Pull and Push: Sino-Vietnamese Relations and President Xi’s Hanoi Visit

[ISEAS Perspective] Chinese President Xi Jinping paid a state visit to Hanoi on 12-13 November 2017 after attending the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Danang. In a sense, the visit was remarkable as it was President Xi’s second visit to Hanoi within two years. In November 2015, when Mr Xi paid his first state visit to Vietnam as China’s supreme leader, bilateral relations were just recovering from the May 2014 oil rig crisis which sent bilateral ties to a record low in more than two decades. The 2017 visit appears, at least on the surface, to reinforce the trend of strengthening ties. However, the strategic context and the dynamics of bilateral ties have undergone important changes over the past two years, making it difficult to gauge the visit’s true significance to bilateral ties as well as the regional strategic landscape. Continue reading “Pull and Push: Sino-Vietnamese Relations and President Xi’s Hanoi Visit”

Making Deals: President Trump’s Visit to Vietnam

[ISEAS Perspective] 2017 has been an eventful and highly significant year for US-Vietnam relations. In May, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc became the first Southeast Asian leader to visit the White House under the Trump administration. Six months later, on 11-12 November, President Donald Trump paid a reciprocal state visit to Vietnam after attending the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Danang. Since Vietnam and the United States normalized ties in 1995, all American presidents have visited Vietnam during their term in office, but Mr Trump was the first to do so during his first year as president. Vietnam is also the first Southeast Asian country that Mr Trump has visited since his inauguration in February 2017. This is all the more significant considering that with President Barrack Obama’s state visit to Hanoi in May 2016, Vietnam has become the only Southeast Asian country since the end of the Cold War to receive two sitting US presidents in two consecutive years. Continue reading “Making Deals: President Trump’s Visit to Vietnam”

The Strategic Significance of Vietnam-Japan Ties

[ISEAS Perspective] The visit to Vietnam by Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko from 28 February to 5 March 2017 is a historical landmark in bilateral relations as it was the first visit by a Japanese monarch to the country. More notably, the visit took place just six weeks after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s trip to Hanoi in January 2017. While Mr Abe’s visit focused on boosting bilateral economic, political and strategic ties, Emperor Akihito’s helped promote Japan’s “soft power” in Vietnam and contributed to the strengthening of social and cultural connections between the two peoples. The two sides have extolled the positive outcomes of the visits, with Vietnamese officials praising the relationship as being “stronger than ever before”. Continue reading “The Strategic Significance of Vietnam-Japan Ties”

Obama’s Visit to Vietnam Gave Many Important Immediate and Long-term Outcomes

[ISEAS Perspective] US President Barack Obama’s official visit to Vietnam on 22-25 May 2016 marks yet another milestone in the improvement of Vietnam-US relations. What the two former Cold War enemies achieved during the trip has brought them closer together than ever before, thereby laying the foundation for a stronger and more substantive partnership. In particular, the higher level of mutual trust has made them more comfortable in pursuing closer security and defense cooperation, and holds significant implications for the whole region.

This essay assesses the visit’s major outcomes and their implications. It reviews recent developments in the maturing partnership between Vietnam and the United States; considers the most important economic, political and strategic outcomes of President Obama’s visit; and offers an in-depth analysis of the US lifting of its lethal arms embargo on Vietnam by examining the major reasons for Washington’s decision and its implications for bilateral relations and for the wider region. Continue reading “Obama’s Visit to Vietnam Gave Many Important Immediate and Long-term Outcomes”

Vietnam in 2015: Challenges Persist amidst Hope for Change

[Southeast Asian Affairs 2016] The year 2015 marked the eighty-fifth anniversary of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) and the fortieth anniversary of Vietnam’s reunification under its rule. After almost thirty years of economic transformation, Vietnam has achieved considerable progress in terms of socio-economic development, but challenges to the country remain substantial as the economy has not regained full steam since the 2008–9 slowdown. Politically, the CPV has also been faced with a testing period. Its performance-based legitimacy has been undermined, while popular support declined due to widespread corruption as well as various socio-economic problems that cast doubts on the efficiency and accountability of the state and party systems. In terms of foreign policy, Beijing’s increasing assertiveness in the South China Sea presents a major challenge for the party. While seeking to maintain a peaceful relationship with its northern neighbour, Vietnam also needs to look into new options to deal with the rising China threat. Continue reading “Vietnam in 2015: Challenges Persist amidst Hope for Change”

The TPP’s Impact on Vietnam: A Preliminary Assessment


Source: Lê Hồng Hiệp, “The TPP’s Impact on Vietnam: A Preliminary Assessment,” ISEAS Perspective, No. 63 Issue. 2015, 04/11/2015.


The conclusion of the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership (TPP) Agreement negotiations on 5 October 2015 has been hailed by the twelve participating countries as a landmark for regional economic integration. The agreement is also seen by many experts as having far-reaching regional and global strategic implications. As a member of the TPP, Vietnam will stand to benefit from the agreement both economically and strategically, but the country will also be faced with considerable challenges. How Vietnam will capitalize upon the opportunities and handle the challenges may shape the country’s economic, political and strategic trajectory for years to come. Continue reading “The TPP’s Impact on Vietnam: A Preliminary Assessment”

‘Biển Đông như vạc dầu sôi nhưng khó phun trào’


[Zing.vn] Trao đổi với Zing.vn, tiến sĩ Lê Hồng Hiệp, Viện Nghiên cứu Đông Nam Á (Singapore) cho rằng, căng thẳng trên Biển Đông gia tăng nhưng có thể coi đó là “sự căng thẳng lành mạnh”.

– Bộ trưởng Quốc phòng Mỹ Ash Carter xác nhận việc Hải quân Mỹ điều chiến hạm áp sát các đảo nhân tạo Trung Quốc bồi lấp phi pháp trên Biển Đông. Xin ông bình luận về ý đồ của Mỹ khi thực hiện kế hoạch này?

– Lập trường của Mỹ đối với vấn đề Biển Đông là Mỹ không đứng về bên nào trong các tranh chấp chủ quyền, nhưng yêu cầu tất cả các bên phải tôn trọng một nguyên tắc cốt lõi là tự do hàng hải. Nguyên tắc này không chỉ thiết yếu đối với sự thịnh vượng của khu vực nói chung mà còn có vai trò quan trọng đối với việc duy trì sức mạnh và ảnh hưởng quân sự của Mỹ nói riêng khi hiện nay Mỹ vẫn là cường quốc hải quân số một thế giới. Và Mỹ có nhu cầu duy trì quyền tự do tiếp cận các vùng biển theo các quy định luật pháp quốc tế hiện hành. Continue reading “‘Biển Đông như vạc dầu sôi nhưng khó phun trào’”

The Vietnam-US-China Triangle: New Dynamics and Implications


[ISEAS Perspective] CPV General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong’s recent visit to Washington has been praised by both sides as a “historic” landmark in bilateral relations (The White House, 2015). However, in order to gain a more nuanced evaluation of the visit’s significance, the visit needs to be considered within the broader regional context, and against the backdrop of recent changes in the Vietnam-US-China triangle.

This paper seeks to analyze the new dynamics in this triangular relationship and their implications. By adopting a three-level analysis approach, it will examine three of the most important factors at the systemic, national and sub-national levels which currently shape the relationship from a Vietnamese perspective. These factors are the increasing strategic competition between the US and China, the level of strategic trust between Vietnam and the two powers, and Vietnam’s domestic political and economic developments. Continue reading “The Vietnam-US-China Triangle: New Dynamics and Implications”

Động lực mới trong tam giác chiến lược Việt – Mỹ – Trung

Kerry announces now US maritime security aid to Vietnam

[Nghiencuuquocte.net] Chuyến thăm Washington gần đây của Tổng Bí thư Đảng Cộng sản Việt Nam (ĐCSVN) Nguyễn Phú Trọng được cả hai bên ca ngợi như một dấu mốc “lịch sử” trong quan hệ song phương (The White House, 2015). Tuy nhiên, để có một đánh giá sâu sắc hơn về ý nghĩa của chuyến thăm, chúng ta cần đặt nó vào bối cảnh khu vực rộng lớn hơn, trong đó có xét đến những biến đổi gần đây trong tam giác quan hệ Việt-Mỹ-Trung.

Bài viết này phân tích những động lực mới trong tam giác Việt-Mỹ-Trung và ý nghĩa của chúng. Thông qua cách tiếp cận ba cấp độ phân tích và từ góc nhìn của Việt Nam, bài viết xem xét ba yếu tố quan trọng nhất ở các cấp độ hệ thống quốc tế (systemic), quốc gia (national), và trong nước (subnational) đang định hình mối quan hệ ba bên. Những yếu tố này bao gồm sự cạnh tranh chiến lược ngày càng tăng giữa Mỹ và Trung Quốc, lòng tin chiến lược giữa Việt Nam và hai cường quốc, và các diễn biến chính trị và kinh tế trong nước của Việt Nam. Continue reading “Động lực mới trong tam giác chiến lược Việt – Mỹ – Trung”

The geo–politics of Vietnam–US rapprochement


[East Asia Forum] The General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam, Nguyen Phu Trong, is currently on an official visit to the United States. Later this year, President Obama is also expected to pay a return visit to Hanoi. The visits are among a series of notable events that mark the 20th anniversary of bilateral normalisation this year.

The development of bilateral ties between the two Cold War enemies over the past 20 years is impressive. The United States is currently Vietnam’s largest export market. In 2014, Vietnam’s US exports amounted to US$28.66 billion, accounting for almost one fifth of the country’s total exports. By 2014, the United States had also become the seventh largest foreign investor in Vietnam, with the stock of registered capital reaching more than US$10 billion. In terms of political and strategic ties, the two established a ‘comprehensive partnership’ in 2013. Continue reading “The geo–politics of Vietnam–US rapprochement”