Vietnam

A man wearing a face mask amid Covid-19 concerns waits on his scooter near a billboard of the late Vietnamese revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh, Hanoi, 4 May 2021. (Manan Vatsyayana/AFP)

Feisty and delicate: Vietnam's approach to handling great power rivalry

Vietnam’s domestic and foreign policy structures held up well in 2020 in the face of significant challenges involving Covid-19, chairing ASEAN, and relations with China and the US. Vietnam continued to maintain a delicate balance between China and the US, while at the same time retaining a strategic option to pursue deeper defence and military relations with the US. Its ability to maintain and enhance agency, in particular in its relations with Beijing, offers lessons for other Southeast Asian countries facing the same dilemma.
Vietnamese military new recruits at a ceremony before leaving for military service, in Hanoi, Vietnam, 27 February 2021. (Thanh Hue/Reuters)

Rising tensions in the South China Sea: Rising power of Vietnamese army

The Vietnam People’s Army (VPA) appears to be gaining leverage in Vietnam’s political system. This increasing influence reflects the security concerns of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) over growing tensions in the South China Sea, and its political position has also benefited from the growing importance of the defence industry and the commercial success of military-run businesses. How would such a development affect Vietnam's political, economic and foreign policy outlook?
People in a street market in Banda Aceh on 14 April 2021. (Chaideer Mahyuddin/AFP)

'Promiscuous diplomacy': How ASEAN navigates Indo-Pacific polemics and potentials

Despite releasing the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific in June 2019, ASEAN member states have yet to reach a coherent view on the Indo-Pacific, and remain ambivalent about the Indo-Pacific due to the concept’s malleability and external pressures from China and Russia. However, the Biden Administration’s proactive moves to consolidate the US’s Indo-Pacific strategy, especially through the first Quad summit, has injected further dynamism into the Indo-Pacific discourse. Would this mean more opportunities or limitations for ASEAN member states? ISEAS researcher Hoang Thi Ha examines the issue.
People walk past an H&M clothing store in Beijing on 25 March 2021. (Greg Baker/AFP)

Did H&M kowtow to China? The Vietnamese think so and Hanoi is encouraging online nationalism

Vietnam has effectively fanned the flames of online nationalism in its altercation with a Swedish fast-fashion retailer — and by extension, China. It has to be careful not to stoke the flames too far.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu attend a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier by the Kremlin Wall to mark the Defender of the Fatherland Day in Moscow, Russia, 23 February 2021. (Sputnik/Alexei Druzhinin/Kremlin via Reuters)

Russia in Southeast Asia: Falling influence despite being largest arms seller

Although Russia has been increasing its defence diplomacy activities in Southeast Asia, its military cooperation with the region remains overwhelmingly focused on arms sales. However, Russia is at risk of losing its position as the number one arms seller to Southeast Asia due to increased competition from American, European and Asian defence companies. Besides, Russian navy port calls to Southeast Asia and combined military exercises in the region are infrequent and small-scale compared to those of the US and China. ISEAS academic Ian Storey examines how Russia might expand its influence.
U.S. President Joe Biden (top left), Yoshihide Suga, Japan's prime minister (top right), Scott Morrison, Australia's prime minister (bottom left), and Narendra Modi, India's prime minister, on a monitor during the virtual Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) meeting at Suga's official residence in Tokyo, Japan, on 12 March 2021. (Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg)

Quad: A regional military alliance to contain China will not work

The Quad comprising US, Japan, Australia, and India is still in its early days. Some fear it could become an “Asian NATO” targeting China, but how likely is this, given the region’s history of multilateralism in the security arena? Japan-based academic Zhang Yun examines the issue.
The "Yellow House", Vietnam's Presidential Palace in Hanoi, is seen in the background during a visit by Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga (left) and his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Xuan Phuc (right) in Hanoi, Vietnam, 19 October 2020. (Minh Hoang/Pool via REUTERS)

Balancing China: Japan and Vietnam join hands in economy and security

Vietnamese academic Huynh Tam Sang notes that Japan’s economic and security concerns are becoming increasingly intertwined with those of Southeast Asia, and Tokyo sees Vietnam as the gateway for projecting its influence in Southeast Asia. Furthermore, Japan seeks to bolster its security and defence relationship with Vietnam, and does not rule out the possibility of Vietnam being a Quad-Plus member.
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.