Vietnam News

Biden leads US tech execs in Vietnam talks

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US President Joe Biden and senior executives from top American tech firms including Google and Intel will meet Vietnamese business leaders Monday after the two countries agreed to deepen cooperation in the face of shared concerns about China.

Biden and Vietnam’s ruling Communist Party chief — the country’s paramount leader — struck a “comprehensive strategic partnership” as Washington pushes to boost its network of allies around Asia and the Pacific to counter Beijing’s growing clout.

The United States sees manufacturing dynamo Vietnam as an important part of its plan to rely less on China for supplies of strategic resources, and the new pact includes agreements on semiconductors and rare earths.

Executives from tech behemoth Google, chip makers Intel and GlobalFoundries and aviation giant Boeing will join Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken for an “innovation and investment summit”, according to a meeting agenda seen by AFP.

They will hold talks with senior figures from a host of leading Vietnamese tech and manufacturing companies including electric car maker VinFast, internet firm VNG and digital wallet Momo. 

The new partnership includes an agreement on semiconductors, with the United States committing to help Vietnam develop its capabilities and expand production.

Tiny semiconductors are vital to modern life, found in every electronic device from children’s toys and smartphones to electric cars and sophisticated weapon systems.

Biden moved last month to restrict US investment in Chinese technology in sensitive areas including semiconductors, quantum computing and artificial intelligence.

With Washington looking to diversify and strengthen its supply chains after a series of shocks hit the global economy, it is increasingly looking to Vietnam, which has the world’s second-largest deposits of rare earths — another strategically vital resource — after China.

Monday will also see Vietnam Airlines sign a $10 billion deal to buy 50 medium-haul 737 MAX planes from Boeing, according to state media.

– China difficulties –

Biden insisted Sunday that he did not want to “contain” China, but accused Beijing of seeking to change the rules of the international order.

The president met Chinese Premier Li Qiang — the country’s number two leader — on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Delhi on Sunday. 

Biden said the major economic problems Beijing was wrestling with would limit its scope for action, particularly on Taiwan — which China regards as a renegade province.

“China has a difficult economic problem right now for a whole range of reasons that relate to the international growth and lack thereof and the policies that China has followed,” he said, pointing to high youth unemployment and real estate issues.

“I don’t think it’s going to cause China to invade Taiwan. As a matter of fact, the opposite — it probably doesn’t have the same capacity that it had before.” 

Vietnam has its own squabbles with Beijing, notably over the contested South China Sea.

Hanoi’s state media on Monday hailed the deal with former war foe the United States as “historic”.

Biden will end his visit by paying his respects at a memorial to his friend John McCain, the former US Senator shot down in Hanoi as a pilot during the Vietnam War.

Agence France Presse – September 11, 2023

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