Pompeo’s bid to bring Vietnam into ‘Asian NATO’ will not succeed
Published: Oct 29, 2020 09:38 PM

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a press briefing in Washington D.C., the United States, April 22, 2019. (Photo: Xinhua)

US attempt to bring Vietnam into the Asian version of NATO will get nowhere, as China's long-standing friendship with Asian countries will not be upset by a single visit from US officials, nor will Vietnam be willing to serve as cannon fodder for the US, Chinese analysts said on Thursday, after reports that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is adding Vietnam to his four-leg Asia tour.

Pompeo's destinations so far during his Asia tour were India, Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Indonesia. Vietnamese officials announced the news of Pompeo's visit on Wednesday afternoon.

Analysts viewed the surprise trip as a bid to persuade Vietnam, the current chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), to join the US anti-China campaign in Asia and solidify it as part of future US foreign policy due to uncertainty in the presidential election.

Pompeo's Vietnam tour suggests that Washington hopes to win the country to its side so as to encircle China in the South China Sea, Qian Feng, the director of the research department at the National Strategy Institute of Tsinghua University in Beijing, told the Global Times.

The surprise trip exposed Washington's opportunism in its anti-China strategy, which is a tempting choice when US President Donald Trump and his like view the uncertainties of the upcoming election and their own fragile political status, Qian added.

Vietnam hopes to use US momentum as a bargaining chip to support itself in the South China Sea, Qian added, noting that Vietnam's discordant voice is no substitute for ASEAN as a whole, and it will also selectively accept US rhetoric and avoid openly challenging China or publicly taking sides.

The disputes between China and Vietnam in the South China Sea can be negotiated, but this should be confined to the two neighbor countries, and the involvement of a third country will only exacerbate it, observers said.

China's long-standing friendship with Asian countries will not be upset by a single visit from Pompeo, nor will Vietnam be willing to act as cannon fodder for the US, said Shen Shishun, director of the Asia-Pacific Research Institute at the China Institute of International Studies.

"US attempt to bring Vietnam into the Quad and set up an Asian version of 'NATO' will never succeed," Shen told the Global Times.

As a member of ASEAN, if Vietnam chooses sides, it will lead to a very awkward situation, because none of the other ASEAN countries want to see that. Vietnam should not to make the mistake of judging that the US will put aside its ideological prejudices and differences with the Communist country. If it mistakenly believes this, it will have a major impact on Vietnam itself, experts warned. 

Vietnam should be wary because US involvement in regional issues since World War II has always ended in regional chaos and human suffering while the US looked on with folded arms, observers said.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and the US. During a meeting with US political and business figures on October 26, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said Vietnam has always regarded the US as one of its primary partners and hopes to further develop a comprehensive partnership, especially in the fields of the economy, trade, and investment.