Why are Vietnamese leaders under great pressure before Xi Jinping’s visit to Hanoi?

US President Joe Biden and General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong in Hanoi in September 2023

The atmosphere is boring before the state visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Vietnam, scheduled for December 12-13. This is completely different from the excitement of the Vietnamese public before, during and after US President Joe Biden’s visit to Hanoi, in mid-September 2023.

According to Xinhua News Agency, Xi Jinping will visit Hanoi, at the invitation of two Vietnamese leaders, General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong and President Vo Van Thuong. At the same time, in response to the previous visit to China by the head of the Communist Party of Vietnam Nguyen Phu Trong, in November 2022, right after the Communist Party of China concluded its 20th Congress.

Observers commented that Vietnam’s state-controlled media reported on this visit sporadically and evasively. Although Vietnam – in the role of host – is also a “four good” brother and comrade, according to the commitment between the two parties.

BBC said that in the news related to the visit of the head of the Chinese Party and state, Vietnamese leaders were unusually cautious.


Previously, Bloomberg news agency reported similar news, citing anonymous sources in Vietnam, saying that President Xi may visit Hanoi on December 1213.”

However, until the afternoon of December 7, some Vietnamese newspapers initially only saw the title about the visit on the Internet, but when readers clicked on it, no specific news appeared.”

Meanwhile, Western news agencies and some Southeast Asian newspapers reported on this visit, with information that surprised Vietnamese people, such as “the two sides agreed to upgrade the railway route from Rare earth mining area in Northern Vietnam, to seaport also in the North of this country.” And it is unclear whether the above upgraded train route is called part of the BRI by both sides or not?

What was just mentioned is said to be the result of the two-day visit to Hanoi by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi last week.

According to Reuter, specifically regarding the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the Chinese side said that previously, the two sides had reached an agreement on a number of projects in Vietnam that are part of this project. But up to now, Vietnamese state media has not mentioned it at all.

According to observers, these agreements are an extremely sensitive issue for the Vietnamese public. The distrust of most Vietnamese people towards China comes not only from disputes in the East Sea, but also from historical experience, through Beijing’s investment projects.

The Cat Linh-Ha Dong elevated railway project is a bitter example for the leadership and people of Vietnam. Specifically, the Cat Linh-Ha Dong railway was signed by Vietnam and China in 2008, before the BRI was born, and is expected to be put into use in 2016.

The railway was invested and built with Chinese ODA loans, with a total investment of $552.86 million (VND 8.77 trillion), in 2008. Of which, preferential loans from China were $419 million. However, in reality, the total investment after adjustment, as of 2019, is $868.04 million (VND18 trillion, an increase of VND9.23 trillion), of which the loan capital is from China. is $669.62 million (more than VND13.8 trillion).

But it will not be until the end of 2021 that the Cat Linh – Ha Dong railway line will be completed. This project has faced harsh criticism from government officials and citizens, as costs skyrocketed and progress stagnated, causing Vietnam to incur a relatively large interest debt with China.

The results of the “State of Southeast Asia Survey 2023” show that two-thirds of Vietnamese respondents do not trust China’s Global Security Initiative.

Nikkei Asia revealed that during President Xi Jinping’s upcoming visit to Vietnam, it is expected that Vietnam and China will negotiate on railway-related projects; discuss rare earths; and the issue of “Community with a shared destiny.”

Officials from Hanoi told Nikkei that Vietnam must seek harmony and balance between the competition between Beijing and Washington. Especially, when Xi Jinping’s trip took place not long after US President Joe Biden’s visit to Hanoi. Sources also said that Vietnam is ready to cooperate with both powers America and China for the reason, “We cannot refuse anyone.”

In the upcoming comments on Mr. Xi Jinping’s visit to Hanoi, Thoibao.de will introduce to the audience the content: The two sides Vietnam and China will negotiate on related investment projects related to railways; will discuss how to manage and exploit rare earths.

And especially, is it possible that Vietnam will join the “Community of Shared Destiny” with China?

Thoibao.de (Translated)