US President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the National Convention Center in Hanoi on May 24, 2016.
Obama, currently on a visit to Vietnam, met with civil society leaders including some of the country's long-harassed critics on May 24. The visit is Obama's first to the country -- and the third by a sitting president since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975. / AFP / JIM WATSON        (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
President Obama: 'Sovereignty should be respected'
01:56 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

Obama said big nations shouldn't bully smaller ones

The president's remarks on human rights were aired on Vietnamese TV

Hanoi, Vietnam CNN  — 

President Barack Obama made a forceful case for human rights in Vietnam Tuesday during a speech in Hanoi and he called for the “peaceful resolution” of disputes in the South China Sea.

Obama stressed the need to uphold human rights in his remarks to the Vietnamese people and were broadcast on television in a nation that has a dismal record on the issue.

Human rights “is not a threat to stability” but reinforces it, Obama said.

Why is the U.S. arming Vietnam?

Freedom of speech and expression “fuels” the economy, the President continued. “That is how some of our greatest companies began.”

Highlighting freedom of the press, assembly, and religion, Obama said that while the U.S. is not trying to “impose the American form of government on Vietnam,” the countr