As a result, Vietnam has experienced intensified Chinese coercion particularly in the maritime domain in recent years.

Considering it was just forty years ago that the two countries fought a brutal war and today have opposing views on human rights, freedom, and governing philosophies, this announcement is incredible. (The Philippines had raised the case under former president Benigno Aquino III to challenge the flimsy legal basis for Chinas sweeping territorial claims in the South China Sea within the nine-dash line.) As a 1998 defense white paper states, Vietnam established guiding principles for its defense policy in the Three Nos: no military alliance, no foreign military bases on its soil, and no aligning with one country over another. This is not the first time that discord between Vietnam and China has surfaced.

But any sense of vindication has been short-lived, as China rejected the ruling out of hand and has continued to assert its previous claims undeterred. Beijings recent aggressive and provocative actions in the South China Sea call into question from Hanois standpoint how committed the Chinese government is to the ostensibly shared goal of solving these disputes peacefully and fairly. Hanois reconciliation with Washington and improving relations with other powers are important steps toward containing the threat China poses. A number of key questions may have to wait for the new cadre of leadership to decide on. As the ASEAN chair of 2020, Vietnam has no easy task with seeking to continue dialogue, convene collective discussions over regional matters, and even conduct important negotiations, including on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership or the protracted talks over the code of conduct in the South China Sea. This seems to show that the two sides long-standing disputes have not thoroughly consumed and soured their relationship, nor are their disagreements the only notable aspects of their bilateral relations. As the Chinese government has grown more assertive and pushed the envelope in its dealings with Vietnam, Hanoi has performed a delicate balancing act with very little margin for error. The document states that the Vietnamese government is willing to welcome vessels of navies, coast guards, border guards and international organisations to make courtesy or ordinary port visits or stop over in its ports to repair, replenish logistics and technical supplies or take refuges from national disasters. Vietnams openness to allowing ships from other countries to dock at its ports could be viewed as an endorsement of further military collaboration with regional and global actors. Even as the Vietnamese government has kept diplomatic channels with Beijing open, it has also sought to assert and advocate for its own sovereignty and rights by diversifying its diplomatic partnerships and strengthening its own capabilities. The strategic document updated Vietnams Three Nos policy and included a fourth No, denouncing the use of force or threatened use of force to settle disputes. As a result, Vietnam has since sought to diversify its network of diplomatic partners and take other precautionary steps to protect its interests. Chinas sweeping dismissal of an independent tribunals ruling on territorial disputes in the South China Sea in the summer of 2016 was another red flag. The congress will also be decisive in shaping the countrys new national socioeconomic plan for 20212030, as well as other priorities including on foreign policy. All rights reserved. This presents an opportunity for Washington to deepen its strategic and military relationship with Hanoian opportunity China does not want to see America capitalize on. Washington has long strived not to take sides in the South China Sea disputes. Vietnams leaders face consequential decisions in the coming few years. Notably, such a policy goes against Chinas recommendations for ASEANs code of conduct for the South China Sea, which aims to limit regional countries military ties with external powers. The South China Sea, while important, will have to compete with many more pressing priorities. For its part, the Chinese government and state media have labeled Vietnam a troublemaker and made disingenuous claims that Hanoi is acting in bad faith in ways that undermine dispute resolution and signs of supposed progress made in negotiations over a proposed China-ASEAN code of conduct in the South China Sea. The carefully worded statement to mark the occasion hailed shared principles of cordiality and common purpose as the purported guide for the bilateral relations: friendly neighborliness, comprehensive cooperation, long-term stability, and a future-minded orientation as well as four key symbolic roles as good neighbors, good comrades, good friends, and good partners. These disputes remain the main point of contention between Vietnam and China, and in many respects, they constitute a main driver of Vietnams foreign policy. Vietnams geographic proximity to these waters stands in the way of Chinas South China Sea ambitions. Vietnam was deeply unnerved by and strongly disapproved of an April 2020 incident in which Chinese Coast Guard vessels rammed and sank a Vietnamese fishing boat near Woody Island. Although China has had a strong relationship with Vietnam since it fought its own war against its southern neighbor in 1979, Beijings recent actions have made Vietnams hedging inevitable. The two sides formalized neighborly relations under the principles of friendly Sino-Vietnam relations for peace, stability and prosperity.. Notably, Vietnamese do not view Chinese belligerence in a vacuumit is amplified by the two neighbors long history of profound cultural distrust. And with this visit, weve put our relationship on a firmer footing for decades to come. Following Obamas opening up to the country, which continued under Presidents Donald Trump and Joe Biden, Vietnam has invited the United States to annually anchor multiple aircraft carriers at Vietnamese ports (despite officially only allowing one ship per foreign navy per-year to visit), participated in joint military exercises, invited high-level officials to the country (including a visit by a U.S. secretary of defense every year since 2018), and bought millions of dollars worth of military equipment (including UAV systems and coast guard cutters). Washington, DC 20036-2103. There are valid reasons why Vietnamese feel so strongly about China. China has also militarized the area, built artificial islands (over 3,200 acres in the Spratlys since 2013 alone), and prevented Vietnam from extracting the resources there. Apart from its renewed diplomatic outreach, Vietnams security concerns have also motivated it to further revise its defense outlook and strategic concepts, as reflected in Hanois updated December 2019 National Defence White Paper. That revised document employs forceful language and outlines the declining security situation facing the country. japanese philippines attack japan map ww2 occupation harbor pearl invasion indochina 1942 vietnam did invade 1945 america france 1941 war Hanoi submitted documents to the UN in protest of Chinas actions, a rare and serious instance in which the Vietnamese government elected to escalate diplomatic action beyond regional multilateral bodies. Viettel, a domestic telecom company owned by the Vietnamese government, has partnered with Ericsson to create homegrown 5G technology, which passed its first test in Hanoi in early 2020. In spite of these differences, Hanoi remains invested in encouraging Washington to stay attentive to issues in Southeast Asia and the South China Sea. 2022 Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. These powers have improved security collaboration, paying special attention to maritime issues. The rest of the international community have split views on this controversial decision, as even some of the closest U.S. partners and allies have vacillated on how to respond, though an increasing number of countries are considering enacting similar bans of their own explicitly or implicitly. And in responding to a hypothetical scenario of being forced to choose sides between the United States and China, Vietnam was the country in the region most likely to choose the United States (85.5 percent), while the median score for the region as a whole was 53.6 percent. Nonetheless, U.S. support for democracy and human rights, the Vietnam Wars legacy (namely Agent Orange residue), Vietnams close military relationship with Russia, and Vietnams overall desire to not become dependent on America have been holding the relationship back. The 2014 oil rig incident was a wake-up call for Hanoi and a reminder of the fragility of its comradeship with Beijing. While interactions between the two countries go back millennia, 2020 marks the seventieth anniversary of official diplomatic ties between the two countries current political regimes. Washington will remain focused on its own November 2020 presidential election. As a result, Vietnam has deepened its ties with other states, especially South Korea, India, Australia, and Japan. The same 2020 study showed that 52.6 percent of Vietnamese respondents have some confidence in the U.S. security role in the region, whereas the median score for Southeast Asian was 34.9 percent. In a 2019 poll conducted by the Singapore-based Yusof-Ishak Institute, overall 68 percent of surveyed respondents from ten ASEAN countries thought U.S. engagement in the region under Trump had decreased. As Obama remarked, With our new Comprehensive Partnership, our governments are working more closely together than ever before. In April 2020, China created two new administrative zones in parts of the South China Sea that are also claimed by Vietnam, including over places that Vietnamese nationals have inhabited for decades. For weeks, Chinese and Vietnamese vessels harassed each other intensely and appeared to be on the brink of violence. Many observers see this development as a part of a troubling trend of Xis increasing determination to wield Chinas power unapologetically. His work focuses on development and geopolitics in Southeast Asia. After that, Chinas control of Vietnam wavered off and on until the French established a French protectorate in Vietnam in 1883. The 2020 version of the survey showed that 77 percent of respondents in the region now hold this view. To mitigate the power disparity it suffers relative to its colossal neighbor, Hanoi has sought to engage with Beijing in a number of ways. The conflict left behind hundreds of thousands of dead, smoldering villages, and war crimes that created a level of distrust and hatred rivaled by few nation-to-nation relationships. With its dubious nine-dash line, China has declared ownership over the vast majority of the South China Sea. After providing brief support against the French, China became mired in internal struggles and lost the bandwidth to interact with its southern neighbor until the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) gained power in 1949. While diplomacy has bridged some divides, other tensions have proven more intractable and have even worsened over time. The appointments made and policies released at Vietnams upcoming Thirteenth Party Congress, scheduled for early 2021, will play a role in determining the future direction of the bilateral relationship with China. Across seven decades of formal diplomacy between the current regimes built on the preceding millennia of historical interactions, the neighborly image the two sides seek to project has experienced no shortage of challenges. Diplomatic breakthroughs on the maritime territorial disputes over the Spratly Islands and the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea have proven far more elusive. This moment represented a significant shift in Vietnamese-American relations. Beijings attitudes and behaviors have shifted many other countries views of Chinamost of all, the United States. The fourth No principle expressed in the December 2019 defense white paper is a good step in that direction. vietnam war map cold history north chinese rings vietcong maps 1954 indochina military did nation usa minh saigon involvement timeline Vietnam had not yet become a part of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), nor had it yet normalized ties with the United States, so the country was still suffering from severe diplomatic isolation, very limited aid, and a trade embargo that cut it off from many advanced postindustrial economies. The tribunal decided that no reefs or atolls in the Spratly archipelago could legally be considered islands, a position that effectively undercut Beijings claims to a 200-mile EEZ on that basis. Beijing set up these two districts to better administer the islands, improve local infrastructure, and solidify its security positioning. The 2016 tribunal issued its ruling rejecting any legal basis for Chinas expansive historical claims, a decision that Hanoi enthusiastically supported. From here, the economic relationship developed rapidly: In 2002 they signed a Bilateral Trade Agreement, and in 2007 the United States assisted Vietnam in joining the WTO and signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement. In doing so, Vietnam has become one of the first countries in the world to build its own 5G network. Given its history, Vietnam has always been distrustful of being too dependent on larger powers and is, therefore, seeking to balance between the United States and China. One successful foray into negotiations involved bilateral disputes in the Gulf of Tonkin throughout the 1990s; a resolution was finalized in 2000 and became an exemplary model of how the neighbors could at times successfully work out their differences. Excluding the Chinese telecom giant from U.S. networks will likely have a major impact beyond the economic and diplomatic aspects of Sino-U.S. competition and will profoundly affect the digital landscapes of many other countries going forward. By using this website, you agree to our cookie policy. In many ways, Hanoi has been left to bear the brunt of these tensions. Similarly, people-to-people ties have increased and the United States has supported Vietnams specific needs through Covid-19 assistance and developmental investment, particularly with clean energy projects and Agent Orange clean up. Vietnams only ally at the timethe Soviet Unionhad just collapsed, and Hanoi was still very much isolated from the rest of the international community. In some cases, their priorities might be their own security challenges, like in the case of Indias own border disputes with China. Vietnam also secured a nonpermanent seat on the UN Security Council from 2020 to 2021, a role that gives Hanoi opportunities to voice concerns over the larger implications of the maritime territorial disputes. Once the United States escalated its involvement in Vietnam (1964) to a full-fledged war, China began assisting its ideologically aligned ally. You can reach Vincenzo or follow his work on Twitter @VincenzoCIV, Copyright 2022 Center for the National Interest All Rights Reserved. In this way, Hanoi is communicating its red line. Vietnam is also preparing for its own National Party Congress in 2021, a major political occasion that occurs only once every five years and during which the countrys leaders unveil major changes in key political positions and personnel announcements. That is not to say that the United States and Vietnam are natural or all-encompassing partnerstheir relationship is not without its warts either. The war would last for nine years before the Nixon administration evacuated U.S. troopsin 1973. If the project succeeds, other countries might consider Vietnams model to be worth imitating, given Viettels investments in telecoms in Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodia. Beginning in 111BC, China colonized Vietnam, which started a nearly 1,000-year reign until AD 939. By contrast, Hanoi appears to have relatively more positive or at least tolerant views of Trumps regional plans than its neighbors do. The U.S. State Department has repeatedly criticized Beijings behavior vis--vis Vietnam in the South China Sea, while acknowledging Hanois legal right to use resources in its EEZ. The United States is distracted, offering contradictory signals of abandonment and heightened competition with China over the region.

Viettel and another Vietnamese network provider, Mobifone, developed and built out the countrys 4G network in partnership with Nokia and Ericsson, though Chinese telecoms including ZTE did help develop the countrys domestic 3G networks. The pandemic has been disruptive to international diplomacy, just as it has to so many other aspects of everyday life. Many Southeast Asian countries views of the United States under the Trump administration have become increasingly negative. luzon island philippines largest islands many geography map philippine china which spratlys taking 4th main population manila These changes included enacting a national security policy known as the Three Nos, which constrains Vietnams latitude to [form] military alliances, . strategic initiative defense timetoast 2007 timelines war november