President Biden taps Vietnam envoy Kritenbrink as key US diplomat for E. Asia

President Joe Biden has nominated U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Daniel Kritenbrink as the State Department's top diplomat for East Asia, the White House said Friday.
March 29, 2021 | 10:57
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U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Daniel Kritenbrink (Photo: VUFO)

Kritenbrink is expected to handle relations with Japan, China, South Korea and other Asian countries as the assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, if confirmed by the Senate. Dealing with North Korean nuclear issues will also be a key task. Prior to becoming the ambassador to Vietnam from 2017, he served in multiple assignments related to Asia, including senior adviser for North Korea policy at the department and senior director for Asian affairs at the National Security Council.

He has also served at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo as well as at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. He speaks fluent Chinese and Japanese, according to the White House.

In the wake of the launch of the Biden administration in January, Sung Kim has served as acting assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, Mainichi Japan reported.

The U.S. ambassador has earlier made a splash in Vietnam by making a rap video last month during Tet, the Lunar New Year that is Vietnam's most important annual celebration, as he put out his own rap video to send his greetings, as reported by VNE.

(Video: Vietcetera)

In a performance that combined both astute diplomatic messaging and a healthy touch of irony, Kritenbrink appeared strolling the streets of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City in his suit wearing headphones accompanied by Vietnamese music stars.

"Hi, my name is Dan / I'm from Nebraska / I'm not a big city boy/ Then three years ago I moved to Hanoi," he began in a video viewed hundreds of thousands of times that also included lines in Vietnamese.

Despite his sense of humor, Kritenbrink has a serious background, previously serving as the number two at the U.S. embassy in Beijing and as the top White House aide on Asia policy under former president Barack Obama.

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