Hoang Anh Tuan, director of the Institute for Foreign Policy and Strategic Studies, spoke with Tien Phong (Vanguard) newspaper on the meaning of the Joint Declaration on Vision of the Viet Nam-US Relationship and how the relationship of the two nations will grow.
What can we see from the Joint Declaration on Vision of the Viet Nam-US Relationship?
In my opinion, there are at least five important implications. Firstly, it shows that both Vietnamese and US leaders highly appreciate the improvement in the relationship status and the co-operation between the two countries since normalisation.
The co-operation ranges from economy-trade-investment to non-conventional fields, such as lifesaving, medical co-operation and adaption to climate change; from political aspects with high-level talks to co-operation in security and defence. The co-operation between the two countries was not limited to the bilateral framework, but extended to the regional and international forums.
Secondly, the joint declaration proves the straightforwardness and the openness of Vietnamese and US leaders in discussing mutual interests, including those previously deemed sensitive, including democracy, human rights, religion, maritime security and the territorial dispute in the East Sea.
Such sincerity shows that Vietnamese and US leaders have acknowledged the differences and seen dialogue as the best way to narrow them down.
President Obama's speech after meeting Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong mentioned the difference in the political philosophy between Viet Nam and the US, yet he also noted that such difference did not prevent the co-operation of the two countries, as evidenced in the last 20 years.
Thirdly, the US and Viet Nam are both looking for peace, stability and prosperity in the South East Asian region through their co-operation, which was stated in the Joint Declaration as Vietnamese and US leaders committed to strengthen their co-operation to resolve the East Sea dispute through international law.
The commitment also suggested that the East Sea dispute was not only a security issue for Viet Nam and the region alone, but was also an international security issue of US interest. A peaceful approach to resolve the East Sea dispute based on international law would meet the interests of both the US and Viet Nam.
Fourthly, the declaration indicated that the US hopes to co-operate with Viet Nam to end negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). TPP is seen as a trade agreement at the highest international standard.
The completion of the agreement will help tighten the dependence of the member countries and promote the prosperity in the Asia Pacific region as well as in the world.
Although the US highly appreciates Viet Nam's efforts in pushing TPP negotiations forward, it was also aware of some challenges that our country was facing. For example, the US said that it wanted Viet Nam to match its legal system with the newly amended Constitution in 2013.
It felt that a good legal basis would help Viet Nam deal with the complicated negotiation process of a high-level standard agreement, especially when Viet Nam was still struggling as an emerging economy integrating into the global stage.
Last but not least, Vietnamese and the US leaders both see much potential in the co-operation of the two countries. Party General Secretary Trong wished that the relationship would grow stronger after the Viet Nam-US Comprehensive Partnership was signed.
President Obama also gracefully accepted an invitation to visit Viet Nam. This would be another breakthrough in the Viet Nam-US relationship.
In your opinion, what are the changes in the relationship following Trong's visit?
This visit was unprecedented. Domestic, regional and even international media all used the word "historic" to describe a visit that was impossible 20 years ago. The Viet Nam-US relationship in future will be much more down-to-earth and much deeper to make what Viet Nam and the US signed in joint declarations come true.
As Trong and Obama have said, although the differences in political philosophy and the past cannot be changed, the future of the two sides "is our responsibility".
This shows that in the future, potential co-operations will continue to be promoted without being hindered by so many differences.
There have been visits to the US by high-level Vietnamese officials, including Presidents and a Prime Minister, yet the visit by Trong was special. It shows that the US respects the political choice of Vietnamese citizens and the political institution of Viet Nam. — VNS