Vietnam’s Balancing between US and China

Three Chinese navy ships will be staying four days at Vietnam’s Cam Ranh International Port, from Saturday. File photo: AFP

Three Chinese navy ships will be staying four days at Vietnam’s Cam Ranh International Port, from Saturday. File photo: AFP

SCMP says in its report “Chinese navy ships make first port call at Vietnam’s Cam Ranh Bay amid South China Sea dispute” that weeks after two US warships’ first port call at Vietnam’s Cam Ranh Bay since normalization of relations between Vietnam and the US, three Chinese navy ships will make first port call at that strategic port of Vietnam.

Though SCMP exaggerates the tension between China and Vietnam due to their disputes over the South China Sea, it reflects in the report that the visit is official and quite friendly.

Like the Philippines, Vietnam has tried to seek US help in the disputes. However, the US has failed to give its ally the Philippines any meaningful support in enforcing an arbitration ruling entirely favorable to the Philippines. Disappointed, the Philippines has switched to China’s side. That makes Vietnam realize that it had better make balancing efforts between China and the US so that it may benefit from its close economic relations with China while getting some support and advanced weapons from the US to enable it to have better bargaining power in dealing with China.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP’s report, full text of which can be found at


10 Comments on “Vietnam’s Balancing between US and China”

  1. T-50 says:

    Seeing what happened to China in 1979, the Chinese would be wise to respect Vietnamese capabilities.


    • Sentinel says:

      Wise? It is Hanoi that is wiser now. The invasion has taught it a lesson. Now, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand are safe. They need no longer worry about Vietnamese expansionist designs or aggressions.


  2. Joseph says:

    Isn’t it the same case as Malaysia granting Chinese Navy the same privilege they granted the American? Last time American defense secretary/coast guard cutter salesman Ash Carter announced Malaysia had granted the use of Malaysian ports for American SCS spy activity base. The Malaysian rebuffed the American by granting the same use of their ports for Chinese Navy as well to reiterate their neutrality. American ships visiting Vietnam Cam Ranh Bay can be used to fuel American propaganda machine that Vietnam ‘backs’ the American on the now-defunct SCS conflict. It will certainly put Vietnam in a very awkward position. Therefore, arranging Chinese Navy ships to visit the same port will reiterate Vietnam’s neutrality to rebuff any American propaganda. Despite Western media, including SCMP, reports that Vietnam allegedly seeking ‘assistance’ from the American over the SCS conflict, Vietnam never officially seeks any American ‘assistance’ at all. As the American, duped by their own propaganda, made to believe that Vietnam was really seeking ‘assistance’ from the American, American junk salesman Ash Carter saw opportunity to sell off some of American junks. He shamelessly made sales visits to Vietnam to coerce Vietnam, who he assumed ‘desperate’ for American assistance, to buy his derelict coast guard cutters. If he had done his briefings about Vietnam properly, he would be obviously made aware that Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi makes friendly visits to Vietnam on regular basis as Vietnam’s Communist party elite elders makes reciprocal visits to China on regular basis as well to visit him. But with the lost of Phillipines as puppet, the American is now more desperate than ever to find replacement puppet, preferably one which is not as costly as Japan’s Abe, and not as dumb as Taiwan’s Tsai Ingwen. In just a very short time, those two have proven to be more of liabilities than assets to the American.


  3. johnleecan says:

    The ungrateful Vietnamese.

    Many Chinese in the mainland during the Vietnam war don’t even have enough food to eat, no shoes or slippers to wear. Yet the Chinese government gave weapons, training, food, clothing, shoes among others to the Vietnamese soldiers so they can fight properly. Some Chinese soldiers fighting along the Vietnamese were even barefooted. After the war, Chinese soldiers help build Vietnam yet the Vietnamese kept on asking for more assistance.

    The Chinese made tremendous sacrifices since they just fought with the Americans in the Korean War and had to fight again the Americans in the Vietnam War.

    The Vietnamese changed the stories re China’s sacrifices to Vietnam. Ask any Vietnamese and most will not acknowledged China’s help during the Vietnam war. They will say they did it on their own.

    BEWARE…the uneducated and narrow minded Vietnamese.


    • Simon says:

      The Vietcong even acknowledge the Paracel Islands as Chinese territory with its leaders at the time in a handwritten document declaring so. When they took over Vietnam with Chinese assistance they sided with Russia and want to distant itself from its promises.


  4. Steve says:

    Within a framework of six years President Duterte, if successful in his partnership and alliance with China, should be proudly recognised as the Father of Modern Philippines in Economic reforms and Geopolitical influences especially the foreign policy in relation to the SCS. Filipinos may not realise the potential of President Duterte’s influence when he initiated Philippines pivot to China, because the future of the Philippines status from poverty to wealth creation is with China and no other country. Only China can turn around PH economic woes and military reform.

    Can Vietnam, a true ally in the Vietnam war pivot to China. During the war, China provided the logistics of food and heavily supported the Vietnamese military against hegemonic invaders US.
    President Duterte’s recent visit, support and request for a China’s alliance in economic and military reform will Shame the Vietnamese leadership. Duterte kicked out the US, an ally of 70 years that dictated PH foreign policy. Imagine an American citizen can march into PH without a Visa, yet Duterte during his heyday was rejected a Visa into he US.

    Vietnam can be regarded as a fence sitter hoping for benefits by rebalancing between it’s former foe, US, that slaughtered over 3,000,000 Vietnamese and it’s staunch supporter and ally, China, both Communist brothers against the US invasion. It took seven years to defeat the US with heavy Vietnamese and Chinese casualties. Vietnam will be home alone in SCS when the partnership between China and Philippines bear fruit within six years. There is Nothing US can do now to rebalance its Asian pivot, since the centre of gravity in the SCS has been severely weakened by Duterte’s recent pro China state visit. Judging by the results, there would have been numerous bilateral negotiations between China and PH prior to Duterte’s state visit. Can Vietnam show genuine leadership and follow in pursuit of Duterte.


    • Sentinel says:

      Be cautious now for the day when the Philippines becomes prosperous and can afford a well armed navy, airforce, and land forces, and there is a different Filipino president in the Malacang Palace. Washington may try again to ensure Filipino presidents are its puppets. And guess who helped to prosper the Filipinos? Beijing just need to be careful with regrd to the future.


      • Steve says:

        Good point – if it does happen, the Filipinos would be twice as stupid. Its like piling up a stupid head on top of its existing head. They do not understand what is being independent from foreign diplomatic shackles. For 495 years they think its freedom, democracy and being independent, but completely misguided.

        If you look at the land mass ‘geomancy’, Philippines is quite a shattered country lacking harmony. The PH map shows a head and tail, but no main section. All shattered with broken islands. New Zealand has a Nth and Sth Island, but closely united.

        China was humiliated 100 years ago by foreign powers, but will never allow foreign powers to establish military bases nor asking for second handouts. Filipinos may not have a rich culture like the Chinese, but with the establishment of advanced education, science and technology and economic advancement, I don’t think they will again isolate themselves under foreign control. Sometimes it is difficult to understand how and why the Filipinos allow themselves to be used like a doormat (President Duterte did use this analogy). The country of Philippines is quite isolated in Asia. We can only wish them good luck and I have to say that they are very lucky to have genuine leadership in Duterte in this generation.


  5. Fre Okin says:

    Wise move by the Vietnamese government to welcome the Chinese navy. This will help build trust between the two navies. It is also good for them to size each other out and understand the opponent’s strength and weakness. China should send a few advanced ships with towed array submarine detection capability. So, a friendly port visit with a show of Chinese capability is important to get respect and caution enemies not to get too adventurous. The Vietnamese will surely be sniffing around hoping to gather some intel.


  6. Simon says:

    When the Yanks did not even bother to assist their allies of 70 years the Phillipines to enforce its claims against China in SCS what chance do they have comming to Vietnam’s assistance, a former and yet still technically an enemy with very different idealogy. Ultimately America wanted regime change in Vietnam to wipe out its shame of defeat. Vietnam will never be sold sophisticated weapons by the American they will simply be passed on to Russia or China as bargaining for economic returns.