U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told an audience at Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh University Friday that the upcoming change in administrations will not affect the relationship shared between the two countries.
Kerry said the two countries share a set of values that cannot be altered by changing leadership.
“Our friendship doesn't depend on individuals or personalities, one president or the other, one party or the other. Our friendship is rooted in interests that we share, and in the things that we agree upon about the future," he said.
Kerry did note President-elect Donald Trump’s opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership could sink the deal when he takes office next week, but added that technology, not trade agreements, is what leads to job loss.
“Now, when machines do more, productivity generally goes up, and the demand for labor begins to shift to other places, other industries. That's one of the reasons why if you engage in protectionist policy, it isn't going to work," he said.
On South China Sea
Kerry also addressed recent tensions in the South China Sea, pointing out that the U.S. does not take a position on different countries' claims to the territory, but asks that all those involved not engage in “provocative acts.”
“We believe in all the countries in the region, whether big or small, and that they should all refrain from provocative acts that add to tensions or might lead to a greater militarization of the area," he said.
Currently, six countries, including China and Vietnam, claim at least some part of the sea as their own.
On Saturday, Kerry is scheduled to visit the Mekong Delta where he fought during the Vietnam War.
After Vietnam, Kerry travels to Paris for a conference on Middle East peace and to London to meet with British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.
On the final leg of his last trip as secretary of state, Kerry will attend the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.