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Xi's visit to rejuvenate ties with Vietnam

Updated: 2015-11-03 10:03
By Pan Jin’e (China Daily)

Xi's visit to rejuvenate ties with Vietnam

Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, and Vietnam's Communist Party chief Nguyen Phu Trong address young people from both countries in Beijing on April 7, 2015. [Photo by Wu Zhiyi / China Daily]

President Xi Jinping’s state visit to Vietnam this week will be his first to the neighboring country since assuming office. It will also be the first visit by a Chinese president to Vietnam in a decade.

Indeed, Sino-Vietnamese relations have been facing some challenges over the past 10 years, and that's why Xi’s visit to Vietnam has acquired greater significance. Thus many expect the visit to better promote Sino-Vietnamese relations and find solutions to the existing bilateral problems.

To begin with, Xi’s visit is expected deepen the relationship between the communist parties of the two countries. Since Xi is China’s head of state as well as the general secretary of the Communist Party of China, his visit will promote exchanges between the two ruling parties. In fact, an inter-Party cadre training cooperation has already taken shape, which, given the challenges of regional and international affairs, is a welcome move.

Xi’s visit to Vietnam is also expected to promote the development of bilateral relations and trade, as well as cooperation across the border.

Besides, the China-led Belt and Road Initiative can be of immense help to infrastructure projects in Vietnam. And more road and railways links between the two countries will be of mutual benefit, as they will boost bilateral trade and tourism.

Sino-Vietnamese relations are facing challenges mainly because of the territorial disputes, which intensified after the US implemented its “rebalancing to Asia” strategy and started meddling in regional disputes. But the situation wouldn’t have reached such a stage had Beijing and Hanoi established and abided by a regular communication mechanism.

Therefore, the urgent task for China and Vietnam today is to restore their traditional friendship. The two countries shared a very friendly relationship from the 1950s to the late 1970s thanks to the efforts of the previous generation of leaders in two countries. The two countries’ militaries fought side by side in the 1960s and early 1970s. The need, therefore, is to deepen and carry forward that friendship by making today’s generations aware of the two countries’ rich shared history.

Vietnam is an important neighbor of China. The two countries have a similar political system and have their historical roots run deep. In this context, China’s Belt and Road Initiative could provide new cooperation opportunities for the two neighbors, as Vietnam is an important regional gateway to the Asia-Pacific region. Good relations with Vietnam are important also for China to strengthen its relations with the Association of Southeast Asia Nations and make the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road a success.

China is already Vietnam’s largest trade partner with the bilateral trade volume reaching $83.6 billion in 2014 — of which Chinese exports to Vietnam comprised more than $50 billion. And this year Sino-Vietnamese trade is estimated to reach $90 billion, increasing to $100 billion in 2016.

Vietnam did sign the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership Treaty in October. And even though it will take a long time for the 12 signatory countries to ratify the TPP, the trade pact will have a far-reaching impact on the region.

As far as regional trade and cooperation are concerned, China too is at the forefront; it is pushing for the ASEAN-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and talks for a Free Trade Area for the Asia-Pacific. Competition does exist in the region but Vietnam joining the TPP will not hinder the healthy trade development with China.

The author is a researcher in Vietnam studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. The article is an excerpt from her interview with China Daily’s Zhang Yuchen.



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