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The Diplomatic Battle for Vietnam

Getty Images via The Financial Times

Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Vietnam on 12 December in a bid to strengthen the two nations economic and security relations. This comes after Vietnam leader Nguyen Pho Trong visited Beijing last year. There appears, however, to be a specific contest for Vietnamese loyalty between the two great powers.

US President Joe Biden visited Vietnam in September 2023 to upgrade US-Vietnam relations to “Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.” For Xi’s current visit, he aims to bring Vietnam into his “Community of Common Destiny”, an economic alliance which has increasingly focused on security issues.

Xi has described the relationship between China and Vietnam as “connected by mountains and rivers, as close as lips and teeth.” The Chinese leader has been clear in his commitment to furthering diplomatic relations with Vietnam as the US and China now sit on equal diplomatic terms with the South Asian country. The ongoing tensions in the South China Sea has seen many anti-Chinese protests from Vietnamese citizens, making Xi’s visit a somewhat unpopular one. 

Throughout the visit, Vietnam are to receive offers of Chinese technology, such as high-speed rail links from South China to Haiphong, Vietnam’s largest, rare materials deposit. Haiphong contains many components for the construction of electric vehicles, which China currently leads globally. The deal is not a sure one, however, as according to BBC correspondent Jonathan Head, “Vietnam has also been reluctant to accept Chinese investment under Mr Xi’s Belt and Road initiative.” In contrast, Joe Biden was “the first U.S. president to visit Vietnam at the invitation of the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam, Nguyễn Phú Trọng.”

Xi's visit is his first to Vietnam in six years and only his third as leader of China. 


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Tags: #World #China #US #Politics #Vietnam


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