A look at Vietnam’s recent diplomatic moves shows Hanoi increasingly diversifying and intensifying its relations with major powers, a pattern that should be seen as an effort by Hanoi to deal with a more forceful China.
Like many countries in the region, Vietnam is increasingly dependent on either direct or indirect economic links with fast-growing China. Furthermore, Vietnam’s political and economic system is similar to -- if not modeled after -- China’s. Maintaining a friendly relationship with their big neighbor is therefore the top priority of Vietnam’s leaders.
Both sides have officially pledged to build a comprehensive partnership, guided by the spirit of “good neighbors, good friends, good comrades and good partners.” Official statements notwithstanding, relations between these two communist comrades are not always smooth, as illustrated by the increased tensions that followed an incident in May when a Chinese Maritime Administration ship cut the cable of a Vietnamese vessel exploring energy resources in the South China Sea.