Why do Vietnamese leaders decide to upgrade diplomatic relations to highest level with United States?



On September 10-11, US President Joe Biden will visit Vietnam. Information before the visit shows that Vietnam and the United States are currently at the diplomatic relationship level of “comprehensive partnership,” potentially skipping the “strategic partnership” level, to move straight to the “comprehensive strategic partnership” level, the highest level of diplomacy.


As expected, when arriving in Hanoi, Mr. Biden will meet Vietnamese leaders to witness the signing of upgrading Vietnam-US relations, from the level of “comprehensive partnership” to the highest level of “comprehensive strategic partnership.


If true, this would be a notable breakthrough in bilateral relations, and a great leap forward. That would put the relationship between Washington and Vietnam on par with Hanoi’s relationship with Beijing and Moscow. It is known that in addition to Russia and China, Vietnam currently also has comprehensive strategic partnerships with India and South Korea.

According to Dr. Le Hong Hiep from the Southeast Asian Institute of Political Studies in Singapore, 2023 is the right year for Vietnam to upgrade its diplomatic relationship with the United States. Because the two countries are celebrating the 10th anniversary of establishing comprehensive partnership, this is one of the favorable reasons for the two countries to upgrade relations without causing unnecessary concerns from China. In such a scenario, any effort by Vietnam to strengthen relations with the US could still be seen by Beijing as Hanoi choosing sides with Washington to restrain Beijing.

That will be a big concern for Vietnamese leaders, facing punitive responses from China.

However, according to Mr. Le Hong Hiep, this is very unlikely, because the US-Vietnam “comprehensive strategic partnership” is just a politically meaningful statement, not the establishment of a military alliance between Vietnam and the US, to directly threaten China’s security. Furthermore, Beijing’s leadership still believes that, despite the South China Sea (East Sea) dispute, Hanoi’s leaders still value the relationship with China, based on the Communist ideological foundation of the two parties today.

So does Hanoi need to upgrade relations with the US, or does the US need to upgrade relations with Hanoi?

Most comments said that both countries want to upgrade bilateral diplomatic relations. But clearly, there are moves from the US side that show that President Joe Biden wants the US to be more proactive. Upgrading relations to the highest level with the US is considered to mean that Vietnam and the US are increasingly making efforts to work together more strategically. It is a common “longing” on both sides.

It is necessary that both the United States and Vietnam must cooperate closely, to prevent actions from dominating and bullying countries in the ASEAN region, such as the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam… who are countries having disputes with China in the East Sea area.

For a long time, Hanoi’s leadership has been considered hesitant in deciding to upgrade the relationship to a “strategic partnership” or to a “comprehensive strategic partnership” level with the US. Mainly because Hanoi fears a potential reaction from Beijing. However, analysts assess that, from a strategic standpoint, upgrading relations this time is completely reasonable for many reasons.

According to Voice of America – VOA, Mr. Nguyen Huu Vinh, blogger Ba Sam, said, “According to news leaked from behind the scenes, in order to reach the final decision in upgrading diplomatic relations with the US, The Politburo of the Communist Party of Vietnam “debated very fiercely in many sessions” and “The Politburo has a very firm consensus on upgrading relations with the US, but the only debate is how much to upgrade. During the meetings, the Politburo raised and put down two options: strategic partnership and comprehensive strategic partnership.”

What Mr. Nguyen Huu Vinh said was that this news leaked before Mr. Biden confirmed that Vietnam wanted to upgrade relations.


According to Mr. Vinh, for a long time, Vietnam’s leadership “has been hesitant to upgrade relations with the US, as if afraid of causing aggression against China, but the more Vietnam hesitates, the more pressure China exerts”  so “…Vietnam’s leaders, seeing the situation like that and seeing the people’s hearts like that, need to make a decisive decision.” Mr. Vinh praised this as a good thing and a “plus point” for the Vietnamese leadership, which shows that Hanoi is not afraid of Beijing’s reaction.


Mr. Liu Jianchao, Head of the Central Foreign Liaison Committee of the Communist Party of China, came to Hanoi to meet with General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong

The reactions of Chinese leaders before President Biden arrived in Hanoi were that to reaffirm the close relationship between the two parties, China and Vietnam. In addition, Reuters reported that it is possible that President Xi Jinping or Prime Minister Li Qiong will meet Vietnamese leaders, after Biden’s visit to Hanoi. This shows that Beijing is really concerned about the possibility that Hanoi is trying to cross the “red line” that China has set for Vietnam since ancient times. That is considered a major change in Vietnam’s diplomatic strategic trajectory. /.


Tra My – Thoibao.de


Kasse animation 7.8.2023