US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken is expected to visit Vietnam today on his way to an upcoming G7 conference
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken is expected to visit Vietnam today on his way to an upcoming G7 conference in Japan.
Blinken will oversee the groundbreaking of a new US embassy in Hanoi, and meet senior Vietnamese officials to discuss stalled efforts to deepen US-Vietnam relations.
Despite repeated courting, Vietnam has resisted upgrading the status of diplomatic ties with the US from a third-tier diplomatic partner to a second-tier diplomatic partner due to political and economic pressure from China. In March, the US Ambassador to Vietnam Marc Knapper gave a speech in Hanoi that called for deepening US-Vietnamese economic ties through reducing trade barriers and combating corruption. In response, Chinese Premier Li Qiang called Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh last week to discuss synchronizing China’s Belt and Road Initiative with Vietnam’s domestic economic policy.
Blinken’s visit will likely increase pressure on Vietnam’s leadership to end the country’s strategic ambiguity firmly in favor of the US, although China will likely quickly counter this effort through its own courting. Vietnam will likely continue to resist both US and Chinese courting efforts in order maximize the economic benefits from each relationship while minimizing potential risks from the US-Chinese rivalry. Nevertheless, Vietnam may be forced to choose sides in the coming decade if military tensions in the region increase.