Bilateral inter-party trust-building cements Beijing-Hanoi relations

By Gu Xiaosong Source:Global Times Published: 2017/1/11 0:13:40

On his first official overseas trip this year after being re-elected as the general secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) Central Committee at the country's 12th National Party Congress in January 2016, Nguyen Phu Trong will visit China from Thursday to Sunday at the invitation of Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee.

Nguyen is also the first foreign high-level political leader Beijing will receive this year. The visit signifies that both the CPC and CPV attach great importance to friendly developments in China-Vietnam relations through political exchanges in the past year such as Hanoi's historical and intensive visits to China by high-ranking officials including Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Defense Minister Ngo Xuan Lich and politburo member Dinh The Huynh.

In 2017, the year of the Rooster both in the Chinese and Vietnamese zodiacs, the two countries will mark the 67th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations on January 18, ahead of which the inter-party meeting and talks are set to produce significant advancements in bilateral rapport.

A good relationship between the CPV and CPC has played a supportive role to the Vietnam-China relationship. And this role has made the Hanoi-Beijing ties tenacious as well.

In history, there were fierce conflicts between the two countries and currently, they have maritime disputes in the South China Sea with Vietnam as a claimant of the islands in the region. Vietnam has claimed the most islands and reefs -29 - spread across the South China Sea.

Despite the disputes, CPV-CPC ties have functioned as a "safety belt" that is capable of pulling Hanoi and Beijing back after they drifted apart. After the international tribunal announced the arbitration for the South China Sea disputes in July 2016, Hanoi's approach was rational in cooling down the hype from the Western media with a view toward Sino-Vietnamese relations and the overall situation in the region, seeking to cooperate with Beijing.

The shift in diplomacy by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who is willing to set aside disputes in the waters with China, sets a good example for the other Southeast Asian countries, including Vietnam. National leaders from Southeast Asian countries like Malaysia, Myanmar and Cambodia also paid official visits to China in the second half of 2016 in an effort to advance ASEAN-China relations.

At the same time, the outgoing Obama administration has been pushing forward its "rebalancing" strategy in the region where the upcoming Trump administration, effective from January 20, will strengthen its predecessor's strategic cooperation with regional countries like the Philippines and Vietnam who are likely to keep practicing the strategy of "balance of power."

Aside from its endeavor to improve relations with China, Hanoi must deal with rising nationalism at home intermingled with anti-China and anti-Communism sentiment at times, which is adverse to the CPV's leadership itself, as well as the development of China-Vietnam relations. Vietnam's leaders must have realized the importance of the issue and they have spared no efforts in developing cooperation with China in politics, economy and culture.

China is the No.1 trade partner with Vietnam and Vietnam is also the biggest with China among ASEAN countries. The two countries have also enhanced cooperative control in the South China Sea situation in order to consolidate bilateral relations.

The CPV has reiterated that it is quite important for the government to cement the China-Vietnam friendship and cooperation and this cardinal policy has been prioritized in Vietnam's diplomacy.

In fact, the development of this bilateral relationship is constructive to not only China and Vietnam but also to peace and stability in the whole Asia-Pacific region.

Therefore, the CPV and CPC should dedicate their political advantages to a comprehensive cooperation covering the Party building, reform and opening-up and trade affairs, as well as investment, tourism and culture, in a bid to bring bilateral relations to a new level.

The author is a research fellow with Southeast Asian Studies at the Guangxi Academy of Social Sciences and vice president of China Society for Southeast Asian Studies.

Posted in: VIEWPOINT

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