Despite complicated developments in the world throughout 2016, Vietnam has enjoyed fruitful relations with many countries, including major partners and world powers.
Accelerating comprehensive partnership with the US
US President Barack Obama’s historic visit to Vietnam in May, 2016, was more successful from expected. This was the first Vietnam visit by Mr. Obama and the third by a US President since the two countries normalized relations in 1995. President Obama’s visit is milestone in the implementation of the Joint Vision Statement issued during Party leader Nguyen Phu Trong’s visit to the US in 2015. The image of President Obama placing his hand on his chest and saying “My heart has been touched by the kindness for which Vietnamese people are known…” is strong evidence of the comprehensive partnership between the two countries. Vietnamese Ambassador to the US Pham Quang Vinh said:“Vietnam-US relations have seen a giant leap over the past 21 years with the highlight being the establishment of a comprehensive partnership. Maintaining and developing relations in all areas defined by the comprehensive partnership is mutually beneficial. I believe that Party leader Nguyen Phu Trong’s visit to the US in July, 2015 and President Obama’s visit to Vietnam in May, 2016 will create greater momentum and shape bilateral ties in the coming years”.
Healthy Vietnam-China comprehensive strategic partnership
In September, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuân Phuc paid an official visit to China, the first visit by a top Vietnamese leader to China since Vietnam gained a new leadership in early 2016. The visit sent a strong signal of Vietnam and China’s determination to maintain fruitful bilateral relations despite their differences. Deputy Foreign Minister Le Hoai Trung said: “Vietnam and China have agreed to promote the existing negotiation mechanisms, including government-level talks on border and territorial issues and negotiations on the delineation of and cooperation in the sea area off the Tonkin Gulf. Both sides also agreed to fully and effectively implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) toward building the Code of Conduct (COC)”.
In 2016, Vietnam surpassed Malaysia for the first time to become China’s leading trade partner in ASEAN.
Consolidating close bonds with neighbors
Strengthening relations with partners and neighboring countries continues to be a priority of Vietnam’s external affairs. Vietnam consistently treasures its traditional friendship, special solidarity, and comprehensive cooperation with Laos, considering them invaluable assets. Party leader Nguyen Phu Trong stated: “The Vietnam-Laos special solidarity has become more crucial than ever, given complicated developments around the world. Vietnam and Laos have been doing their utmost to make this relationship last forever.”
Vietnam’s relations with Cambodia also developed well in 2016. President Tran Dai Quang’s visit to Cambodia in June has created a solid foundation to take bilateral ties to a new height.