Ambassador Kritenbrink Remarks: Consulate General Ho Chi Minh City’s 20th Anniversary Celebration

Friday, September 6, 2019
American Center, Ho Chi Minh City

Xin chào quý vị! Good afternoon and thank you so much for the warm introduction. First of all, please join me in welcoming our new Consul General Marie Damour to Ho Chi Minh City. We are so happy to welcome you back to Vietnam in your new role, Marie, and I look forward to working with you.

I am delighted to be joined today by Party Secretary of the Ho Chi Minh City Communist Party Committee Nguyễn Thiện Nhân. We are deeply honored to have you with us today. We have a fantastic partnership with the people and government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, and I am grateful for all that we have accomplished together. Thank you.

It is an honor to be here today with our distinguished guests. You make up a broad cross-section of leaders here in Central and Southern Vietnam. We have representatives from a wide range of sectors, from government to the arts, from education to business, and everything in between. The diverse fields represented by you tonight represent the broad and deep partnership between the United States and Vietnam.

Today we’re celebrating the 20th anniversary of the U.S. Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City, and next year marks the 25th anniversary of the normalization of relations between the United States and Vietnam. During this time, we have become partners and friends in every sense of the word, working together on security, business, economic, people-to-people, health, environment, and energy ties. In the short 18 months I’ve had the honor of serving here, President Trump has visited Vietnam twice, and Prime Minister Phúc has visited the United States. The United States is committed to supporting the development of a strong, prosperous, and independent Vietnam, today and in the future. And our relationship has never been better.

The Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City has played an important role in creating our strong bilateral relationship. President Trump’s visit to the APEC meetings in Danang wouldn’t have been possible without the Consulate’s hard work. The Consulate’s daily advocacy has helped our business and trade ties flourish. Our Consulate team welcomed the USS Carl Vinson to Danang last year, demonstrating the strength of our security ties. They’re working together with our Vietnamese government partners to address the legacies of war, including through dioxin remediation at Bien Hoa airbase. They play a major role in moving us towards healing the lingering wounds of war through reconciliation activities, including Vietnamese military cemetery restoration and visits. They facilitate the travel of tens of thousands of Vietnamese citizens to the United States for business, tourism, education, and to visit their families. And many of the approximately 30,000 Vietnamese students receiving their education in the United States are from Consulate General HCMC’s consular district. Join me in thanking the Consulate’s staff for their hard work. Thank you.

When I look out at you, I am reminded of something that my dear friend and predecessor, Ambassador Pete Peterson – who was here 20 years ago to open the Consulate – once told me:

Many people look at the U.S.-Vietnam relationship and call our progress a miracle! This is false. While what we continue to accomplish is nothing short of amazing, it is not by accident.
Everything we have achieved has been built on the painstaking work of those who came before. It is the result of decades of focused effort in both countries.

Every single day, our two countries are working together with a common sense of purpose, for our mutual benefit – the very definition of a comprehensive partnership. Everyone in this room has contributed to the growth of that partnership. Each of you will help make our partnership even stronger moving forward.

Thank you and a happy 20th anniversary to the U.S. Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City! I’m already looking forward to the next 20 years!

Xin cảm ơn!