Libmonster ID: U.S.-1450
Author(s) of the publication: P. TSVETOV

In November 2000, the author of these lines witnessed a truly historic event -the first official visit of the US President to Vietnam.

Bill Clinton, who restored diplomatic relations between the two countries five years earlier, has put a nice end to his administration's foreign policy line on Vietnam. A new page has been opened in the difficult history of Vietnam-US relations.

IN THE BEGINNING THERE WAS FRIENDSHIP

Meticulous historians have found out that the beginning of contacts between two peoples living on different sides of the common Pacific Ocean lies at the turn of the XVIII-XIX centuries. There is information that Thomas Jefferson in 1787 met in Paris with the envoy of the Vietnamese dynasty Nguyen Prince Kan. American traders were the first to set foot on Vietnamese soil: in 1820, Captain John White arrived in Vung Tau on the ship "Franklin". Then he visited Da Nang and Saigon. He bought sugar there and left behind an interesting volume of travel notes in which he expressed his surprise at the large number of crocodiles in the Saigon River and the bureaucracy of local officials.

And the first official US diplomatic mission was sent to Vietnam by President Andrew Jackson in 1832. And although the American president addressed the Vietnamese monarch with words of friendship and goodwill, it ended in vain. Overseas emissaries received from Vietnamese officials, as they say, "turn away from the gate".

The first "military" incident between the two countries occurred in 1845, when an American warship under the command of Captain John Percival landed in Da Nang, capturing a group of local officials. The captain demanded the release of the French missionaries arrested by Emperor Thieu Chi in exchange for the captured Mandarins, but when refused, he left home, firing guns at the Vietnamese port with annoyance. Subsequently, US President Zachary Taylor sent a letter of apology to the Vietnamese emperor for the unfriendly action of the captain.

The first Vietnamese to visit America was Tran Chong Khiem, a native of Phu Tho province, who, after fleeing prosecution in his homeland, arrived in the United States on a foreign ship in 1848 and under the name of Le Kim first went to the gold mines, and then became a correspondent for the Daily Evening newspaper in San Francisco. In total, he lived in America for five years.

The first official Vietnamese mission visited the United States in 1873. Emperor Ty Duc, who was struggling to resist the expansion of the French colonialists, sent one of the officials of the court of Bui Vien to ask for help from the American President W. Grant. He accepted the Vietnamese and even seemed inclined to comply with Ty Duc's request, but the US Congress opposed this plan. The French established themselves in Indochina, and Vietnam fell out of sight of the Americans for many years.

The new arrival of the Yankees in Vietnam dates back to the end of World War II. Washington supported the national liberation struggle of the peoples of East Asia against the Japanese militarists. American OSS intelligence officers who parachuted into Japanese-occupied Vietnam established contact with local resistance forces. The contact between the two anti-Japanese forces was close and mutually beneficial: the Americans received intelligence information, and the Vietnamese Communists received weapons. Victory over a common enemy was celebrated together: a delegation of the American OSS intelligence service was present at the historic rally on September 2, 1945 in Hanoi's Badinh Square, where Ho Chi Minh read out the Declaration of Independence of Vietnam.

In October 1945, the Vietnam-American Friendship Society was formed, the first society of friendship with a foreign Power in the DRV. General F. Gallacher, then head of the communications team for the US government's lend-lease program, was present at the founding ceremony on October 17, along with Communist Minister Vo Nguyen Ziap and retired Emperor Bao Dai.

Hopes for popular diplomacy in relations with America were so high that in November 1945, President Ho Chi Minh sent a letter to the US administration in which

page 12


he offered to send 50 young Vietnamese overseas who could establish close relations with American youth and study the situation in the technological and agricultural sectors of the United States. However, the cold war soon began, and the hopes of the Vietnamese Communists for cooperation were not to be realized.

FOLLOWING THE "DOMINO THEORY"

Fearing that Vietnam, and then the whole of Southeast Asia, would become " red "after" red " China, the United States, in fact, from the beginning of the 50s, made it its main goal to counteract the course of Ho Chi Minh. The Comintern past and the good relations of the DRV president with Beijing and Moscow were the main criteria for the American assessment of this politician. Many, many years from now, in 1995, when Ho Chi Minh is no longer alive, and U.S.-Vietnamese relations will take on a different character, Robert McNamara, who was Secretary of Defense during the Vietnam War, will write in his memoirs: "We completely failed to take into account the nationalist aspect of the movement led by Ho Chi Minh. We viewed him primarily as a communist and only secondarily as a Vietnamese nationalist."

After the French defeat in Dien Bien Phu, the United States took the place of the former metropolis in Vietnam. Since the summer of 1954, the secret war, including explosions on transport communications, was launched by the CIA. Soon there were advisers from the United States who trained the Saigon regime's military personnel. The first American soldiers were killed by South Vietnamese guerrilla bullets back in 1959.

In 1964, using the so-called "Gulf of Tonkin incident" as a pretext, the Johnson administration began to get involved in a large-scale war in Vietnam. In February 1965, American aircraft launched a full-scale bombing campaign against North Vietnam, and in March 1965, Marines landed in Da Nang.

According to independent sources, the "dirty war", including civilian casualties, claimed the lives of three million Vietnamese. Of the two and a half million Americans who went through the fighting in Vietnam, 58,000 were killed and about two thousand were missing. Several times more bombs and shells fell on the land of Vietnam than on all the fronts of World War II. The consequences of the use of defoliants by Americans in some parts of the country are still being felt.

The war ended with the flight of the Americans from Saigon.

BILL CLINTON'S LEGACY

After the end of the Cold War, Vietnam declared a course of friendship and cooperation with all countries and peoples, but Washington still maintained a ban on contacts of its citizens with Vietnam and considered that its normal relations with this country were hindered by the presence of Vietnamese troops in Cambodia after the elimination of the Pol Pot genocide regime and the lack of complete information about Americans missing in action in the Indochina War.

The first obstacle was removed in 1993, when Cambodia held general elections under UN supervision, while the second issue was subject to lengthy negotiations.

The Clinton administration gradually and carefully prepared the ground for the restoration of relations between the two countries.

In late 1992, Washington allowed its companies to open representative offices in Vietnam, although direct trade and capital investment were still prohibited. In February 1994, the United States lifted the embargo on trade with Vietnam, and in May of the same year, Bank of America provided the first loan to a company trading with Vietnam. In 1995, the two countries finally normalized relations by agreeing to establish embassies in both capitals. In 1997, the political relations between the two countries were marked by visits to Vietnam by the Commander-in-Chief of the American Pacific Fleet, J. R. R. Tolkien. Prueur and U.S. Secretary of State M. Albright. In the summer of 2000, a trade agreement was signed between the two countries.

LIKE IT WAS IN HANOI

The logic of the foreign policy line of the Clinton administration led to the visit of the head of state

page 13


White House trip to Vietnam. The visit took place from November 16 to 18, 2000, when the new US President George W. Bush was already elected and two months remained before the end of Clinton's term in power.

The President of the United States met with Vietnamese leaders, including General Secretary of the CPV Central Committee Le Kha Phieu, with representatives of the country's younger generation, and made a live speech on Vietnamese television. The signed documents on scientific and technical cooperation and in the field of labor resources are certainly important for both countries. In addition, Clinton conveyed to the President of Vietnam Tran Duc Luong information about the use of toxic substances on Vietnamese territory during the war and promised assistance in studying the consequences of chemical warfare, clearing mines on Vietnamese territory, and searching for missing Vietnamese people.

Both sides stressed their determination to open a new page in their relations. At the same time, the leader of the Vietnamese Communists, Le Kha Phieu, reminded the guest who was the aggressor who caused the two nations to be in a state of confrontation. Clinton did not focus on ideological differences. He presented his point of view in a streamlined form:

"Only you can decide whether to continue to open up your markets, open up your society, and strengthen the power of the law. Only you can decide how to weave individual freedom and civil rights into the rich and strong fabric of Vietnam's national identity."

RELATIONSHIP PROSPECTS

Clinton's visit gave a new impetus to the development of relations between the two countries, primarily in the economic sphere. The trade turnover between the two countries has already far exceeded a billion dollars, and the United States ranks ninth among investors in the economy of Vietnam.

During Clinton's visit, the US Ambassador to Vietnam, David Pe-terson (who, by the way, was held captive by the Vietnamese), emphasized in a radio interview that today Vietnam is a country that exports energy and food, a country with a young, educated population. "They have mountains of bauxite and iron ore, they have uranium, they have gold, they have semi-precious stones... All of this gives them opportunities that I've never seen or heard of anywhere else in the world."

Therefore, it is no coincidence that businessmen are ahead of everyone in the new penetration of the Yankees in Vietnam. One of the pioneers of American business on the Indochina Peninsula is the famous Ford Corporation. In 1995, it signed an agreement with a Vietnamese company to establish a joint venture in Haizong Province (55 kilometers east of Hanoi). The company now builds trucks, mini - buses, and Ford passenger cars, with 100-150 vehicles per month. The company is no less well-known for its charity work. It provides scholarships to Vietnamese youth, provides clean drinking water to residents of neighboring villages, directs doctors and special equipment to serve disabled Vietnamese living in rural areas, etc.

But American businesses have an interest not only in exporting and investing in the Vietnamese economy and exporting certain types of production to this country. Vietnamese goods are also sold in the United States. These are primarily shoes. Today, Vietnam ranks 12th among shoe exporters to the U.S. market, with sales of finished textiles reaching $ 70 million in 1999 and seafood reaching $ 130 million. Vietnam ranks seventh in the list of countries exporting coffee to the United States (worth $ 150 million in 1999). But the Vietnamese are eager to expand exports, and specifically for this purpose, the country has adopted a program for growing arabica, which is more popular in the United States than robusta, which currently makes up the bulk of Vietnamese coffee. The list of promising products also includes ceramics - vases, flower pots, earthenware.

The economic interests of both countries play an important role in determining the nature of bilateral relations, but their political component remains decisive.

The review of the US strategy in Asia by the George W. Bush administration also has a negative impact on Vietnam. So, in February-March 2001, the US Congress launched a campaign of criticism of the Vietnamese authorities for violating the rights of national minorities (in connection with the riots on the Central Plateau), Catholics (the case of priest Nguyen Van Li), and Hoahao Buddhists. The right-wing conservatives suggested applying to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund with a request to refuse loans to Vietnam as a violator of human rights.

Opponents of the Vietnam - US trade agreement signed in the summer of 2000 have become more active. Now the issue of its ratification is being discussed in the US Congress.

New developments in US foreign policy did not go unnoticed in Hanoi. At the Ninth Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam, held in late April 2001, Washington's position was criticized.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell's July talks with Vietnamese leaders during the ASEAN Forum eased some of the tensions. However, the current administration's policy in the Asia-Pacific region, including Vietnam, is still being formed.


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