Following the visit of President Biden to Vietnam and the signing of the comprehensive strategic partnership, President Xi Jinping met vietnam’s President Vo Van Thuong on October 20th during latter’s visit to China and highlighted the core fundamentals of the traditional friendship between the two countries. Following the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1950 and the continuous interactions which has happened in the last 7 decades has brought the two countries together.
Between China and Vietnam, there had been extensive party to party relationship, political establishment interactions, trade and business exchanges, and cultural engagements which have defined this relationship as one of the preferred partnerships between the two countries. There was also speculation that following the visit of President Biden to Vietnam, President Xi Jinping might be visiting Hanoi later this year for extensive interactions, and discussions related to trade and investment, business facilitation, and also looking for accelerating the Belt and Road Initiative which recently completed one decade. Vietnamese Communist Party general secretary Nguyen Phu Trong had participated in the celebrations of China’s Belt and Road forum and had an interaction with Chinese president earlier this year.
Vietnamese president confirmed that Vietnam gives due priority to China and is one of the important destinations and country in terms of foreign policy outlook. He also stressed the need for increased trade between the two countries particularly related to agriculture products, and improvement in transport and connectivity. During the visit, he also buttressed that the youth need to be made aware of the traditional roots of friendship. He also expressed hope that the two countries would be able to resolve their differences in the South China Sea given the fact that very recently China has released its standard map which was refuted by countries such as India, Japan, Malaysia and Indonesia.
President Xi was told that it is important that China should import more of Vietnamese agricultural products which can trickle down to other areas particularly in the context of benefiting both farmers and consumers, and also the two countries should work on building connectivity and also better people to people exchange programs. Vietnam president made it clear that Vietnam accords importance to China in its foreign policy deliberations. Vietnam also strictly follows the 4 NO’s policy which clearly outlines Vietnam strategic neutrality and also working with all strategically important nations on an equal footing.
President Xi assured Vietnamese president that China will be working in promoting trade and also providing necessary support in developing infrastructure within the country and promoting transport connectivity. Vietnam has been also liberalising its economy and has been looking for ways for extensive reforms in state owned enterprises. The discussions were focused on promoting business interests, and in that context Vietnamese president met the chairman of Huawei which has been working in the field of development of ICT infrastructure, cloud computing, and other related business aspects.
Under the digital belt and road initiatives, China has also been focusing on digital finance and E-commerce and looks forward for integrating the countries in the region through various initiatives. President Thuong stressed on the fact that Vietnam is committed towards bringing about digital transformation, and providing digital public infrastructure as well as developing digital human resources which can provide much support to vietnam’s ambitions in developing as a digitally competent economy.
Vietnam has been working in developing its own ecosystem related to digital infrastructure, fast broadband, and also developing IT services sector particularly development of software industry and digital services. So far, the services sector has been doing progressively well in Vietnam, but it requires human resources which can catapult Vietnamese economy into the status of industrialised economy in the next three decades.
During his address at the 3rd belt and road forum for international cooperation, President Thuong stated that there is need for cooperation in developing regulations, data sovereignty and security, developing counter measures against transnational crimes, and protecting national sovereignty. During the G 20 summit in India there was also much focus on digital public infrastructure at the global level and it was felt that it would empower people and businesses, but it was resisted by many credit agencies and credit card companies. President Thuong opined that for the new changes which are coming in terms of 4th industrial revolution there is need for investment in digital economy, new technologies, innovation, and digital data which will bring about digital transformation and provide a new model for economic growth and reforms.
President Thuong also met Russian President Putin on the sidelines and expressed support to Russian initiatives in Vietnam. Russia has been one of the primary suppliers of defence equipment to Vietnam and has invested nearly one billion dollars in 164 projects across Vietnam. The bilateral trade between the countries is more than US $3.55 billion and each year Russia provides 1000 scholarships to Vietnamese students to study in Russia. Between Russia and Vietnam there is extensive cooperation related to oil and gas exploration and energy cooperation.
The visit of president Thuong to China was primarily meant to highlight that Vietnam is looking for large investment and integration of Vietnamese economy into global financial architecture as well as promoting economic growth through better reforms and international business facilitation initiatives. Vietnam already has been appreciated for its better than average economic growth in the last three years and has been taking great strides in promoting investment and trade with the countries at the global level. Vietnam’s urge for maritime security and also looking for maritime cooperation among the claimants of the East Sea showcases the priorities of Vietnam in the near future.