Bedtime For Biden After Boeing Trade Deals With Vietnam.

Image: Video screen grab. Biden is the first US president to travel to Vietnam since the end of the Vietnam war. Vietnam is seen as an alternative manufacturing hub to China.
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A “rambling” press conference by Joe Biden in Vietnam was abruptly cut short by the White House staff switching off his microphone while he was still speaking,  leaving many in the audience bewildered. It appears that Biden’s staff thought he seemed confused and wanted to shield him from questioning.

It came at the end of a historic visit in which the US president highlighted new business deals and partnerships between the former enemies, including a $7.5bn aircraft deal between Vietnam Airlines and Boeing.

“We talked about stability, we talked about making sure the third world… excuse me… the southern hemisphere has access to change. It wasn’t confrontational at all,” the 80-year-old president said as he began to trail off.

His press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre cut in decisively: “Thank you, everybody. This ends the press conference. Thanks, everyone.” Mr Biden made his exit from the stage, but not before his microphone was abruptly muted and the speakers started to play jazz music while he continued to address reporters unaware that he was inaudible.

“I’m going to go to bed,” the president said.

The bizarre turn of events did not go unnoticed. “Joe Biden’s staff cut his mic in the middle of a sentence during a press conference, who is really in charge?” asked Benny Johnson of The New York Times.

Earlier, Mr Biden denied there was an ongoing “cold war” between the US and China.

“I just want to make sure that we have a relationship with China that is on the up and up, squared away, everybody knows what it’s all about,” Mr Biden said after landing in Hanoi as part of his landmark visit.

He told reporters that there was no “cold war” between Washington and Beijing, adding: “It’s about generating economic growth and stability.”

“I want to see China succeed economically, but I want to see them succeed by the rules,” Mr Biden added.

It came days after the Chinese foreign ministry called on the US to “abandon the cold-war mentality and zero-sum game mindset” in its view of Asia.

However, during the G20 summit in India, Chinese premier Li Qiang reportedly met Mr Biden on the sidelines and urged the American leader to see the possibilities that his nation offers.

Mr Li, who kept a low profile at the summit, “stressed that China’s development is an opportunity for the US, not a challenge,” according to Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning.

Mr Biden said the two discussed “stability” and that it “wasn’t confrontational at all”.

The greatest win is that this partnership puts it more firmly in Beijing’s backyard.

The administration has worked hard to win Hanoi over. Mr Biden has dispatched his vice-president, his secretary of state, his secretary of defence and others to woo Vietnam over the last two years. US aircraft carriers also made stops in Vietnamese ports.

“It reflects the leading role that Vietnam will play in our growing network of partnerships in the Indo-Pacific as we look to the future,” Jake Sullivan, the White House national security adviser, said at a briefing before Mr Biden’s visit.

Mr Biden is the first American president to visit Communist Vietnam since the end of the war in the 1970s to elevate bilateral relationship amid China’s rising aggression in the Indo-Pacific region.

“Vietnam and the United States are critical partners at what I would argue is a very critical time,” Mr Biden said, as Washington looks to tap into the Vietnamese workforce as an alternative to Chinese factories.

At a fundraiser in Salt Lake City, Mr Biden said that Vietnam doesn’t want a defence alliance with the US, instead they were looking for “relationships because they want China to know that they’re not alone”.

Sources: Twitter, The Independent, news agencies.
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