Is Vietnam’s diplomacy smart before all great powers?

Will Vietnam have a “respectful side, a contemptuous side” when the General Secretary of the Communist Party of this country receives the foreign minister of a neighboring power, but did not hold a meeting with the US Vice President? This is a question asked by two news observers from Vietnam recently with BBC News Vietnamese.

Giving his comments to the BBC on September 13, 2021 from Nha Trang shortly after Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi finished his three-day visit to Vietnam, journalist Vo Van Tao said:

The fact that General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Nguyen Phu Trong did not receive Ms. Harris – Vice President of the US, but Chinese Foreign Minister Mr. Wang Yi showed that in foreign affairs, the leadership of the Communist Party of Vietnam still attaches great importance to China. That is, there is a problem in my opinion, which is the important side, the contemptuous side here.

This is further demonstrated when Vietnamese President Nguyen Xuan Phuc talked with Ms. Harris, she suggested the two countries to upgrade bilateral ties to strategic partnership but Phuc avoids that idea, saying that the content of cooperation is the important thing, the name and the form are not important.”

However, Vietnam has established a comprehensive strategic partnership with China, Russia and India. In addition, 14 countries are strategic partners; 13 countries including the US are comprehensive partners.”

Mr. Nguyen Phu Trong himself, in 2015, as General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam, visited the US and was received by President Obama and officially treated with dinner by then Vice President Biden. Why can’t he spend time to receive the Vice President of the United States, who came from far distance? I personally find that very regrettable.”

The public wondered why?

US Vice President Kamala Harris meets with Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh at the Office of the Government of Vietnam in Hanoi on August 25, 2021.

And from Hanoi, Assoc. Dr. Hoang Ngoc Giao, Director of the Institute of Policy, Law and Development (PLD) under the Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Associations (Vusta) commented:

I also hear in the public questioning and wondering about this, they ask whether there is taking side?”

And I think that it is possible that the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam to receive Mr. Wang Yi because Wang is also a senior official in the leadership of the CCP, is a Foreign Minister and a State Councilor, and maybe that is to say relations between the two neighboring Communist parties, while Ms. Kamala Harris is the Vice President of the cabinet of the government and the executive wing of the United States.”

However, there were also people who questioned why former President Barack Obama received Mr. Nguyen Phu Trong. And I also remember that on that occasion President Obama declared that the United States respects Vietnam’s political system, and this assertion of the US government was also repeated by the Vietnamese mainstream press during the Vice President’s recent visit to Hanoi.

On the US side, it is also understood that the head of Vietnam is the General Secretary, and to promote the relationship between the two countries for more trust, the US worked without precedent as the US President received the Vietnamese leader. I think Mr. Trong was able to receive Mr. Wang Yi, then except for some reasons as I mentioned above such as health, personal or other special emergencies, he should have welcomed the Vice President of the United States.”

‘Putting the two-party relationship seriously’

On September 11, the Voice of Vietnam website reported that General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Nguyen Phu Trong received Mr. Wang Yi, saying at the meeting:

“General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong welcomed Comrade Wang Yi and the delegation visiting Vietnam; congratulated and highly appreciated the results of the 13th meeting of the Steering Committee for bilateral cooperation between Vietnam and China on the occasion of the official visit of Wang. Trong expressed his hope that the visit will make a positive contribution to promoting cooperation between the two countries in the coming time.”

General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong congratulated the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China and the 72nd anniversary of the National Day of the People’s Republic of China, affirming the friendly neighborly relationship and comprehensive strategic cooperation partnership between Vietnam and China; highly appreciating the positive progress in the relations between the two parties and the two countries over the past time as well.”

The General Secretary suggested the two sides continue to strengthen high-level contacts in the coming time, consolidate the friendship and political trust between the two sides; improve the efficiency of cooperation mechanisms between the two parties, increase strengthen the exchange of experiences on Party building and national management…”

From Nha Trang, commenting on the BBC about the purpose of Mr. Wang Yi’s visit to Vietnam, freelance journalist Vo Van Tao said:

It is not difficult to realize the essence of Wang’s visit to Vietnam in order to entice Vietnam from the tendency to move closer to the US and for China’s strategic interests in its ambition to expand globally with the so-called One belt, One road.”

Of course, in the context of a pandemic across the planet, where it is extremely difficult for countries that cannot produce their own vaccines, vaccine diplomacy is a tactic to increase China’s soft power to serve its expansion strategy.”

Not only the vaccine in the immediate future, Mr. Waong Yi also promises to support Vietnam in many aspects. However, in the East Sea (South China Sea), China is still aggressively bullying small and weak countries, especially Vietnam. It is a very sinister ‘carrot and stick’ policy that, in my opinion, Vietnam, the government and the people need to be wary of.”

‘Wise, not rigid’

From Hanoi, Assoc. Dr. Hoang Ngoc Giao, who was also the Deputy Director of the Border Department of the Government of Vietnam, further commented:

I also heard many opinions from the public about the purpose of Mr. Wang Yi’s visit to Vietnam, in which I read that some people said that Wang’s visit aimed at least 3 goals that Vietnam needed. That vigilance is to continue to exercise vaccine diplomacy that only benefits and magnify China’s prestige; to push forward the further implementation of their ambitious Belt and Road (BRI) strategy in Vietnam and the region; and then placate Vietnam in the face of the people’s frustrations and the authorities’ concerns about China’s recent aggressive actions in the South China Sea, while there is still no sign that China will stop its encroaching aggression step by step, and threat Vietnam’s sovereignty over sea and islands in the region.”

Actually, I also have a part of that thought, I think this visit is not on the initiative of the Vietnamese side, but has a great possibility set by China and can be imposed, in that case the active side always prepares their content to bring to the talk.”

I take this opportunity to reiterate that during the length of Sino-Vietnamese relations, especially in the past one or two decades, China has always forced the Vietnamese leadership to implement the ten agreements that Vietnam has signed with China, including the agreements that Mr. Nguyen Phu Trong when joining the leadership of the party and the state of Vietnam has signed, committed, and agreements with China in recent years, it is certain that Wang Yi now as well as his predecessor a few years ago when he contacted or visited Vietnam, he would always rely on it to remind and force Vietnam more.”

I also think that Wang Yi also reminded Vietnam to be wary of the US, not to let the US take advantage and of course not except them to deter Vietnam in terms of economy, trade, finance, aid, if If you will do this, you will get that, because this time Vietnamese officials also asked China to support a vaccine against Covid-19, and then create conditions for Vietnam’s exports to China, especially through the trade border gates at the northern border, which China has shown to be quite arbitrarily ‘closed, opened and sanctioned’ for a long time with Vietnam, because Vietnam depends a lot on economy, trade, trade with China.”

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi will visit four Asian countries in September 2021, starting with a visit to Vietnam from September 10-12 and followed by Cambodia, Singapore and South Korea.”

In short, as in folklore and public opinion, China always maintains a soft and firm attitude, when needed, pats and pulls, when something is uncomfortable or unsatisfactory, they come to correct it, remind, even pressure, threaten in many ways to the leaders of Vietnam.”

By the way, I think that Vietnam has just received the Vice President of the United States, the US Secretary of Defense in the Biden administration, and the Japanese Defense Minister Kishi Nobuo for an official visit, besides many diplomatic relations and exchanges. Diplomatic exchanges with partners, powers, countries and other important blocs in the region and the world, are moves and actions that are not only tactical and wise, but also strategically balanced. before China and China’s ambitions for the region, including the South China Sea and Southeast Asia.

The policy of diversification and multilateralization in that direction is wise and needs to be continued, while Vietnam’s four-nos policy should also be understood by China that if too much pressure is applied, Vietnam can completely calling on friends and other partners to support so that Vietnam can help itself to protect its national sovereignty and legitimate sovereign rights, rather than being passive and rigid,” Hoang Ngoc Giao told BBC from his own point of view.

It is known that during this visit to countries in Asia, Chinese Foreign Minister and State Councilor Wang Yi made official visits to Vietnam, Cambodia, Singapore and South Korea. (Translated)


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