Joe Biden predicted on Sunday "the beginning of an era of even greater cooperation" with Vietnam, and if he denied wanting to "isolate" China, he nonetheless scratched the great rival power.
Joe Biden went to Hanoi on the heels of the G20 summit in New Delhi, and with the same objective: to assert American power in Asia at the gates of China.
He announced that he had concluded an "extensive strategic partnership" between the two countries, the highest degree of diplomatic proximity possible, during a meeting with the leader of the ruling Communist Party, Nguyen Phu Trong.
"We are deepening our cooperation in key emerging technologies, including building a more resilient semiconductor supply chain," Biden said.
The two countries have entered into a vast partnership in this area, in order to "develop" Vietnam's capabilities "for the benefit of American industry", according to a press release.
The United States, in this text, praises “the capacity (of the South-East Asian country) to play an essential role in setting up robust semiconductor supply chains”. In other words: less dependent on China.
The agreement is a win-win. It must allow the United States, which Joe Biden wants to reindustrialize at high speed, to guarantee supplies of essential electronic components.
And the partnership gives Vietnam hope for resources to resolve the problem of saturation of its production capacities.
The American president, at a time when relations with Beijing remain extremely tense, affirmed during a press conference that he did not want to "contain China", as the Asian giant accuses him.
Joe Biden, engaged in intense diplomatic activity in Asia, added: “It is not a question of isolating China.” "We are not looking to hurt China. Really. Everyone has an interest in China doing well," he insisted.
He nonetheless accused Beijing of “changing certain rules of the game in trade and other areas”.
Apple shares recently faltered on the stock market following information according to which China has banned the use of the iPhone in certain administrations and state companies.
The American president took up a now frequent refrain on China's economic "difficulties", declaring that his counterpart Xi Jinping had "really a lot to do", for example in the face of "overwhelming" youth unemployment.
Joe Biden said, without further details, that he had "met" Chinese Prime Minister Li Qiang during the G20 summit in New Delhi, and assured that their exchange had "not been confrontational". Xi Jinping did not make the trip to India but the American president reiterated that he hoped to meet him.
The 80-year-old Democrat is betting that in the face of China's problems, America, with its robust economic health, has a card to play with Asian countries.
Particularly in Vietnam. While taking care not to be perceived as siding with Washington or Beijing, Hanoi wants to strengthen its position against China, against a backdrop of maritime and territorial rivalries.
On Monday, Joe Biden will meet President Vo Van Thuong and Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh.
He also planned to pay his respects in Hanoi in front of the monument dedicated to John McCain, a deceased former American war hero, who helped rebuild ties between the two countries.
During this visit, the American president will have to juggle strategic interests and the defense of human rights, in which Vietnam has a disastrous record.
Opponents face intimidation, harassment and imprisonment after unfair trials, and cases of torture have been reported, according to Human Rights Watch.
Activists fear that the American president, despite his great speeches on the defense of democracy in the world, will not dwell on the subject.
During his press conference in Hanoi, Joe Biden assured that he raised the issue of human rights “with every person he met”.
10/09/2023 18:26:06 - Hanoi (AFP) - © 2023 AFP