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No surprise, Obama skips Vietnam visit

Editor: Tong Xinxin 丨CCTV.com

11-11-2015 16:08 BJT

By Ling Dequan, Researcher, Center for World Affairs Studies, Xinhua News Agency
United States President Barack Obama will attend the Group 20 Summit in Turkey, APEC meeting in the Philippines, East Asia Summit and U.S.-ASEAN Summit in Malaysia in the next few days. However, Obama refuses to visit Vietnam, which has aroused much concern from the international community.

Different from former President George Walker Bush, who "ignored" Southeast Asia, Obama hopes to expand the "Asia-Pacific Re-balance" strategy. Over the past seven years, he visited Asian countries nine times. He visited Singapore, Cambodia, and Thailand once, Indonesia, Burma, Malaysia and the Philippines two times.

He has not visited: Brunei, Vietnam and Laos. Brunei is a tiny nation. Vietnam and Laos are socialist countries led by the Communist Party. Vietnam has a powerful military force and holds a strong position in Southeast Asia.

After normalization of diplomatic ties between Washington and Hanoi in 1995, bilateral relations have lifted to a comprehensive partnership. When Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang visited the US in 2013, Obama claimed he would visit Vietnam during his tenure.

Both the Vietnamese and American media predicted Obama would visit the nation during his visit to Asia in November to highlight the 20th anniversary of diplomatic ties.

Meanwhile, Hanoi relies on ASEAN for balance between major countries.  Vietnamese Defense Minister Phung Quang Thanh said his country should adhere to an independent foreign policy during a parliament discussion on Oct.22. He said no foreign countries should build military bases in Vietnam, and no countries were allowed to use Vietnam against other countries.
After Beijing and Hanoi announced the visit of the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, Chinese President Xi Jinping, the White House announced Obama would not visit Vietnam this year, which stunned many political experts and American allies.

Some experts insisted Obama's schedule was too tight. Murray Hiebert, staff member of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said had Obama wanted to stay in Vietnam for a couple of days, but he can’t. It is an obvious excuse. If Obama really wanted to visit Vietnam he could have made a schedule for it.

Many believe, Obama is not "interested" in visiting Vietnam after President Xi arrived here. While others contend that the White House is waiting for Hanoi to bow down to Washington’s demands.

Hanoi is going to hold the 12th National Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam in the first quarter of 2016 and convene the first meeting of the New Congress next May. The US is more interested in contacting those who are going to take power.

The US President election will convene in November 2016, and a newly-elected President will assume office in January 2017. Accordingly, if Obama would arrange a visit to Vietnam next June, it would only have symbolic meaning and nothing more.


( The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com. )



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Panview offers an alternative angle on China and the rest of the world through the analyses and opinions of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.


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