Vietnam’s balancing act

U.S. President Barack Obama meets Vietnam Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong in Hanoi on May 23, 2016.
U.S. President Barack Obama (L) meets Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong during his visit to Vietnam in May 2016 (source: dpa)

  • Vietnam’s main geopolitical goal is to maintain autonomy
  • Global players dominate the region’s geopolitics
  • Hanoi will balance relations between the U.S., China and Russia for maximum leverage

Vietnam is a medium-sized country seeking a maximum degree of autonomy in a region where the interests of big global powers intersect. Competition between the United States, China and – uniquely for Vietnam among Southeast Asian nations – Russia dominates the country’s geopolitical strategy. Vietnam will calibrate its relationships to keep each of these powers at arm’s length, with their actions determining which dials Hanoi twists, and how far.

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