Monday, December 19, 2011

A few thoughts before the visit of Xi Jinping

In a few days Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping will make an official visit to

Vietnam (scheduled on 20/12). In most respects, this is not a normal visit, but a culculated one by the Beijing leadership. In a way this trip is even more important than the recent visit to China  by General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, which was "a matter of must" of courtesy call by a new leader. Mr Xi'svisit is of  a different characteristics; it is mainly to serve the Chinese interest at a sensitive moment. Therefore, it can bring about both challenges and opportunities for Vietnam.
Low profile, high impact   
In the history of Sino-Vietnamese relations, even in periods of good relationship before, very rare top Chinese leaders visited Vietnam while more top Vietnamese leaders wen to China . At the present poor stage of bilateral relations Mr. Xi 's visit to Vienam  is not a normal practice. He is vitting  in the name of  Vice President but in the shadow of a head of the Party and State of China. So by traditional big power thinking, this is convenient to avoid reputation as "breaking rules", but still shows a special concern of Beijing  in front of  new changes in international situation which has been forcing them to promptly take steps in some key areas including Vietnam.  In short, we can understand that Mr. Xi's visit  to Vietnam this time is mainly motivated by the need of China.    
Why now, and what cards in Mr. Xi's sleeve?
If we push back the time of about half a year ago we can hardly  find such a high level visit in the framework of the  bilateral Sino-Vietnamese relations, except for some cases when Chinese top leaders visitted the country on attending multilateral events .  The question is why such a high level Chinese leader opted to visit Vietnam this time ?
Is it  because the Chinese leadership now begins to feel failure after a period of "self-allowance" in manouvering the situation in attempt to  dominate the East Sea, and nowthat  recognizes that this mistake may not only spoil the image of a peacely growing ​​China but also creating a pretext for the U.S. to be welcome back in the region by most stakeholders than ever before. The clear result is that the U.S. military is being deployed in  northern Australia while  strongly enhanced all along  the traditional line of defense runing from Japan, South Korea  to the Philippines, Singapore ... and in a closer alignment with India. No doubt, this has  adverse effects on  China that they worry and have to take countermeasures. To do this, on one hand the Chinese have to stretch to deal directly with the U.S   and allies, and on the other hand  to  try to gain back influence  on adjacent areas of importance, including Vietnam and Myanmar which are in danger of slipping from the arms of Beijing's influence. Dividing   ASEAN is also a tactic that China has been applying very successfully.
That is the deep motives of the visit of Mr. Xi to Vietnam. People are waiting to see specific cards he will draw from his sleeve during his visit to Hanoi. It may be a real innitiative or just an token act  to deceive public opinion and a  split plot for ASEAN community ...    
What is  the challenge and opportunity for Vietnam?
We can say, again challenges and opportunities are equally open to Vietnam. In our opinion, to effectively deal with the new flag of China, Vietnam's leaders must first stand firm on the strategic objectives of our people, that is  to determinedly defend our national independence, integrity of national sovereignty and maintain peace for national construction. It is obvious that the current happenings in the East Sea in particular and the Asia-Pacific region in general are in favour  of Vietnam and other regional smaller states. The sovereignty statements made by  Vietnamese leaders , especially by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung at the National Assembly most recently are strongly supported by the people and appreciated by the world opinion as a right direction of Vietnam.
Ofcourse, the Vietnamese people  never sponsore policy of confronting China. But once  the nation's  interests are  systematicaly  violated by the northern big neighbor power,  Vietnam are forced to choose a suitable method  to  struggle for existence. The majority of people have expressed their will to engage promoting the availability of all internal resources in combination with strength of the era, determined to fight for the ultimate goal, that is to protect the integrity of national sovereignty, namely sovereignty over the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa as well as the entire sea within the continental shelf and exclusive economic zone of 200 nautical miles in accordance with international law. It is the immutable principle never to compromise. In that spirit Vietnamese people in and out side of Vietnam  are monitoring the situation closely developments surrounding the visit of Mr.Xi Jinping and hope that  the country's leadership will take this opportunity to reiterate clearly and explicitly the point that Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has stated ./.

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