Video of Vietnamese Officials’ Meeting with Biden Quickly Pulled from the State Department’s YouTube

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    A video was reportedly an internet sensation even after it was removed from the U.S. State Department's YouTube channel. According to a number of tweets from Southeast Asia analyst Nguyen Phuong Linh, the video depicts an entire Vietnamese delegation laughing as U.S. President Joe Biden informed Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh that he was unable to “not trust Russia.” Chinh further explains during the meeting with Biden how it is “straightforward and fair and that Vietnam isn't afraid of anyone.” And then the Vietnamese Ambassador for Vietnam to the U.S., Nguyen Quoc Dzung, claimed that the situation had “put [Biden] into checkmate.”

    The Minister for Public Security, General Tô Lâm, is also seen giving praise to the former deputy national security advisor in the Trump Administration, Matthew Pottinger, for being young and intelligent and having a spouse raised in Vietnam. It is important to note that the Vietnamese officials also use the term “official” to refer to a variety of U.S. officials without using the honorific words in the Vietnamese language that must be employed in formal settings.

    The analyst, Nguyen Phuong Linh, suggested the video could be interpreted as proof of the existence of a “dysfunctional” Vietnamese cabinet and the lack of competence of Vietnamese leadership “in terms of comms, foreign affairs, and security.”

    The State Department's unjustified removal of the YouTube video appeared “embarrassing for the Vietnamese,” according to BBC's Bill Hayton, while RFA (Radio Free Asia) reported that Vietnamese people who use social networks appeared to be astonished by the sloppy behavior displayed by officials from their government, including Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh.

    The State Department posted a brief reading of the meeting with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Chinh on Saturday, which did not mention the video controversy. Secretary Blinken spoke of the significant U.S. relationship with ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) as demonstrated by the U.S.-ASEAN Special Summit. He also reaffirmed the flourishing U.S.-Vietnam Comprehensive Partnership as well as U.S. support for ASEAN centrality and the Mekong-U.S. Partnership as well as an economically prosperous, strong, and independent Vietnam. Both the secretary and the prime minister talked about ways to expand and strengthen security cooperation, trade and economic ties, and climate-change cooperation and exchanges between people.

    Vietnam had a generally successful Saturday in the global press since it lifted its final coronavirus-testing requirement on Saturday, much to the delight of visitors and investors keen to visit Vietnam.

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