President Joe Biden is expected to sign a “strategic partnership agreement” with Vietnam next month during a visit to the Southeast Asian country. The deal will reportedly “boost Vietnam’s efforts to develop its high technology sector in areas including semiconductor production and artificial intelligence.”
The expected agreement arrives as tensions between Vietnam and China continue to rise. The southeastern nation, along with its neighbors in Malaysia and the Philippines, has raised issues with China’s claims of authority over parts of the South China Sea. More recently, China reportedly began building an airfield on an island that Vietnam says expands into its territory. However, policy experts say this doesn’t mean Vietnam is fully breaking its ties with China to align itself completely with the Biden administration.
“Vietnam is not aligning with the U.S. against China,” former State Department official Scot Marciel said.
“They’re happy to improve relations with the U.S., but it doesn’t mean they’re moving against China — they’re going to continue to calibrate very carefully.”
The “strategic partnership agreement” may improve the nation’s relationship with Vietnam, but it will likely draw criticism because of the Southeast Asian country’s human rights violations.
“Vietnam’s human rights record has actually been getting worse, not better,” Derek Grossman of the RAND Corporation said.
“There are definitely people out there who will be appalled by this deal, who will see this as a realpolitik way of doing things against China while ignoring the festering human rights situation in Vietnam.”