In Vietnam, Biden Says He Means No Harm to China

President takes steps to grow closer to another potential counter to Chinese aggression
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 10, 2023 5:15 PM CDT
In Vietnam, Biden Says He Means No Harm to China
Vietnamese General Secretary of the Communist Party, Nguyen Phu Trong, on podium front right, and US President Biden, on podium front left, review the guard of honor at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi on Sunday.   (Luong Thai Linh/Pool Photo via AP)

President Biden arrived Sunday in Vietnam to seal a "comprehensive strategic partnership," while insisting his attempts to strengthen US relations with China's neighbors are not coming at the expense of Beijing's Communist government. "I don't want to contain China," Biden said during a news conference in Hanoi, Politico reports. "We're not trying to hurt China." The president was fresh from a G20 summit in India, another nation that borders China and is of strategic importance in countering its increasing aggression in the Indo-Pacific region, per the New York Times.

Over the past five months, per CNN, Biden has hosted the Philippines' president at the White House, thrown India's prime minister a state dinner, and hosted Japanese and South Korean leaders at Camp David. Each diplomatic effort has produced evidence of closer ties with the US. Administration officials said the agreement to be signed in Hanoi elevates the US to the ranks of Vietnam's closest partners, one of which is China. "It marks a new period of fundamental reorientation between the United States and Vietnam," which at the same time is under pressure from China, a senior official said.

"The United States is a Pacific nation, and we're not going anywhere," Biden said in the news conference Sunday, which seemed intended to put China on notice, per the Times. China has accused the US of Cold War-like strategies in steps such as restricting certain investments there. Biden answered that Sunday. "We think too much in Cold War terms," the president told reporters. "I am sincere about getting the relationship right." He plans to announce moves on Monday to help Vietnam ease its reliance on Russian arms, a US official said. (More President Biden stories.)

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