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In blow to China, US secures closer partnership with Vietnam

On his way back from the G20 meeting in India, US President Joe Biden will stop off in Vietnam on Sept. 10 to seal an agreement to deepen US ties with the Southeast Asian country. The two former enemies will upgrade their bilateral relationship from a “comprehensive partnership” to a “comprehensive strategic partnership,” the highest level in Vietnam’s diplomatic hierarchy. This new top-tier diplomatic status places the US on par with China, Russia, India, and South Korea.

The change may pave the way for weapons sales and closer maritime cooperation. But possibly even more important at a time of intense US-China competition is the symbolism of Vietnam, a Chinese neighbor and fellow communist country, moving closer to the US. We asked Eurasia Group expert Peter Mumford to explain the motivations behind the deal for both sides.

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