News / Asia

Kerry Visits Vietnam

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visits a shop along the Mekong River Delta, Vietnam, Dec. 15, 2013.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visits a shop along the Mekong River Delta, Vietnam, Dec. 15, 2013.
Gabrielle Paluch
— U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is visiting Vietnam and the Philippines this week as part of a trip intended to further Washington's diplomatic, economic and military rebalancing toward Asia.

Kerry arrived in Vietnam at a time of heightened tensions with China as Beijing stakes an assertive stance on maritime territorial disputes with countries in the region.

During a news conference in Hanoi, Kerry criticized China for its new air defense zone over islands disputed with Japan in the East China Sea. He warned that Beijing should not consider taking similar unilateral actions elsewhere, including the South China Sea.

The secretary announced the U.S. would provide an additional $32 million to help countries in the region patrol territorial waters. The money includes some $18 million for Vietnam.

Kerry's visit comes as Washington tries to reassure its allies about its “Asia Pivot” strategy of rebalancing economic, diplomatic and military focus to a region considered key to the U.S. future. Carlyle Thayer, of the University of New South Wales in Australia said Secretary Kerry's trip is partly aimed at “rebalancing the rebalancing.”

"The rebalancing of the U.S. is always cast overwhelmingly on the military side, and the rebalancing of the rebalancing is to stress that the U.S. has enduring commitments to other forms of engagement with Southeast Asia and in the Mekong Delta.  It comes together with sustainable development environmental protection and mitigation against climate change," said Thayer.

Secretary Kerry also toured the Mekong river, returning to a place where he was the commander of an American patrol boat during the Vietnam War.

He addressed a group of Vietnamese students living in communities with water-dependent economies about climate change, and announced a $17 million investment for Vietnam Forests and Deltas program, which is intended to mitigate climate change.

While the U.S. and Vietnam share economic and security goals, Washington has been critical of Hanoi's human rights record.

Despite making progress on its human rights agenda, including signing the United Nations Convention Against Torture, and allowing a special rapporteur for human rights in to the country, Vietnam has also cracked down on perceived government critics.

More journalists and bloggers were arrested in Vietnam this year than ever before.

Diplomats present at Secretary Kerry's meetings said he was forthright with top officials about the importance of human rights, mentioning specific cases. However, professor Thayer said pragmatic security and economic agendas take precedence over human rights in U.S. diplomacy with Vietnam.

"Durable progress lost out to a comprehensive partnership. The U.S. is willing to develop relations with Vietnam economically and on the military side while making the protests and telling the Vietnamese leaders its in your interest because countries that respect civil rights, respect political freedom will have political stability and economic growth and that will positively influence the direction of relations with the United States," noted Thayer.

Thayer said Vietnam's major irritant in its relationship with the U.S. is the International Trafficking and Arms Regulations, which bans Vietnam from buying certain military equipment such as night vision goggles and riot gear.

Kerry will next go to the Philippines, where he is to visit typhoon-devastated Tacloban, meet with top officials in Manila and discuss bilateral ties.

You May Like

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid