Vietnam - United States: Cultivating Trust for Extensive Cooperation

Vietnam and the United States have achieved great milestones in bilateral relations, resulting from the persistent efforts of many generations of leaders and people of the two countries. The comprehensive strategic partnership for peace, cooperation, and sustainable development promises a great future for the two countries' relations.
December 06, 2023 | 14:13

The Viet Nam Union of Friendship Organizations (VUFO) and the US Embassy in Vietnam recently held a conference on a workshop "US-Vietnam: 10 Years of Comprehensive Partnership in Retrospect and Prospects of Comprehensive Strategic Partnership for Peace, Cooperation and Sustainable Development."

The conference reviews the bilateral relations in recent times and discusses limitations, difficulties, lessons learned, achievements, factors, and pillars promoting relations between the two countries, including the important contributions of people-to-people diplomacy. It also suggests possible cooperation to bring the Vietnam - United States partnership to new heights, contributing to peace, stability, cooperation, and development in the region and the world over.

Realizing President Ho Chi Minh's desires

Reviewing the Vietnam - United States relations, former VUFO President Vu Xuan Hong recalled the time when he accompanied President Truong Tan Sang to the United States in 2013. During this trip, Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang and US President Barack Obama announced upgrading the two countries' relations to a comprehensive partnership.

"At that time, there was no one among us who was so optimistic to think that 10 years later, in 2023, the two countries would upgrade relations to the highest level. 10 contents in the Declaration of the two leaders promise a great future for the relationship between the two countries," said Hong.

Vietnam - United States: Cultivating Trust for Extensive Cooperation
Vu Xuan Hong (second from right), former President of VUFO, at the Conference. (Photo: Dinh Hoa)

Regarding the contribution of people-to-people diplomacy to Vietnam-US relations, Hong said people-to-people diplomacy, particularly the Vietnam-US Society, has contributed to changing the awareness of the two peoples about each other, helping the people to get closer to each other, creating consensus for important political decisions of the two countries' leaders so that the relations could go through historical stages of development to today's stage.

The Vietnam-US Society, formerly known as the Vietnam-US Friendship Association, was established on October 17, 1945, only one and a half months after President Ho Chi Minh read the Declaration of Independence of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. This is the first people-to-people friendship association in Vietnam to be established to advocate and coordinate with the US people, to serve as the people's foundation to build Vietnam - US relations in the future.

In 1946, Uncle Ho sent a letter to US President Truman expressing his longing for Vietnam's independence, sovereignty, and freedom while developing full relations with the United States. Hong said the September 10, 2023 event, when the two countries upgraded relations to the highest level, fulfilled President Ho Chi Minh's desires.

Recounting years of resistance against the US, the years of embargo, to reconciliation, Vu Xuan Hong said at that time, the Vietnam-US Society was the only direct people-to-people diplomatic channel that could reach out and mobilize the American people and society to support Vietnam. The Association organized hundreds of delegations of Vietnamese people to the United States and American people to Vietnam so that the two sides could to know each other.

Dr. Bui Thi Phuong Lan, former Director of the Institute of American Studies (Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences), said she first came to the United States in 1993, the two countries had not yet established official relations. Her visa to the United States was stamped on an A4 sheet, which could only be obtained in Moscow (Russia) or Bangkok (Thailand). As she arrived, she had unprecedented experiences.

While studying in Texas in 1994, when she heard on the television that the United States was about to lift the embargo on Vietnam, Lan burst into tears. The two countries have gone through a long journey, during which, the 10 years of Comprehensive Partnership built a solid foundation for relations of equality, and respect, together resolve the past, and build parallel benefits for the future.

The relations have reached the "ripe" stage

According to former Vietnamese Ambassador to the US Nguyen Tam Chien, many international scholars are surprised by the rapid development of the Vietnam-US relations, from "former enemies" to "highest partners" in Vietnam's systems of international relations.

However, this is not a surprising development because the relations between the two countries have reached the "ripe" stage. To achieve such a result, the two countries have gone through a long process of both great effort and concern.

Chien recalled memorable milestones such as in 2003, General Pham Van Tra was the first Vietnam Minister of Defense to visit the US, in 2005, Prime Minister Phan Van Khai was the first Vietnamese Prime Minister to visit the US, 30 years after the war. Those were milestones that set the two countries' relations off for multi-faceted cooperation for mutual benefit. The United States granted permanent normal trade relations to Vietnam in December 2006. In 2007, Vietnam became a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) with support from the United States. In 2013, Vietnam-US established a Comprehensive Partnership, which is now upgraded into a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.

Vietnam and the United States have reached such great milestones, according to Chien, thanks to the consensus and support of the two peoples. This journey. though full of hardships, is filled with confidence for the future.

According to Major General, Associate Professor, Dr. Le Van Cuong, former Director of the Institute of Strategic Studies (Ministry of Public Security), strategic partnerships are based on two pillars, strategic trust and strategic benefits. A comprehensive strategic partnership for peace, cooperation, and sustainable development opens up opportunities for both Vietnam and the United States. The two countries need to have strategies and tactics to exploit this opportunity. First and foremost, they need to understand each other's needs.

He believes that economy will be the main pillar in the two countries' relations, in which investment plays an important role, helping to improve the competitiveness of the Vietnamese economy and bringing Vietnam into the global supply chain.

Christopher Vanloon, Director of AmCham Da Nang, said the next two years are a decisive "window" for future cooperation. Regarding economic cooperation, especially trade and investment, US policymakers support strengthening economic cooperation with Vietnam, however, that spirit must be kept by attracting billions of dollars of investment into Vietnam.

At the conference, many delegates said digital transformation and the semiconductor industry can benefit Vietnam's growth. American businesses want to invest and do business in Vietnam, however, if the results do not reach expectations, they might consider transferring capital to another country. There are still challenges that need to be systematically resolved, focusing on mutual trust, transparency, improvement, and simplification of procedures.

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