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Vietnamese delegation’s loose lips caught on video during US-ASEAN summit

A video that captured crass remarks made by Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh and other high-ranking officials prior to their meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken went viral over the weekend and was removed from the U.S. State Department’s YouTube account.

The Vietnamese officials met with Blinken on Friday as part of the two-day U.S.- summit with the 10-member Association for Southeast Asian Nations.

According to a series of tweets about the incident by Southeast Asia analyst Nguyen Phuong Linh, the video shows the Vietnamese delegation laughing that U.S. President Joe Biden told Prime Minister Chinh that he could “not trust Russia.” Chinh also describes the meeting with Biden as “straightforward and fair and that Vietnam isn’t afraid of anyone,” after which the Vietnamese ambassador to the U.S., Nguyen Quoc Dzung, said they “put [Biden] into checkmate.”

Minister of Public Security To Lam is also seen praising the former deputy national security adviser during the Trump administration, Matthew Pottinger, for being young and smart and having a wife who was born in Vietnam.

The Vietnamese officials also refer to a number of U.S. officials without using honorific terms that in the Vietnamese language their titles alone would command.

The State Department typically captures video footage of dignitaries prior to meetings with its senior staff and shares the videos on its YouTube account. In most cases, these videos will show smiles and handshakes and are largely uneventful.

The video was published shortly after their meeting on Friday but by Saturday evening, the video became “unavailable” on YouTube. RFA was not able to determine why the video was removed from the State Department’s account.

“So embarrassing for the Vietnamese that the State Dept. appears to have taken the video offline,” former BBC journalist Bill Hayton wrote on his Twitter account.

The dialogue caught in the video “might indicate a more serious issue of how dysfunctional the incumbent cabinet in [Vietnam] is in general, and how incompetent the [Vietnamese] leaders are in terms of comms, foreign affairs and security,” Linh tweeted.

RFA’s Vietnamese Service, which shared the video on its Facebook account, received comments from followers that were critical of the Vietnamese delegation.

“Talking about your host while you’re a guest at their house is so uneducated,” Facebook user Kien Nguyen commented.

“This kind of language, coming from the Prime Minister’s mouth. It sounds like what you hear in bus stations,” Hoa Nguyen, another Facebook user, said.

Translated by An Nguyen. Written in English by Eugene Whong.