Will Vietnam hold a Trump-Kim summit?

Source:Global Times Published: 2019/1/15 19:46:58

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

According to a report by the Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun, the US may suggest to hold the second US-North Korea summit in Vietnam next month.

What should be the consideration while choosing a venue for the talks? First, the spot should have the facilities to host such a high-level event and possess advanced electronic and communication infrastructure for live broadcasts. 

Second, because of flight range restriction, it should be within 7000 kilometers from Pyongyang.

Third, the place should be able to secure the safety of the US and North Korean delegation.

Fourth, the nation should not be so powerful to steal the show, since Trump used to be a host before and wants to stand out and North Korea also hopes to attract global attention.

Fifth, it is supposed to be a developed country or one which is developing on a promising track.

Furthermore, politically, the nation should be on normal diplomatic terms with both Washington and Pyongyang, and hostile to neither. 

Vietnam can meet all the requirements. There are top class hotels in the nation, which can comfortably accommodate delegation members. Hanoi has the experience of holding international events like the APEC forum. The distance from Pyongyang to Hanoi is within Kim's flying range. Vietnam is a one-party state, so it is easy to ensure security. Hanoi's achievements in Southeast Asia are remarkable though it is not as developed as Singapore. It is considered one of the new Asian tigers, with economic growth of 7.08 percent last year. And Vietnam is not so high-profile that it won't steal the show from Trump and Kim. 

There are still some conflicts on issues such as human rights between Washington and Hanoi, but generally, ties are normal as the Southeast Asian country has improved relations with the US, receiving support, especially on the South China Sea dispute.

Both Vietnam and North Korea are socialist states. Contradictions existed in the past between the two nations as the latter supported China against Vietnam, but that was decades ago. Currently, they maintain normal relations.

Additionally, at the end of last year, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho visited Hanoi.  Last year, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he hoped North Korea could emulate Vietnam. According to South China Morning Post, Kim expressed his intention to follow Vietnam's economic example. Compared to China, which is a much larger country, Vietnam's experience may fit small and middle countries like North Korea. Hence, Hanoi's experience may make it deserving of Kim's visit.

Hosting such talks could improve Hanoi's global image. Ties between North Korea and the US have been relaxed to some extent, but the hostility has not been completely removed. Vietnam will attract worldwide attention by holding the landmark event that involves negotiating vital issues like denuclearization. Hanoi will be able to earn global trust and utilize the opportunity to showcase its achievements.

Singapore spent around S$16.3 million hosting the historic summit. Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said, "It is a cost we are willing to pay" and "if you calculate the price of everything in this world, you will miss out the real important things". Vietnam may hold a similar view.

A second Trump-Kim summit may not as crucial as the first one, but it is still important. It can also prove that the host country is a reliable nation in the international community. Unlike great powers which have more opportunities to host high-level international events, for small and medium-size nations like Vietnam, it will prove valuable. 

Mongolia is also a potential candidate which enjoys good relations with the US and both Koreas. However, it is not as developed as Vietnam. Therefore, it may lack infrastructure and the ability to ensure security. 

When determining the venue for the summit, varied elements are taken into account and it is challenging to select a country that meets all requirements. If there is no better option, Singapore may be the host for a second time.

The choice of Hanoi is still a conjecture. It is likely that security considerations would have forced the US and North Korea to confuse the public on purpose and then select another site. 

The article was compiled by Global Times reporter Lu Yuanzhi based on an interview with Yang Mian, a professor at the Institute of International Relations of the Communication University of China. luyuanzhi@globaltimes.com.cn


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