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US Vice President Kamala Harris (L) talks to Vietnam's Vice President Vo Thi Anh Xuan at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi on 25 August 2021. (Manan Vatsyayana/AFP)

Deepening US-Vietnam ties: Less geopolitics, more human security

Discussions about the bilateral relationship between Vietnam and the US typically centre on the geopolitical aspects. A more meaningful way of developing the relationship is actually in the field of human security.
Vietnam police officers inspect authorised travel documents of commuters at a checkpoint during the first day of the extended lockdown in Hanoi, Vietnam, 6 September 2021. (Stringer/Reuters)

Vietnam is balancing China-US rivalry with deft statecraft, but for how long?

Vietnam-US relations have continued to flourish even as China continues to express its displeasure and concerns. How has Vietnam maintained the balance between its ideological cohesiveness with China and pragmatic ties with the US? Is Hanoi taking a big risk by developing a deeper relationship with Washington while antagonising its giant neighbour?
This photograph taken on 8 June 2021 shows a street vendor walking past narrow residential houses, known as "nha ong" in Vietnamese or "tube houses", in an urban area of Hanoi. (Manan Vatsyayana/AFP)

Vietnam needs to do more to reduce trade dependence on China

Vietnam’s trade deficit with China has grown rapidly since 2001, and its heavy dependence on Chinese intermediate and capital goods creates vulnerabilities in its entire production chain. Besides, China has a history of using trade as a weapon to punish countries with which it has disputes. To reduce its trade dependence on Beijing, Vietnam has signed a number of new-generation free trade agreements (FTAs) in recent years, but these efforts have not produced desired outcomes. Vietnam will need to increase the utilisation rate of these agreements and push forward economic and institutional reforms to strengthen its overall economic resilience.
A colour illustration on 8 April 1884 shows the Battle of Fuzhou, with a shower of gunfire from French vessels and the Fujian Fleet either sinking or damaged.

[Picture story] The Sino-French War of 1884 and the collapse of Western colonialism

Historical photo collector Hsu Chung-mao notes that the Sino-French War showed the weaknesses of Western colonial powers, particularly France. This ultimately led to the end of colonialism following World War II.
Health workers wait for their turn as Vietnam starts its official rollout of AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine for health workers, at Hai Duong Hospital for Tropical Diseases, Hai Duong province, Vietnam, 8 March 2021. (Thanh Hue/Reuters)

Why the Vietnamese embrace US vaccines but shun Chinese ones

The public reactions to the arrivals of Covid-19 vaccines to Vietnam — one from China, the other from the US — underscore a geopolitical dilemma for the country.
In this file photo, a street artist paints a mural depicting Covid-19 coronavirus frontline workers along a street in Hanoi on 15 June 2021. (Nhac Nguyen/AFP)

American academic: US-Vietnam military relations hampered by Chinese influence

Relations between Vietnam and the United States have advanced markedly, particularly in trade and diplomatic cooperation. But bilateral military relations will continue to be stymied by Vietnam’s approach to China.
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 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.