Vietnam’s Foreign Policy: In Search of a New Delicate Balance

Developments in the international affairs of Southeast Asia are generating considerable uncertainty and doubt among regional players, including Vietnam. Seeking a delicate balance between great powers, and among other regional states, is a necessity for Hanoi to keep Vietnam’s national interests and relationships with other countries undamaged.

Vietnam’s Need for a Post-Arbitration Policy

The July 12 judgement of the tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration regarding Manila’s case against Beijing’s South China Sea claims has reshaped the geostrategic landscape in Southeast Asia. But surprisingly, Vietnam has only issued a brief statement on the verdict, with Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Le Hai Binh saying that “Vietnam welcomes […]

Vietnam’s South China Sea Approach after National Congress

General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong was unanimously reelected during the 12th National Congress of Vietnam’s Communist Party, held January 21-28. Trong, who is less strident than other Vietnamese leaders in his criticism of Beijing’s behavior in the South China Sea, has been seen as leading the party’s more conservative, pro-Chinese faction. But many in Hanoi […]

The Other Gulf of Tonkin Incident: China’s Forgotten Maritime Compromise

China has nine maritime neighbors (including Taiwan) but no settled maritime boundaries, due in part to China’s unwillingness to specify its maritime claims. Only one partial exception to this imprecision exists: a boundary agreement with Vietnam to delimit the northern part of the Gulf of Tonkin and a fishery agreement establishing a joint fishing regime […]

Sophistry and Bad Messaging in the South China Sea

Chinese authorities, as well as sympathetic writers, have in recent months sought to deflect criticism of China’s island-building campaign in the Spratlys by insisting that Beijing is merely copying what other claimants have done for years. According to this narrative, every claimant is as guilty as Beijing of altering the status of features in the […]

Vietnam and the Philippines: Spoke-to-Spoke Alliances in the South China Sea

As far as China’s designs in the South China Sea are concerned, there is little sign of compromise on the horizon.  Not only has China openly declared its commitment to “active defense” of its interests in adjacent waters, and also dangled the option of imposing an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the area, but […]