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

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community 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.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid