Vietnam-US bond less rosy than it appears

Source:Global Times Published: 2015-7-8 0:58:09

Nguyen Phu Trong, general secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam, is visiting the US from Monday to Friday. Western media have overly interpreted his visit from a geopolitical perspective. They consider the tour as a joint diplomatic ritual by the US and Vietnam against China and also another US victory in countering China strategically.

Some US observers and public intellectuals may want to include Vietnam in the US's camp against China. This target seems to be always just on the horizon, but forever unreachable.

Washington wants Hanoi to coordinate with its rebalance to the Asia-Pacific and enhance its pressure on China, while Hanoi hopes inching closer to Washington can help it deal with Beijing over the South China Sea dispute. But this doesn't represent the entirety of the US-Vietnam relationship.

Vietnam has undergone increasing political pressure that has originated in the US, which poses a long-term challenge to its stability. Deep inside, Vietnam wants to move closer to the US, while holding back somewhat, hence it is unlikely to completely embrace the US as the Philippines does.

It's natural that Vietnam develops its relations with the US. The US has wide clout in Southeast Asia and is one of Vietnam's largest export destinations, and meanwhile Vietnam has to address the West's political penetration. In this case, keeping sound relations with the US will serve Vietnam's national interests. This expectation will be strengthened by the current South China Sea dispute.

However, while Vietnam considers China is a challenge to its national security, it also enjoys the economic driving force from China as well as support from China's communist system.

Like China, Vietnam's primary strategy is to promote economic and social development and it will be an optimal result for Vietnam if this strategy doesn't go against the South China Sea disputes.

China need not make a fuss as Vietnam and the US develop normal relations. In this globalized time, no bilateral relationship is exclusive. It would be an exaggeration to say that better relations between China's neighbors and the US mean China is losing ground.

The closer ties between Vietnam and the US are partly aimed at China, which will entail countermeasures from China. This will bring pressure on the three sides, but as it evolves, Vietnam may become the one that suffers most.

So far, no country has benefited from inviting the US to weigh in on its disputes with China. In fact, this will be doomed to failure.

Posted in: Editorial

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