Visit of Xi Jinping to Vietnam -Takeaways

China Vietnam trade has one of the major benchmarks of the relationship given the fact that the two way trade has reached more than 200 billion dollars.

Chinese president and party general secretary Xi Jinping visited  Vietnam for two days(Dec 12-13) where he had extensive discussions with the top brass of Vietnamese leadership including the party general secretary, Vietnamese Prime Minister, and other prominent leaders of Vietnam. Chinese president Xi Jinping arrived  in Hanoi on December 12th and during his meetings he stressed upon  strengthening the strategic relationship and even proposed to cooperate with Vietnam in terms of maritime patrols and undertaking joint collaboration in transnational crime and counter measures against non traditional threats. During the meetings, the Chinese president endorsed   that the two sides should stress on building political trust and respect for each other independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.

China Vietnam trade has one of the major benchmarks of the relationship given the fact that the two way trade has reached more than 200 billion dollars. He has met the party general secretary Trong, Vietnamese Prime Minister Chinh and president Thuong, and chairman of the National Assembly Hue, who are the four major pillars of Vietnam’s political institutional setup. During the visit there has been much expressions related to comrades and brothers, connectivity across mountains and rivers, and The Chinese president also urged Vietnam to join the ‘community of common destiny’. Vietnam has been calibrating its relationship with Russia, China, US, Japan, Korea and India as critical partners and has been balancing relationship in such a way so as to have no adversarial relationships with any of the countries and  project Vietnam’s progressive growth leading it to become the higher income country by the year 1945.

During the visit the Chinese president proposed upgrading the rail link from Kunming to Haiphong, and also collaborating with Vietnam on joint exploration of rare earth mineral deposits. Given the fact that China is in recovery mode and wants to build its relationship with the peripheral players, therefore Vietnam becomes one of the important countries to develop its economic and investment relationship. During the visit of the party general secretary Trong to China in October 2022, it was expressed that China and Vietnam are brothers and partners and therefore they should nurture the relationship without any influences from the West. During the Belt and Road Initiative celebration for completing ten years, the Vietnamese President  Vo Van Thuong visited Beijing and has extensive talks to build better ties with China and also promote Chinese investment in Southern parts of Vietnam. Vietnam has been steadfastly adopting a ‘ 4 no policy’ which includes avoiding any military alliances, not taking any side against the other country, no hosting of foreign military bases, and avoiding use of force in international ties.

The visit of Xi Jinping came in the wake of 15th anniversary of the signing of the comprehensive strategic partnership agreement between the two sides and was seen as a historic milestone which was celebrated by both print and visual media. During the visit the two sides signed 36 agreements related to political exchanges, defence and maritime cooperation, foreign policy engagements, trade and tourism. President Xi Jinping in his remarks always alluded to Beijing special relationship with  Hanoi, and Vietnam , in turn , has been very cautious not to play sides in the larger geopolitical matrix. During the visit of the Vietnam’s communist party general secretary Trong in 2022 , he has assured that Hanoi always gives priority to the relationship with Beijing and would never be a party to anti China grouping.

In fact during the visit there were discussions about promoting security and trust between the two sides, as well as cooperation in the field of telecommunication and digital data protection. China  has also been looking for setting up 5G networks in Vietnam, establishing ground tracking stations of satellites, and data centres which is critical for China’s digital BRI project. One of the important milestones of the visit was renewal of the 2020 agreement which  provisions for joint patrol in the Gulf of Tonkin.

Vietnam has been looking for international collaboration in areas such as economic liberalisation, developing green economy, digital revolution particularly in terms of e commerce and finance, renewable energy, health and medicine, and joint collaborations in science and technology, particularly in advanced research and development. One important thing which is drawing many countries across the world to Vietnam is the second largest rare earths deposit which have been found in the country.

In the joint statement there have  been expressions which alludes to China Vietnam community with a shared future of strategic significance, and highlights  political trust and confidence in each other. Vietnamese side has expressed interest in China sponsored global development initiative, the global security initiative, and the global civilisational initiative. These initiative are primarily aimed for building “essential norms between nations, mutual respect, equality ,and respect for each other sovereignty and territorial integrity’’. In the joint statement there are references related to better interaction between the communist parties of the two countries, particularly in the context of national development, socialism building, and modernisation. The statement also states that the China has valued the liberalisation process that Vietnam has undertaken in the last four decades, and the way it planned its growth as a socialist oriented developed country by the year 2045.

There are statements  related to cooperation in fields such as building political trust, harnessing the party channel, deepening cooperation between foreign affairs ministries, and reaffirmation of one China policy. Interestingly, the joint statement also talks about exchange and cooperation between the two armed forces particularly in personal training and research. UN peacekeeping  activities and non traditional security cooperation has  been highlighted. There has been agreement on ‘two corridors and one belt’ as well as the futuristic approach of the belt and road initiative through the building of railway connectivity across Vietnam with the help of China. China has also assured to implement projects related to traditional medicine, and support in training of human resources in the state owned enterprises. This visit clearly endorses the fact that Vietnam has become a very important country in the Chinese calculus.

Prof. Pankaj Jha
Prof. Pankaj Jha
Pankaj Jha is faculty with Jindal School of International Affairs, O P Jindal Global University, Sonepat. He can be reached at pankajstrategic[at]