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Sunday, March 3, 2024

Diplomatic Conference in Hanoi brings world leaders together


Vietnamese General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong has lauded the enhanced relations with both the U.S. and China, marking notable achievements in the nation’s “bamboo” diplomatic strategy, which focuses on balancing ties with major global powers.

In the past year, Vietnam hosted U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping within a short interval, strengthening connections with the top two powers, both of which seek to engage with Vietnam, according to experts interviewed by VOA.

During the same period, Vietnam also elevated Japan to the status of one of its six comprehensive strategic partners, alongside the U.S. and China.

Addressing the 32nd National Diplomatic Conference on December 19 in Hanoi, Trong emphasized that Vietnam’s diplomatic tradition mirrors the essence of Vietnamese bamboo, characterized by “firm roots” and “flexible branches,” as reported by VCCI News.

According to Trong, Vietnamese diplomacy should be adaptive and flexible, aligning with the fundamental principles of being “firm in objectives, flexible in strategies and tactics.”

The concept of “bamboo diplomacy” was introduced by Trong in 2016, and Vietnam has actively pursued this approach to navigate global tensions since 2021.

The policy involves a delicate balancing act, with Vietnam sharing concerns with the U.S. over China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea while maintaining significant economic ties with China.

Experts, such as Hoang Viet and Dang Dinh Manh, highlight that Vietnam’s diplomatic moves reassure the U.S. and Japan that it is not overly aligned with China, while also affirming to China that Vietnam continues to maintain friendly relations.

Trade plays a pivotal role in Vietnam’s balancing strategy, with the U.S. being its largest export market and China as its primary import market.

Following the upgraded relations with the U.S. and China, Vietnam, positioned as a strategic player in global supply chains, anticipates a substantial influx of foreign capital. This is evident in visits by prominent figures like Jensen Huang, CEO of chipmaker Nvidia, expressing interest in establishing a base in Vietnam.

However, analysts caution about the limitations of Vietnam’s neutral approach, known as “Four No,” as the world becomes more polarized. Vietnam’s decision not to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its votes against suspending Russia from the U.N. Human Rights Council have raised concerns about its credibility on human rights issues.

Experts like Carl Thayer and Alexander Vuving suggest that Vietnam may face challenges in maintaining neutrality amid increasing competition between the U.S. and China.

Despite the potential stumbling blocks, General Secretary Trong emphasized the need for Vietnamese diplomats to stay vigilant in the face of complex and unpredictable global dynamics, urging them to be both persistent and flexible in diplomacy.

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