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Thayer Vietnam: Strategic Partnerships and International Security Cooperation

Thayer Vietnam: Strategic Partnerships and International Security Cooperation

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Published by Carlyle Alan Thayer

An analysis of Vietnam's eight strategic partnerships since the 2011 eleventh national party congress set priority on developing international security cooperation. The paper also examines why Australia, France and the United States are not strategic partners.

An analysis of Vietnam's eight strategic partnerships since the 2011 eleventh national party congress set priority on developing international security cooperation. The paper also examines why Australia, France and the United States are not strategic partners.

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Published by: Carlyle Alan Thayer on Nov 22, 2012
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09/17/2013

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Vietnam on the Road to Global Integration:Forging Strategic Partnerships ThroughInternational Security Cooperation
Carlyle A. Thayer
Paper to International Relations PanelFourth Vietnam Studies ConferenceVietnam Academy of Social Sciences andVietnam National UniversityHanoi, November 26‐30, 2012
 
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Vietnam on the Road to Global Integration:Forging Strategic Partnerships Through International Security Cooperation
Carlyle A. Thayer
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[in
 Proceedings of the 4
th
International Vietnamese Studies Conference
]
Introduction
In 1991 the Seventh National Congress of the Vietnam Communist Party (VCP) called forVietnam to “diversify and multilateralise economic relations with all countries andeconomic organizations... and become the friend of all countries in the worldcommunity, and struggle for peace, independence and development.” In the more thantwo decades since 1991 Vietnam has achieved notable success in achieving these goals.Most foreign commentary has focused on Vietnam’s economic integration with theglobal economy and the development of Vietnam’s bilateral political relations withformer foes. Little attention has been focused on the interrelationship between theeconomic and political goals, on the one hand, the defence and security goals on theother.This paper focuses on the new hierarchy in Vietnam’s foreign relations embodied in theterms strategic partnership and strategic cooperative partnership. Particular attention ispaid to developments after the Eleventh National Party Congress held in 2011. TheEleventh Congress set the goal of expanding Vietnam’s international defence andsecurity cooperation as one of its major objectives.The paper is divided into two parts and a conclusion. Part one considers the eight statesthat have already been classified as strategic partners: the Russian Federation (2001),Japan (2006), India (2007) People’s Republic of China (2008), Republic of Korea (2009),Spain (2009), United Kingdom (2010) and Germany (2011).
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Each of these case studiesprovides a brief overview of bilateral relations leading to the formal declaration of astrategic partnership, the main components of the strategic partnership, and defencecooperation. Part two examines the cases of three countries with whom Vietnam hascomprehensive relations but has not yet formally established strategic partnerships ‐Australia, the United States and France.
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Emeritus Professor, The University of New South Wales at the Australian Defence Force Academy,Canberra. Email:c.thayer@adfa.edu.au. Revised January 30, 2013.
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Vietnam has two other more restricted strategic partnerships, one with the Netherlands on climatechange adaptation and water management (October 2010), and the other with Denmark on global climatechange, energy, environment and green economic growth (November 2012). On January 21, 2013, afterthis paper was presented, Vietnam and Italy became formal strategic partners.
 
 
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Part I. The New Hierarchy in Vietnam’s Foreign Relations
Russian Federation
From Strategic Partnership to Comprehensive Strategic Partnership
 The foundation for Vietnam’s current strategic partnership with the Russian Federationis based on their close bilateral relations since they exchanged diplomatic relations in1950, and more particularly, after 1954 when the Democratic Republic of Vietnam wasestablished in North Vietnam. Vietnam and the Soviet Union formed an alliance in allbut name in November 1978 when they agreed to a twenty‐five year Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation.
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 The Soviet Union collapsed in late 1991 and relations went into the doldrums. In 1994the two sides re‐set their relationship on a more equal footing by signing a Treaty onPrinciples of Friendly Relations. Important developments took place in August 1998 withthe signing of a Joint Statement and in September 2000 with an agreement to step upcooperation between enterprises, and to promote economic, scientific, technical andcultural co‐operation between Vietnamese provinces and their Russian counterparts.The most important bilateral mechanism is the decades‐old Vietnam‐Russia Inter‐governmental Committee for Economic, Commercial, Scientific and Technical Co‐operation which meets regularly to review progress and lay out future cooperation.
 
When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 Moscow pressed Vietnam for a repayment of debts totaling US $1.7 billion. Relations were strained for nearly nine years as a result of haggling over the conversion rate for Vietnam’s ruble debt. In September 2000, Vietnamfinally agreed to acquit its debts over a twenty‐three year period through a combinationof hard currency payments, goods and services, and investment in joint enterprises.Bilateral relations were further strained when Vietnam pressed Russia to pay an annualrent of US $300 million for continued access to Cam Ranh Bay. Russia declined andwithdrew.Once the debt issue was settled Moscow and Hanoi raised their relationship to astrategic partnership in March 2001 on the occasion of President Vladimir Putin’s visit toVietnam. This agreement set out broad‐ranging cooperation including the developmentof economic‐commercial, scientific‐technical and investment ties, Russian support forthe development of Vietnam’s energy sector and co‐operation in chemistry, mechanicalengineering, metallurgy electronics, agriculture, communications, science andtechnology, culture, and education. Article 8 provided for military cooperation; it stated,“The two parties will strengthen their co‐operation in military supplies to meetVietnam's and Russia's security demands and not to oppose any third country.”Since 2001, bilateral relations have been constrained by the poor state of the Russian
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For background see: Ramesh Thakur and Carlyle A. Thayer,
Soviet Relations with India and Vietnam,1945‐1992
Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1993).

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This revision contains an entirely re-written conclusion.
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Thie revision contains an entirely re-written conclusion.
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