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Vietnamese Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong speaks at a press conference in Hanoi. Nguyen Phu Trong, center, speaks during a press conference after his reelection as general secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam, Hanoi, Vietnam, Feb. 1, 2021 (AP photo by Minh Hoang).

China’s Growing Influence in Cambodia and Laos Has Vietnam on Edge

Monday, Nov. 1, 2021

In late September, the leader of Vietnam’s ruling Communist Party, Nguyen Phu Trong, invited his Cambodian and Laotian counterparts—Hun Sen, who is also Cambodia’s prime minister, and Thongloun Sisoulith, who is also Laos’ president—to Hanoi for a meeting. According to Vietnam’s official media, the three leaders talked about cooperation past and future, and the necessity of effective and close-knit relations among the ruling parties and governments of the three countries. 

Such a banal readout for a rare in-person meeting raised some eyebrows and fueled speculation. Writing for Asia Times, David Hutt reported that “analysts and observers saw the Hanoi-hosted talks as a significant move as Vietnam attempts to reassert influence over its two historic allies, which have increasingly turned to China in recent years.” ...

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