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May 12, 2022 / 16:24

Vietnam-US relations built by sincerity, trust, responsibility: PM Chinh

The Vietnamese PM said Vietnam and the US have gone a long way in the process of expressing sincerity and building trust with each other.

Vietnam’s Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh highlighted the role of sincerity, trust, and responsibility in the US-Vietnam relations in his first speech in the US hosted by the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) in the lead up to the US-ASEAN Summit.

 Vietnam’s Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh delivers speech at Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C., on May 11 (local time). Photos: VGP  

His remarks on the state and future of the US-Vietnam relationship in a conversation on May 11 (Washington time) which was joined by John J. Hamre, CSIS’ President and CEO, and Gregory Poling, Senior Fellow and Director, Southeast Asia Program and Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, CSIS.

Opening his remarks, PM Chinh said the relationship between Vietnam and the US has experienced extraordinary growth in the three decades following normalization in 1995. “That relationship has flourished and blossomed thanks to both sides’ efforts nurtured by sincerity, trust, and a sense of responsibility,” he said in a statement. 

He said the two countries have overcome differences and reached common foundational principles for this relationship, which is shown in respect for each other’s political system, independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity.

Respect for each other’s political system, independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity is a very special step indeed. It was reaffirmed in the letter sent to General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) Nguyen Phu Trong in 2021, in which US President Biden stressed that the Comprehensive Partnership between the two countries has been very vibrant and the two countries have been building its base on respect for the independent sovereignty and territorial integrity of each other. 

Chinh went on to say Vietnam highly appreciates the constant support by the US over the past years for a strong, independent, and prosperous Vietnam over the course of 27 years following the normalization, in which four consecutive US presidents have paid visits to Vietnam one after another, each leaving very good impressions on the heart of people.

Since the beginning of President Biden's term, various US high-level officials have visited Vietnam even in the height of the pandemic back in 2021, including Vice President Kamala Harris and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

In November 2021, Chinh and Biden had a very short but meaningful meeting when they attended the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, the UK. 

“Vietnam always desires to strengthen its cooperation with the US on the basis of bolstering trust and responsibility of both sides for the interest of the two peoples and of peace cooperation and development in the region and the world,” Chinh said.

“To fulfill its national development targets, Vietnam cannot go alone; to go far, we need friends,” he noted.

It’s not only today that Vietnam expresses its desire to work with the US. Chinh said Vietnam’s late President Ho Chi Minh raised this matter to the US on the very first day of the newly democratic republic, expressing his desire for an equal and comprehensive partnership with the US in his letters to the American government in 1946. “Our goal is complete independence and comprehensive cooperation with the US,” Ho Chi Minh wrote.

 From left: US Ambassador to Vietnam Marc Knapper, John J. Hamre, CSIS’ President and CEO, and Gregory Poling, Senior Fellow and Director, Southeast Asia Program and Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, CSIS, and Vietnam's PM Pham Minh Chinh.

Wide range of cooperation

The Vietnamese PM said Vietnam and the US have gone a long way in the process of expressing sincerity and building trust with each other. First of all, the two sides earnestly join hands in a concerted and determined effort to address war legacy issues. Vietnam has been active and very effective in cooperation in the search for US killed in action (KIA) and missing in action (MIA). Vietnam welcomes the US efforts to address war legacy issues alongside Vietnam through dioxin remediation, support for persons with disabilities and Agent Orange-infected victims, removal of unexploded ordnance (UXO), and cooperation in the search for the remains of Vietnamese war martyrs.

He said cooperation in war legacy issues over the past 27 years since normalization is a highlight in bilateral relations and from this, the two sides have been able to step up their expression of trust and sincerity.

The PM also underlined some other sectors of the tightened cooperation, including politics, economics, education and training, defense and security.

Politically, the two sides have been each other’s comprehensive partners since 2013 and have reached an agreement on the matters of principle in this relationship, most importantly the respect for each other’s political system, independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, mutually beneficial cooperation, and respect for the UN Charter and international law.

The US desire for a strongly independent and prosperous Vietnam is a very important foundation, Chinh stated. 

Economically, the US is Vietnam’s second largest market while Vietnam is the US largest market in ASEAN and the 9th in the world. The Vietnam-US trade agreement in 2000 was a launchpad that helped take the relationship beyond bilateral trade. In 2021, despite the Covid-19 pandemic, the two-way trade reached almost US$112 billion, an increase of almost 280 times that of 1995.

In education and training, Vietnam has the largest number of visiting students in the US among Southeast Asian countries with some 24,000 students in the 2019-2020 academic year, contributing billion dollars to the US economy in this field alone. Meanwhile, the US-funded Fulbright University Vietnam has provided high quality and human capital in a timely manner to meet development needs in many sectors and professions in Vietnam.

People-to-people exchanges are also steadily growing, so education and training are a very great highlight.

Defense and security cooperation continues to progress through concrete results in the spirit of the joint declaration on defense cooperation and vision inked in 2015.

In addition, the two countries are still working very well together on a wide range of international and regional issues.

Chinh once again affirmed that sincerity, trust, and responsibility are the key for all countries to address outstanding differences and disputes in a turbulent world today. These factors are also a major contribution to the strong growth of the relationship between Vietnam and the US over the past nearly 30 years.

“I trust these shall also be the through lines to guide advance and take the comprehensive partnership between Vietnam and the US to greater and more effective heights,” Chinh noted.

He cited CPV General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong’s message in his visit to CSIS in 2015 “the two sides need to set aside the past, overcome differences, and build on similarities and look towards the future.”

Chinh also quoted former President Barack Obama that a constructive relationship between the two countries should be built on the basis of mutual respect and the interest of the two peoples.

In answering a question raised by Andrew from Washington, D.C., PM Chinh said there is a lot of space for the US to work on in addition to trade which each year grows by two digits (10-17% over the past years).

“We will move towards the future. We will forge your head towards the future. We would find new mechanisms, new channels, and new adventures for cooperation,” Chinh emphasized.   

“It’s my hope that all of you and all of us would stand together and contribute to nurturing trust, sincerity, and responsibility between our two countries,” he concluded. 

Vietnam is a critical partner for the United States in the Indo-Pacific, and their robust relationship continues to endure with mutual respect, collaboration, and a shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific.

 PM Chinh makes his remarks.