Xi Jinping strengthens China-Vietnam relations following US push.


China’s President Xi Jinping began a state visit to Vietnam on Tuesday, praising the security and commercial relations between the two countries. Xi Jinping strengthens China-Vietnam relations following US push. Vietnam has emerged as a vital global supply center for Chinese manufacturers and Western companies diversifying away from China.

Additionally, the Chinese president’s trip, his third since becoming general secretary of the Communist party over a decade ago, aimed to counter the strengthening ties between the United States and Vietnam, further exacerbated by President Joe Biden’s September visit to the country.

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Vietnam is China’s largest trading partner in ASEAN [the Association of Southeast Asian Nations], and China has been Vietnam’s largest trading partner for a significant period of time, Xi said in a “signed article” that was published in Vietnamese state media prior to the visit and was subsequently cited by China’s news agency Xinhua.

Xi further underscored the importance of diplomatic ties with China’s neighbor, notwithstanding their historical hostility. “Xinhua quoted him as saying, “Only through the development of all nations can they construct an Asian homeland characterized by tranquility, prosperity, aesthetics, and amicable coexistence.”

Xi’s first visit in six years occurred amidst strained relations between the two nations concerning territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

Rapid economic growth has ensued between the two nations, culminating in Asean, a regional organization comprising Indonesia, Singapore, and Thailand, surpassing the United States and the European Union to become China’s largest trading partner.

In September, Vice President Bidena elevated the bilateral relationship with Vietnam to the level of “comprehensive strategic partnership” status previously limited to China, Russia, India, and South Korea, according to Hanoi. Vietnam had averted the action for an extended period out of concern that it would anger Beijing.

“Vietnam has established high-level strategic partnerships with both the United States and China, with which it fought wars in the past; this is a diplomatic masterclass,” said Huong Le Thu, deputy program director for the International Crisis Group in Asia.

According to Vietnam’s state media, the two nations were reportedly anticipated to sign “dozens” of agreements about national defense and security, maritime cooperation, commerce, investment, agricultural exports, and other sectors.

As reported by Xinhua, Xi enumerated the domains in which China and Vietnam conduct business together, which included the Hanoi Light Rail Line 2, an undertaking purportedly financed through loans allocated under Beijing’s Belt and Road infrastructure initiative.

The inauguration of cross-border trains between the two nations, the development of ports, and the establishment of a “photovoltaic industry cluster” by Chinese firms in Vietnam were also emphasised by Xi.

Vietnamese support for Beijing’s additional geopolitical endeavours, such as the global security and global civilization initiatives, was underscored. These campaigns aim to undermine what China refers to as American “hegemony” through the mobilisation of non-aligned nations’ backing for a more multipolar global order.

Le Tru remarked, “The visit occurs at an intriguing time, as China attempts to garner more support for the Belt & Road Summit and the Global Security Initiative, both of which appear to have lost their sheen.” “Xi Jinping will exploit Vietnam’s Party Secretary General Trong’s apparent affinity with the Communist Party,” she said.

Recent territorial disputes in the South China Sea between China and the Philippines, according to her, provide Beijing with “yet another reason to play nice with another Southeast Asian neighbour in order to present a more unified Southeast Asia.”Please utilise the sharing tools accessible through the share icon located at the article’s top or side. Sharing copies of articles violates the terms and conditions and copyright policy of FT.com. To purchase further rights, please contact [email protected]. A maximum of ten to twenty articles may be shared monthly by subscribers via the gift article service. 

The improvement in relations coincides with analyst assessments that Vietnam is increasingly serving as a pivotal centre for Chinese manufacturers seeking to reduce geopolitical risk or circumvent US sanctions on Chinese products. According to a paper by Laura Alfaro and Davin Chor of the National Bureau of Economic Research, this was the case for both Chinese and Western-owned businesses.

Although the United States received nearly a quarter of Vietnam’s exports, the country imported more from China, according to the newspaper. Analysts believe that Vietnam processes and reexports a significant quantity of Chinese imports.

The paper stated that China’s imports increased from 9% of total imports in 1994 to approximately 40% in 2022. The paper reported that textiles, integrated circuits, and telephone sets were the primary imports.