Davidson News

Davidson News

Xi Jinping’s State Visit to Vietnam Follows Strengthened Ties with the US

Chinese President Xi Jinping embarked on his first state visit to Vietnam in six years, seeking to bolster relations between the two communist nations. The visit comes at a time when Vietnam is expanding diplomatic ties with Western nations, including a recent visit by US President Joe Biden. Xi’s agenda includes discussions on the overall strategic direction of China-Vietnam relations and addressing international and regional concerns.

Landmark Agreements and Shared Concerns

During the state visit, both parties signed 37 agreements, covering various aspects, including trade and cross-border rail development. Notably, the two nations have agreed to conduct cooperative patrols in the Tonkin Gulf. Vietnam’s diplomatic approach, known as “bamboo diplomacy,” aims to maintain a delicate balance between its strong political and economic ties with China and shared concerns with the US regarding Beijing’s assertiveness in the South China Sea.

Navigating Complex Dynamics in Southeast Asia

While China has been reclaiming land in the South China Sea, leading to militarized islands, Vietnam shares overlapping claims in the disputed region. The US and Vietnam, during Biden’s September visit, jointly warned against the “threat or use of force” in the South China Sea. Xi’s visit emphasizes discussions on elevating China-Vietnam relations to a higher position, covering political, security, practical cooperation, public opinion formation, multilateral issues, and maritime concerns. Despite overlapping interests, the dynamics reflect the complex geopolitical landscape in Southeast Asia.

China holds a significant economic position in Vietnam, being its largest trading partner and contributing to a substantial portion of imports. With over $26 billion in investments and numerous ongoing projects, China’s economic influence in Vietnam remains substantial. Xi’s visit underscores the intricate balance Vietnam seeks to maintain in its foreign relations as it navigates the geopolitical complexities in the region.

Xi’s opinion piece in a Vietnamese newspaper highlighted the importance of a “community with a shared future” between China and Vietnam while cautioning against the rise of “hegemonism” in the world, subtly referencing the US. As the major powers vie for influence in Southeast Asia, the state visit marks a crucial moment in shaping the geopolitical landscape in the region.

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