Vietnam’s ‘bamboo diplomacy’ reinforces global ties

Vietnam’s ‘bamboo diplomacy’ strategically enhances global ties, positioning itself as a key player in diplomatic relations and trade.

Vietnam, ruled by the Communist Party has strategically enhanced diplomatic ties with global powers, including former adversaries like China and the United States, through its proactive “bamboo diplomacy” initiative. This approach, championed by Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, aims to expand Vietnam’s network of allies in response to rising global tensions.

“Bamboo diplomacy” is Vietnam’s strategic foreign policy approach that emphasizes flexibility, strong roots, and building more relations to navigate geopolitical challenges, as symbolized by the bamboo plant’s characteristics.

In recent developments, Vietnam and China, despite historical disputes, agreed to forge a “shared future” during a visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping. This resulted in the signing of 36 cooperation documents covering areas including transport infrastructure, trade, security, and the digital economy. While China remains Vietnam’s largest trading partner, maritime disputes in the South China Sea persist.

On the other hand, Vietnam also elevated its relationship with the United States to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership in September. During President Joe Biden’s visit to Hanoi, both nations announced closer collaboration on semiconductors and critical minerals. This move aligns with the United States’ strategy to secure global supply chains and counterbalance China’s influence in the South China Sea.

Japan and South Korea also witnessed strengthened ties with Vietnam. In November, Vietnam and Japan upgraded their relations, focusing on enhanced security and economic cooperation. South Korea, Vietnam’s largest foreign investor, elevated their partnership to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership in December 2022, emphasizing trade, investment, defence, and security. The countries signed 17 additional agreements, including those related to security and critical minerals.

In a landmark development in July, Vietnam and Vatican City reached an agreement to establish the first permanent papal representative in Hanoi. This marks a notable breakthrough, considering the severed relations that persisted since the conclusion of the Vietnam War in 1975.

Vietnam’s participation in multiple free trade agreements, including those with the EU, Britain, Chile, South Korea, and Israel, highlights its role as a crucial trading hub. Additionally, Vietnam is part of broader trade pacts like the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

Looking ahead, Vietnam is poised to upgrade ties with Australia to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership in 2024, showcasing the country’s commitment to ongoing diplomatic expansion and regional influence.