Vietnam is a symbolic location to host the second summit of U.S. President Donald Trump and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea leader Kim Jong Un.
The Vietnamese capital acts as a reminder that reconciliation with an old enemy is possible.
CGTN’s Jessica Stone is in Hanoi for the two-day summit. She spoke to two survivors of the Vietnam war about how bitter enemies, became friends.
Chuck Searcy fought in Vietnam as a U.S. soldier, and returned in 1992. He now advises a non-profit working to rid Vietnam of unexploded mines.
“I felt a great responsibility, and I felt a great opportunity to represent the sentiments of a lot my friends,” Searcy said.
“I think they would very much support the effort to rebuild the relationship between the U.S. and Vietnam and to recognize we should never have been enemies.”
DFM #LeHoaiTrung on #DPRKUSA #HanoiSummit:
💬By hosting the summit, #Vietnam wants to promote its foreign policy of peace & being an active + responsible member of int'l community, and also wants to enhance the role of not only itself but also the whole @ASEAN in the world pic.twitter.com/fWEscPk2Xe
— Viet Nam Diplomacy (@MOFAVietNam) February 25, 2019
For the Confucianist Vietnamese, restoring harmony is a deeply-held value.
Nguyen Qui Duc lost 16 years with his dad during the war. His father became a political prisoner, spending time at the infamous Hanoi Hilton before being shipped to a re-education camp. Duc said cultural values weren’t the only reason Vietnam welcomed Americans back – there was also a need to rebuild.
“And if you compare the 20 years of conflict with the benefit of being friends with the world, then the choice is clear. You make friends,” Nguyen Qui Duc said.
The benefits of friendship are on display all around Hanoi. Vietnam has become one of the fastest-growing economies in the world.
Hanoi has bridged the divide between old enemies before. In 1995, the American diplomatic mission was established in Vietnam, the first in the country in nearly two decades. Five years later, U.S. President Bill Clinton arrived with a message for the Vietnamese people.
— Jessica Stone (@JessicaStoneTV) February 26, 2019
Searcy said the American soul-searching that occurred after the Vietnam War, holds a lesson for Pyongyang.
“The [DPRK] friends could learn a lot from Vietnam about how to maintain their integrity, their sovereignty and their independence at the same time that they accept friendship and shared contributions of other countries, including the U.S.,” Searcy said.
As Hanoi’s landscape shows, Vietnam is still restoring balance – between reminders of war and monuments to peace.
Jonathan Broder discusses China’s role in the Hanoi summit
CGTN’s Elaine Reyes spoke with Jonathan Broder, senior writer for Newsweek, about China’s relationship with the DPRK.