China’s President Visits Vietnam Amid Strengthened Ties with US and Japan

December 13, 2023 | by b1og.net


China’s President Xi Jinping is set to visit Vietnam to further strengthen ties between the two countries, who have recently deepened diplomatic relations with Western-aligned nations like the US and Japan. This visit comes after Vietnam’s increased engagement with Western countries, leading to concerns in Beijing about a potential alliance against China. Vietnam, while ideologically closer to China, has been signaling closer ties with Western nations and is rapidly developing economic and security partnerships with the US and Japan. Experts suggest that Vietnam is hedging its bets against its larger neighbor and its territorial claims in the South China Sea. The visit also marks 15 years of China being a “comprehensive strategic partner” of Vietnam, highlighting the significance of their relationship.

Chinas President Visits Vietnam Amid Strengthened Ties with US and Japan

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China’s President Visits Vietnam

Importance of the Visit

Chinese President Xi Jinping will arrive in Vietnam on Tuesday for an important visit aimed at deepening ties between the two countries. This visit comes just weeks after Vietnam has strengthened its diplomatic relations with the United States and Japan, making it a crucial time for China to maintain a strong relationship with its neighbor. The visit reflects Beijing’s concerns about Vietnam’s advances with Western-aligned countries and the possibility of Vietnam joining an anti-China alliance.


Meeting with Vietnamese Officials

During his visit, President Xi will meet with several Vietnamese officials, including Communist Party general secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, President Vo Van Thuong, and Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh. This high-level engagement highlights the significance of the visit and emphasizes China’s commitment to maintaining strong ties with Vietnam. The discussions between the leaders will likely focus on various bilateral and regional issues, including trade, security, and cooperation in key sectors.

Strengthened Ties with the US and Japan

US President’s Visit to Vietnam

In September, US President Joe Biden visited Vietnam, marking the elevation of the US to the same diplomatic status as China. While President Biden emphasized that the stronger ties were not about countering China, the visit showcased the US’s efforts to improve defense ties with countries in the region. Vietnam’s closer relations with the US indicate that it is seeking to balance its ties with major powers and diversify its diplomatic partnerships.

Elevated Diplomatic Status

Japan and Vietnam also recently boosted their economic and security ties, citing the importance of a “free and open Indo-Pacific.” Japan was given the same diplomatic status as China and the US, further highlighting Vietnam’s efforts to enhance its relationship with multiple countries. With Japan as its third-largest foreign investor, Vietnam recognizes the importance of cultivating ties with international partners to support its economic growth and enhance security in the region.

Japan-Vietnam Economic and Security Ties

The strengthening economic and security ties between Japan and Vietnam signify a shared commitment to regional stability and prosperity. The two countries recognize the significance of the Indo-Pacific region and are aligning their interests to promote cooperation in various sectors. Vietnam’s active engagement with Japan further demonstrates its hedging strategy against China, as it seeks to maintain multiple avenues for economic and security partnerships.

China-Vietnam Relations

15 Years of Strategic Partnership

China and Vietnam have had a comprehensive strategic partnership for 15 years, making China one of Vietnam’s most important diplomatic partners. This designation reflects the depth and breadth of the bilateral relationship, showcasing the close connection between the two countries. The longstanding partnership between China and Vietnam has facilitated cooperation in various areas, including trade, investment, cultural exchanges, and people-to-people ties.

Vietnam’s Importance in Southeast Asia

Vietnam holds a crucial strategic position in Southeast Asia, making it an important player in regional affairs. Its geographical location and growing economic influence have positioned Vietnam as a key actor in shaping regional dynamics. China recognizes the significance of maintaining strong ties with Vietnam to secure its strategic interests in the region and maintain regional stability.


Vietnam’s Ideological Alignment with China

Ideologically, Vietnam shares closer ties with China as both countries are governed by Communist Parties. This shared ideological background has created a foundation for cooperation and mutual understanding between the two nations. Vietnam’s alignment with China’s ideology provides a basis for enhanced collaboration in various sectors of mutual interest, promoting a harmonious relationship between the two countries.

Vietnam’s Balancing Act

Hedging Against China

Vietnam’s approach to balancing its relationship with China involves maintaining multiple diplomatic partnerships to hedge against its large neighbor. By engaging with Western-aligned countries, Vietnam aims to ensure its security and economic interests are not solely reliant on China. This hedging strategy allows Vietnam to have more flexibility in its foreign policy decisions and reduces its vulnerability to any potential disruptions in its relations with China.

Conflict in the South China Sea

Vietnam has been involved in conflicts with China in the disputed South China Sea, particularly regarding the Spratly and Paracel Islands. The tensions in the region have highlighted the importance of Vietnam’s efforts to manage its relations with China. While Vietnam seeks to maintain stability and peace, it also prioritizes protecting its territorial integrity and asserting its rights in the South China Sea. Balancing these priorities requires Vietnam to carefully navigate its relationship with China while pursuing its own national interests.

Infrastructure Agreements

Focus on Development

Vietnam recognizes the significance of infrastructure development for its economic growth and has expressed a desire to focus on this sector. President Xi’s visit is expected to result in the signing of several infrastructure agreements between Vietnam and China. These agreements will enable closer cooperation in developing key infrastructure projects, facilitating trade and investment ties, and contributing to Vietnam’s overall development goals.

Vietnam’s Trade with China

China has been Vietnam’s largest trading partner for several years, demonstrating the deep economic interdependence between the two countries. Vietnam heavily relies on imports from China, including crucial inputs for its manufacturing sector. While this trade relationship has been beneficial for Vietnam’s economic growth, it has also created a trade deficit, with China being the primary beneficiary. Vietnam’s economic cooperation with China remains crucial for its development, but efforts to diversify its trade relations are important to reduce dependency and ensure a more balanced economic partnership.

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Trade Relations

China as Vietnam’s Largest Trading Partner

China’s role as Vietnam’s largest trading partner highlights the significance of their economic ties. Bilateral trade between the two countries reached $175.6 billion in 2022, with China being a major source of imports for Vietnam. The economic partnership between China and Vietnam has had a positive impact on both countries’ economies, creating opportunities for growth, job creation, and technological exchange. Sustaining and strengthening this trade relationship is crucial for both China and Vietnam to foster continued economic development.

Investments from China

China has made significant investments in Vietnam, with over $26 billion deployed across more than 4,000 active projects. These investments span various sectors, including manufacturing, infrastructure, energy, and agriculture. China’s investments have contributed to Vietnam’s economic growth and industrial development, creating employment opportunities and facilitating technology transfer. Vietnam’s openness to Chinese investments is a testament to the mutual benefits that both countries derive from their economic cooperation.

Previous Visit to Vietnam

2017 Economic Summit

President Xi’s previous visit to Vietnam in 2017 was for an Asia-Pacific economic summit held in the coastal city of Danang. The summit provided an opportunity for leaders from various countries to discuss economic cooperation and regional integration. President Xi’s participation in the summit highlighted China’s commitment to multilateral cooperation and its desire to strengthen economic ties with Vietnam and other regional partners. The 2017 economic summit marked an important milestone in the ongoing collaboration between China and Vietnam in promoting economic growth and regional prosperity.

In conclusion, President Xi Jinping’s visit to Vietnam holds great significance for both countries. It reflects China’s commitment to maintaining a comprehensive strategic partnership with Vietnam and its efforts to consolidate ties in the face of Vietnam’s strengthened relations with the US and Japan. This visit provides an opportunity for both countries to deepen cooperation in various sectors, promote economic growth, and strengthen regional stability. Vietnam’s balancing act, hedging against China while maintaining ideological alignment, underscores the complexity of its relationship with its large neighbor. Infrastructure agreements, trade relations, and previous visits further highlight the depth and breadth of the China-Vietnam relationship. As both countries navigate the evolving regional dynamics, their continued collaboration is crucial for peace, stability, and shared prosperity in the region.

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