Lingering memories: Vietnam, Hiroshima
US President Barack Obama is on his first visit to Vietnam and Hiroshima, Japan, a trip seen as evoking lots of emotion from some and suspicion from others, including China, reports from Washington.
Bun cha Huong Lien, an inexpensive street food shop in Hanoi, Vietnam, was made famous overnight on Monday with visits by two unexpected guests.
US President Barack Obama and CNN celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain were seen squeezing around a small table, enjoying cold local beer and grilled pork patties served in a bowl of fish sauce, along with vermicelli noodles, herbs and lettuce on the side.
By the time Obama was leaving the eatery, he had been surrounded by crowds of Vietnamese greeting the president of a nation that was once Vietnam’s bitter enemy.
On the same day, Obama, with Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang standing at his side, unexpectedly announced the lifting of a longstanding arms embargo on Vietnam.
The news has been widely interpreted by Western media as a move to lure Vietnam from China into the US sphere or a move to counter the influence of a rising China, especially regarding maritime disputes in the South China Sea.
Obama said the decision to lift the arms ban was not based on China or any other considerations. “It was based on our desire to complete what has been a lengthy process of moving toward normalization with Vietnam,” he said in Hanoi on Monday.
His words were met with suspicion from many Chinese experts studying China-US relations, who see any visit by Obama to the region as move to undermine China’s interests.
But reaction from China’s foreign ministry was calm.
“As a neighbor to Vietnam, China is happy to see Vietnam develop normal relations with all countries including the US. And we hope this would be conducive to regional peace, stability and development,” spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in Beijing on Tuesday.
While the US and North Vietnam were enemies 40 years ago, China, then a much poorer nation under Chairman Mao, provided the most personnel and equipment support to the then North Vietnam, led by the same ruling party in Vietnam today, in a prolonged war against South Vietnam backed by US troops.
As a neighbor to Vietnam, China is happy to see Vietnam develop normal relations with all countries including the US.’’
US President Barack Obama shakes hands with a local resident as he leaves a restaurant in Hanoi after having dinner with celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain on Monday. November 2009: Japan, Singapore (APEC Summit), China, South Korea
November 2010: India, Indonesia, South Korea, Japan (APEC Summit)
November 2011: Indonesia (Bali for ASEAN Summit and 6th East Asia Summit)
March 2012: South Korea (Nuclear Security Summit)
November 2012: Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia (East Asia Summit)
April 2014: Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, The Philippines
November 2014: China (APEC Summit), Myanmar (East Asia Summit)
January 2015: India
November 2015: The Philippines, Malaysia (East Asia Summit)
May 2016: Vietnam, Japan
September 2016: China, Laos (East Asia Summit)