Biden touts corporate deals in Vietnam including $7.5 billion Boeing jet pact as government leaders toast to his health and sip Pho a day after Communist Party head said the president hadn’t ‘aged a day’
- President Joe Biden held second day of meetings in Hanoi
- He met Vietnamese PM who said ‘sky’s the limit’ on cooperation
- Communist Party head on Sunday said Biden looked the same as 15 years ago
Vietnam leaders toasted to President Joe Biden‘s health Monday as he cultivated powerbrokers and business leaders a day after the country’s Communist Party head said he hadn’t ‘aged a day.’
The toast came as Biden met Vietnamese President Vo Van Thuong at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi, as part of an effort to cement growing political ties with the country’s leadership, which is upgrading its official diplomatic status with the U.S.
It came on a day when Biden is also pushing forward U.S.-Vietnam business ties, including a new deal for Vietnam Arlines to purchase about 50 aircraft from Chicago-based Boeing for $7.5 billion. Another deal will have Arizona-based Amkor Technology construct a $1.6 billion factory in the country’s Bac Ninh Province.
Those economic ties could be cemented further if Vietnam with U.S. government backing purchases F-16 fighter aircraft in the coming months. Vietnam is seeking to diversify its military hardware even as it continues arms deals with Russia, which has been its historic supplier.
Vietnam is the United States’ 10th largest trading partner, with two-way commerce of about $90 billion, according to the U.S. Trade Representative’s office.
Biden – who is on his first-ever trip to Vietnam – said it was an honor to be there adding that it was a day that ‘may have seemed impossible not that long ago.’ He also referenced the ‘boundless possibilities ahead’ as the U.S. and Vietnam strengthen ties, amid continued flexing by China in the region.
Biden, who is a teetotaler, also quoted a Vietnamese poet during his own toast and remarks.
He was accompanied by Prime Minister Phm Minh Chính during his confab with business bosses and said ‘the sky is the limit’ on cooperation. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was there.
‘We need to develop and drive our collaboration, We need to forge new partnerships,’ Biden said.
Companies represented at the meeting included Boeing Global, semiconductor firm Marvell, and Google. He was also set to meet Vuong Dinh Hue, Chairman of the National Assembly of Vietnam.
The global deal-making came just hours after Biden visited the Vietnamese Communist Party headquarters, which has a hammer and sickle display on its exterior.
At that event, Biden got a vote of confidence in his youthful bearing – from the aging communist party leader who has amassed power in Hanoi for decades.
General Secretary Nguyễn Phú Trọng of the Communist Party of Vietnam, 79, delivered the compliment while welcoming Biden to Vietnam for a visit where the U.S. will be elevated to a ‘comprehensive strategic partner’ and the president will honor the late Sen. John McCain.
Trọng buttered up Biden, 80, inside communist party headquarters, under a large statue of Ho Chi Minh.
‘It’s nice to see you again. You have nary aged a day and I would say you look even better than before,’ Trong said, drawing chuckles from the president.
‘Every feature of you Mr. President is very much complimentary of your image,’ Trong added.
Trong made the remark as the two men were seated at a long table to announce the U.S.’s upgraded status.
‘This is Vietnam’s highest tier of international partnership,’ Deputy National Security Advisor Jon Finer explained to reporters on board Air Force One ahead of the arriavl.
Biden arrived in Hanoi Sunday afternoon after spending two days in India at the G20 Leaders’ Summit.
He was whisked to Vietnam’s Presidential Palace where he was treated to a welcome ceremony that included a musical performance and dozens of schoolchildren waving both countries’ flags.
With Biden was former Secretary of State and Sen. John Kerry, whose service in the Vietnam War, and subsequent objection to the conflict, was a major piece of the Democrat‘s 2004 presidential run.
Kerry, who Biden appointed as his climate czar, told DailyMail.com he was in Vietnam recently working ‘on a lot of things’ and confirmed he would be attending Monday’s event honoring McCain.
There’s now a memorial at the crash site.
‘A thruline you will see during our time there is this five-decade arc in the U.S.-Vietnam relationship from conflict to normalization to the establishment of a comprehensive partnership in 2013 and now to this elevated status of partnership, again the highest level in the Vietmanese system,’ Finer said.
The upgrade is another way the U.S. is trying to combat China.
Still top Vietnamese officials were also tending to their relations with China before Biden’s arrival, a decision that reflects China’s powerful sway and long-term commitment, despite longstanding tensions between the two nations.
Vietnam ‘can’t be sure that the United States would really come to their defense if push came to shove with China,’ John Ciociari, Professor of Public Policy and Director of the Gerald R. Ford School’s Weiser Diplomacy Center at the University of Michigan told DailyMail.com.
‘It still is heavily reliant on China for trade and investment,’ he noted.
The New York Times reported Saturday, one day before Biden’s arrival, that Vietnam was also seeking an arms deal with Russia, despite deepening its U.S. ties and amid Russia’s assault on Ukraine.
Finer noted how the U.S. has discouraged countries from having military partnerships with Russia.
‘It should not be appealing to have a security relationship with a country that is committing war crimes, that is committing violations of international law,’ Finer said.
But Finer also pointed out that Vietnam and Russia have long had military ties.
‘Vietnam has had a decades-long relationship with Russia, and a decades-long military relationship with Russia. But our strong sense is that there is increasing discomfort on the part of the Vietmanese, with that relationship,’ Finer said.
‘The value proposition of that relationship it not what it once was,’ he added, calling disentangling Vietnam from Russia a ‘work in progress.’