Beijing tries to bait Hanoi, competing for influence with Washington

Anti-China activists hold a demonstration in Hanoi in 2015

China donated more money and the COVID-19 vaccine to Vietnam after the US additionally gave Vietnam more than 2 million doses.

Vietnam’s state-controlled media on Thursday, December 2, reported that during the ongoing visit to China by Vietnamese Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi announced that China would give Vietnam aid of 20 million yuan (approximately $3.1 million) for “procurement, equipment, and supplies for epidemic prevention” and 500,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine.

Xinhua News Agency only has a brief report on the meeting between Mr. Wang Yi and Mr. Bui Thanh Son in Huzhou City, Zhejiang Province, China, on the aforementioned date. This news report quoted Mr. Wang Yi calling for the development of a “healthy and stable” comprehensive strategic partnership.

Xinhua News Agency quoted Mr. Bui Thanh Son as saying that Vietnam “always supports China to play a bigger role in international politics.” Xinhua said, “The two sides agreed to strengthen political leadership, deepen cooperation for mutual benefit, and enhance cooperation in response to the pandemic.”

The Vietnam News Agency wrote at a longer length, saying that Mr. Son boasted that despite the raging epidemic causing many obstacles, from the beginning of the year until now, “Senior leaders of the two parties and two countries have maintained regular contact, setting a great direction in cooperation between the two parties and two countries and creating an important driving force contributing to promoting exchanges and cooperation in all fields.”

As a result, “economic cooperation maintained a positive growth momentum with trade turnover in the first 10 months of the year reaching $133.65 billion, an increase of 30%, exceeding the turnover of the whole 2020. Both sides agreed that the fact that Vietnam and China strengthen comprehensive cooperation in various fields in accordance with the fundamental and long-term interests of the two peoples.

Beijing gave additional aid to Hanoi to fight the epidemic a week after Washington announced that it would donate 2 more million doses of COVID-19 vaccine to Hanoi, bringing the total number of vaccines the US has given to Vietnam to more than 20 million doses, as well as a large number of medical equipment to deal with the pandemic.

Just two days before Mr. Bui Thanh Son arrived in China, the Voice of Vietnam’s VOV newspaper published a report lamenting “China’s vagueness about its maritime militia to exercise a ‘gray zone’ in the East Sea.” Accordingly, they appear to be fishing boats, but “actually serve the military and political goals of this country.”

In mid-September, the Chinese foreign minister came to Hanoi, ostensibly co-chairing the Bilateral Cooperation Committee with the Vietnamese side. But in fact, Mr. Wang’s trip is a way of reminding Hanoi that the huge shadow of Beijing is nearby.

Previously, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and US Vice President Kamala Harris together came to Hanoi to invite to improve the relationship from “comprehensive partnership” to “strategic partnership.” News media reported that the US offered multifaceted support for Vietnam to deal with China in the East Sea dispute.

Beijing told the Global Times newspaper that Harris’s trip was “sowing discord” among countries in the region, saying Washington was pulling Hanoi into an anti-Beijing orbit.

Before Mr. Bui Thanh Son went to China, Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh – – also joined other ASEAN leaders in an online meeting with President of China Xi Jinping to hear him clarify that this country does not policy of “hegemony.” He alluded to what the US political and military leaders have long accused Beijing of relying on its powerful military and bullying small southern countries.

Before the US vice president came to Vietnam, for several years, Mr. Wang traveled around ASEAN countries but avoided going to Vietnam. The Hanoi-Beijing relationship, although outwardly still a “brother and brother“, trade is increasing, but Vietnam is under the pressure of China’s aggression in the East Sea issue. The oil and gas fields are dwindling, while renting a drilling rig to dig, China is hindered, even threatening to take over the positions that Vietnam is holding in the Truong Sa (Spratlys).

The meeting just took place between the two foreign ministers and the gifts show that Beijing is rushing back to Hanoi in an attempt to compete for geopolitical influence with Washington. Xinhua News Agency reported that Mr. Wang coaxed the Vietnamese foreign minister that the two sides should cooperate with each other and implement the consensus reached by the senior leaders of the two sides for a long time.

Those are just words that have been repeated for decades, even though they are quite stressful at times. (Translated)