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How is Vietnam’s “Bamboo Diplomacy” Holding On These Times?

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Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) General-Secretary Nguyen Phu Throng ‘s “bamboo diplomacy” idea is to balance its country’s relationships with the major powers of the world. This proves to be a source of pride to the Vietnam, but it’s been to test by an old partner Russia’s military invasion to Ukraine in February 2022.


Vietnam's Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong in Vietnam, September of 2023.

Vietnam’s Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong in Vietnam, September of 2023. (Photo: REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein)

Vietnam’s Neutral Stance To Russia-Ukraine War

Vietnam’s “Bamboo Diplomacy” aims to balance its relationship with the world’s superpowers by never taking sides, being self-reliant and demonstrating flexibility, according to an article from Euro Asia Review. “Maintain Vietnam’s interests while taking advantage of economic opportunities created by major power competition.”

Vietnam did not impose unilateral sanctions on Russia after its invasion of Ukraine. Vietnam also abstained on four UNGA resolutions condemning Russia. Note that Vietnam and Russia has a long standing history since the First and Second Indochina wars and Vietnam’s occupation of Cambodia.  However, on keeping good terms with US, Europe and Japan, Vietnam did not restore direct flights to Russia neither did it agree to Kremlin’s request of replenishing its military hardware, munitions and spare parts to aid its battlefield loses in Ukraine.

On the other hand, Vietnam has kept its mouth shut about criticizing President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine. Indeed, Vietnam government helped Ukraine by donating US$500,000 to international relief organizations. It shows support to Ukraine by granting scholarships to Ukrainian students affected by war.

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Russia-China Nexus Is Affecting Vietnam?

With the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, Russia seems to be depending more on China. China did not explicitly endorse Russia’s bold actions, but it supports Russia’s justification for acting.

China could take advantage of Russia’s deepening dependence to it by undermining Vietnamese interests over the dispute in South China Sea and defense cooperation between Vietnam and Russia. Russia is a significant stakeholder in Vietnam’s oil and gas sector. The Euro Asia Review provides in-depth reporting on about this.

However, Vietnam believes that the power dynamics Russia-China is not so lopsided that China could force Russia to obey its bidding. China is treading lightly too into putting pressure to Vietnam. China doesn’t wait a closer relationship between Vietnam and the United States.

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