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

India PM Modi's party distances itself from religious conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote a Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert to Hinduism More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic 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.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid