Remarks at University of Social Sciences and Humanities Under Vietnam National University, Hanoi
Deputy Secretary of State
DEPUTY SECRETARY BLINKEN: Xin Chao. Good morning. Rector Minh, thank you so much for your warm introduction. And thanks to all of you for this very, very generous hospitality and the extraordinarily warm welcome. It’s very much appreciated and very moving to me, to Ambassador Osius and to all of our team here from the United States. It’s a great privilege today to visit the University of Social Sciences and Humanities under Vietnam National University Hanoi, which has done so much to educate and prepare successive generations of Vietnamese leaders. I have no doubt that future Ministers, future Ambassadors of Vietnam and maybe some entrepreneurs and artists are in this hall today.
I also want to thank my good friend, the Ambassador Ted Osius, who may very well have set a record for hiking, biking, climbing, trekking his way to meet as many people as possible across this beautiful, vibrant, and dynamic nation. Ted and I actually have known each other since we were in university together in the United States—I won’t say how many years ago. In fact, we first met in the halls of college, and I think that’s a reminder to all of you that the friends that you make here in these halls will last you a lifetime.
This is my second trip to Vietnam and my sixth to the overall region in a little over one year. I am very, very happy to be back. In fact, I got to spend the entire morning with young people, a real treat when your hair begins to get a little bit of grey like mine—or, as my wife would say, a lot of grey like mine. Before coming over here to the university, I sat down with some young innovators and entrepreneurs at Vietnam Silicon Valley. Nothing reflects the limitless potential of the future as much as the wide-open spaces of innovators working together to start the next Google, the next Facebook, or the FPT.
In our discussion, we talked about their ideas, their ventures, even their failures, and I have to tell you, if I closed my eyes, the young people I met this morning sounded just like their brothers and sisters in Silicon Valley, California—the exact same energy, the same passion, the same talent, the same curiosity, the same occasional frustrations with government for moving more slowly than they do, something we’re familiar with in the United States.
Just a short while ago, I actually visited the Facebook headquarters in Silicon Valley in the United States, and I think by walking in the door I probably raised the average age by several decades. Someone had to remind me to take off my tie—I was the only person wearing a tie. Everyone had more devices than they had hands. One young man swept by on a hoverboard. He almost flew across the floor. So all of you would have fit in perfectly at Facebook in Silicon Valley.
Your generation in Vietnam is among the most wired in the world—hungry for opportunity, brimming with breakthrough ideas. You’re also citizens of one of the youngest countries in the world. The median age here is 29, and early 40 million people are 25 years old or younger. You’re growing up in a world where you see things not as they once were or even as they are, but how they could be.
The future is yours to make and to remake.
This is something that our two nations have some experience in.
This past year, we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between the United States and Vietnam. Over the summer, President Obama received General Secretary Trong for the first-ever visit to our nation’s capital by a General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam.
In their meeting, they acknowledged the difficult history between our countries and the differences in political philosophy, institutions, and principles that remain. But, because of leaders of both parties in the United States—leaders like President Bill Clinton, Secretary of State John Kerry, and Senator John McCain—and leadership here in Vietnam, we are building a constructive relationship built on mutual respect, trust, and the common aspirations of our two peoples.
Today, the United States and Vietnam are deepening and broadening our ties in areas the we couldn’t even imagine, that we couldn’t even talk about—much less do together—just a few years ago. Regional security. Military cooperation. Trade and business. Human rights. Education. Climate change. Global health. Energy security. Disaster response. Peacekeeping. In every one of those areas, our partnership is growing stronger every day.
Rising pace, strength, and reach of our cooperation is not about forgetting our history.
It’s about learning from it.
When President Obama came into office seven years ago, he made it clear that he would not let the conflicts and animosities of the past dictate our future. He believed, he believes, that no two nations are fated to be adversaries. And our purposeful, principled diplomacy could open new avenues for engagement.
That is exactly what happened.
When General Secretary Trong visited the White House in July, he said to President Obama, and I quote, “The past cannot be changed, but the future depends on our action, and it is our responsibility to ensure a bright future.”
It is that future—indeed, that responsibility—that I want to talk to you about today.
This morning at Vietnam’s Silicon Valley, I explained why someone like me, who is in the business of diplomacy, is so interested in meeting young people, entrepreneurs, innovators, students—and why was I so eager to better understand what we can do to support them, to support all of you.
The first reason is actually pretty simple. We need your help. The challenges that we face in the world today are beyond the capacity of any governments—let alone any single government—to solve on their own.
The world we live in is more fluid and fraught with complexity than ever before—as the growing interdependence of the global economy and the rapid change of pace and change links people, groups, and governments in unprecedented ways, incentivizing new forms of cooperation but also creating shared vulnerabilities.
It’s a world where epidemics cut swiftly across borders and hackers across firewalls; where violent extremists scar our communities and climate change our planet; where an unprecedented number of migrants and refugees are risking their lives every single day on the high seas from the Andaman to the Mediterranean try to find economic opportunity or sanctuary from war or persecution.
These global challenges are demanding fundamentally new solutions informed by the tools, the expertise, the imagination of those outside of government—in the private sector, in civil society, in faith communities, and in universities.
If we are going to meet the great challenges of our time—the challenges of rising seas and warming temperatures, of protracted conflicts and persistent poverty, of violent extremists and cyber terrorists—if we are going to meet those challenges, then we are going to need the passion and the talent of your generation—the innovation generation.
You are part of a generation whose DNA is encoded with an instinct to explore the world, to forge new relationships between cultures and countries.
You are part of a global community of visionaries who once dared imagine that the power of a satellite could be captured in the palm of our hands. Or the possibility of a communications platform could connect billions around globe in real-time.
This is a powerful legacy, but it’s not an inevitable one. Places like Silicon Valley didn’t just emerge suddenly out of nowhere. The ability to innovate is not gifted. It is learned.
You need the right ingredients to foster an environment in which ideas can thrive competitively, capital is readily accessible, and entrepreneurs can take risks without fear of losing everything that they have.
Supporting emerging ap developers, starting business accelerators, opening new makerspaces is important but it’s not sufficient for Vietnam—or any nation—to fully seize the benefits of innovation.
So that’s the other reason I’ve given priority to young entrepreneurs here and, indeed, everywhere that I visit. The principles that make an innovation ecosystem possible, the ingredients that make it flourish, are something that all nations and all citizens share a stake in cultivating and upholding.
An education grounded in critical thinking and inspired by the free exchange of ideas.
A rules-based economic and trading architecture that is built on transparency and competition.
A respect for the rights, freedom, and dignity of all people.
And a society invested in maintaining the peace and stability throughout the world.
That’s why—at the heart and core of our partnership—is a commitment to Vietnam’s future as a global leader in technology and innovation. Not simply because it will give your generation and those that follow the skills they need to succeed in the global marketplace but because the characteristics that make innovation and entrepreneurship possible are those that define a world that we most want to live in—a world in which all citizens enjoy the opportunity to pursue their aspirations and to excel.
First and foremost, this requires promoting education. But not just any education. Young people must be allowed, indeed they must be encouraged, to argue, to criticize, to challenge the world around them with a fresh perspective, a healthy skepticism, a readiness to debate and the freedom to faill. Many years ago, there was a famous piece of graffiti on a wall in the United States. Someone had written this graffiti and it said, “Question authority” and then someone else had written on top of that graffiti, “Why?” That is the spirit we need to see in our education systems.
Vietnam has a strong legacy of commitment to education—with impressive literacy rates, roughly equal enrollment between girls and boys, and increasingly developed network of higher education and research institutions.
But as Secretary Kerry said when he was here in Hanoi in August, it’s not enough for our young graduates today to know what to think. They need to learn how to think.
They must have access to an education system that encourages critical thinking, rewards creativity, prizes experimentation, and provides extensive and diverse funding opportunities for research.
The innovation super-highway runs on it. And the pressures of the global economy demand it.
That’s why we are working so closely to help Vietnam foster an education system that invests in the capital of its people and its citizens. We supported early education for ethnic minority children in central Vietnam and forged higher education partnerships to help transform education from theory-based, rote learning to active, project-based teaching.
Through an initiative called PEER, Vietnamese and American researchers are working together to advance biodiversity conservation in some of Vietnam’s most fragile ecosystems.
And, right here at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities, we work together to equip a new cohort of social workers with the training and with the knowledge that they need to provide services to marginalized communities all across Vietnam.
We’re very pleased that later this year, Vietnamese students will have a chance to expand their horizons even further when Fulbright University Vietnam opens its doors in Ho Chi Minh City. Built on an American model of education, this university will emphasize academic independence, inspire innovation, and help new generations of Vietnamese seize the opportunities before them.
Education is not only about what you learn inside the classroom. We also made it a priority to extend opportunities for Vietnamese students to study abroad and connect with other young people in this region and around the world. Today, nearly 19,000 Vietnamese students study in the United States. That’s a 40 percent increase in just seven years. Vietnam is one of the top ten nations sending students to the United States.
Through the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative network we’re offering scholarships, workshops, seed money for community projects to help young people turn their ideas into action. Since President Obama launched YSEALI just three years ago, more than 67,000 young people have become a part of its network, including nearly 11,000 Vietnamese. This is a community whose size and impact will only continue to grow, continue to influence, continue to impress.
Second, entrepreneurship and innovation thrive in a policy environment that sets the foundation for inclusive and sustainable growth through greater transparency, the rule of law, the protection of intellectual property and predictable regulations that enable all companies—big and small—to compete on a level playing field.
Vietnam’s economic transformation from an isolated agricultural economy to a globally integrated success story that has lifted millions of people out of poverty in two decades has been nothing short of remarkable.
The task now is to consolidate these gains and ensure that everyone shares in their benefits by creating a competitive, open, predictable business environment that allows startups to launch and companies to grow.
Today, that future feels closer than it’s ever been because of the 21st century Trans-Pacific Partnership.
The result of more than five years of negotiations among a dozen Pacific-rim countries, this historic partnership—of which Vietnam is an original signatory—will bring 40 percent of the global economy and nearly half of ASEAN together behind the highest labor, environment, and intellectual property protections in the world.
It will solidify an economic arena where every participant—however big, however small—agrees to fight bribery and corruption, agrees to the formation of independent trade unions and commits to enforcement of environmental safeguards.
TPP will mean allowing the free flow of ideas and data and promote additional standards that are critical for building the foundation of a common ASEAN digital economy.
It will mean simplifying the process to start a new business and streamlining ways to resolve business disputes.
And it means easing the transfer of technology from university research to the private sector and the movement of people between jobs and different fields.
You know by gold star standards, Vietnam stands the most to benefit from TPP. It has the potential to raise Vietnam’s GDP by almost ten percent and exports by thirty percent by the year 2030.
Ambassador Osius has described to me how American companies—confident that TPP will enter into force—are already eagerly pursuing opportunities here in Vietnam across every sector—from aviation to energy, from smart city technology to healthcare. By deepening its commitment to reform, Vietnam is poised to give these companies and entrepreneurs the confidence that they need to help make Vietnam’s future as transformational as its recent past.
Third, the respect for human ideas cannot be divorced from the respect for human dignity.
The freedom to speak, to worship, to assemble, to dissent, to challenge, to protest, to take part in the political and economic decisions that affect one’s life—these are essential elements for any nation that wants to unleash the talent of its citizens. Indeed, exercising these freedoms peacefully is the highest form of patriotism.
A vibrant culture of entrepreneurship is almost unimaginable without a foundation of rights and freedoms upon which citizens feel able to pursue their ambitions, to express their opinions, to bring their ideas to life.
The people of Vietnam know this and, because newspapers and TV stations still face censorship and legal restrictions, young Vietnamese have turned to social media and blogs to read news and to make their voices heard.
In response to the demands of Vietnamese society, the Government has made some progress in human rights, ratifying the Convention against Torture and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and agreed to allow independent trade unions for the first time in modern history.
It has also made clear commitments to bring its domestic laws into synch with international human rights obligations and with Vietnam’s own constitution, which guarantees key human rights and freedoms.
We commend the Government’s efforts to consult with a range of local religious and civil society stakeholders during the drafting of a new religion law. We hope the final draft will protect the rights of all those who seek to freely exercise their faith.
We urge the government to release all political prisoners and cease harassment, arrests and prosecutions of anyone—journalists, bloggers, civil society activists or students—for exercising their internationally recognized rights. No one should be imprisoned for peacefully expressing political views.
We also encourage the government to quickly and impartially investigate allegations of police abuse, which aggressively feeds a sense of injustice and erodes social stability.
Every nation has to chart its own course to self-government. No nation has found a perfect path, including the United States. In my own country, we often find that the results of our efforts do not meet our own expectations and our own actions fall short of our ideals.
But the measure of our courage as citizens, the measure of our resilience as governments, the measure of our strength as nations is how we face this challenge—whether we retreat to practices of repression and intimidation or whether we confront our own imperfections with honesty, with openness, with transparency.
The consequences of this choice are playing out across the world today, and the results could not be clearer. Advancing human rights and fundamental freedoms is not a cause for vulnerability or insecurity. To the contrary, it is our greatest reservoir of strength and our greatest guarantor of stability as free and innovative nations.
Fourth and finally, a thriving innovation ecosystem must be deeply conscious of and connected to the world around it.
The business plans that you write at the American Center, the collaborations you form at Silicon Valley Vietnam, they might not feel global in nature, but neither did Facebook when Mark Zuckerberg built a social network in his college dormitory room for Boston-area students.
The idea, the very concept of an ecosystem is that it is a community—a vast network of interconnections that allow us to influence and inspire each other and require us to take responsibility for one another.
Vietnam’s transformation—like that of so many nations—has been supported and even accelerated by an international, rules-based order dedicated to the progress of every nation.
The opportunities that this order provides—indeed the very prosperity and stability that our economies and societies enjoy—confer upon each of us an obligation to uphold its principles, defend its norms, to ensure its standards are not diluted.
That’s why the United States and Vietnam are increasingly collaborating on a range of issues of global importance—from international peacekeeping to wildlife trafficking to maritime security, from climate change to civil nuclear energy to global health.
We applaud Vietnam’s pledge at President Obama’s Peacekeeping Summit last year to deploy a medical hospital and engineers in support of UN peacekeeping missions around the world.
We also want Vietnam to be able to better respond to natural disasters right here in the Asia Pacific.
Last year, the USNS Mercy—one of two hospital ships in the American fleet—visited Danang and participated in the first-ever civilian-military disaster drill and planning exercise with local and national authorities. It was a great success.
And we have increasingly productive relationships in maritime security. Our Navies have deepened their cooperation in areas like search and rescue and ocean safety, and also provide boats, training, and equipment to the Vietnamese Coast Guard to allow it to uphold international law and fight transnational crime.
The United States and Vietnam share an interest in maintaining peace and stability in the region. So does China. But its massive land reclamation projects in the South China Sea and the increasing militarization of these outposts fuels regional tension and raises serious questions about China’s intentions.
The South China Sea—or as you call it the East Sea—is one of the most important trade routes in the world, and it succeeds because international law promotes the rights and freedoms of all countries, regardless of their size, regardless of their strength.
We welcome China’s peaceful rise and participation in this rules-based international system. We mean that. We have sought to broaden and deepen our cooperation with China—an approach that has led to real progress on important issues from climate change to the Ebola response to nonproliferation.
But we will not hesitate to address our differences forthrightly and directly. On the margins of the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington just recently, President Obama reiterated the importance to all countries of unimpeded commerce and the rights and freedoms of navigation and overflight.
The United States takes no position on the merits of the different and competing territorial claims, but we have a strong stake in the way those claims are advanced.
We call on China—as we call on all nations—to respect the Arbitral Tribunal decision on the Philippines-China case as legally binding, when it is issued; to demonstrate good faith by clarifying its maritime claims in accordance with international law; to uphold freedom of navigation; to commit to peacefully resolve differences, including through rules-based mechanisms, like arbitration and not through unilateral action; and to agree to engage in serious diplomacy and a diplomatic process to develop a shared understanding of how to behave in disputed areas.
In the meantime, the United States will defend our national interests and support our allies and partners in the region. We are not looking for bases. But we will continue to sail, to fly, to operate anywhere that international law allows.
Our vision for the future of the region is clear—it’s one where disputes are settled openly and in accordance with the rule of law, where businesses excel, where innovation thrives, and opportunities abound especially for young people like yourselves across the region.
In May, when Air Force One touches down on Vietnamese soil and President Obama greets the people of Vietnam, he will prove, once again, that former adversaries can become the firmest of partners.
The President will likely not be alone on that trip.
At his side will likely be a soldier whose character was forged in the bitterest of war between our nations and whose excruciating experiences guided him to become one of our greatest diplomats of peace and one of our greatest Secretaries of State… John Kerry.
Inspired by the leadership of President Obama and Secretary Kerry and General Secretary Trong, we can imagine a future twenty years from now where our partnership will be as self-evident as our common interests and values.
Where there are not just 19,000 Vietnamese studying in the United States—but 90,000, or even more.
Where our economies are interwoven and our cities directly connected.
Where we work together to pioneer new solutions to age-old challenges like poverty and pandemics.
And where we stand together to uphold peace and a well-established rules-based order.
I know that you will do more than inherit this future. You—all of you in this room—you are going to build this future.
I believe you will take responsibility for it.
And nothing gives me greater confidence and hope for the prosperity, and the security, and the dignity of our two nations and the world beyond than the people, the young people, the future in this room.
Thank you so very much.
MODERATOR: First I would like to express our gratitude to Mr. Blinken for his wonderful presentation. It’s about the future of Vietnam, about the future of the region, about you in this hall. So now I would like to advise all of you, first of all students, to propose questions to Mr. Blinken. I think he is already prepared for this session.
DEPUTY SECRETARY BLINKEN: We’ll find out.
QUESTION: Good morning, sir. My name is Linh. I am the third-year student of the Linguistics Faculty. Thank you for your speech, and I wonder if you allow me to ask one question. Will the U.S. continue to maintain its engagement with the Asia Pacific? Thank you.
DEPUTY SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you very much. Thank you for your question.
Not only will we continue to maintain our engagement in the Asia Pacific, we’re going to strengthen it and to grow it even more. This has been one of the top priorities for President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry. We call it the rebalance. What it means is that we’re focusing more of our time, more of our energy, more of our resources, more of our engagement right here in the Asia Pacific region, and there are a few reasons for that.
The first is that the United States is an Asia Pacific country and that legacy, that history, is something that is not only part of the past but fundamentally part of our future. Because when we look around the Asia Pacific we see some of the fastest growing economies in the world. We see some of the youngest nations on earth. We see some of the most innovative, connected, and wired people anywhere on the planet, and that’s a future that we want to be part of because it will be good for the United States.
So we work very hard to strengthen across the board our engagement and relationships in the Asia Pacific. We work to strengthen our partnerships with individual countries. Some of our traditional partners and allies like Japan, like South Korea, like the Philippines. But also emerging countries, new partners starting with Vietnam.
We’ve worked to strengthen the institutions that exist already here in the Asia Pacific and need to look at new ones, because those institutions like ASEAN, like APEC, like the East Asia Summit and Leaders Forum, they create opportunities for countries to come together, to talk together, to debate together, and to act together.
We’ve expanded our military presence in the region because we believe it has been a force for stability and helped create an environment in which countries could grow and develop in peace.
We’ve worked, as I said, to deepen our relationship and cooperation with China, because it’s such an important country for the future. And as I said a few moments ago, we’ve succeeded in broadening and deepening that cooperation in critical areas like climate change, like dealing with Ebola, like dealing with Iran’s nuclear program, even as we deal directly with our differences.
And we’ve worked to create new connections, especially in trade and commerce that will link us far into the future with this region, and that’s where the Trans-Pacific Partnership comes in.
When you take all of these things together, it’s building a beautiful fabric of connections and networks between the United States and the rest of the region. So not only will we sustain it, we’re going to make it grow stronger, and it’s going to be a fundamental part of our common future. Thank you.
QUESTION: Good morning, Mr. Blinken. Good morning, Ambassador Ted Osius. My name is Ha. I’m currently a senior student majoring in international studies. So first of all, thank you very much for your speech. And I think that it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me to meet you and to listen to your sharing about the future.As a token of appreciation, I would like to raise a super difficult question. Are you ready?
DEPUTY SECRETARY BLINKEN: I don’t know.
QUESTION: As you know the YSEALI, the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative was launched in 2013 as initiative of President Barack Obama, right? So I assume that this is part of the U.S. pivot to Asia, which is a long-term strategy. So my question is, as President Obama’s term is going to end, will this program be likely to continue or stop? I have this question because a few days ago, I watched on the internet a video about Donald Trump. He said that once he became the President, he would replace the Obamacare, which is also an initiative of Obama, right? So I was quite interested in the YSEALI because the program was launched to enhance the leadership of the people in South Asia. So how do you see the future of this program after President Obama’s term ends?
DEPUTY SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you.
First, I want to thank you because you improved upon my answer to the first question because a critical part of the rebalance is exactly what you just talked about. It’s connecting the young people in our countries, the future of our countries, through programs like YSEALI. So thank you for making my answer better.
Second, I can’t predict what a future administration will do, but I believe that any administration, whoever is elected, looking at the merits of a program like YSEALI will continue and hopefully even grow it and strengthen it because it’s so profoundly in the interest of the United States, not just in the interest of countries in this region.
We have a lot of experience with bringing young people to the United States through our exchange programs over the last 70 years, and we’ve learned some lessons from it.
First, we found that the people that we bring to the United States that our agencies often identify turn out years later to become the leaders of the countries when they go back home. The people that come to the United States on exchange programs over the years, programs like YSEALI. More than 350 have gone on to become a president or prime minister; 52 won Nobel Prizes; and thousands went on to become leaders in business, in academics, in culture, in sports.
So what happens? These young people come to the United States, they see our country first-hand. They see what’s good, they see what’s not so good, they meet Americans, they form friendships, they build networks and return home. And nine out of ten, maybe even ten out of ten, come away with a very favorable impression of the United States, even with the challenges that we face. That’s the best possible investment we can make in America’s future and in our relationship with countries like Vietnam.
So I believe that anyone who looks at it objectively will have to conclude that it’s the right thing to do.
QUESTION: Good morning, Mr. Deputy Secretary. Thank you so much for your coming and your speech. I would like to ask a question regarding the U.S. rebalancing to the Asia Pacific region. Specifically I would like to ask about the U.S. strategy. My question is: are there any contradictions between strengthening U.S. security alliances the region and supporting ASEAN’s centrality?
DEPUTY SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you very much.
I think to the contrary, these two go hand-in-hand, and that’s exactly why we work to support and help ASEAN develop as a strong, thriving institution. Again, it creates a place, a mechanism, where countries can come together, talk about challenges, think about solutions and then hopefully act together. It’s a place where the smaller countries in the region can find strength in being joined by others. That’s a very powerful thing. So I believe that the institutions in the region like ASEAN are critical parts of the success of the rebalance. But also a critical foundation for the region to grow stronger, for people to prosper, and for nations to work together in peace and security and stability. That’s why the President and Secretary of State, all of us have spent so much time on trying to work with it. And I have to say I’m pleased with the products we’ve seen.
Tomorrow I’ll be in Indonesia, and one of the things that I’ll do there is to meet with the ASEAN Ambassadors who are resident in Indonesia. It’s a great opportunity to talk in one place about some of the common challenges that we face.
And as you know, President Obama had the leaders of the ASEAN countries to the United States to Sunnylands for a truly historic meeting. I think that’s a clear reference as to how we see this as one of the foundations of our own engagement with the region. Thank you very much.
QUESTION: Good morning, sir. My name is Hang. First of all, I’d like to thank you for your observations. It is very useful for me. I am the third-year student from the Faculty of International Studies, and I have a small question for you. As you may know, there is a saying that nations have no permanent friends or allies. They only have permanent interests. So, can we, Vietnam, and the U.S. build up a permanent friendship or alliance? Thank you.
DEPUTY SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you, that’s a great question.
I believe that increasingly the partnership between the United States and Vietnam will not simply be one of convenience, of temporary interests, but one of conviction, of shared values, of shared friendships, of a shared future. In that sense I believe very strongly in the long-term potential of this relationship. No one can fully predict the future. Nothing is really ever permanent. But when I look at the relationship, when I look at the foundation that we’re building, when I look at the interests that we have in common, but also increasingly the values that are emerging, I believe that it will last for a very long time.
And yes, it does start with the interests of our people. It’s true that when we think about partnerships and relationships with other countries it starts with, is this something that’s in our interest, just as for Vietnam. You have to conclude that it’s in your interest. But there’s something that’s much deeper that’s going on.
First, we have an extraordinary connection between our peoples that is different in many ways than other places. We have so many Vietnamese Americans who connect us together in personal ways, in family ways, in cultural ways. That’s very powerful. And that’s another reason why we want to build and grow the exchange programs we were talking about. We want more Vietnamese coming to the United States for education, while we want more Americans coming to Vietnam to learn about each other. To understand each other. To build those kind of friendships and partnerships. If we do that then it will be as permanent as a relationship between nations and between people can be. I really believe that to be true. Thank you.
QUESTION: Good morning, Sir. Thanks for your interesting presentation. My name is Lan Chi. I am a first year student of Oriental Studies. I have a question for you. Vietnam and the U.S. are very different. How can they overcome such differences to cooperate with each other? Thank you.
DEPUTY SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you very much. First, I want to add something to the answer to the last question because it connects directly to your question as well. The other thing that is so important in building that long-term future for us are the connections among our business and investment communities, our entrepreneurs, our innovators. And that’s something that the Trans-Pacific Partnership opens an incredibly wide future to, and that’s a very important element of building a lasting foundation. Not just a temporary one between our countries.
But you’re right. We do have differences. Different philosophies, different views of government, obviously different histories that sometimes have merged in very difficult ways. Different cultures, different traditions. And we profoundly respect those differences. It’s very important that nations do that—that we work together out of mutual respect as well as mutual interest.
But what I saw this morning suggests to me that for all of these differences, appropriate differences, there is so much more that joins us together than separates us, and I see it in this room, and I saw it with the young innovators and entrepreneurs that I met this morning at Vietnam’s Silicone Valley.
You know, if I was closing my eyes and not looking at the immediate surroundings I could have been, as I said, in Silicon Valley in California or in any other innovative community around the world. And this generation of young people, because they’re so connected, because they talk to each other and engage each other across oceans, through social media, they know more about each other, they’re developing a more common vision than any generation of young people in the entire history of the world. And that’s having a profound transformational effect. It is bringing people closer together. It is creating greater understanding. It is creating a greater interdependence where it makes sense for us to work together and to develop strong relationships. Even when we have differences in history and culture and political approach. I believe those forces that are driving us together are the most important and dominant forces in the 21st century, and it’s in the interest of countries to allow those forces to flourish.
Now it’s also true, as I said, that some of that can bring with it great new challenges and even dangers. The very same technology and information that connects people more, that brings us together can also enable terrorists, extremists and other bad actors to do terrible damage. And we have to work together and guard against that future as well.
But I believe what we’re living all together is a more interconnected world than at a time before where what we have in common will become ever more evident; and what separates us will become less relevant. Thank you.
QUESTION: Good morning. Thank you for your wonderful presentation. My name is Lan Nguyen. I am a student from the Faculty of Sociology. I have a question for you. What is the future of the U.S. pivot if there will be the new government in 2017? Thank you.
DEPUTY SECRETARY BLINKEN: One of the great advantages of my job as a diplomat is I can stay out of politics, so I’m going to happily not predict the political future.
But again I come back to something we were talking about a few minutes ago. When people come to office in the United States, often they’ve said things during the campaign to get support and to succeed, and then when they come to office they see some of the new realities that they weren’t aware of when they were just a candidate for office. And suddenly, your perspective sometimes changes.
I think what any President will look forward to in 2017 is to look at what makes the most sense for the United States? How can we both advance our interests around the world and our shared values?
So what that tends to produce is some consistency. Even when there’s change there are some fundamental things that stay the same. And one thing I believe that would stay the same no matter who is elected next year is this engagement and focus in the Asia Pacific region because it’s so profoundly in our interest, and I believe anyone that comes to office will see that and act on it. Thank you.
QUESTION: Good morning, my name is Van. I’m the third-year student of the Linguistics Faculty. I have a question for you. My question is: does Obama’s Asia policy intend to contain the rise of China?
DEPUTY SECRETARY BLINKEN: No. United States policy is not to contain China. On the contrary it is to welcome its emergence as a strong and important participant in the international system that meets its responsibilities as a leading member of that system. That’s why we’ve worked to, as I said earlier, deepen our own cooperation with China in many different areas. But with the emergence of China as a leading nation comes responsibility. And that’s what we also care about.
You know, 70 years ago, a little over 70 years ago after the end of World War II, the United States emerged as a leading country in the world. We came out of the war with great power, and many other countries that had suffered greatly had lost power. And we had to decide, how do we use that power? And our leaders at the time made a very important decision. They decided to take the lead in creating rules and norms and laws and international institutions that would be obligations on everyone including the United States. And some to some people that seemed maybe not so logical because it seemed to tie us down because we were making ourselves subject to the same laws and rules and norms and institutions as everyone else, and we were giving other countries a voice and a vote in the decisions about the international system.
There was great wisdom in that approach because often what’s happened in history when one nation emerges and rises is that other nations get very nervous, understandably sometimes, and they get together to try and prevent its rise. And when that nation that’s rising acts in ways that are counter to the rules and norms, when it uses its size and strength, not its ideas, to advance its interests, then it’s going to create adversaries and other countries getting together to try and put a check on it. That didn’t happen to the United States because we acted with great wisdom in creating the system.
My hope is that China will draw inspiration from that history and act with similar wisdom as it emerges. To uphold, to respect, and even to add to the rules and the norms and the institutions, to resolve disputes peacefully, not coercively. To ensure the freedom of navigation and the freedom of flight. To act in accordance with international norms and the rules and laws.
Because if it does that I believe that this emergence will be welcomed by everyone because we all have a lot to benefit from a China that is investing and trading and building ties between people. But if China chooses another course, if it chooses to ignore the rules and the laws and the institutions, then I think it’s going to alienate many countries, and we will find over time that instead of expanding its power, it’s actually going to diminish it. So that’s what we’re looking at. Thank you.
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