It is not in Vietnam’s national interest to be overly dependent on China or the US. Hanoi is expected to continue to press ahead with efforts to build on its ties with the two major powers as part of its multi-directional foreign policy. There are, however, limits to both approaches. Given General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Nguyen Phu Trong's health situation, a physical trip to the US may not be feasible, and any diplomacy might have to be carried out long distance.
Diplomatic activities appear to be back at full swing after the 20th Party Congress. Zaobao correspondent Yang Danxu notes that the visits by heads of states to China are driven by Beijing’s objectives of bringing its neighbours close, stabilising relations with Europe, and strengthening relations with developing countries. Will this help improve China’s relations and international image, especially amid the tense geopolitical background?
In this final of a seven-part Lianhe Zaobao-Business Times series on China and ASEAN, Lianhe Zaobao associate foreign news editor Sim Tze Wei travelled to Vietnam for a closer look at its economic rise, and whether “Made in Vietnam” can replace “Made in China”.
It appears that Beijing is losing some of its factory orders with MNCs and investors putting their bets on Vietnam. But maybe it is a win-win situation: as China moves to transition its economy to advanced manufacturing, countries like Vietnam with a young and relatively cheap labour force could fill the gap.
Sokvy Rim explains why Vietnam still chooses to adopt a hedging strategy between the US and China, despite increasing fears of China’s aggressive moves in the South China Sea.
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-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?
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.
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.