The leader of China, Xi Jinping, has recently made an official visit to Vietnam where he met with the ruling Communist Party leaders in Hanoi. Xi praised the relationship between the two countries and pledged to take it to the next level. Several business agreements were signed during this visit, highlighting the significance given that these two countries are not just neighbors but also share the same political ideology. However, their relationship is more complex than it seems.
Three months earlier, Vietnam was visited by US President Joe Biden, successfully elevating America's relationship with the Southeast Asian nation to a strategic partnership. Then, a few weeks ago, Japan followed suit. From this perspective, Xi's offer to Hanoi might not seem as compelling, but it represents one of the many efforts by major countries to win over Vietnam, a nation with geopolitical significance contributing to the power struggle in the Asia-Pacific region.
### 5 Reasons Vietnam is Contested by the US and China
1. Shared Ideology, but Different Interests
While Vietnam is a communist country, its relationship with Beijing isn't necessarily friendly. Despite deriving cultural, philosophical, and technological elements from China, Vietnam's national identity has always been rooted in being distinct from China and not politically dominated by it. "Vietnam, like many Asian countries, gained cultural, philosophical, and technological capital from China, yet its national identity has always been about being different from China and not politically dominated by China. Ideology is irrelevant in Vietnam," said political analyst Timur Fomenko as reported by RT.
2. Resistance to Chinese Hegemony
Vietnam recognizes China as its most important economic partner but endeavors to avoid 'Chinese hegemony.' This is not just historical but also a modern concern. "In 1978, China invaded Vietnam to break its alliance with the Soviet Union and assert dominance over Vietnam," Fomenko explained.
3. Contention in the South China Sea
Additionally, both countries have competing claims in the South China Sea, a contested waterway with crucial shipping routes and resources. From Hanoi's perspective, this has led to a non-aligned foreign policy aimed at attracting various foreign powers, including the United States, to maximize its strategic gains.
4. Complex History with the US
Some might wonder how Vietnam could appeal to the US considering their history. Can Hanoi trust Washington? "Vietnam seems confident in its relationship with the US, despite atrocities during the Vietnam War, as Hanoi won the conflict in its own way and reunified the country," Fomenko clarified.
5. Desire for Economic Growth
Given these dynamics, Washington is now negotiating as it sees Vietnam as a partner in countering China. Of course, Hanoi has ideological and political reasons to be wary of this, and the White House will never be an outright 'ally.' However, what the US offers is an opportunity to accelerate Vietnam's economic development and enhance its military influence in the dispute with China.
6. China avoids confrontation with China
Currently, given the military encirclement by the US, China isn't strategically positioned to engage in a confrontation with Vietnam. That's why Xi chooses to mobilize all efforts in the name of diplomacy," stated Fomenko. "Therefore, maintaining Vietnam as a neutral and non-hostile neighbor is a top priority for China, especially considering the underlying reason for the US policy doctrine to sow division between Beijing and its neighboring countries as a way to contain it. However, Vietnam only seeks the best from the world, and undoubtedly, they have achieved it by now.
Considering this, China needs to offer more to be 'at the negotiating table' and compete with other countries. It also means Vietnam can set terms for engagement and become a 'kingmaker.' From China's perspective, Vietnam is crucial in global trade and supply chains as they provide cover to evade the 'Made in China' label, avoiding various trade restrictions and tariffs imposed by the US.
For further details, the full article by Andika Hendra Mustaqim titled "5 Alasan Vietnam Diperebutkan AS dan China | Halaman Lengkap" can be accessed at [SINDOnews.com](https://international.sindonews.com/read/1279459/45/5-alasan-vietnam-diperebutkan-as-dan-china-1702865530?showpage=all).