Vietnam

This handout photo taken on 13 January 2021 by Indonesia's Ministry of Maritime and Investment Affairs shows Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (left) meeting with Indonesian Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Investments Minister Luhut Pandjaitan in Parapat, on the edge of Lake Toba in North Sumatra, to discuss cooperation on investments. (Handout/Ministry of Maritime and Investment Affairs/AFP)

Wang Yi’s Southeast Asia tour: How China woos Southeast Asia in view of US-China competition

In January 2021, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited several ASEAN countries, including Brunei, Indonesia, Myanmar and the Philippines, in an effort to push for collaboration in key projects under the BRI, and providing access to Chinese vaccines. However, Beijing’s passage of a new coastguard law has undermined Wang Yi’s outreach efforts. ISEAS academic Lye Liang Fook explains what is behind China's efforts and looks into its implications.
A woman wears a protective mask as she drives past a banner promoting prevention against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Hanoi, Vietnam, 31 July 2020. (Kham/REUTERS)

Can China's social credit system be replicated in Vietnam?

The West and certain countries in Asia have very different perceptions of the use of big data and AI to monitor its population and even build a social credit system. French academic Nicolas Lainez reviews China's social credit system and discusses the possibility of Vietnam adopting it to strengthen the government's control over society. However, he says the political risks may outweigh its benefits.
This picture taken and released on 21 November 2020 by the Vietnam News Agency shows Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc (R) bumping elbows to greet US National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien during a meeting in Hanoi. (Vietnam News Agency/AFP)

Robust US-Vietnam relations to continue under Biden presidency

Many Vietnamese feel that their country has benefited much from US President Donald Trump’s policies, such as his tough stance on China and the US-China trade war. However, that does not mean that US-Vietnam relations will lose its momentum under a Biden presidency as the two countries strategic goals are aligned, says ISEAS academic Le Hong Hiep.
Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks during a ground breaking ceremony for the construction of a bridge across the Bassac river in Phnom Penh on 26 October 2020. (Tang Chhin Sothy/AFP)

Cambodia needs to avoid putting all its eggs in the Chinese basket

Cambodia’s post-pandemic foreign policy is constrained by the need to sustain its economic growth while maintaining independence and sovereignty, amid the challenge and uncertainty caused by the growing strategic competition between China and the US. Academic Kimkong Heng says Cambodia needs to refrain from actions that appear to serve China’s core strategic interests, proactively engage all strategic partners, and walk a diplomatic tightrope between China and the US.
A woman cycles in Hanoi on 21 September 2020. (Nhac Nguyen/AFP)

How Vietnam is leveraging anti-China sentiments online

In this era of blossoming social media, anti-China sentiments have morphed and manifested online, compelling Vietnamese authorities to keep close tabs on it. ISEAS academic Dien Nguyen An Luong examines how the Vietnamese authorities have increasingly looked to social media to gauge anti-China sentiments and to calibrate their responses accordingly.
Customers wait in line outside a Shake Shack Inc. restaurant in Beijing, China on 20 September 2020. (Yan Cong/Bloomberg)

Is it possible to decouple from the world's biggest market and factory?

Despite US efforts to reduce reliance on China and decouple from it, the process will not be easy, given China’s enormous economic influence. Even with countries such as Vietnam trying to take China’s place as the “world’s factory”, their capacity is limited. However, this does not mean that China’s position is assured, as other countries are noticing China’s penchant for using its economic might as a bargaining chip.
The U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis transits the South China Sea at sunset, 25 February 2019. (US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ryan D. McLearnon/Handout via REUTERS)

Apart from ASEAN and China, international community and law are part of South China Sea discourse

With Vietnam at the helm of ASEAN this year, the grouping has wielded the aegis of international law to ensure that international and regional concerns about the South China Sea are respected in Code of Conduct negotiations. ISEAS academic Hoang Thi Ha says that while China prefers to settle SCS issues between itself and ASEAN member states, this is not what ASEAN has in mind.
A neon sign of the American flag and neon lights at One Times Square in New York, 31 July 2020. (Timothy A. Clary/AFP)

No country can be the world's policeman: Debt-ridden US needs to focus on itself

For all of President Trump’s failings, says US academic Han Dongping, he did persist in his belief that the US has over-extended itself abroad and sought ways to pull it back. Whoever becomes the US president next will have to recognise that the US’s global role has changed irrevocably since 1945.
A woman walks along along an alleyway decorated with Vietnamese national flags in Hanoi, 1 September 2020. (Nhac Nguyen/AFP)

Facing frenemy China, Vietnam shall edge closer to America

Vietnam is caught geopolitically between America, the dominant power, and China, the emerging power. While some observers argue that Vietnam can continue to maintain a neutral position, many smaller states are increasingly finding it difficult to maintain the balancing act. Vietnamese academic Huynh Tam Sang suggests that facing a more assertive China, Vietnam should edge closer to the US by adopting a US-Vietnam “soft alignment” framework where America provides more support for Vietnam’s defence and security needs.