The US President Barack Obama announced the end of sale of American arms on Vietnam, one of the last vestiges of war between the two countries, which lasted from 1955 to April 1975. This is above all a symbolic gesture that seals the peace between two old enemies who had re-established diplomatic and trade relations. But necessary as part of this trip – Obama is, first, to promote the Trans-Pacific Partnership, one mega commercial deal between the US and Asian countries.
“The United States completely lift the ban on sale of military equipment to Vietnam which was in force for 50 years,” Obama said during a conference. “This shows that the relations between the two countries are fully normalized,” the President Tran. Obama explained that this measure (and its presence in Asia: also visit Japan and, on Friday, will go to Hiroshima) is not part of a Washingtom response in relation to Beijing, due to increasing regional tension due to claims Chinese in the South China Sea. In 2014, Beijing installed an oil rig in waters claimed by Vietnam, causing the emergence of an anti-China motion in Vietnam. The platform was removed months later. “There is a certain mistrust [with Washington] between the Vietnamese elite, but the growing position of Beijing in the South China Sea is to change the outlook and lead to a faster rapprochement of the United States,” he told AFP Murray Hiebert, an analyst at Strategic and International Studies Center. Obama, however, was criticized for not having spoken on the subject of human rights. It merely noted that there are “differences” between Washington and Hanoi this matter. The Vietnamese President said passage in question, ensuring that the regime wants to “protect and respect human rights.”
Human Rights Watch denounced the lack of strong statements on the subject, either by Obama or by Tran – in particular, on political dissidents who are imprisoned. “President Obama has abandoned the only element that left the US to put pressure on Vietnam on human rights,” said Phil Robertson of Human Rights Watch. “He simply to Vietnam a reward he does not deserve,” he added, while recalled the existence of repressive laws of freedom of expression in the country.