Vietnam’s Diplomatic Dance: A Look Into Its Global Stance

Vietnam, once a war-torn nation among the world’s poorest, has emerged as a powerhouse in the global arena. From its complex history with the U.S., Soviet Union, and China to its strategic diplomatic maneuvers, Vietnam’s journey is nothing short of remarkable.

Navigating through the shadows of past conflicts, Vietnam has transformed into a key player in the intricate game of international relations. Its ability to balance relationships with major powers like the U.S., Russia, and China showcases its adeptness on the diplomatic stage.

With a focus on economic development and global integration, Vietnam’s success story serves as a testament to the power of strategic diplomacy. From war-torn memories to economic prowess, Vietnam’s evolution is a lesson in resilience and adaptability in the face of global challenges.

As Vietnam continues to carve its path on the international stage, its diplomatic finesse and strategic partnerships set a shining example for nations seeking to assert their presence in the ever-changing landscape of global politics.

There is such a country that the President of the United States, our top leaders, and Putin of Russia are all rushing to visit.

It is not a big country, its geographical area is only equivalent to one of our provinces, and a few decades ago it was one of the poorest countries in the world that was prone to wars.

However, relying on its abundant labor force and excellent geographical location, it has attracted investment from many multinational manufacturing companies and has become the new world factory.

It is Vietnam, a country that can handle the game between China, the United States and Russia with ease and reap benefits everywhere.

01 Tough America

The Chinese have a very complicated view of Vietnam, because historically, it was once our vassal state and required tribute.

But in modern times, they have been fighting each other. The most recent one was in 1979. Although officials said it would end soon, in fact the disturbances in the border areas did not stop until many years later.

In addition to China, Vietnam has also fought against major powers such as France and the United States. The most famous one is the Vietnam War.

The war ended with the United States withdrawing its troops in disgrace. It was even called one of the most failed cases of the United States’ overseas military operations. At the peak of the U.S.-Soviet struggle for hegemony, the Vietnam War forced the United States, which had a clear offensive advantage, to be overwhelmed by the Soviet Union. Over the past decade, it is still controversial and has often become the butt of mutual attacks between the White House and Congress.

The entire Vietnam War began in 1955 and ended in 1975.

The United States lost a large number of soldier lives in the Vietnam War. According to statistics, the United States lost 46,266 soldiers during the Vietnam War, suffered 10,326 non-combat casualties, 153,311 wounded, and 5,486 missing or captured. In addition, the war cost more than $200 billion.

During the Vietnam War, large-scale anti-war movements and protests occurred in the United States, which led to social divisions and public dissatisfaction with the government.

The defeat of the war challenged the strategic position of the United States in the Cold War, forced it to shrink its global strategy, and at the same time deepened tensions with its allies. The Vietnam War severely damaged the international image of the United States, especially in Europe, where anti-American sentiment was rising.

The failure of the Vietnam War prompted the United States to re-examine its military strategy and overseas intervention policies, which affected U.S. decision-making and actions in subsequent conflicts.

The Vietnam War had a long-lasting impact on the political ecology and culture of the United States, and controversies and reflections on the war continued to be part of American social and political discussions for decades to come.

After the Vietnam War, the United States became more cautious in overseas military operations and was no longer as confident as before.

The Vietnam War caused many damages to the United States. It not only changed the United States’ foreign policy and military strategy, but also had a profound impact on the mentality and culture of American society.

In that turbulent era, Vietnam was known as the representative of a poor and tyrannical country because of its bellicosity.

02 Free switching between the United States and the Soviet Union

At that time, Vietnam dared to attack the United States and even sent troops to Cambodia because it had the strong support of the Soviet Union behind it.

During the Cold War, cooperation between Vietnam and the Soviet Union was very close and had a profound political, military and economic foundation.

On November 3, 1978, the Soviet Union and Vietnam signed the Soviet-Vietnam Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation in Moscow.

This treaty is in the nature of a military alliance and clarifies mutual support and cooperation between the two parties when attacked. Does it sound a bit like the current alliance between Emperor Pu and the Jin family?

Because of this treaty, Vietnam received significant military assistance in its cooperation with the Soviet Union, including ships and other military equipment, and the Soviet Union sent military advisors and technical teams to Vietnam to improve Vietnam’s defense capabilities. This significantly enhanced Vietnam’s military strength. Through the treaty, Vietnam obtained security guarantees from the Soviet Union, which provided support for its regional policies.

In addition to military cooperation, the Soviet Union also provided important support for Vietnam’s economic and technical cooperation, including infrastructure construction, education and training. The two countries also had in-depth exchanges in the fields of culture and education. The Soviet Union helped Vietnam cultivate a large number of professional talents.

In return, the Soviet Union obtained the use of important military bases such as Cam Ranh Bay in Vietnam, which strengthened the Soviet military presence in Southeast Asia. During the Cold War, Vietnam and the Soviet Union held similar positions on many international issues and coordinated on foreign policies.

Even after the end of the Cold War, relations between Vietnam and Russia (the successor to the Soviet Union) remained close and continued to cooperate in many fields.

In general, the cooperation between Vietnam and the Soviet Union during the Cold War was based on common ideologies and strategic interests. This cooperative relationship had a profound impact on the political landscape of the two countries and even the entire Southeast Asia region.

 However, siding with the Soviet Union was met with mixed success.

On the one hand, thanks to the support of the Soviet Union, Vietnam’s military strength increased rapidly and it defeated the United States. However, it also became hot-headed and expanded externally. In the end, it was beaten by the big powers next to it.

 Since then, Vietnam has begun to change its thinking and become more pragmatic.

There are two landmark events. One is in 1986, in the late Cold War, when Vietnam followed China and launched a Vietnamese version of reform and opening up, which they called reform and opening up. The second was in 1995, after the end of the Cold War, when Vietnam and the United States established diplomatic relations. normalization.

Especially after 1995, the relationship between the United States and Vietnam developed rapidly and was upgraded to a comprehensive partnership in 2013. In 2023, the two sides announced that they would upgrade their bilateral relations to a comprehensive strategic partnership committed to peace, cooperation and sustainable development.

Today, the United States has become an important trading partner of Vietnam, and economic and trade cooperation between the two countries has been strengthening. The U.S. Trade Representative, the head of the Agency for International Development, the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of the Treasury have successively visited Vietnam to seek to strengthen economic and trade exchanges. During US President Biden’s visit to Vietnam, the two countries announced to strengthen cooperation in cloud computing, semiconductors, artificial intelligence and other fields. NVIDIA’s Huang Jensen also visited Vietnam.

In addition to economy and trade, the United States also helps Vietnam improve its maritime military capabilities by donating military equipment, training Vietnamese military personnel, and inviting the Vietnamese military to participate in joint military exercises.

There are several cooperation projects in the field of education, including Fulbright University, the Peace Corps and the newly established Vietnam-US Cooperation Center. In addition, American culture has extensive influence in Vietnam, including American fast food, iPhones, Hollywood movies, etc.

Being able to switch smoothly between the United States and the Soviet Union also shows the pragmatism of Vietnam’s diplomatic line.

03 China-Vietnam interaction

 Regarding the big country next to it, China, Vietnam is also very active.

Now, China is Vietnam’s largest trading partner, and Vietnam is also China’s important trading partner within ASEAN. The two sides have close cooperative relations in trade and investment, and the trade volume is increasing year by year.

China has participated in a number of infrastructure construction projects in Vietnam, including transportation, energy and telecommunications; the two sides have in-depth cooperation in the agricultural field, including agricultural technology exchanges, agricultural product trade, etc.; China and Vietnam have cooperated in the fields of science and technology and education, including International student exchanges, scientific research cooperation, etc.

In regional and international affairs, Vietnam and China coordinate and cooperate under multiple multilateral frameworks, such as ASEAN, East Asia Summit, World Trade Organization, etc.

These cooperation not only promote the economic development of the two countries, but also deepen the friendship and mutual understanding between the two peoples. With the advancement of regional economic integration, the cooperative relationship between Vietnam and China is expected to further deepen.

After stepping on so many pitfalls, Vietnam finally figured out that the best strategy is to make good friends with big countries based on its own national interests and cooperate vigorously, such as vigorously promoting reform and opening up in the economy, attracting a large number of Foreign direct investment, especially in the fields of manufacturing, electronics, textiles and automobiles, has vigorously developed an export-oriented economy, with manufacturing and export trade becoming the main driving force for economic growth.

The GDP growth rate has exceeded 6% in many years, and even exceeded 7% in some years, becoming one of the bright spots in Southeast Asia and the global economy.

Even if cooperation is inconvenient in some areas, dignity is still maintained, such as receiving a high-level visit from the Russian president.

When it comes to emerging developing countries, Vietnam is often cited as a model. In addition to its geographical location and strategic value, it also lies in the Vietnamese government’s pragmatic national development and diplomatic strategies.

 In fact, there are many advantages of Vietnam.

For example, there is a big country nearby that has succeeded through reform and opening up. It has no problems in copying operations and saves a lot of time and cost in crossing the river by feeling for stones. Vietnam has sufficient conditions to undertake the industrial transfer caused by the game between big countries. For example, We are in one of the main waterways of global trade – the South China Sea, with endless coastlines, abundant cheap labor, cheap land resources, etc. As long as Vietnam opens its arms, it can reap all the dividends.

Riding on the strategic and trade express train of the United States’ return to the Asia-Pacific is also an important factor.

There is also Russia, although it has changed from the super power to the second one, and it has a tendency to slip into others. However, its strong military strength makes the world still dare not ignore its existence. Cooperation with Russia is also a necessary option to survive among major powers.

 It seems very simple, but in fact every step requires great wisdom.

04 Conclusion

Singapore’s former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew once made a very famous conclusion, saying that when Singapore was kicked out by Malaysia, as a small country, Singapore was in a precarious situation, and many people were not optimistic about Singapore’s future. However, Lee Kuan Yew took the initiative to integrate into globalization, laying the foundation for Singapore’s subsequent development into the Four Asian Tigers.

In fact, there is no way out for small countries to rely on their own efforts. They must actively integrate into the world and rely on big countries to achieve better development.

But the world is so big, you have to have unique advantages before others will accept you. With so many big countries, who to rely on is also a big problem. Moreover, in every historical period, the situation is different, and the needs of national development are also different. Sometimes politics takes the lead, sometimes the military is the most important, and sometimes the economy is the most important.

If we make the right judgment, follow the right path, and rely on the right big country, we will be able to survive for generations. If we are wrong, we will be in a state of catastrophe.

 Judging from the choices made in the past 20 years, Vietnam has made the right bet.

Economically, it moves closer to China and the United States and enjoys the dividends of global industrial transfer. In terms of security strategy, it also shuttles between China, the United States and Russia, accepting all comers and benefiting all three parties.

To put it bluntly, there are no eternal enemies or friends, only eternal interests.

 Embracing the world and letting the world accept you always has more advantages than disadvantages.

 This is true for small countries, but it is also true for big countries.

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