Clinton offer Vietnam further US Aid yet leave him a prisoner at the mercy of Communist Vietnam?
In Response

by: Cả Thộn from: Hà Nội
July 10, 2012 6:44 PM
Hillary gave lectures to the deaf Communist ears, what a joke !

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