John Kerry’s last visit as Secretary of State is to Vietnam

World Today

Secretary of State John Kerry, left, shakes hands with Secretary of the Ho Chi Minh City Party Committee Dinh La Thang before their meeting, Friday, Jan. 13, 2017, in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, Pool)

While General Secretary of Vietnam’s Communist Party accepts an invite to meet with Xi Jinping in China, America’s top diplomat, John Kerry, is in Vietnam just days before he’s due to leave the post.

CGTN’s Calum Stuart reports.

John Kerry’s last visit as Secretary of State is to Vietnam

John Kerry’s last visit as Secretary of State is to Vietnam

While General Secretary of Vietnam's Communist Party accepts an invite to meet with Xi Jinping in China, America's top diplomat, John Kerry, is in Vietnam just days before he's due to leave the post.

As the world prepares for the change of the U.S. government, the Asia-Pacific region is bracing to see how it will affect their politics.

As one of his last duties as U.S. Secretary of State, Kerry arrived in Vietnam on Friday to reaffirm America’s diplomatic commitments.

Almost fifty years after he fought in the Vietnam War, Kerry’s tenure in government has been during a time when America and Vietnam’s relations have never been better.

“I thought it was interesting that he choose Vietnam for his last Asia speech, since he’s got about a week left. And I think it shows that Vietnam holds a special place in his heart, as a Vietnam War veteran. The U.S. sees itself making a lot of progress here; it feels encouraged. So it feels more political will to invest in this part of the region,” said Lien Hoang, the Vietnam correspondent for Bloomberg.

With its growing regional clout, developing ties with Vietnam was seen as fundamental to the Obama Administration in increasing America’s presence in Southeast Asia. But with Donald Trump soon to be sworn in as U.S. president, there’s set to be a very different approach to the economic agreements which had been fundamental in linking the two countries.

Vietnam is actively seeking to forge global trade ties, and with the future of the Trans-Pacific Partnership looking increasingly uncertain, this could involve a pivot away from America and towards other potential partners.

Vietnam’s Communist Party leader, Nguyen Phu Trong, was in Beijing this week to meet with Chinese President, Xi Jinping. With many countries considering the China-backed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership as an alternative to TPP, there has been speculation Vietnam may start to build closer economic ties with China.

However, some political analysts believe that before this can happen, the two nations will first have to find an agreement on a number of geopolitical and security issues.

“The history between Vietnam and China goes back a long way. The two countries share a lot of areas where their economics interact. This includes issues of fisheries; this includes issues of energy exploration in the South-China Sea. There are areas of cooperation to be had, but these must overcome whatever political domestic reasons for there to be obstructions to be seeking gains from this sort of cooperation,” said Ian Chong, Assistant Professor of Political Science at National University of Singapore.

With RCEP negotiations ongoing, and John Kerry’s successor hinting towards a hard-line stance on China, trade and security look set to remain as two defining issues in the Asia Pacific region.

  • Lara Strong

    Went to south Vietnam , as feeling that can stand ? Was hesitating all this 4 years , now has had moment that no one to pay attention, plus urgent was (his country and he, for sure and his President , considering urgent) , plus courage enough was only to get to more familiar surounding, the once “his” Saigon , now Ho Chi MInh City, but he was repeating while walking from airplane :” it is Saigon, it is Saigon , it is friendly to me, friendly to us !”