Jul 07 2015
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) released the following statement today on Vietnam General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong’s visit to the United States:
“I warmly welcome Vietnam’s General Secretary, Nguyen Phu Trong, on his historic trip to the United States—the first ever by a Vietnamese General Secretary. This visit demonstrates the growing strength of the U.S.-Vietnam partnership as we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the normalization of relations between our countries.
“Vietnam is an important emerging partner with which the United States shares strategic and economic interests, including strengthening an open regional trading order, maintaining a favorable balance of power in the Asia-Pacific region, and upholding long-standing principles of world order, such as freedom of the seas and peaceful resolution of international disputes.
“Even for those of us who worked to normalize our relationship twenty years ago, the progress that our nations have made together has been astounding. Since 1995, annual U.S.-Vietnam trade has increased from less than $500 million to $36 billion last year. Building on this success, the recent passage by the Congress of trade promotion authority for the Trans-Pacific Partnership sends a powerful strategic signal about America’s enduring commitment to the region and our partners there.
“The United States and Vietnam are better positioned than ever to build on this progress. Vietnam now sends more students to the United States to study each year than any other country in Southeast Asia. I saw the poise and skill of Vietnam’s emerging generation on full display this past May when I visited the Ho Chi Minh City University of Social Sciences and Humanities. Additionally, America’s support for Vietnam’s quest to train a new generations of leaders will reach new heights as we establish a Fulbright University Vietnam (FUV) in Ho Chi Minh City. This independent university will serve as a catalyst for enhancing higher education in Vietnam and encouraging people-to-people engagement between our two countries. As part of that engagement, the United States must continue to support civil society in Vietnam, including advocates for religious freedom, press freedom, and labor rights. The Government of Vietnam has recently taken modest but encouraging steps to improve its human rights record, and the United States must continue our support for all Vietnamese citizens who seek to use peaceful means to build a strong and prosperous country that respects human rights and the rule of law.
“The United States and Vietnam also share a deep commitment to the peace and security of the Asia-Pacific region. This is especially critical as China continues the reclamation and militarization of land features in the South China Sea and again deploys the Haiyan Shiyou 981 (HD-981) oil rig in waters near Vietnam. To support Vietnam and other states in Southeast Asia that are committed to the peaceful resolution of maritime disputes, the Congress is now working to authorize $425 million for the Department of Defense to help train and equip the armed forces of Southeast Asian countries to build their maritime capacity.
“Additionally, I believe the United States must further ease the prohibition on the sale of lethal military equipment to Vietnam at this time, including all platforms that facilitate the Vietnamese armed forces' ability to operate more effectively on, above, and within its territorial waters. Further steps to ease, and ultimately lift, the prohibition would require the Government of Vietnam to take significant and sustained steps to protect human rights, including releases of prisoners of conscience and legal reforms. That should be our goal, and we should work together to achieve it as soon as possible for the benefit of both of our nations.
“The past twenty years have witnessed a remarkable advancement in our relationship greater than anyone could have hoped for. I look forward to meeting General Secretary Trong this week as our two countries seek to continue to build a relationship built on a shared vision for a peaceful and prosperous Asia-Pacific region.”