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US Independence Day celebrated in Vietnam’s southern hub

On Wednesday evening, the Consulate General of the United States in Ho Chi Minh City hosted a reception to celebrate the 238th anniversary of American Independence Day (July 4, 1776-July 4, 2014).

Deputy Chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City People's Committee Le Manh Ha (L) joins U.S. Consul General Rena Bitter (M) and U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam David Shear in a toast at the celebration of the 238th anniversary of American Independence Day in Ho Chi Minh City on July 2, 2014.
Deputy Chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee Le Manh Ha (L) joins U.S. Consul General Rena Bitter (M) and U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam David Shear in a toast at the celebration of the 238th anniversary of American Independence Day in Ho Chi Minh City on July 2, 2014.

The event, held at the White Palace Convention Center in Phu Nhuan District, was attended by U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam David Shear and Deputy Chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee Le Manh Ha, along with the diplomatic corps, the business community from both nations, and local media.

At the beginning of the ceremony, many people were amazed and impressed by remarks made in fluent Vietnamese by Consul General Rena Bitter.

In her address at the event, Rena said there has been major progress in the relationship between the U.S. and Vietnam over the last year. “As we celebrate America’s independence tonight, we are also celebrating what we have achieved together by building a closer relationship between our two countries with many of you playing a role in making that happen,” she said.

David Shear, who is expected to conclude his term soon after serving as the U.S. president’s representative in Vietnam for three years, flew from Hanoi to deliver his speech at the celebration.

The U.S. ambassador highlighted the Comprehensive Partnership signed by Vietnamese State President Truong Tan Sang and his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama during the former’s visit to the White House in Washington last July, saying it was a sign of the great progress that has been made since the two countries re-normalized relations in 1995.

According to David Shear, the economic relationship between the two sides has grown rapidly with trade growing from US$18 billion to $30 billion during his term from 2011 to 2014.

The two nations have also seen great progress in other fields such as education, tourism, healthcare, and energy.

In the education field, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung recently approved a license for Fulbright University, which will be the first American-style university in Vietnam.

Regarding the consequences of war, the U.S. and Vietnam has been working together on Agent Orange remediation at Da Nang International Airport, removing unexploded ordnance in three provinces, and assisting persons with disabilities throughout Vietnam.

“This is the third time I’ve had the honor to host our July 4th celebration, and it is likely my last, so I’d like to thank you all for your support and cooperation,” Ambassador David Shear said during his address.

“As I look out at the faces of the many friends I have worked with over these past few years, I am optimistic about the prospects for our shared future,” he elaborated.

For his part, Deputy Chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee Le Manh Ha hailed Ambassador Shear’s contribution to Vietnam-U.S. bilateral relations in many aspects and wished him all the best for his future career.

The deputy chairman highly appreciated the achievements, especially the Comprehensive Partnership, reached by the two countries. He believes that a bright future awaits the Vietnam – U.S. Comprehensive Partnership given their joint efforts on the basis of mutual respect and understanding.

For Ho Chi Minh City alone, Ha pointed out that the city has been a popular destination for many American investors. As of May 31, 2014 the city is home to 285 American investment projects worth $524.65 million, putting the U.S. in 12th place of all foreign investors.