Vietnam leader defends record to US, seeks trade

A+
A
A-

Secretary of State John Kerry and Vietnam’s President Truong Tan Sang toast during a luncheon at the State Department in Washington, Wednesday, July 24, 2013. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

WASHINGTON—Vietnam’s president called Wednesday for progress on a Pacific trade pact and defended his government’s human rights record as he faced heated criticism from lawmakers on a rare visit to Washington.

Truong Tan Sang is only the second Vietnamese president invited to the White House since the normalization of ties between the former war foes, which have increasingly found common cause amid unease over China’s rise.

At a luncheon hosted by Secretary of State John Kerry, Sang voiced hope the 12 nations in talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership would strike an agreement “soon” on the potentially landmark free trade pact.

Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, in a separate meeting with Sang, called the pact “a top priority” for President Barack Obama and hoped the negotiations would conclude this year.

Obama has voiced hope the agreement — which, with the recent inclusion of Japan, would cover 40 percent of the global economy — would help shape Asia’s future by setting international rules.

But members of Congress have warned they may object to the Trans-Pacific Partnership unless Vietnam improves its human rights record. US officials say Vietnam is holding more than 120 political prisoners.

Sang aimed to counter that view, saying he brought on this visit religious leaders who held “straight-forward, open discussions” to give the United States “a better understanding about the real situation in Vietnam.”

“Vietnam has been making sustained efforts to protect and promote human rights so that the people can benefit from the finest results of the reform process,” Sang said.

He likened his efforts to those of Obama, saying Vietnam was making improvements in areas such as health care.

The US State Department and advocacy groups have given a different picture of Vietnam, saying that Vietnam has stepped up repression of political dissent and targeted religious leaders who are not government approved.

Representative Chris Smith, a Republican from New Jersey, said Obama should tell Sang that any economic benefits will be linked to “tangible” progress on human rights.

Smith, who heads a House subcommittee on human rights, accused Obama of simply putting an “X in the box” by raising concerns without warning of consequences for inaction.

“This is not the time for photo ops or treating human rights abuse as a talking point,” he told a news conference.

Representative Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, held up a picture of a Vietnamese religious leader allegedly beaten by authorities and said: “We want human rights on the agenda. We want this stopped.”

Labor rights activists called for Obama to threaten to oust Vietnam from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, issuing a report saying that Hanoi repressed unions, imposed “grueling” hours at factories and practiced forced labor.

“Vietnam should not be rewarded for its bad behavior,” said James Hoffa, president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, saying human rights “should be a requirement, not an afterthought” in free trade agreements.

But three lawmakers from Obama’s Democratic Party said that the president promised them during a meeting that he would raise human rights with Sang on Thursday.

“I feel that anyone who supports ending human rights violations in Vietnam has an important ally in the White House,” said Representative Alan Lowenthal, who, like Royce, represents a California district with a significant Vietnamese-American community.

In a joint letter to Obama, family members of three dozen detained Vietnamese activists or bloggers urged the US leader to “stand up for the people of Vietnam” by pressing Sang to free all political prisoners.

Obama has put a priority on building relations with Southeast Asia, seeing the growing and largely US-friendly region as neglected in the past. Sang is the fourth Southeast Asian leader at the White House this year.

The Obama administration has been firm in calls since 2010 to preserve freedom of navigation in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), a strategic waterway where Vietnam and the Philippines have growing friction with Beijing.

Kerry, a Vietnam veteran who as a senator played a role in the normalization of relations in 1995, hailed Vietnam as “one of Asia’s great success stories” and pointed to the steep growth in per capita incomes and trade.

“The Vietnamese have learned from their own history that we all have no permanent enemies, only friends yet to be made,” Kerry said.

“Today, when Americans hear the word Vietnam, they are able to think of a country, not a war. And that is our shared accomplishment,” he said.

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of INQUIRER.net. We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genghis_Khan Temujins

    Vietnam is a responsible country and constantly played a positive role since 1995 normalization with America. We must help our allies Japan and Philippines and new partner like Vietnam to defense their countries against an irresponsible and aggresive country like China. China is a serious threat to not only Asia but around the world.

    • Laddy

      The communist Vietnam or the old Saigon government.

      The Same Saigon government that took South West Cay from the Philippines???

      • Crazy_horse101010

        is that south of santa fe lol

  • PagpagLasangPino-cchio

    Smelly Vietgooks will sck the Kanos now. Back then they were crying for help for China and USSR to help them out. Now they are the backstabbing gooks like the old times.

    China will whup these ungrateful gooks to their knees if they fck around again. Backstabbing gooks only deserve to be backstabbed in return….

    • Crazy_horse101010

      i bet they smell better than you because you are running with the monkeys racist, china isnt going to do shzt to vietnam they are scared of them. they can only attack helpless tibet and look in the mirror to see a backstabber. comrade

    • Maj Gen Luo Yuan

      Vietnam will lose its territory if it sides with my motherland. However, it will only lose its government if it sides with the mighty USA.

    • Guest

      nope, Vietnamese especially the ladies are beautiful & they smell good

  • jpastor

    Tingnan at abangan niyo ang Vietnam. Pa-seeking seeking trade lang ngayon yan, sa susunod bibigyan na yan ng F-16…
    Ang PH payabang yabang na kaibigan kuno ng mga kano, long time ally, long history of partnership pero ni hindi makaamoy ng F-16 kahit pinaglumaan.
    Ang Egypt katatangal lang ng Presidente, binigyan na ng F-16s.

    • ConcernedCitizenPh

      Me dahilan yan. Mabuti sigurong himayin ang issue na yan para malaman kung ano at kung sino ang mga dahilan ng pag-aalangan na tulungan ang Pilipinas

  • PagpagLasangPino-cchio

    Vietgooks want to be fck by the Kanos again. They will be fck good time by Unclle Sammy. Later on the Gooks will be looking for another Uncle Ho to help free from WHite Man’s rule.

    • Maj Gen Luo Yuan

      you are referring to the chinese…..you are confusing vietnamese from a chinese……chinese had been fcuk to no end by the Brits, Germans, Japs, French, and Philippinos during the boxer rebellion.

      • PagpagLasangPino-cchio

        No no mickey mousey. Vietgooks and Pinogooks were fcked hard by Kanos, francos and Japos in the past for a very long time. 333 yrs with the Kachilas Snakes and 46 yrs with the Kanos. China’s boxer rebellion was only shortlived and they revolted against these foreign entities. Since they were no match to the superior arms of these thieves during that time, then naturally they were the underdog.

        Now that China can whup these dirty azzes today, no one dare to test China’s resolve. Britos are a thing of the past. The Krauts are still waking up from their debacle in WW2. The Francos stil think they are the center of the world. The brown Pino monkeys still think they are bonafide brown WHite citizens.

      • Crazy_horse101010

        oh sob sob sob same old bull shzt. but america is there comrade what do you think you can do with them with your little navy and air force. they are still the underdog. racist. russia vietnam tested china resolve and china ran home crying for their mommies

      • izakyakov

        hahaha… super true. chinese aint no balls

      • blue_lights

        You know what buddy, I just got back from your lovely country, China, 2 months ago. I was actually surprised. I went there under the impression that it would be full of men, owing to the mass murders of female babies.

        Instead, I was greeted by tons of young Chinese prostitutes begging to be f-ed for money just so they can buy dumb little iPhones that they manufacture dirt cheap for the US market.

        If anyone wants and enjoys being f-ed by the white man, literally it’s the Chinese.

      • 3xposed

        That would mean you needed that many peeps to win. Doesn’t say much about each of you on your own. Also, if you say Filipinos were in it, they were aggressors too then. Real bullies would be you then.

      • Maj Gen Luo Yuan

        No, the Philippinos were there to civilize the chineses…..the Western powers were there to “westernize” the chineses……big difference.

      • 3xposed

        Haha, what civilizing did Filipinos provide? Nothing in day to day life in China shows any Filipino influence. On the other hand, one can see much Chinese influence in day to day life in the Philippines. All you have claimed is that Filipinos were aggressors if they participated in the Boxer Rebellion.

    • Guest

      Vietnamese are generally good people

      • PagpagLasangPino-cchio

        A good Vietgook is a dumb Vietgook. All Vietgooks are backstabbig gooks.

      • Crazy_horse101010

        sounds like you are describing yourself. for being dumb and a backstabber

      • izakyakov

        Vietnamese are so much better than a retard and greedy Chinese – like you.

    • Crazy_horse101010

      better that than chinese slavery. comrade monko.

      • 3xposed

        I’m curious to see how consistent you are with your anti-racism platform. Warillaman’s post above makes racist references. I wonder if you will have any rebuttals to that post?

      • Crazy_horse101010

        you telling me what to say. i hate commies more than racists. he knows what i think of racism. . .

      • warillaman

        To name a commie bully, chinks, retard, and mongoloid is only right to me, other trolls here are as much as the same as me, and much more worse, this is the only way I can do to such idiots….

  • warillaman

    The US should move on and build ties with vietnam, we have a new threat in our midst, chinks bullying in the region that threatens US interests and its allies, Philippines in particular, with vietnam in our side we can withstand this mongoloids, chinks knows that, and with increasing isolation and economic meltdown, chinks will never survive and will go back to being poor again.
    Never buy their inferior goods, its chinks only way to shut down, global economy will rise up again as jobs will be created in each country if we shutdown this mongoloids.

  • PagpagLasangPino-cchio

    Time for American B52s to drop newly manufactured Agent Orange on these Vgooks.

    A good Vgook is a a dumbVgook.

    • Guest

      you’re such a loser, Americans & Vietnamese are very good friends now.

      • PagpagLasangPino-cchio

        Vgooks want to be fcked again by Kano drunk killers. Time for Vietnam vets to strafe Vcong villages from their huey choppers again . B52 to redo their archlight bombing runs over Haiphong and Hanoigook. Racist Kanos will love to do it for the love of history. And dont forget the Agent Orange to clear the Vcong infested triple canopy jungles of NamGuokLand. And lastly, the Kanos need to send more the likes of Lt Calley to redo MyLai massacre.

        The backstabbing, doublefaced and smelly Vgooks are what they are. THey proved themselves time again and again they are what they were . CHina knows well how these Vgooks operate for they were former vassal state of China. Only way for China is whup these smelly gooks when the time comes.

      • Crazy_horse101010

        what a idiot i think someone dumped agent orange on you and ate up what little brains you had. your feelings hurt because mother china got its butt kicked by militia soldiers. what would have happened if the real army would have been there. chinas capital would be in manchuria now

    • blue_lights

      You need to get out of the past, buddy. Your bigotry and prejudice merely reflects a backwards parochial mentality.

    • Crazy_horse101010

      thats funny when you are leading the world in stupidity. along with your lover daisy chain. a good comrade is a dead comrade. and you are in the past newly manufactured agent orange was 45 years ago. dumber than a box of rocks

  • ConcernedCitizenPh

    Vietnam, Indonesia, India and Mexico are among the main beneficiaries of the migration of US and Japanese firms from China. The Philippines should have benefited the most because of its stand. Unfortunately, Philippine leaders are stubborn and insensitive not to grab the opportunity for the Filipino people. By the time the Philippines is ready, investors will already have found their new homes in other countries.

To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.

Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:

c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City,Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94