July 9, 2006
Written by C.N.
Apparently, times are good to Viet Nam these days. Their economy is the second-fastest growing in Asia behind China and as the NY Times reports, both the U.S. and China are competing with each other to become Viet Nam’s principal trading partner, with possibilities for other types of closer collaboration:
Vietnam’s leaders have made plain they want the United States on their side for equilibrium against China, a longtime occupier. Vietnam, though an ideological ally of Beijing, fears an expanding Chinese sphere of influence and being reduced to an economic appendage by China, its northern neighbor.
It has fought wars against China, most recently in 1979. But now, relations have “never been so good,” said Ton Nu Thi Ninh, the vice chairwoman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the National Assembly. “But that doesn’t mean they’re perfect,” she added. . . .
China and the United States are rapidly increasing their economic presence here. Chinese and American investments in Vietnam last year were about equal — a little more than $2 billion each, according to government figures.
Two-way trade between the United States and Vietnam rose to nearly $8 billion last year — from less than $1 billion in 2001 — most of it shrimp, clothes and shoes exports for American shoppers. Not to be outdone, the Chinese commerce minister, Bo Xilai, said in a visit here this month that trade between Vietnam and China could reach $10 billion in 2006, an increase of almost 40 percent from 2005.
As I’ve said before, there will be plenty of diehard anti-communist Vietnamese Americans who oppose normalizing and strengthening relations with the communist government in Viet Nam, and who will see these closer economic ties as rewarding the communists’ human rights abuses.
Nonetheless, I continue to see this trend of incorporating Viet Nam into the international mainstream to be a positive strategy. Rather than isolating and antagonizing them — as we do to North Korea who then react with unpredictable belligerence and threats of war — a growing international presence and economic prosperity in Viet Nam will hopefully lead to a gradual liberalization of government control over the lives of the Vietnamese people.
As the article notes, this has already happened when the Vietnamese government allowed for the creation of privately-owned small and medium-sized businesses in the country. As the old proverb says, there is a time and place for everything. Progress in Viet Nam will come — not today, and certainly not with any dreams of an armed uprising against the communists. But it will come one day . . .
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Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "U.S. and China Compete to Befriend Viet Nam" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2006/07/us-and-china-compete-to-befriend-viet-nam/> ().
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