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(Analysis) Vietnam and Diplomatic Balancing

2015-02-09 08:48:41       source:The Diplomat

By Khang Vu


February 08, 2015


"Last year witnessed growing tensions in the South China Sea between Vietnam and China, taking diplomatic relations between the two countries to their lowest point since the end of the Sino-Vietnamese War in 1979. In contrast, Vietnam and the United States have enjoyed significant developments in their ties, which will coincide this year with the 20th anniversary of diplomatic relations. Being directly threatened by China in the South China Sea, Vietnam needs a strong partner like the United States to help secure its sovereignty. Depending on China and America for different reasons, Vietnam finds itself needing to balance its diplomacy to effectively manage its relations with the two superpowers.


After the HD 981 incident, many analysts talked up relations between Vietnam and America. In the wake of the tensions, the two nations sent senior envoys to strengthen ties. Washington offered warm greetings to Hanoi Party Committee Secretary and Politburo member Pham Quang Nghi during his visit in late July, while for its part Hanoi welcomed a U.S. Senate delegation in early August led by Senators John McCain and Sheldon Whitehouse, and later the very first visit of a U.S. Army General since the Vietnam War. Later, in September, Hanoi dispatched its Deputy Prime Minister Vu Van Ninh to America for talks on enhancing bilateral trade and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. Most remarkably, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh's visit to America partially lifted the embargo on lethal arms sales to Vietnam. Clearly, Vietnam and America have broken new diplomat ground, but an alliance between the two countries is unlikely any time soon."


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