News / USA

Vietnam-US Talks to Cover Trade, Human Rights, China

Vietnam's President Truong Tan Sang arrives in Merdeka Palace in Jakarta, Indonesia, June 27, 2013.
Vietnam's President Truong Tan Sang arrives in Merdeka Palace in Jakarta, Indonesia, June 27, 2013.
Marianne Brown
On Thursday, President Truong Tan Sang will become the second Vietnamese head of state to visit the White House since the two countries normalized relations nearly 20 years ago. The talks are expected to cover the two countries’ increasing trade, Hanoi’s relations with China and U.S. concerns over Vietnam’s human rights record.  

The United States is Vietnam’s second largest trading partner after China and Vietnam's proposed participation in the U.S.-led free-trade organization, the Trans-Pacific Partnership [TPP], is likely to be high on the agenda.

Vietnam's youthful population and rising economic growth make it an attractive market for many U.S. firms. Last week, McDonalds, the U.S.-based fast food giant, became the latest global food brand to announce it would open a franchise in the country.

At a press conference in Hanoi last week, foreign ministry spokesman Luong Thanh Nghi said bilateral relations have grown since the two countries normalized relations in July of 1995.

He said the United States and Vietnam have agreed to establish a friendly, constructive partnership on the basis of equality, mutual respect, and benefits.

Human rights

But there are continuing differences over U.S. objections to Vietnam’s worsening record on human rights. So far this year, the international rights group Human Rights Watch says Vietnam has handed down more jail sentences to religious leaders, dissidents and bloggers than the whole of 2012.

This month's trial of dissident lawyer Le Quoc Quan was postponed indefinitely. Jailed blogger Dieu Cay was described as “very weak” as he conducts a hunger strike against prison conditions.
 
Vietnamese activist Trinh Kim Tien said she hopes that human rights will be a prominent part of the U.S.-Vietnam talks.  She said Obama has highlighted Dieu Cay's case before and should do something now to help his family before it’s too late.

With such stories drawing attention abroad, analysts are watching to see what impact they will have in the discussions with U.S. officials. Defense analyst Professor Carl Thayer points to the U.S. policy of rebalancing its influence toward the Asia-Pacific.

“I’m guessing, that if America only plays the human rights card they’re shooting themselves in the foot in trying to advance strategic relationship with Vietnam," Thayer said. "The larger game of rebalancing is access, shaping, security outlets and improving maritime security, and how far is Vietnam willing to go with China."

Vietnamese diplomacy maintains a careful balancing act between the United States and China, particularly regarding China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea.

During  Sang’s trip to Beijing last month, the two communist countries agreed to set up an emergency hotline to help resolve territorial disputes that have occasionally strained their relations. But not everyone agrees that things are going well between them.
 
Retired diplomat and Vietnam expert David Brown believes Vietnam’s relationship with China has stalled since talks in October 2011, partly over territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

"My reading on that was that a year and a half ago the Chinese agreed at least to talk about the Paracels [islands], not about giving them back, but at least about allowing the Vietnamese certain kinds of access there and in the seas around them, and the Vietnamese side said 'okay, we’ll talk about that.' But it seems those discussions have gone nowhere at all," he said.

Brown said those tensions over the Paracels are partly why the United States will be in a strong position during the talks, since Vietnam and other countries in Southeast Asia see Washington as a counterbalance to China’s maritime ambitions.
 
Also with other U.S. allies in the region like the Philippines and Singapore, Brown points out that Washington is not interested in seeking a stronger military presence in Vietnam to offset China. This is why, he said, the United States could have more leverage on discussions on human rights.

You May Like

Video British Fighters On Frontline of ISIS Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Multimedia Hit Song Delivers Ebola Message in Liberia

'Ebola in Town' has danceable beat, while also delivering serious message about avoiding infection More

Video New Technology Gives Surgeons Unprecedented Views of Patients’ Bodies

Technology offers real-time, interactive, medical visualization and is multi-dimensional More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Bill Tran
July 26, 2013 10:50 PM
Remember the lesson that we learned from the Paris Peace accord ? The US and Viet Cong used each other to get what they wanted. In prsent day geopolitics, China 's enormous economiy dominates the world and Vietnam is becoming irrelevant and isolated. So the odd couple is back again to use each other to get what they want to have. The ultimate betrayal or payback to VN is that the US will use VN to get what they want and then hand/sell out VN back to China. Remember that VN economy/market is tiny compare to China's therefore when a company wants to make an investment they always think about the return-on-investment to make that decision. We all know by now that the US can sell out their allied friends in a heart beat. Perhaps another lesson to be learned. Let's wait and see.


by: lapazjim from: USA
July 25, 2013 10:01 AM
What I see as bad about this is not the fact that we have now had foreign relations with Vietnam for awhile,but that we are having them with a country in a war the US essentially lost and took the lives of so many Americans.So basically its going to be like all is forgiven!! Strange that the US government can do this for Vietnam,but refuses to try for normal ties with Cuba.The Us did not fight a war with Cuba that they lost or that cost US lives.What happened with them was the Cuban missile crisis which was done long ago and long before Vietnam.

True that the US did not like Castro,but remember he is no longer in power and instead of seizing the moment to get some form of ties with them the government chose to ignore them.Hell of a government we have!! I am not a Cuban or any type of anything other than a US supporter.I am just asking why an attempt was not made and that's all. Now with Vietnam jumping back on board with the US is Obama going to throw money(that the US does not have)at them like his source is never going to dry up??

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid