15.5 C
Friday, September 22, 2023

Biden’s Vietnam Visit: A Deep Dive into Geopolitical Implications

ChinaBiden's Vietnam Visit: A Deep Dive into Geopolitical Implications

U.S. President Joe Biden’s recent rendezvous with Nguyen Phu Trong, the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Central Committee (CPVCC), has stirred significant media attention. Many regard the meeting as symbolic of Vietnam elevating Washington to its top-tier diplomatic echelon. However, some argue the implications might not be as profound as they seem.

High-Profile Visit or Symbolic Gesture?

Chinese experts have been especially vocal, interpreting the visit as mainly symbolic. They emphasize that the intertwined inter-Party connections between China and Vietnam are deep-rooted, overshadowing any potential state-to-state links between Vietnam and the U.S. They argue that the real regional growth hinges on the close-knit supply chains binding China and Vietnam.

Fresh from the G20 Summit in India, Biden’s stopover in Hanoi lasted 24 hours. Notably, it marked his first visit to the Southeast Asian nation, which once stood as a wartime adversary. Several U.S. mainstream media outlets construe this visit as a strategic move to counterbalance China’s regional clout. Additionally, there’s speculation that the U.S. aims to lessen its reliance on China’s supply chain by diversifying through the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF).

According to Reuters, the visit proved fruitful with Biden inking deals on semiconductors and minerals. These accords align with the U.S.’s long-standing ambition to insulate global supply chains from potential risks associated with China.

Unraveling the Strategic Dance

The U.S. has been unambiguous about its Indo-Pacific strategy targeting China’s dominance. It’s evident in its endeavors to court Vietnam as a potential ally, albeit in a limited capacity. However, Vietnam treads cautiously. The nation doesn’t regard its association with China as being in contention with its budding relationship with the U.S. This perspective is shared by various Chinese experts.

There’s a consensus that the U.S.’s South China Sea stance seeks to sow discord between China and its neighboring nations. Some even contend that the U.S. harbors aspirations of coaxing nations into confrontations with China.

When Biden landed in Hanoi, CNN delineated the trip as another chapter in the U.S.’s Indo-Pacific narrative, underscoring the elevation of bilateral ties. But nuances abound. A New York Times exposé hinted at Vietnam clandestinely procuring arms from Russia, bypassing U.S. sanctions.

Xu Liping, an expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, opines that while Vietnam might be looking to amplify its voice regionally by strengthening ties with the U.S., the latter views Vietnam as a strategic pawn to counter China’s influence. However, Xu contends that any U.S. support for Vietnam concerning the South China Sea dispute would be primarily symbolic, given Vietnam’s multiple territorial contentions in the region.

The U.S.’s stance is elucidated by Kurt Campbell of the National Security Council, who labels Vietnam as a “swing state.” Meanwhile, Matthew Pottinger from the Trump era perceives strengthened U.S.-Vietnam ties as a tactic to exert pressure on China.

Yet, Huang Renwei, from Fudan Institute for Belt and Road and Global Governance, clarifies that a full-fledged military alliance with the U.S. isn’t on Vietnam’s agenda. He cites Vietnam’s socialist and communist roots as potential barriers to an over-aligned relationship with the U.S.

Interplay of Economics and Politics

Vietnam’s economic landscape also plays a part. Its booming exports to the U.S. are intricately linked with China. Huang highlights that Vietnam’s economic surge mirrors China’s industrial transitions.

Reinforcing the bond, a recent interaction between Vietnam’s Nguyen Phu Trong and China’s Liu Jianchao emphasized the paramount importance of Sino-Vietnamese relations. Xu Liping draws a distinction between the U.S.-Vietnam state-to-state relationship and the more profound inter-Party dynamics between China and Vietnam.

The Supply Chain Conundrum

Heralded by the U.S. as a primary partner within the IPEF, Vietnam is expected to diversify supply chains, with a focus on semiconductors and rare minerals. But could Vietnam genuinely supplant China in these global supply chains?

Gu Xiaosong of Hainan Tropical Ocean University argues that overestimating Vietnam’s role might be premature. Given its developmental challenges, Vietnam might lag behind China’s semiconductor industry for at least a decade.

Vietnam’s aspirations are nuanced. It wishes to harness U.S. support but remains wary of becoming overly reliant or influenced by any dominant external force. Moreover, Ge Hongliang of Guangxi University notes that the intricate supply chain interdependence between China and Vietnam remains pivotal for the region, transcending any potential U.S.-Vietnam collaboration.

In summary, while Biden’s Vietnam visit illuminates evolving geopolitics, discerning the deeper intricacies is vital. The interplay of diplomacy, economics, and regional dynamics paints a multifaceted picture, underscoring the need for nuanced interpretations.

Read More:

Check out our other content

Check out other tags:

Most Popular Articles