Vietnam’s Defence Policy and its Impact on Foreign Relations

Professor Carlyle A. Thayer

Inaugural Frances M. and Stephen H. Fuller Distinguished Visiting Professor of Southeast Asian Studies, Center of International Studies, Ohio University, Athens Paper for EuroViet 6, Asien-Afrika Institut, Universitat Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany, June 6-8, 2008

1. Introduction This paper seeks to explore a largely neglected aspect of Vietnam‘s ‗multidirectional foreign policy‘, defence diplomacy, and its impact on foreign policy. Foreign policy in Vietnam has always been the preserve of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Bo Ngoai Giao) whose minister generally holds a seat on the Political Bureau. When this has not been the case, a senior member of the Political Bureau takes responsibility for foreign policy oversight. In contrast, the Minister of National Defence (Bo Quoc Phong) has always been a member of the Political Bureau. Up until about 1992 there was no apparent joint coordinating mechanism for these two ministries outside of the Political Bureau. In 1992 a National Defence and Security Council (NDSC) was created which includes among its members the ministers of foreign affairs, national defence and public security. It is doubtful that the NDSC performs a strong coordinating role. In short, Vietnam‘s defence diplomacy, while following general guidelines issued by the Political Bureau and party Central Committee, is largely a product of the Ministry of National Defence. Since the end of the Cold War the strategic context for Vietnam‘s foreign and defence policies has changed enormously. Changes first began to emerge in the mid to late1980s. At least two major factors influenced this development. The first factor

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concerned Vietnam‘s domestic circumstances arising from the socio-economic crisis that confronted Vietnam at that time. The second factor was external and arose from the ‗new political thinking‘ emanating from the Soviet Union under the leadership of Mikhail Gorbachev. Due to the confluence of domestic and external influences Vietnam turned from a foreign policy structured by ideological considerations to a foreign policy framework that placed greater emphasis on national interest and pragmatic diplomacy. Vietnamese analysts now stressed global economic forces and the impact of the revolution in science and technology as key determinants of global order (Nguyen Manh Cam, 1995:223-230 and Vu Khoan, 1995:71-76). This evolution took place gradually (Palmujoki: 2004) and the ideological framework of the past was not jettisoned entirely, residues of the past can still be found today. In December 1986, at the sixth national congress of Vietnam Communist Party (VCP), Vietnam adopted the policy of doi moi (renovation). This policy was mainly concerned with overcoming the domestic economic crisis by the adoption of socioeconomic reforms and opening Vietnam to foreign investment. In order to achieve these objectives Vietnam first had to liquidate the Cambodian problem. In 1987, the Politburo met and secretly approved Resolution No. 2 that set out a major strategic readjustment in Vietnam‘s defence policy – ‗people‘s war and all-people‘s national defence‘. Vietnam‘s new strategic policy resulted in the withdrawal of all combat forces from Laos and Cambodia and the massive demobilization of regulars. The Vietnamese military was promised funding to support these measures. Vietnam‘s major strategic readjustment set the context for further dramatic changes in foreign policy. In May 1988, Vietnamese party leaders agreed on a new codification of foreign policy objectives. This took the form of Politburo Resolution No. 13 which called for a ‗multi-directional foreign policy‘ orientation (Chu Van Chuc 2004:4-7). The new emphasis was ‗to maintain peace, take advantage of favorable world conditions‘ in order to stabilize the domestic situation and set the base for economic development over the next ten to fifteen years. This resolution is now recognized as a major landmark in Vietnam‘s external relations. The next important elaboration of Vietnam‘s ‗multi-directional foreign policy‘ occurred at the seventh national party congress in June 1991 (Vu Khoan 1995:75). Policy documents adopted at this congress declared that Vietnam would ‗diversify and multilateralise economic
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relations with all countries and economic organizations…‘ In short, Vietnam now sought ‗to be friends with all countries‘. In September 1989, Vietnam unilaterally withdrew its armed forces from Cambodia. The Vietnam People‘s Army (VPA), which numbered 1.2 million in 1987, was reduced in size with the demobilization of 700,000 troops over the next five years. In October 1991, Vietnam was a signatory to the comprehensive political settlement that brought an end to the Cambodian conflict. Vietnam was no longer an international pariah state subject to an aid and trade boycott. In sum, the settlement of the Cambodian conflict resulted in the transformation of regional relations from confrontation between two blocs to cooperation among the states of Southeast Asia. In July 1992 Vietnam attended the annual ASEAN Ministerial Meeting as an observer for the first time. Vietnam acceded to the 1976 ASEAN Treaty of Amity and Cooperation at this meeting. By so doing Vietnam renounced the use of force or the threat to use force in foreign relations and committed itself to the non-violent resolution of any conflict that might arise. Two years later, at the 1994 ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in Bangkok, Vietnam was invited to join ASEAN. It also became a founding member of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) at this time. Vietnam‘s application for ASEAN membership was formally approved late that year and in July 1995 Vietnam became ASEAN‘s seventh member. Since the 1991 seventh party congress, Vietnam succeeded in diversifying its foreign relations. Seven developments are particularly notable: normalization of relations with China (November 1991), the restoration of official development assistance by Japan (November 1992), normalization of relations with the United States (July 1995), membership in ASEAN (July 1995), the signing of a Framework Cooperation Agreement with the European Union (July 17, 1995), membership in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in January 2007 and non-permanent membership on the United Nations Security Council (January 2008). For the first time, Vietnam had diplomatic relations with all five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and, equally importantly, with the world‘s three major economic centers: Europe, North America and East Asia. In 1989, Vietnam had diplomatic relations with only twenty-three non-communist states. A year after Vietnam joined ASEAN, Vietnam expanded its external relations to 163 countries.
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2. Vietnam’s Defence Diplomacy, 1991-2004 During the Cold War Vietnam maintained defence relations with a handful of countries; China, the Soviet Union and other members of the Warsaw Pact featured prominently. (2) Chinese military assistance fell off after the signing of the 1973 Paris Peace Agreement and was terminated in 1978-79 when the two fell out over Cambodia. China and Vietnam fought a border war in February-March 1979 and only normalized relations in November 1991. During the Cold War Vietnam also maintained defence relations and/or contacts with a small number of other friendly states including Laos, Cuba, India, Cambodia, Burma, Indonesia, and Yugoslavia. By 2004, according to Vietnam‘s Ministry of National Defence, Vietnam, had established defence relations with more than sixty countries (Quan Doi Nhan Dan, December 22, 2003). A total of thirty-four defence attaches were accredited to Vietnam, while Vietnam posted twenty-four defence attaches abroad (Vietnam News Agency, November 29, 2004). (3) For purposes of this paper ‗military diplomacy‘ refers to official defence relations between Vietnam‘s Ministry of National Defence and its overseas counterparts, such as the U.S. Department of Defense.
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Military diplomacy is conducted by means of

the exchange of delegations, accrediting of defence attaches, defence cooperation programs, and equipment and arms sales and servicing agreements. In the period from January 1990 to December 2006, Vietnam exchanged 364 high-level defence delegations with forty-two countries.
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For purposes of analysis, these delegations

may be divided into five major categories: ministerial (MND), Chief of the General Staff or equivalent (CGS), head of the General Political Department (GPD), head of the General Logistics Department or equivalent (GLD), and Service Chief (SC) for army, navy and air force (see Chart 1). In addition to these high-level delegations, in the period 1990-2004 Vietnam hosted at least thirty-one delegations representing foreign staff colleges and defence institutes from nine countries. countries. Of the 364 high-level exchange visits, Vietnam received 207 delegations and sent 157 delegations abroad. When the frequency of high-level exchanges is calculated (total of delegations received and sent up to the end of 2004), three countries account for
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Between 1990

and July 2007, Vietnam hosted fifty-eight separate naval ship visits from sixteen

nearly a third of all delegations: Laos (40 exchanges), China (33 exchanges) and Thailand (26 exchanges). The next tier includes: Cambodia (20), India (16); Philippines and Russia (13 each); and the United States (11); France Indonesia and Singapore (10 each); Cuba and Japan
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(9 each); Australia (8), North Korea. South

Korea and Malaysia (7 exchanges each); Italy, Myanmar and Ukraine (6 exchanges each); and Poland and Slovakia (4 exchanges each). Between 1990-04, Vietnam hosted thirty-four ministerial-level delegations from 16 countries. Toping the list of visitors to Vietnam are the defence ministers from Laos (7 visits), Thailand (5 visits), and Cambodia (3 visits). Vietnam‘s defence minister made 40 official overseas trips to 29 countries during this same period. Vietnam‘s defence minister most frequently visited Laos (5 visits) and China (4 visits). Prior to Vietnam‘s membership in ASEAN, Hanoi hosted visits by defence ministers from Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos and the Slovak Republic. At the same time, Vietnam‘s defence minister visited China, Indonesia, North Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar and the Philippines. The period after the settlement of the conflict in Cambodia witnessed a major expansion in ministerial-level contacts. Vietnam resuscitated defence contacts with former ‗traditional allies‘ such as the Russian Federation, Belarus, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Poland, the Slovak Republic and the Ukraine. In Northeast Asia Vietnam exchanged ministerial level delegations with China, Japan, and South Korea. Most notable has been the exchange of delegations with so-called western countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and the United States. In addition to long-standing relations with Cuba and India, Vietnam has also developed ministerial level contacts in Africa (Algeria and South Africa) and Latin America (Brazil). When the data on high-level exchanges is viewed on a time scale (see Chart 2), it is evident that the year 1994 marks the real beginning of defence diplomacy. The general trend since then has been a steady rise in the number of high-level defence delegations coming to Vietnam with a peaks in 2001 and 2003. There was a noticeable drop in the exchange of delegations between 1995-2000 perhaps reflecting Vietnam‘s difficult economic conditions, followed by the Asian financial crisis that resulted in a decline in defence cooperation activities across the region
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generally. The number of Vietnamese delegations sent abroad has mirrored but trailed the generally rising trend of high-level delegations received. It should be noted that the exchange of delegations representing the General Political Department (GPD) takes place only among socialist states. The highest number of exchanges of GPD delegations has been with Laos (44% of the total) and China (29%). The category Logistics is a catch-all for a variety of delegations at deputy ministerial level. This category reflects Vietnamese organizational practice whereby the head of the General Logistics Department (GLD) is also a deputy minister of national defence. Foreign delegations that are received by the head of the VPA General Logistics Department have been placed in this category. The category Logistics also includes exchanges between the external relations department (ERD) of defence ministries and other groups such cryptology (Laos) and military education (Russia). The fifth category of high-level delegations comprises the service chiefs (army, navy and air). Once again, it should be noted, defence forces are not structured in the same way. The United States, for example, has a number of combatant commanders in charge of geographical areas of responsibility, such as the Pacific Command (PACOM). The U.S. PACOM Commander (formerly CINCPAC) is included in the Service Chiefs category as are the commanders of the Russian and French Pacific fleets. The data indicates a marked imbalance in the number of reciprocal exchanges. Between 1990 and 2004, Vietnam received forty delegations in the Service Chiefs category while sending only nine abroad. The exchange of high-level defence delegations serves a number of purposes including goodwill, protocol visits for newly appointed officials, strategic dialogue, and a variety of practical defence cooperation activities between ministries, armed services and defence industries. This section will review some of Vietnam ‗s most significant defence cooperation relations starting with the three countries with whom Vietnam has exchanged the most high-level delegations. 3. Defence Relations with the ASEAN States Bilateral. Vietnam has conducted relatively intense high-level defence exchanges with six of ASEAN‘s ten members. In addition to Laos and Cambodia, this list
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includes Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia and Singapore. Vietnam‘s defence relations with Brunei, Malaysia and Myanmar do not involve substantial defence interaction. The relative intensity of high-level defence exchanges between Thailand and Vietnam should be noted. The main content of defence relations are protocol exchange visits, exchanges by staff colleges and defence institutes, and maritime security. (8) However more practical matters were also included. For example, in January 2007, the Supreme Commander of the Royal Thai Armed Forces, General Boonsrang Niumpradit, held discussions with the VPA Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Nguyen Khac Vien on cooperation in training, sea patrols, search and rescue of fishermen, sports competition and ‗other issues of common concern.‘ In December 2007, General Anupong Pachinda, Commander in Chief of the Royal Thai Army visited Hanoi and held discussions with Lt. Gen. Nguyen Huu Kham, Deputy Chief of the General Staff. The Thai visitor also held working sessions with ‗organs‘ of the Vietam People‘s Army. The intensity of high-level defence contacts between the Philippines and Vietnam ranks second after Thai-Vietnamese relations. High-level defence visits since 1994 have generally focused on security issues in the South China Sea and occasional incidents involving the encroachment by Vietnamese and Filipino fishermen into maritime waters claimed by the other side.
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As early as April 1994, President Fidel

Ramos, while on an official visit to Vietnam, offered to make available ten places for Vietnamese cadets at the Philippine Military Academy. He further proposed ‗exchanges of visits by senior military officials, study tours for officers and defence instructors and joint ventures in reconditioning of equipment, including aircraft, for re-export‘. Little of substance appears to have taken place. After the visit of President Ramos, Vietnamese military officials visited Subic Bay to study its conversion to commercial use in order to draw lessons for the possible commercialization of Cam Ranh Bay. One of the earliest indications that Vietnam was interested in obtaining technical assistance in the repair and maintenance of military equipment from outside the Warsaw Pact came in late 1991 during the visit to Vietnam by Lt. General Teddy Rusdy, the Assistant Commander in Chief of the Indonesian Armed Forces. In
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discussions with officials at the VPA‘s Defence Industry and Technology General Department, General Rusdy received a request for technical assistance in the repair and maintenance of military equipment. Indonesia agreed to conduct a detailed study of the matter; but there have been no further reports of any action taken. In 1993 the Indonesian and Vietnamese defence ministers paid reciprocal visits. General Doan Khue, the Vietamese minister of national defence, showed particular interest in naval shipbuilding and was taken to Surabaya to observe first hand. This was an indication that Vietnam was investigating the possibility of enlisting foreign partners in ship construction in Vietnam. In 1995, a delegation representing Indonesia‘s state aircraft manufacturing corporation went to Vietnam to explore the possibility of starting operations there. Once again nothing eventuated from these exploratory contacts. The 1997 Asian financial crisis and its impact on Indonesia hobbled Indonesia‘s capacity to cooperate with Vietnam in the defence area. There was an apparent revivial of Indonesian interest in early 2002 when Lt. General Johny Lumintang, Secretary General of Ministry of Defence and Security held working sessions in Hanoi with the VPA‘s General Logistics Department and General Defence Industry Department. More recent high-level visits appear of a protocol nature., such as the August 2007 visit by the Indonesian Air Force Chief of Staff. Defence relations between Singapore and Vietnam were initiated in March 1995 with the visit to Singapore by Vietnam‘s Defence Minister, General Doan Khue. The two countries have since exchanged eleven high-level delegations (to August 2005). The pattern indicates interest and possible cooperation between defence industries. In November 1995, for example, the head of the VPA‘s General Department of Technology, led a ten-member delegation on an visit that included a tour of local defence industries. Late the following year, Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Dr. Tony Tan Keng Yam visited Vietnam. After discussions with his Vietnamese counterpart, it was agreed that Vietnam would send a delegation to Singapore to study its experiences in refurbishing and upgrading weapons systems (Vietnam News Agency, November 27, 1996). In March 1999, Lt General Le Van Dung, Chief of the General Staff, paid a visit to Singapore and called in at the

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Industrial Technologies Group for a briefing. In 2002 it was reported that Singapore and Vietnam had reached agreement ‗in principle‘ to hold joint naval exercises. Hanoi reportedly sought Singapore Automotive Engineering‘s (now the ST Kinetics division of ST Engineering) assistance in upgrading its Vietnam War era M113 APCs. Basic overhaul of 50 M113‘s is now under way at a military base in Ho Chi Minh City. Parts have been obtained through commercial sources and weapon systems will be installed from captured stocks, with the APCs eventually due to be deployed with a southern-based armoured division. In September 2007, Singapore‘s Defence Miniser, Teo Chee Hean, visited Hanoi on an official visit for talks with his counterpart General Phung Quang Thanh. Press reports indicated that the two ministers exchanged experiences in army building, counter terrorism, humanitarian assistance and natural disaster relief and peacekeeping. They agree to continue to exchange delegations. In November 2007, General Thanh paid a three-day official reciprocal visit to Singapore and called in at air force and navy bases in the Lion City. In March 2008, Singapore‘s Air Force chief Maj. Gen. Ng Chee Khern visied Hanoi to discuss on-going cooperation in search and rescue missions, human resource development and language training. General Khern also held working visits with officers from the Air Defence and Air Force. Most recently, the Chief of Singapore‘s Defence Force, Desmond Kuek, visited Hanoi in April 2008 where he held discussions with the VPA Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Nguyen Khac Nghien. Agreement was reached to focus defence cooperation on training, medical corps and humanitarian aid. Defence contacts between Malaysia and Vietnam date to 1992 but did not reach senior level until October-November 1994 when General Doan Khue, Vietnam‘s defence minister, paid an official visit to Kuala Lumpur. Khue‘s itinerary included visits to the staff institute of the Malaysian Armed Forces, Syarikat Malaysia Explosives Technologies, Airod Sdn Bhd, the Udang Special War Training Centre and the Lumut Naval Base. According to Malaysia‘s Defence Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, ‗We agreed to develop some form of defence cooperation and collaboration, but we didn‘t go into specifics. I prefer them to look at our industry first‘. Although no MOU was signed the two sides agreed to enhance defence cooperation in exchange visits, training and cooperation in defence industries.
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Despite subsequent high-level exchanges there have been no public reports of substantial defence industry cooperation. Multilaterally. ASEAN eschewed multilateral defence activities for most of its existence. Prior to 2003 cooperative military activities by ASEAN states have been extremely modest: army football and volleyball tournaments, rifle shooting contests,
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and biennial meetings of war veterans.

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It was only in 2003 with the adoption

of the Bali Concord II that ASEAN set itself the goal of becoming a security community by 2015. The ASEAN Security Community Plan of Action comprises six components: political development, shaping and sharing of norms, conflict prevention, conflict resolution, post-conflict peace building, and implementing mechanisms. In May 2004, the Working Group on Security Cooperation of ASEAN Special Senior Officials Meeting requested the ASEAN Secretariat to draft a concept paper for ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting (ADMM). The concept paper specified that the ADMM would be an integral part of ASEAN and report directly to the ASEAN Summit. It was specifically tasked with four areas of responsibility: (1) promote peace and stability via dialogue and cooperation; (2) give guidance to senior defence/mililitary officials dialogue; (3) promote mutual trust and confidence, transparency; and (4) contribute to the establishment of the ASEAN Security Community. The ADMM was to meet annually and be ‗open, flexible, outward looking‘ and to complement other regional efforts to promote security dialogue and cooperation including confidence building measures and tangible cooperation within the ASEAN framework. The ADMM was given oversight of the ASEAN Chiefs of Defence Force Informal Meeting, ASEAN Chiefs of Army Multilateral Meeting, ASEAN Air Force Chiefs Conference, ASEAN Navy Interaction, ASEAN Military Intelligence Informal Meeting. The ADMM was to engage with ASEAN‘s friends and dialogue partners. The adoption of the ASEAN Security Community proposal gave cover for multilateral activities to take place. The first meeting of ASEAN Air Force Commanders was hosted by Thailand in March 2004.
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This meeting approved plans to establish

direct communications channels to promote coordination. The ASEAN Annual

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Ministerial Meeting held in Jakarta in June 2004 endorsed plans to hold military training exercises especially with a counter-terrorism focus. But plans so far are modest and only include bilateral activities. More significantly, the Fifth ASEAN Chiefs of Army Multilateral Meeting held in West Java in September 2004 gave a positive nod to a proposal to intensify cooperation against terrorism through the exchange of intelligence and joint exercises. The army chiefs agreed to set up a working group to draw up a detailed program. Vietnam‘s representative, Deputy Chief of the General Staff Major General Nguyen Nang Nguyen, was quoted as stating that the VPA will boost cooperation with other ASEAN armies ‗to fight terror and contribute to building an ASEAN of peace, stability, prosperity and protection of national independence and sovereignty‘. In November 2007, ASEAN adopted a protocol to the Concept Paper and gave approval for the ADMM to expanded its contacts through a mechanism known as ADMM Plus. A Joint Declaration was issued at this time endorsing a three-year work program of defence dialogues and cooperation. 4. Defence Procurements and Defence Industry Cooperation Over the period 1990-04, Vietnam exchanged high-level defence delegations with forty-two countries. Press reports indicated that discussions on some aspect of defence procurements, defence industry cooperation, research and development, and technical training featured in discussions with at least twenty-three states. This section reviews Vietnamese expression of interest in and purchase of weapons, platforms and other military equipment; arms servicing agreements and defence industry cooperation. Vietnam has limited resources to devote to its defence establishment. The Vietnam People‘s Army has traditionally supplemented its budget through domestic economic and commercial activities; since the adoption of doi moi military-owned enterprises have entered into joint venture agreements with foreign partners in order to earn hard currency. The financial position of the VPA became particularly parlous in the period immediately after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Figures compiled by the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency reveal a sharp drop in arms imports from U.S. $1.1 billion in 1991 to U.S. $10 million in 1992 and U.S. $10 million in 1993,
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before rising to U.S. $90 million in 1994. In 1992, Vietnam managed to off-set the costs of imports by exporting U.S. $10 million in arms sales. These were the first reported arms exports since 1988. (13) Chart 3 below sets out nominal government defence spending in terms of the dong, Vietnam‘s unit of currency, as a percentage of total government expenditure for the period 1993-03.
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Defence spending hovered at just under thirty percent with a

slight decline in recent years. Chart 4 displays Vietnam‘s official defence funding in real U.S. dollars for the same period. Defence funding doubled between 1993-97 to U.S. $2 billion, declined during the two years following the Asian financial crisis, and has since risen steadily. Vietnam‘s defence budget is a state secret. Vietnam only rarely provides information on arms procurements, servicing agreements and defence industry cooperation. For example, Vietnam has submitted reports on arms imports and exports for inclusion on the United Nations Register of Conventional Weapons annually since 1994. During this period Vietnam reported arms imports for only four years, 1995, 1997, 2004 and 2005. Vietnam submitted ‗nil‘ reports for all the other years. These reports are not complete. The Ukraine reported sales to Vietnam in 1995, 1996, 2002 and 2003 that are not included in Vietnam‘s reports for these years (see Table 1). Until November 1998 Vietnam was constrained in its arms and equipment purchases by United States national security legislation that prevented the sale of military equipment to Vietnam that incorporated U.S. technology. Until the U.S. ban was lifted, Vietnam was basically forced to look to those countries that had compatible Soviet-made equipment. That did not prevent Vietnam, however, from testing the market. Cost and compatibility have governed Vietnam‘s arms and military equipment purchases.
Table 1 Reports to United Nations Register of Conventional Arms 1 Country 2001 2002 2003 2004 4 combat aircraft, 20 missiles and missile launchers 2 2005 5 Su-22 UM3 3 nil 3Su-22 4 missile launchers, nil 2006

Exports Reported to Vietnam

nil

nil

nil

Imports Reported by Vietnam

nil

nil

nil

4 combat aircraft, 20 missiles 12 and missile launchers

62 S-300 missiles

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Notes 1 The UN Conventional Register of Conventional Arms records data provided by countries that export and import weapons in seven general categories; battle tanks, armoured combat vehicles, large caliber artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters and missiles and missile launchers. 2 Report by the Russian Federation for calendar year 2004. 3 Report by the Czech Republic for calendar year 2005. 4 Report by Ukraine for calendar year 2005.

Russian Federation. In mid-1992 Russia executed a volte face in its policy on withdrawal from Cam Ranh Bay and entered into a protracted series of negotiations with Vietnam on the terms and conditions of remaining there. The two sides failed to reach agreement and in May 2002 the Russians withdrew completely. In June 1994, Russia and Vietnam signed a friendship treaty that replaced the 1978 Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation. In August 1998, Vietnam and the Russian Federation declared a ‗new strategic partnership,‘ and two years later both sides finally reached an agreement on the settlement of outstanding debts. The Russian Federation continues to remain Vietnam‘s main source of military weapons and equipment, but there are indications that cost considerations have led Vietnam to diversify its imports. In 1994, Vietnam and Russia signed three major arms procurement contracts.
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The first covered the sale of six Sukhoi Su-27

fighter-bombers, a flight simulator and a training package for pilots and maintenance personnel. Reports submitted by Russia and Vietnam for inclusion on the United Nations Register of Conventional Weapons confirmed the delivery of five Su-27 SKs and one Su-27 UBK combat aircraft to Vietnam in 1995. Vietnam followed up on its initial procurements by purchasing an additional six Su-27s. (16) The second contract involved the sale of two Type 1241RA fast attack craft (FAC); while the third contract involved the sale of four air defence radar systems. In 1996, Russia and Vietnam established a joint venture to co-produce KBO 2000 and BPS 500-type vessels at the Ba Son naval dockyard in Ho Chi Minh City. The former is roughly equivalent to a corvette, while the latter is a much smaller fast attack craft armed with surface-to-surface missiles (SSMs). Vietnam also proposed the co-production of air defence radars and surface-to-surface missiles. Subsequently, Vietnam purchased four additional Type 1241RA fast attack craft and SSMs. Su-22UM3 ground attack aircraft.
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Between 1996 and 1998, Russia upgraded 32 single-seat Su-22M4 and two twin-seat

In 1997, Russian defence industry sources reported the sale of a number of BP-3A battlefield vehicles and T-8 OU tanks to Vietnam. Russia‘s Almaz Central Marine Design Bureau delivered two Type 14310 Svetlyak class patrol boats in December 2002 for use by the Coast Guard service. The defence relationship between the two countries was further strengthened during the February/March 2001 visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to Vietnam. During his stay, the two countries agreed to ―strengthen their co-operation in military supplies to meet Vietnam‘s security demands‖. In 2002, the Russian Federation listed the sale of eight missiles and missile launchers to Vietnam on its annual report to the U.N. Register of Conventional Weapons. (18) In 2003, Russia and Vietnam reached agreement on three major weapons purchases: four Su-30 MKKs (with an option for eight more); two Molnya 1241.8 type missile boats (Ho-A Class in Vietnam), with a further eight to be assembled in Vietnam
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and two batteries (12

launchers each) of S-300PMU1 surface-to-air missile systems in a contract valued at U.S. $200 million. The deal, for 12 systems has a potential value of U.S. $300 million if all options are exercised. The combined arms purchases for 2003 totaled an estimated U.S. $480 million. The four Su-30 aircraft were delivered at the end of 2004. However, purchase of the remaining eight aircraft has proven too costly for Vietnam. Vietnam‘s SU-27s and Su30s are expected to require an upgrade in order to operate with a range of air-to-air, air-to-surface and anti-ship missiles, most notably the R-77 beyond-visual-range AAM. The first S-300PMU1 battery was delivered in August 2005. In March 2005 it was reported that Vietnam may require a further eight to 10 fighter aircraft, with the Su-27 or Su-30MK the preferred choice. Insufficient funding may well prove to be an insurmountable stumbling block and could be a factor in the apparent decision of that year to acquire 40 second-hand Sukhoi Su-22 attack aircraft. The Project 2100 programme to locally assemble a Russian-built corvette appears to have been abandoned. It was always doubtful whether Vietnam possessed the indigenous technical capability to assemble such a relatively sophisticated vessel In addition to these ‗big ticket‘ items, Russia provides Vietnam with spare parts and assistance in the maintenance and modernization of military equipment. Vietnamese military personnel continue to study at Russian academies and military schools.
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In December 2007, Russia and Vietnam convened the annual meeting of the Intergovernment Committee for Military Technical Cooperation. The Russian delegation was led by the director of its Federal Service for Military and Technical Cooperation. Vietnam is believed to be in the process of negotiating with Russia for the purchase of an additional six ‗Tarantul 3‘ corvettes. The Type 3s are armed with the SS-N-22 Sunburn missile – as on China‘s ‗Sovremmeny‘ class destroyers. Vietnam retains an interest in obtaining full-size submarines from Russia, probably beginning with two or three platforms. No contract has been signed or appears imminent. Ukraine. The Ukraine probably ranks second to the Russian Federation as a provider of military equipment and technical training to Vietnam. Defence cooperation between Vietnam and the Ukraine was initiated in March 1994 when the VPA chief of the general staff paid a visit to Kiev. The VPA deputy chief of the general staff accompanied his prime minister on a visit in June that year. It was subsequently reported that the Ukraine sold Vietnam fourteen R27R1 (470-1) missiles and missile launchers in 1995 and six MiG-21 UM training aircraft in 1996. The chief of the general staff of the Ukraine armed forces paid a return visit in September 1997 and discussed cooperation in equipment sales, technology and personnel training. As a result of the visit of the Vietnamese defence minister in May 2002, Vietnam and the Ukraine reached agreement on a significant program of far reaching militarytechnical cooperation up to 2005. Under the terms of this agreement the Ukraine will provide major assistance to Vietnam to upgrade its air defence (radar, communications and surface-to-air missiles), combat air, naval and armour and artillery forces. Specifically, Ukrainian specialists have drawn up plans to modernize the Vietnamese navy and air defence force. These plans call for substantial Ukrainian involvement across a number of areas including the renovation of the Ba Son dockyard in Ho Chi Minh City; developing naval test facilities; arms co-production; mid-level officer exchanges; and repairing, upgrading and supply of all types of equipment and weapons. The Ukraine will train thirty to forty senior VPA officers up to the rank of general at its military academies. According to reports submitted by the Ukraine to the United Nations, it sold ten L-39 combat training aircraft to Vietnam in 2002-03. In 2005, Vietnam acquired three ‗Fitter‘ aircraft of an unknown version from the Ukraine.

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India. In 1994, India and Vietnam signed a protocol on defence cooperation covering training slots for Vietnamese officers at India‘s defence academy, servicing of Vietnamese military hardware, and continued regular discussions between the two defence ministries. An Indian official described the protocol as a low-key framework agreement, while Vietnam‘s defence attaché was quoted as stating, ‗We need India‘s help very badly in training our defence personnel, which is our first priority. India‘s assistance in military hardware will be a long-term cooperative agreement and we are still working on the [details]‘. Shortly after, Vietnam reached agreement with Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) to overhaul and service eight to ten MiG-21 engines and to provide continued technical support. Vietnam has shown a keen interest in developing defence industry cooperation. In May 1995, for example, a Vietnamese military delegation led by the VPA chief of the general staff, visited India. The delegation toured Hyderabad, Dindigul, Madras, Bangalore, Goa, Nasik and Pune to study military training and defence industries, including the operations of such companies as HAL, Ordnance Factories Board, Bharat Earth Movers Limited, and Goa Shippers Limited. Later, India agreed to assist Vietnam in setting up defence industry to manufacture small and medium weapons and other ordnance products (The Times of India, March 29, 2000). Possible future arms sales include India‘s multi-role advanced light helicopter, warships and anti-ship and air-defence missiles. In 2000, India and Vietnam signed a wide-ranging defence protocol agreement.
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This document lays the foundation for substantially increased defence cooperation, and the raising of relations to periodic meetings between defence ministers and the exchange of strategic perceptions and intelligence sharing. Under the 2000 agreement, India will assist in repairing and overhauling Vietnam‘s fleet of one hundred and twenty MiG-21s and train Vietnamese fighter pilots and technicians. The Indian Navy will help repair, upgrade and build fast patrol craft for the Vietnamese navy and offer training to its technical personnel (The Hindu, March 28, 2000). The protocol also included bilateral naval exercises and coordinated patrols involving the Vietnamese Marine Police and the Indian Coast Guard.

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In October 2002 Vietnam asked India to provide submarine training but it remains unclear whether the move was linked to its 1997 acquisition of two small platforms from North Korea or to a new programme. Whichever is the case, this request represented the first phase in implementing Vietnam‘s long-standing interest in developing an undersea-warfare capability. The following year (2003), Vietnam provided guerilla warfare training to the Indian armed forces.. In May 2003, India and Vietnam signed a ‗Joint Declaration on Framework of Comprehensive Cooperation‘ that included: regular high-level meetings, close cooperation in the United Nations and other international fora, assistance with respect to safeguarding mutual interests, and gradual steps to expand cooperation in the security and defence fields. In 2007, in a major development, India and Vietnam declared the establishment of a ―strategic partnership‖ during the visit by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung. In November, India and Vietnam held their third Security Dialogue in New Delhi where it was decided to step up cooperation in training of junior level officers, to conduct a security dialogue annually, to share expertise on issues of common concern such as maritime security, border management and counter insurgency, training in UN peacekeeping operations, and invite Vietnamese observers to attend Indian military exercises. In December, India‘s Defence Minister A. K. Anthony visited Hanoi accompanied by the Vice Chief of Army Staff and senior air force and navy officers. Agreement was reached for India to supply Vietnam with 5,000 essential spares for its Petya-class anti-submarine ships in order to make them operational. Additionally, India agreed to dispatch a four-member army team to Vietnam during the first half of 2008 to conduct training on UN peacekeeping operations. Finally, the two sides agreed to set up a Joint Working Group to facilitate the signing of a Memorandum of Understading on defence cooperation (including cooperation on national defence, navy, air defence and personnel training). The Indian delegation also visited defence industries in Ho Chi Minh City. Vietnam‘s Defence Minister sought Indian assistance in training of defence personnel,
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enhancing the exchanges of delegations, expanding training

cooperation, cooperation between national defence industries, an increase in the frequency of goodwill visits by naval ships, application of information technology and e-technology, and technical support for the Vietnamese navy.
17

Most recently, Lt. Gen. Truong Quang Khanh, head of General Department of Defence Industry, Ministry of National Defence, attended an international defence exposition, DEFEXPO-2008, in New Delhi in February 2008. That same month Admiral Sureesh Mehta, Chief of the Army Staff Committee, visited Hanoi where he met with Deputy Defence Minister Senior Lt. Gen. Nguyen Khac Vien. Admiral Mehta inspected the Hong Ha Shipbuilding Company and also visited Ho Chi Minh City before departing. Finally, in April the Flag Officer Commander in Chief of the Indian Eastern Naval Command, Vice Admiral R. P. Suthan led two warships on a port call to Hanoi. He held discussions with VPA Vice Chief of the General Staff, Tran Quang Khue. Europe. In addition to its substantial arms purchasing arrangements with Russia and the Ukraine, Vietnam has also explored the possibilities of defence procurements and military assistance with several states in Europe, particularly former members of the Warsaw Pact. In the early 1990s, Vietnam purchased nine Aero L-39 Albatross jet trainers from the former Czech and Slovak Republic, and later sought assistance in their maintenance and repair. In 1995 Vietnam reached agreement with Omnipol for the purchase of technology and equipment to produce Grad multiple tube launched rockets in Vietnam. In May 2000, Vietnam‘s defence minister visited the Czech Republic where he sought cooperation in arms manufacturing and repair and officer training. In May 2003, the Czech foreign minister visited Hanoi and offered assistance to upgrade Vietnam‘s T-72 battle tank. The minister also offered to sell anti-chemical warfare uniforms and equipment. At least five former Czech Su-22UM3 two-seaters are known to have been delivered to Vietnam in 2005 and it is possible that up to 25 other surplus Czech Su-22M4s could also have found their way to Vietnam (for Polish deliveries see below). In July 1994, the prime minister of Slovakia visited Vietnam accompanied by his defence minister and a number of representatives of the arms industry. While in Hanoi they picked up expressions of Vietnamese interest in purchasing T-72 Ms tanks and artillery. The following month Vietnam‘s president paid a visit to Slovakia where he proposed cooperation between defence industries, including the construction of coastal defence vessels. In May 2002, Vietnam‘s defence minister
18

Pham Van Tra visited the Slovak Republic. Tra sounded out his counterpart on possible defence industry cooperation and the modernization of military equipment to be undertaken in Slovak factories. Specifically, Tra expressed an interest in the Brams mobile anti-aircraft complex, and the Aligator light armoured vehicle. Tra returned to Hanoi with a proposal from Slovak defence manufactures. Bulgaria and Vietnam extended their defence cooperation agreement in 1997 during the course of the visit by the Vietnamese defence minister. Reportedly this agreement included cooperation in such areas as the supply of spare parts for MiG-21 aircraft, military equipment repair, military science and medicine, and personnel exchange. In October 2007, the Bulgarian Defence Minister visited Vietnam to discuss military cooperation in language training, culture, sports and, more significantly, military technology. In December 1998, the Polish deputy defence minister visited Vietnam to initiate discussions on cooperation in shipbuilding and arms sales (including MiG-21s and infantry weapons). Poland provided Vietnam with a grant of U.S. $70 million to assist in naval construction. In May 2000, Vietnam‘s defence minister visited Poland where he expressed an interest in purchasing Anaconda helicopters and Bryza aircraft. Both sides discussed possible future cooperation in such areas as upgrading battle tanks (with new fire control systems), co-production of ammunition and officer training. In October 2003, Vietnam signed an agreement to buy up to 10 Polskie Zaklady Lotnicze (PZL) M28 Skytruck short take-off and landing (STOL) aircraft configured for maritime surveillance and border-control missions from Poland in a deal valued at around U.S. $40 million. Two aircraft were delivered in December 2004 and a further two were reportedly handed over in mid-2005. The aircraft are likely to be operated by the air force. In early March 2005 it was reported that Poland would supply T-72 MBTs together with training and basic maintenance equipment, as well as ammunition. The shipment of 150 second-hand tanks, probably from Poland‘s surplus stocks, was due to begin in the third quarter of 2005. Also in 2005, Vietnam acquired forty Su-22Ms ground attack aircraft from a Polish source.

19

The VPA Chief of General Staff, General Nguyen Khac Vien, visited Belarus from June 21-23, 2007 where he held discussions with Minister of Defence Colonel General Leonid Maltsev and the First Deputy Defence Minister Lt. Gen. Sergei Gurulev. A year later (January 2008) the First Vice President of the Belarus State Defence Industry Committee visited Hanoi for talks with Defence Minister General Phung Quang Thanh. In addition to former members of the Warsaw Pact, Vietnam has explored possible arms procurements and defence cooperation with a number of other European states. In 1997 it was reported that Vietnam had taken delivery of French armoured vehicles within the ‗past two years‘. In mid-1997, Vietnam opened discussions with SerbiaMontenegro for the purchase of the locally upgraded T-55 main battle tank. The next year Finland proposed selling Vietnam spare parts from its mothballed fleet of MiG21s. In February 2005 it was reported that the Finnish Defence Forces were planning to sell a fleet of up to 70 Soviet-era T-54 and T-55 Main Battle Tanks (MBT) to Vietnam. In June 1997, the United Kingdom used a port call by HMS Beaver to promote the sale of defence equipment to Vietnam. In March 1999, Prince Andrew led a delegation of eleven firms to Ho Chi Minh City to showcase British defence equipment. The Prince‘s visit coincided with the port call by HMS Boxer. Finally, in 1999 Vietnam expressed an interest in acquiring its first military communications satellite. Vietnamese officials approached Acatel, a French company, as well as Matra Marconi Space, a joint British-French company (Hanoi also approached American firms Lockheed Martin and Loral Space). In 2005, Austria agreed to fund the development of vocational schools linked to Vietnam‘s Ministry of National Defence. On January 15, 2008 Austria agreed to extend this program into a third phase to 15 million. In December 2007, Lt. Gen. Gianni Botondi, 2009 valued at Italy‘s Secretary General for Defence and National Armaments made an official visit to Vietnam to discuss the structue of national defence industry. Italy and Vietnam agreed to set up a working group to promote bilateral cooperation. In May 2008, Deputy Minister of Defence, Senior Lt. Gen. Nguyen Huy Hieu paid a working visit to Switzerland for discussions with the Chief

20

of the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sports on boosting defence cooperation. General Hieu visited some Swiss industrial establishments. Other Suppliers. There are only three other countries that feature in Vietnam‘s arms procurement and military modernization efforts: Israel, North Korea and South Korea. In 1993 Israeli defence firms approached Vietnam with an offer to upgrade its fleet of Soviet manufactured jet aircraft, armour and artillery. In January 1994, officials from Vietnam‘s Defence Ministry‘s Defence Industry and General Technology Department made a visit to Israel to assess possible Israeli assistance in upgrading the VPA‘s communications capability. The following year an Israeli firm was awarded a contract to upgrade Vietnam‘s military communications network. In 1999, Israeli firms were unsuccessful in bidding for the contract to refurbish Vietnam‘s fleet of MiG aircraft. During the course of the visit by Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Cong Tan in November 1999, it was revealed that Israeli defence industries have begun contracts with Vietnam on defence exports. No other details were provided. The 1994, Vietnam and the Democratic People‘s Republic of Korea exchanged visits by their respective defence ministers. The two sides agreed to a barter deal under which Vietnam would supply rice in exchange for weapons parts and ammunition. In December 1996, Vietnam‘s Deputy Minister of Defense, General Nguyen Thoi Bung, visited North Korea and signed a defense package deal worth US $100 million reportedly involving the sale of Igla (SA-16 Gimlet) portable air defense missiles and Scud short-range ballistic missiles. The following year it was reported that Vietnam had taken delivery of two North Korean Yugo class mini-submarines and was refurbishing them at Cam Ranh Bay (Robert Karniol, Jane‘s Defense Weekly, December 9, 1998). In April 1999, it was reported that Vietnam had acquired a quantity of Scud C surface-to-surface missiles with a range of 550 kilometres (with a payload of 770 kilograms). In 2003 there were further reports that North Korea had sold unspecified military technology to Vietnam (Far Eastern Economic Review, February 13, 2003). In 1994, two years after the establishment of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and South Korea, Vietnam reportedly approached the Huyndai Corporation to purchase three 80-ton fast boats for coastal patrol. Hyundai officials did not deny
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these reports but claimed they had not applied for an exit permit. In April 1995, the two foreign ministers agreed, among other things, to exchange defence industrial materials. In October of that same year, South Korea posted its first defence attaché to Hanoi. The two countries exchanged visits by their respective defence ministers in late 2000 and early 2001. In the course of the visit of the South Korean defence minister, the agenda included consideration of exchanges on defence technology and related industries. During the return visit by Vietnam‘s defence minister, two memoranda of understanding were reached; the first dealt with cooperation in defence industry and logistics, while the second covered exchanges in military education. Vietnam‘s defence minister visited several South Korean defence firms and arms manufacturers. It was reported at this time that Daewoo Heavy Industries and Machinery was considering a joint venture with Vietnam to refurbish its stock of Americanmanufactured armoured personnel vehicles. In November 2001, South Korea hosted an exhibition of military and electronics products during the port call by three of its naval ships. In September 2007, the two South Korean naval ships (a destroyer and logistics ship) called in at the port of Ho Chi Minh City. In January 2008, Vietnam‘s naval commander, Vice Admiral Nguyen Van Hien, made a rare five-day overseas visit to Seoul to discuss expanding ties between the two navies. Admiral Hien met and had discussions with the South Korean Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Song Young-moo. The two admirals discussed the enhancement of cooperation in the defence industry sector. 5. The Structure of Vietnam-China Relations, 1991-2007 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Vietnam‘s relations with China are structured on both a multilateral basis through membership in ASEAN, the ASEAN Regional Forum and other multilateral bodies, and bilaterally, through a long-term cooperative framework agreement. When Vietnam joined ASEAN in 1995 it assumed responsibility for participating in all multilateral arrangements entered into by ASEAN and China. In July 1994 ASEAN and China reached formal agreement to establish two joint committees — one on science and technology cooperation and the other on economic

22

and trade cooperation. ASEAN and China also agreed to open consultations on political and security issues at the senior official level. The first China-ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting was held in Hangzhou in April 1995. In 1996, China was accorded official dialogue partner status by ASEAN, and in February the following year, ASEAN and China formalized their cooperation by establishing the ASEAN-China Joint Cooperation Committee (ACJCC). The ACJCC first met in Beijing where it was agreed that it would ‗act as the coordinator for all the ASEAN-China mechanisms at the working level‘.
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As an ASEAN dialogue partner,

China regularly participates in the annual ASEAN Post-Ministerial Conference consultation process. This takes the form of a meeting between ASEAN and its ten dialogue partners (ASEAN Ten Plus Ten), and a separate meeting between ASEAN members and each of its dialogue partners (ASEAN Ten Plus One). China-ASEAN relations advanced in November 2002 with the signing of three major documents: Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Between ASEAN Nations and the People‘s Republic of China, Joint Declaration between China and ASEAN on Cooperation in Non-Traditional Security Fields, and Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC). The first agreement laid the foundations for the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area. The joint declaration on non-traditional security was formalized in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in January 2004. The MOU followed a special meeting held in Bangkok in April 2003 to discuss joint action to deal with the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic.
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A major advance towards the free trade

area was taken in January 2007 when China and ASEAN signed the Agreement on Trade in Services at their tenth summit in Cebu, the Philippines. Originally, ASEAN sought to negotiate a Code of Conduct for the South China Sea. China resisted ASEAN diplomatic pressure to agree to a formal legally-binding code. Nevertheless, China and ASEAN were able to develop unprecedented cooperation under the umbrella of the DOC . In September 2003, Wu Bangguo, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People‘s Congress, proposed joint oil exploration and development in areas of overlapping claims in the South China Sea (see discussion below). Early in 2004, ASEAN and China agreed to set up a Joint Working Group to implement the DOC.
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Strategic Partnership for Peace and Prosperity. In October 2003, China‘s zone of interaction with ASEAN was enhanced when China acceded to the ASEAN Treaty of Amity and Cooperation, and China issued a joint declaration with ASEAN establishing a strategic partnership.
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The joint declaration was the first formal

agreement of this type between China and a regional organization, as well as a first for ASEAN itself. The joint declaration was wide-ranging and included a provision for the initiation of a new security dialogue as well as general cooperation in political matters. (25) In July the following year, State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan raised the prospect of developing ‗enhanced strategic relations‘ with ASEAN in his discussions with Secretary General Ong Keng Yong in Beijing. As a result, China and ASEAN drafted a five-year Plan of Action (2005-2010) in late 2004. This plan included, inter alia, a joint commitment to increase regular high-level bilateral visits, cooperation in the field of non-traditional security, security dialogue and military exchanges and cooperation. (26) The Plan of Action set out the following objectives:

Promote mutual confidence and trust in defense and military fields with a view to maintaining peace and stability in the region; Conduct dialogues, consultations and seminars on security and defense issues; Strengthen cooperation on military personnel training; Consider observing each other‘s military exercises and explore the possibility of conducting bilateral or multilateral joint military exercises; and Explore and enhance cooperation in the field of peacekeeping.

  

ASEAN has been reluctant to advance military cooperation with China too quickly. In May 2004, during the course of a visit to Beijing by Malaysia‘s new prime minister, Abdullah Badawi, his Chinese counterpart, Premier Wen Jiabao, suggested they consider a joint undertaking to maintain the security of sea lines of communication through the Malacca Strait. This proposal was pressed the following month by Senior Colonel Wang Zhongchun, deputy director of China‘s National Defense University. In a paper presented to the China-ASEAN forum in Singapore, Wang proposed joint naval exercises and patrols (as well as intelligence exchanges on terrorism). According to one analyst, Wang‘s proposal was received coolly and with considerable skepticism by the audience.
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Three years later, however, Indonesia proposed
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seeking technical assistance from both China and Japan on an ASEAN-wide and bilateral basis to build up the capacity of the littoral states. (28) In November 2004, at the 8th China-ASEAN Summit, Premier Wen Jiabao once again raised China‘s proposal to shelve disputes in the South China Sea ‗while going for joint development.‘ This led to a major break through in March the following year when the national oil companies of China, the Philippines and Vietnam signed an agreement to conduct joint seismic testing in the South China Sea. (29) In July 2005, President Hu Jintao reiterated China‘s call for joint development during the course of state visits to Brunei, Indonesia and the Philippines.
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That

month, China and ASEAN set up the Joint Working Group on the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and charged it with recommending measures to implement the agreement. The Working Group held its second meeting in Hainan in February 2006. In light of deadly pirate attacks on Chinese fishing vessels in May 2006, China, the Philippines and Vietnam agreed to strengthen security cooperation in the South China Sea. (31) The ASEAN-China strategic partnership was consolidated with the holding of the first workshop on regional security between defence department officials in Beijing in July 2006. ASEAN and China also held a heads of government Commemorative Summit in Nanning to mark the fifteenth anniversary of China‘s status as a dialogue partner. By the end of 2006, ASEAN and China had concluded twenty-eight ‗cooperation framework mechanisms,‘ including regular consultations between senior officials on strategic and political security cooperation, a yearly conference of foreign ministers, and an annual summit meeting of government leaders. defense cooperation in the future. ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF). Vietnam was a founding member of the ASEAN Regional Forum in 1994. Membership in the ARF provides a multilateral framework for Vietnam‘s defence-security relations and interaction with China. When China first joined the ASEAN Regional Forum it was highly suspicious about multilateral activities that might curtail its national sovereignty. Over time, however, China has come to embrace multilateral security cooperation under the auspices of
25
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These

developments provided a firm foundation for the development of security and

the ARF.

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China has taken a particularly active role in the ARF‘s inter-sessional

work program related to confidence building measures. In March 1997, for example, China hosted the Inter-Sessional Group on Confidence Building Measures, and did so again in November 2003. In 1997, China sent representatives to the ARF meeting of Heads of Defense Colleges and hosted the 4th ARF meeting of the Heads of Defense Colleges in September 2000. The meeting was opened by Defence Minister Chi Haotian, who argued that the ARF‘s stress on dialog and consultation represented a ‗new security concept‘ and the trend of ‗multi-polarization‘ in the region. Chi noted that regional flash points still existed, ‗hegemonism and power politics have shown new traces of development‘ and ‗democracy and human rights‘ were being used as excuses for intervention, and ‗separatism was gaining ground. All these will endanger or jeopardize the security and stability of the region. That‘s why we advocate that all countries adopt the new security concept built upon equality, dialogue, mutual confidence and cooperation.‘
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In 2000, China also contributed for the first time to the ARF‘s Annual Security

Outlook and began providing voluntary briefings on regional security. While China‘s participation in the ARF‘s program of confidence building measures has evolved over time, China‘s endorsement of preventive diplomacy has been more circumscribed. In a Defence White Paper issued in late 2000, China provided this cautious assessment: China holds that the ARF should continue to focus on confidence-building measures, explore new security concepts and methods, and discuss the question of preventive diplomacy. At the same time, it believes that the parties concerned should have a full discussion first on the concept, definition, principles and scope of preventive diplomacy in the Asia-Pacific region and reach consensus in this regard. (35) According to one China analyst ‗two of the defining features of that document [the 2000 Defence White Paper] were the emphasis on the dominance of peace and development as forces driving global development and a corollary imperative toward implementing external policies based upon multilateral cooperative approaches.‘
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Since 2000, China has consistently promoted its new security concept as the preferred framework for multilateral cooperation. For example, in July 2002 China

26

outlined its new security concept in a position paper presented to the annual ARF ministerial meeting. In 2003, China launched a major initiative to further its new concept of security. At the annual ARF ministerial meeting in Phnom Penh, China proposed the creation of a Security Policy Conference comprised of senior military and civilian officials (vice minister level) drawn from all ARF members. The objective of this new security mechanism would be to draft a security treaty to promote ‗peace, stability and prosperity‘ in the region. Chinese officials said the new treaty would give equal attention to the concerns of all ARF members and guarantee security through united action rather than seeking ‗absolute security for oneself and threaten[ing] other parties‘ security.‘
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China drafted and circulated a concept paper prior to hosting

the first ARF Security Policy Conference in November 2004. (38) At the 11th ARF Ministerial Meeting in 2004, China tabled a series of proposals for the future development of the ARF. These were later summarized as follows: To maintain its forum nature and adhere to the basic principles of decision-making through consensus, taking an incremental approach, and moving at a pace comfortable to all member so as to encourage the initiative and active participation of all members; to continuously strengthen and consolidate confidence-building measures (CBMs) while actively addressing the issue of preventive diplomacy, so as to gradually find out cooperative methods and approaches for preventive diplomacy that are suitable to the region and fitting the current needs; to increase participation of defense officials, promote exchanges and cooperation among militaries of the countries concerned and give full play to the important role of the militaries in enhancing mutual trust; to highlight cooperation in non-traditional security fields such as counter-terrorism and combating transnational crimes. (39) China‘s 2004 Defense White Paper identified five main areas of international security cooperation: strategic consultation and dialogue; regional security cooperation; cooperation in non-traditional security fields, participating in United Nations peacekeeping operations; and military exchanges. Chapter nine highlighted the importance China placed on its interaction with ASEAN and the ASEAN Regional Forum.

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The Defense White Paper also set out Beijing‘s policy on international cooperation in the area of defense-related science, technology and industry including the export of military products and related technologies. According to this document, China‘s exports in this sensitive area were governed by three principles: ‗It should only serve the purpose of helping the recipient state enhance its capability for legitimate selfdefense; it must not impair peace, security and stability of the relevant region and the world as a whole; and it must not be used to interfere in the recipient state‘s internal affairs.‘ (40) Bilateral. After a decade-long estrangement during the Cambodian conflict, leaders from Hanoi and Beijing met in secret in southern China in September 1990 and agreed to normalize bilateral relations. China and Vietnam resumed high-level political contact in November 1991, pointedly only after Vietnam had agreed to a comprehensive political settlement in Cambodia. Bilateral political relations between Vietnam and China were codified by party leaders who met in Beijing in early 1999 (Xinhua Domestic Service, February 27, 1999). Late the following year the two sides signed a ‗Joint Statement for Comprehensive Cooperation in the New Century between the People‘s Republic of China and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam‘ (Vietnam News Agency, December 25, 2000). It is notable that between February 1999 and December 2000, the People‘s Republic of China (PRC) negotiated long-term cooperative framework arrangements with all ten ASEAN members. (41) Generally these took the form of joint statements signed by foreign ministers or vice premiers. Six of China‘s long-term cooperative framework agreements included a reference to security cooperation (Thailand, Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, the Philippines, and Laos). Subsequently, several of these long-term cooperative framework agreements have been enhanced through additional joint declarations and/or memoranda of understanding. It is notable that no defence clause was included in the Sino-Vietnamese agreement, perhaps because of the contentious nature of unresolved territorial disputes in the South China Sea. According to the joint statement, ‗[b]oth sides will refrain from taking any action that might complicate and escalate disputes, resorting to force or making threats with force‘. Defence contacts were first opened with the exchange of delegations from the Vietnamese and Chinese defence ministries‘ External Relations
28

Departments in February and May 1992, respectively. Data for the period 2002-06 reveals there is a marked imbalance in the exchange of delegations at the ministerial level. Vietnam‘s defence minister has visited China four times, while China‘s defence minister has made only one visit to Hanoi. The exchanges at the level of Chief of the General Staff, General Political Department and General Logistics Department are more balanced. Contact at the level of service chiefs has been confined to one visit by the PLA Navy Air Force in 1997. China and ASEAN members carried out seventy-one high-level defence visits in the period from 2002 to 2006. Sixteen were ministerial level visits. Reciprocal visits by defence ministers were conducted by China with five countries including Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Vietnam and China exchanged nine high-level delegations during this period. In the period between 2001-2006, China and Southeast Asia conducted eleven naval goodwill visits involving seven regional states. Chinese warships visited Vietnam, Singapore (twice), Thailand and Brunei. In November 2001, PLAN Jiangwei-II guided missile frigate visits Ho Chi Minh City. The Vietnamese navy has yet to make a return visit. Defence relations between China and Vietnam appear almost entirely focused on exchanges of views on regional security and ideological matters and border security issues. Table 2 sets out data on the exchange of delegations at the Military Region level between 1996 and 2003. Since the normalization of relations both China and Vietnam have undertaken to demine and to dispose of unexploded ordnance in their frontier area. Since the signing of a treaty on their common border in December 1999, both sides have begun to physically demarcate this area. This process is expected to be completed in June 2008. In October 2005, the Chinese and Vietnamese defence ministers tentatively discussed cooperation between their nation defense industries. China‘s state-owned armed supplier, NORINCO, was reported to be providing Vietnam with ammunition for small arms and artillery, military vehicles and assisting in co-production of ammunition and heavy machine guns. (42)
Table 2 Exchanges at Military Region Level between China and Vietnam, 1996-2003

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To Vietnam 1996 January Guangzhou Military Region 1997 February Jinan Military Region 1997 June Chengdu Military Region 1998 July Chengdu Military Region 2000 January Jinan Military Region 2000 July Chengdu Military Region 2002 April Guangzhou Military Region 2003 January Chengdu Military Region

From Vietnam 1997 April Military Region 2 1999 November Military Region 3

In a new development, in April 2006, China and Vietnam commenced joint naval patrols in the Gulf of Tonkin. This was a first for the Chinese navy. In August 2006, after the two party leaders, Nong Duc Manh and Hu Jintao, met in Beijing, they issued a joint communiqué that noted ‗both sides spoke positively of… the joint patrol conducted by the navies of the two countries in the Tonkin Gulf‘.
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The

second China-Vietnam joint patrol was conducted in late December 2006. A month earlier Vietnam Petroleum Corporation (PetroVietnam) and the China National Offshore Oil Corporation reached agreement to conduct joint exploration in the Gulf of Tonkin. On January 5, 2007, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung gave his approval for joint oil exploration to commence. In April 2005, China and Vietnam commenced extremely low-key ‗consultations on defensive security‘ in Beijing. China had already initiated defence security consultations with Thailand, and the Philippines. 6. Impact of Defence on Foreign Policy The above sections have traced Vietnam‘s growing defence-security ties with China within both multilateral and bilateral settings. The growth of this relationships appears in accord with the broad tenets of Vietnamese foreign policy – to multilateralise and diversify foreign relations, to be a reliable partner with all countries, and to develop strategic partnerships with the major powers. According to Alexander Vuving, there are at least major identifiable leadership groupings in Vietnam, the ‗anti-imperialists‘ and the ‗integrationists‘.
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The former still harbour

suspicion about U.S. intentions, while the later seek to integrate Vietnam into the global economy including gaining access to the U.S. market.

30

During 2007 events in the South China Sea produced serious friction in SinoVietnamese relations. Vietnam has chosen to censor any and all public reporting on these developments. However in late 2007 there was an outpouring of nationalism on the part of Vietnamese students who mounted unprecedented public protests against Chinese actions in the South China Sea. This section will review these events. Just after Vietnam was admitted into the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the Vietnam Communist Party Central Committee held its fourth plenary session from January 15-24, 2007. This meeting took the decision to order the party, the army, police and regime-approved mass organizations to divest themselves of their commercial enterprises. Ownership will reportedly be transferred to a jolding company which will make a determination about which enterprises will be equitised and sold to private investors. The Vietnam People‘s Army, for example, currently runs 140 enterprises and hold shares in another twenty companies. These enterprises are engaged in an incredibly diverse range of economic activities from coffee production, coal mining, garment manufacture, stock broking, and telecommunications to health services. In 2006, army-run enterprises earned US $2 billion in revenue or 3 percent of Vietnam‘s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Divestiture will touch on sensitive sources of funding for the military at a time when developments in the South China Sea seemingly demand an increase in defence expendutire. In 2006, the the 10th National Party Congress adopted a resolution decreeing that Vietnam‘s maritime economy should be strongly developed with a focus on sectors that have comparative advantages in order to develop a strong maritime economy, maintain national defence and security in a spirit of international cooperation. This matter was considered by the fourth plenum of VCP Central Committee that met in January 2007. Reports submitted to this meeting noted that there was no coherent plan to integrate the economic development of coastal areas with the exploitation of marine resources in Vietnam‘s territorial waters. Economists estimated that by 2020, the marine economy would contribute up to 55 percent of GDP and between 55-60 percent of exports.

31

The fourth plenum directed that a national ‗Maritime Strategy Towards the Year 2020′ be drawn up to integrate economic development with environmental protection and national defence and security. The Vietnam People‘s Army was tasked with ‗defending territorial waters and safeguarding national sovereignty.‘ The maritime strategy was completed by the end of the year but has not yet been released publicly. Chinese officials reportedly acquired a classified copy and noted that Vietnam‘s plans included developing areas over which China has territorial claims. China then began to apply pressure of foreign firms that were likely to be involved in developing Vietnam‘s maritime sector, warning them that their commercial operations in China might suffer if they became involved in developing areas claimed by China. China‘s behind-the-scenes actions were accompanied by greater diplomatic and military assertiveness. For example, Vietnam lodged a protest when China implanted boundary markers on the Xisha (Paracel) Islands, claiming these violated Vietnamese sovereignty. On January 4, 2007, Liu Jianchao, spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, dismissed this protest declaring: ‗China has indisputable sovereignty over the Xisha, Nansha Islands and adjacent islands. And we have all historical and legal evidences needed to prove this‘. Liu also noted that the erection of structures marking the base points of China‘s territorial sea is a question of Chinese sovereignty and other countries have no right to intervene. Liu noted that based on the United Nations Convention on Law of he Sea and China‘s Law on the Territorial Sea and Contiguous Zone. China issued base points on Xisha Islands as early as 1996 (Press Trust of India, Beijing, January 4, 2007). It was in this context that China and Vietnam held their 13th round of discussions on border and territorial issues in Nanning from January 19-20, 2007. This meeting canvassed land and maritime issues. Regarding the South China Sea, the Vietnam News Agency reported: ‗Regarding marine issues, on the basis of common perception and the agreement already reached between leaders of the two countries, both sides discussed in depth measures to maintain peace and stability in the East Sea, without any action to complicate or widen disputes. They agreed to continue the negotiation mechanism in order to seek a basic and long-term solution that is acceptable to both sides and in line with international laws and practices, particularly the United

32

Nations Convention on the 1982 Law of the Sea and Declaration on Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC).‘ (45) In March, it was announced that British Petroleum (BP) and its partners had submitted plans to the Vietnamese Ministry of Industry for an investment of US $2 billion in a major expansion in gas and power development over the next decade. These plans included installing at least two natural gas pipelines connecting off shore deposits in two new gas fields, Moc Tinh and Hai Thach, in the Nam Con Son basin in the South China Sea. BP‘s plans also included the construction of a power plant in Nhon Trach in Dong Nai province.
(46)

BP currently maintains the only operational

pipeline which connects the Lan Tay-Lan Do gas field in the Nam Con Son basin to the Phu My power complex in Ba Ria-Vung Tau. The new fields to be connected to the proposed pipeline are adjacent to the fields from which BP operates a pipeline. The question of BP‘s future operations quickly became a contentious issue in SinoVietnamese relations. On April 9, 2007, Wu Bangguo, chairman of the National People‘s Congress, met with his Vietnamese counterpart, Nguyen Phu Trong. Wu stated that the two countries should tackle boundary issues appropriately in an effort to maintain stability in the South China Sea. Wu also said, ‗The two countries should enhance political mutual trust, appropriately deal with the boundary issue and implement related agreements.‘ (47) On the same day, President Hu Jintao told Trong, ‗China is ready to work with Vietnam to appropriately deal with the issue of land and maritime borders to jointly maintain peace in the border area.‘ (48) On April 10, Qin Gang, a spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was directly asked by a reporter from the state-run media about BP‘s proposed pipeline and Vietnam‘s plan to hold voting for the National Assembly on its possessions in the South China Sea. Qin replied, ‗China has indisputable [irrefutable] sovereignty over the Nansha Islands [Spratly Islands] and their adjacent waters and neighbouring marine areas… [With everyone‘s hard work, at present the situation in the South China Sea is stable]…Vietnam‘s new actions, which infringe on China‘s sovereignty, sovereign rights [power] and administrative rights on the Nansha Islands, go against the important consensus reached by leaders of the two countries on the maritime issue and are not beneficial to stability of the South China Sea area.‘
(49)

Qin observed that any one-sided action taken by any country in the South China
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Sea are ‗illegal and invalid‘ constituting as encroachment upon Chinese territorial sovereignty.
(50)

Qin was also quoted as sating: ‗It is not beneficial to stability in the

South China Sea area. The Chinese side is paying close attention and we have already made serious representations to the Vietnamese side.‘ (51) By way of response, on April 11, Le Dzung, a spokesperson for Vietnam‘s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, noted that Vietnam has sufficient historical evidence and legal basis to confirm its sovereignty over the Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) Islands. Dzung said Vietnam‘s operations conducted on its islands and territorial waters, including plot divisions, exploration and exploitation of oil and gas were ‗completely normal‘. They were, he said, ‗in line with Vietnamese law as well as international laws and practices, particularly the 1982 United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea and the 2002 Declaration of the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea.‘
(52)

Dzung also noted that Vietnam‘s partnership with BP dated to 2000 and ‗is

within Vietnam‘s exclusive economic area and continental shelf, and is within Vietnam‘s sovereignty.‘ (53) The Lan Tay-Lan Do field has been producing natural gas for power generation since 2002. (54) In April 2007, during the exchange of claims and counter-claims, Chinese naval vessels detained four Vietnamese fishing boats near Spratly islands. And, as a result of Chinese pressure, in June BP announced it was halting seismic work off southern Vietnam until Sino-Vietnamese tensions subsided. Events took a turn for the worse on July 9, 2007 when an incident occurred between a People‘s Liberation Army-Navy vessel and Vietnamese fishing boats near the Paracels resulting in the sinking of one Vietnamese boat and the death of one Vietnamese fisherman. (55) Vietnam kept silent on this issue and put a lid on news reporting. News of this clash was broadcast by Radio Free Asia. At the end of the year, PLAN exercises in the Paracel Islands from November 16-23, 2007 provoked Vietnamese protests. But no action was more inflammatory than the reported decision of the National People‘s Congress to create the Sansha county level town in Hainan province with administrative responsibility over three archipelagoes in the South China Sea, including the Paracel and Spratly islands. News of the NPC‘s reported actions provoked anti-China student demonstrations in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City on 9th and 16th December 2007. China immediately protested these
34

demonstrations. After the protests subsided, the Vietnam‘s Ministry of Foreign Affairs called in all the ASEAN ambassadors to inform them that the protests were spontaneous and not approved. (56) It appears likely that the student demonstrations were carefully staged political theatre. In effect, Vietnam took a leaf out of China‘s play book and staged ‗spontaneous‘ public demonstrations to signal its displeasure over Chinese actions in the South China Sea. In other words, the student protests were a subtle carefully orchestrated move that conveyed what government officials were thinking in private but could not say in public. Vietnamese officials were put between a rock and a hard place. In terms of public diplomacy, China repeatedly offered to settle outstanding matters peacefully. Yet in private China was exerting diplomatic and military pressure on Vietnam. Wu Bangguo, whose remarks were noted above, heads the same National People‘s Congress that reportedly created the Sansha administrative district which provoked Vietnamese student protests. In order to diffuse growing tensions, a meeting of the China-Vietnam Steering Committee on Cooperation was held in Beijing on January 23, 2008. The Vietnamese delegation included Deputy Minister of Defence Nguyen Huy Hieu who met separately with members of the Committee of Science, Technology and Industry, Ministry of Defence. ‗properly handle
(57)

At the Steering Committee meeting both sides agreed to in bilateral relations‘ through ‗dialogue and

problems

consultations.‘ Yet later that month China accused Vietnamese fishermen of attacking Chinese trawlers in the Gulf of Tonkin. Vietnam dismissed this charge and argued that the nets of the fishing boats had become entangled. The extreme delicacy of the Vietnamese position was revealed in a curious incident involving the cancellation of an official visit to Hanoi by the U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte in late January 2008. The State Department made an official announcement of the trip and both Chinese and Vietnamese state media reported that the visit would occur. Negroponte was scheduled to fly from Beijing directly to Hanoi where a program had been arranged and confirmed. Yet foreign journalists in Hanoi were told at short notice that the trip was cancelled ostensibly because of bad weather. But when reporters checked they discovered that commercial flights in and out of Beijing were unaffected. Vietnamese officials, speaking off the record, offered
35

the following explanation: Negroponte‘s visit was cancelled as a result of Chinese diplomatic pressure not to become involved in a bilateral matter. Chinese officials claimed that the Vietnamese officials would ask Negroponte for U.S. assistance in dealing with China over South China Sea issues. Vietnamese officials also claimed that China threatened to cancel the scheduled visit of Foreign Minister Pham Gia Khiem to Beijing if Hanoi received Negroponte. The growing friction between China and was addressed by a ‗summit meeting‘ communist parties leaders who met in Beijing from May 30-June 2, 2008. A joint statement issued after official talks between General Secretary Hu Jintao and Secretary General Nong Duc Manh revealed that China and Vietnam had agreed to raise relations to the level of a strategic partnership. (58) The issue of the South China Sea was barely mentioned in official media reporting of this event but what references that did appear were revealing. Some news reporting mentioned ‗problems left over from history‘ without further elaboration. A commentary in Nhan Dan on May 30th mentioned in passing the ‗maintenance of stability in the East Sea‘. When Hu ‗suggested a proper solution to existing issues between the countries on the basis of friendly consultations and mutual benefit‘, Manh replied that he shared Hu‘s views and that ‗the two countries should communicate promptly about their concerns.‘ The two leaders agreed to ‗foster an effective cooperation mechanism between the foreign ministries and defence, public and security agencies.‘ The two party leaders also agreed that the most appropriate mechanism to handle their relations was the bilateral Steering Committee. Hu also pressed his Vietnamese counterpart to agree on a five-year blueprint on trade cooperation. Immediately prior to Manh‘s visit to Beijing commercial satellite imagery was released to the public confirming that China was constructing a major naval base on Hainan Island and that major surface combatants as well as a single nuclear submarine were stationed there. In order to fully comprehend the strategic importance of the construction of naval base facilities at Sanya on Hainan island, it is necessary to understand both Chinese intentions and capabilities. China has so far refrained from providing any insights into the former. As for capabilities, the construction of piers and docks at the base indicates that the Sanya Naval Base is being built to accommodate large surface combatants including
36

assault ships and eventually aircraft carriers (China does not have carriers at present). Construction at Hainan is being paralleled by China‘s construction of an airfield at Woody Island in the Paracel islands and consolidation of facilities at Fiery Cross Reef and the maintenance of a continuing naval presence at Mischief Reef both in the Spratly archipelago. China will therefore have an enhanced capability to exercise its sovereignty claims over the South China Sea and protect its vital Sea Lines of Communication (SLOC) through the Malacca and Singapore Straits through which much of its energy resources flow. By extension, China will also have the capacity to threaten these same SLOCs on which Japan, Taiwan and South Korea are dependent. China will acquire a capacity to surge expeditionary forces into the South China Sea and its logistics support lines will be greatly shortened. Other construction indicate that the Sanya naval base will have strategic implications for the balance of power in the region. Portions of the base are being constructed underground to provide facilities that cannot be easily monitored. Satellite imagery has confirmed the presence of a Chinese Type 094 Jin-class submarine since late 2007. The Type-094 submarine is a second-generation nuclear vessel and represents China‘s most lethal naval strike weapon. Five more SSBNs could become operational by 2010 according to the U.S. Defense Department. An analysis of construction activities that can be viewed from satellites indicate that this base will be capable of housing nuclear submarines capable of launching inter continental ballistic missiles. When these facilities are completed they will provide China with the potential capability to station a substantial proportion of its submarine-based nuclear deterrence capabilities there. China‘s most modern strategic nuclear submarine is not yet fully operational but when it is the submarine is expected to carry twelve Sea Launched Ballistic Missiles. This class of submarine will be even more potent it China succeeds in equipping the missiles with multiple warheads. Chinese nuclear subs will be able to patrol and fire from concealed positions in deep waters off Hainan island if China can develop the necessary operational skills. It is as yet unclear how many of its five nuclear submarines China will base at the Sanya facility. China‘s naval modernization represents a challenge and potential threat to all of Southeast Asia and especially Vietnam. China is the dominant regional power when
37

compared not only to the navies of ASEAN states but India and Australia as well. Although China is developing niche capabilities to challenge the U.S. Navy in contingencies involving Taiwan, the PLA-N is no match now or in the future to the might of the U.S. 7th Fleet. China will pose a growing challenge but for the next decade and longer the U.S. Navy will rule the waves. 7. Conclusion This paper has traced the evolution of Vietnam‘s defence policy after the settlement of the Cambodian conflict and collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 to the present. In this period Vietnam expanded its defence doctrine from protection of national sovereignty to embrace comprehensive security. Economics has taken pride of place and Vietnam‘ armed forces have been pared down and starved of funds. Vietnamese foreign policy was captured in such catchy slogans as ‗multidirectional foreign policy‘ and ‗making friends with all countries.‘ Vietnam achieved success after success in is quest to integrate its economy with the global economy. The analysis in this paper has attempted to make four major points. First, the collapse of the Soviet Union severely undermined Vietnam‘s defence preparedness and posed a serious challenge to its leaders. Second, the end of the Cambodian conflict ushered in a new era of regional cooperation and opened up a major new opportunity for Vietnam in its external relations. Third, the changed strategic context opened the door for Vietnam to engage in defence diplomacy and enter into military cooperation programs with a diverse number of new partners. Fourth, as a result of extensive defence diplomacy, Vietnam has been able to initiate a limited but highly specific force modernization program with an emphasis on system upgrades and new procurements. Vietnam‘s defence capabilties came under severe threat with the collapse of socialism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union in 1989-91. Quite suddenly and unexpectedly there was a sharp decline and then termination of Soviet military assistance. To add to Vietnam‘s difficulties, the Russian Federation moved to put military sales on a commercial basis with payment in hard currency. At the same time, Vietnam ‗s domestic economic circumstances resulted in less budgetary funding for the Vietnam People‘s Army than the military expected.

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Vietnam therefore confronted an immediate strategic dilemma. If it did not act quickly, its existing stocks of military weapons and equipment would continue to deteriorate. Vietnam was particularly concerned about the mainstay of its air force, the MiG-21, its air defence systems and its ability to project naval forces into the South China Sea. Without access to new weapons platforms and systems Vietnam would not be able to continue modernizing its forces. Vietnamese military leaders closely followed the first Gulf War in 1990-91 and drew the conclusion that they had no choice but to modernize. In 1992, Chinese occupation of features in the South Sea set off a ‗scramble for the Spratlys‘ and opened a new maritime dimension for Vietnamese military planners. Given these circumstances, Vietnamese political and military leaders gave priority to preventing the further deterioration of its stock of military weapons and equipment. Vietnam sought out sources of spare parts and foreign assistance to maintain, refurbish and upgrade its defence equipment inventory. According to one foreign observer, between sixty to seventy percent of Vietnam‘s military stocks were obsolete at that time. As a second priority, Vietnam sought access to relevant modern military technology and its transfer to Vietnam‘s own national defence industry through joint ventures and co-production. In trying to attain these twin objectives – maintenance and modernization – Vietnam was constrained by cost, compatibility and U.S. national security trade restrictions. Because Vietnam‘s military was equipped with Soviet-designed equipment, Vietnam first had to negotiate affordable commercial contracts with Russian state arms manufacturers. The break up of the Soviet Union opened up alternate sources of Soviet-era equipment. Due to continual pricing difficulties with Russian authorities, Vietnam turned to the Ukraine and established strong defence industry and arms procurement relations. The Ukraine perhaps has emerged as the major competitor to the Russian Federation for arms sales to Vietnam. Additionally, Vietnam sought out opportunities among the states of the former Warsaw Pact, most notably Belarus, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia. The strategic dimension of Vietnam‘s defence diplomacy improved dramatically following Vietnam‘s military withdrawal from Cambodia and the political settlement of the conflict in 1991. Vietnam now became a more ‗normal‘ state in international
39

relations. These changed strategic circumstances enabled Vietnam to extend its quest for military modernization to Southeast Asia, Northeast Asia, Europe and beyond. But cost always remained the constraining factor. Vietnam‘s military diplomacy serves multiple purposes but its primary objective is to enhance the national security of the state. In addition to arms sales and servicing agreements, Vietnam has sought to enhance its national security by: exchanges of high-level delegations, goodwill and protocol visits, strategic dialogue, joint naval patrols and exercises, and a variety of defence cooperation activities (military training and education, language instruction, technology transfer, medical research, de-mining and ordnance disposal, search and rescue, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief). It is notable that the greatest density of Vietnam‘s defence relationships are with its immediate neighbours – Laos, China, Thailand, the Philippines Cambodia and Indonesia. Vietnam first had to normalize its relations with former adversaries during the Cambodian conflict. Both sides had to build a measure of confidence if not trust in order to move from confrontation to cooperation. The opening of regional defence contacts, especially in the yearly 1990s, pre-dated Vietnam‘s official membership in ASEAN. The year 1994 marks the real commencement of defence diplomacy by Vietnam. Defence diplomacy resulted in enhanced border security on land and in maritime areas where there are overlapping territorial claims. Defence cooperation with Laos and Cambodia has also focused on the repatriation of the remains of Vietnamese soldiers who died during the Indochina wars. China and Vietnam have cooperated in removing mines from their frontier and are now in the process of completing the physical demarcation of the borderline. India represents something of a special case because of its direct experience with Soviet–era weapons and technology of relevance to Vietnam. A close look at Vietnamese arms procurements, especially its purchase of Su-27 and Su-30 fighter-bomber aircraft and fast attack craft armed with surface-to-surface missiles, reveals a major concern over contingencies in the South China Sea related to China‘s naval presence. The development of defence relations with India and the

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United States reinforces the perception among some strategic analysts that Vietnam may be trying to balance against a rising China. This paper also presented a case study of Vietnam‘s relations with China and argued that there is an emerging contradiction between Vietnam‘s foreign and defence policies. Vietnam seeks to leverage its external relations with China in order to boost economic development, yet Vietnamese plans to develop its maritime zone in the South China Sea has provoked a Chinese counter-reaction designed to scuttle this initiative. Vietnam now faces a significant challenge to its national sovereignty. This paper argues there are signs that Vietnam is gradually developing a modest deterrent capacity in the South China Sea and employing defence diplomacy in order to bolster its negotiating position vis-à-vis China. Much writing about Vietnam‘s foreign policy sits uncomfortably with the analysis presented in this paper because scholars have largely neglected the strategic dimension of Vietnam‘s defence diplomacy. The Vietnam People‘s Army is a major constituent in Vietnam‘s political system and is an increasingly prominent diplomatic actor regionally and globally. The pattern of Vietnam‘s arms procurements and Vietnamese concern with border security and territorial integrity – that by their very nature involve realpolitik considerations – cannot be squared with approaches that stresses cooperative norm building and identity formation. —————————————(1) Frances M. and Stephen H. Fuller Distinguished Visiting Professor , Center of Southeast Asian Studies, Ohio University, Paper to EuroViet 6, Asien-Afrika Institut, Universitat Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany, June 5-7, 2008. (2) The Warsaw Pact was formed in 1955 and comprised seven members: Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland, Romania and the USSR . It was officially disbanded in 1991. (3) Several of the defence attaches accredited to Vietnam are non-resident. For example, Britain‘s defence representative is permanently based in Kuala Lumpur. (4) This paper omits discussion of the exchange of legislative committees that have responsibility for defence and security matters. For example, Vietnam has received
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delegations from France‘s National Defence Commission (January 1992), the Military Council of Thailand‘s Lower House, the Russian Federation‘s Duma (February 1997), the Lao National Assembly‘s National Defence and Security Committee (April 1999), and the Belgian Parliament‘s Defence Committee (November 2004). (5) Based on information received up to and including December 30, 2006. Data was collected from Quan Doi Nhan Dan, the army newspaper, and Vietnamese radio and press reports included in the monitoring reports issued by the U.S. Foreign Broadcast Information Service and the British Broadcasting Corporation; also included are news items found on the websites of the Vietnam News Agency, Radio Voice of Vietnam and Viet Nam News. This material has been supplemented by reporting taken from the regional and international media as well as other sources. (6) This data is undoubtedly incomplete due to the generally unpublicized nature of these relatively low-level visits. (7) In October 2006, Vietnam and Japan adopted an ‗Joint Statement Toward a Strategic Partnership for Peace and Prosperity in Asia,‘ during the course of a visit by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung to Tokyo. The fourth Japan-Vietnam politicomilitary dialogue was held in Hanoi on December 13, 2007. Japan was represented by the Deputy Director-General, Southeast and Southwest Asian Affairs Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Director of the International Policy Division, Ministry of Defense. (8) In January 1992, the Commander in Chief of the Royal Thai Army, visited Vietnam and offered to barter spares from Thailand‘s stock of Chinese-manufactured T-69 tanks for U.S. F-5 jet parts which Vietnam captured in 1975 and still held in storage. This offer apparently was not taken up. (9) In January 1998, Vietnamese troops fired on Filipino fishermen in the vicinity of Tenant Reef. (10) Vietnam hosted the 16th ASEAN Armies Rifle Meet in November 2006.

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(11) The tenth meeting of the Association of War Veterans of ASEAN was held in Brunei in October 2003. The fourteenth ASEAN Armies Rifle Meet was hosted by Indonesia in September 2004. (12) Vietnam was represented by Lt. Gen. Nguyen Van Than, commander of VPA Air Force. (13) While no details are available, it is known that Vietnam previously sold rifles, mortars and rocket launchers to rebels in El Salvador and M-113 APCs to Iran. Information on Vietnamese arms sales is particularly scarce. In 2001 it was reported that Myanmar took delivery of two consignments of mortar shells produced in Vietnam. But, according to reports, the deal may have been arranged through arms dealers possibly without Hanoi knowing its final destination (Jane‘s Defence Weekly, March 21, 2001; and Robert Karinol, Jane‘s Defence Weekly, July 25, 2001). (14) Source: Australian Defence Intelligence Organisation. (15) This sale was valued at U.S. $180 million with eighty-five percent of the payment in hard currency and the remainder in agricultural produce. (16) The U.N. Register of Conventional Weapons lists the sale of two Su-27s to Vietnam in 1997. Russian press reports in 1997 indicated Vietnam had placed an order for a total of twenty-four Su-27s in a deal valued at U.S. $500 million. The International Institute of Strategic Studies, The Military Balance 2004/05, lists a total of twelve Su-27s (7-SK and 5-UBK models) in Vietnam‘s inventory. (17) Reportedly the Mosquito anti-ship missile. (18) According to press reports, Vietnam took delivery of fifty portable SA-18 SAMs in 2002 in a contract valued at U.S. $643 million. (19) Other sources report the sale of twelve Project 1241RA FACs (20) Subhash Kapila, ‗India-Vietnam Strategic Partnership: The Convergence of Interests,‘ South Asia Analysis Group, Paper No. 177, http://www.saag.org/papers2/paper1777.htm .

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(21) As of the time of Anthony‘s visit, 49 VPA officers attended various army and navy course sin India and a further 64 attended English language courses. (22) Joint Press Release, ―The First ASEAN-China Joint Cooperation Committee Meeting,‖ Beijing, February 26-28, 1997. (23) In September 2004, China hosted ARF Workshop on Drug-Substitute Alternative Development and in March 2005, China hosted an ARF seminar on enhancing cooperation in the field of non-traditional security issues. (24) Carlyle A. Thayer, ‗China and Southeast Asia: A Shifting Zone of Interaction‘, in Sean McDonald and Bruce Vaughn, eds., The Borderlands of Southeast Asia: Geopolitics, Terrorism, and Globalization. Boulder: Rowman and Littlefield, forthcoming. (25) Joint Declaration of the Heads of State/Government of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the People‘s Republic of China on Strategic Partnership for Peace and Prosperity , October 8, 2003. For an analysis see: Lyall Breckon, ―A New Strategic Partnership is Declared,‖ Comparative Connections: An E-Journal on East Asian Bilateral Relations, 5:4, 4th Quarter, October-December 2003. (26) Plan of Action to Implement the Joint Declaration of ASEAN-China Strategic Partnership for Peace and Prosperity. (27) Ronald Montaperto, ―Smoothing the Wrinkles,‖ Comparative Connections: An E-Journal on East Asian Bilateral Relations, 6:2, 2nd Quarter, April-June 2004. (28) Shefall Rekhi, ―Indonesia seeks wider China and Japan role,‖ The Straits Times, June 4, 2007. (29) ―Tripartite agreement on joint survey of seismic activity in East Sea signed,‖ Vietnam News Agency, March 14, 2005; Ma. Theresa Torres and Niel Villegas Mugas, ―RP, China, Vietnam to explore Spratlys,‖ The Manila Times, March 16, 2005; ―China, Vietnam agree to joint exploration of disputed areas,‖ Xinhua, Beijing, July 4, 2005; and ―China, Philippines, Vietnam work on disputed South China Sea area,‖ Xinhua, August 27, 2005.

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(30) Xinhuanet, Beijing, July 19, 2005 in People‘s Liberation Army Daily, July 20, 2005. (31) Agence France-Presse, ―Philippines, China, Vietnam to cooperate in Spratlys security,‖ Channelnewsasia.com, May 19, 2006. (32) Robert Sutter and Chin-Hao Huang, ―Chinese Diplomacy and Optimism about ASEAN,‖ Comparative Connections: An E-Journal on East Asian Bilateral Relations, 8:3, 3rd Quarter, July-September 2006. (33) Alice d. Ba, ―Who‘s socializing whom? Complex engagement in Sino-ASEAN relations,‖ The Pacific Review, 19(2), June 2006, pp. 157-179. (34) Xinhua News Agency, September 6, 2000. (35) People‘s Republic of China, State Council, Information Office, China‘s National Defense in 2000, Text of PRC White Paper on National Defense in 2000, Xinhua Domestic Service, Beijing, October 16, 2001. (36) Ronald Montaperto, ―Thinking Globally, Acting Regionally,‖ Comparative Connections: An E-Journal on East Asian Bilateral Relations, 6:4, 4th Quarter, October-December 2004. (37) Lyall Breckon, ―SARS and a New Security Initiative from China,‖ Comparative Connections: An E-Journal on East Asian Bilateral Relations, 5:2, 2nd Quarter, April-June 2003. (38) Dana R. Dillon and John J. Tkacik, Jr., ‗China and ASEAN: Endangered American Primacy in Southeast Asia‘, Backgrounder No. 1886. Washington, D.C.: The Heritage Foundation, October 19, 2005, p. 3. The second ARF Security Policy Conference was held in Vientiane in May 2005. (39) People‘s Republic of China, State Council, China‘s National Defense in 2004, Beijing: Information Office, December 27, 2004, chapter nine. (40) Ibid., chapter seven.

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(41) These arrangements were variously titled: framework agreement, framework document, joint statement and joint declaration. For a detailed analysis consult: Thayer, ‗China‘s ―New Security Concept‖ and Southeast Asia‘, pp. 92-95. For a recent review of China‘s bilateral relations with Southeast Asia see: Jürgen Haacke, ‗The Significance of Beijing‘s Bilateral Relations: Looking ―Below‖ the Regional Level in China-ASEAN Ties,‘ in Ho Khai Leong and Samuel C. Y. Ku, eds., China and Southeast Asia: Global Changes and Regional Challenges. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore, 2005, pp. 118-140. (42) Jane‘s Defense Weekly, 4 January 2006, on line edition. (43) ‗China-Vietnam Joint Communiqué‘, Beijing, 24 August 2006. (44) Alexander Vuving, ―Strategy and Evolution of Vietnam‘s China Policy: A Changing Mixture of Pathways,‖ Asian Survey, 46(6), November 2006. (45) Vietnam News Agency, Beijing, January 21, 2007; Quan Doi Nhan Dan, January 22, 2007. (46) Dong Ha, ‗BP, PetroVietnam rearrange gas pipeline overhauls plan‘, Thanh Nien, March 14, 2007 (47) Xinhua, People‘s Daily Online, April 10, 2007. (48) Xinhua, Beijing, April 10, 2007. (49) Xinhua, People‘s Daily Online, April 10, 2007; words in brackets were quoted by Reuters, ‗Vietnam stirring trouble with gas pipe plan – China‘, April 10, 2007. (50) Xinhua, People‘s Daily Online, April 10, 2007. (51) Quoted by Reuters, April 10, 2007. Qin Gang‘s remarks were carried by the Shanghai Daily and The China Daily on April 11, 2007. (52) Thong Tan Xa Viet Nam, Thanh Nien, April 12, 2007. (53) Thanh Nien, April 12, 2007.

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(54) This area is separate from the area where the national oil companies China, the Philippines and Vietnam are conducing joint seismic exploration; Voice of Vietnam, April 12, 2007. (55) Neither China nor Vietnam has provided a public account of this incident. It is unlikely that Vietnam People‘s Army naval vessels were involved in this incident. But it is highly possible that fishing vessels that form part of local security forces could have been involved. There is a real grey area concerning local self-defence forces and militia. It is even more likely that armed Vietnamese fishermen were involved. China typically embellishes incidents to suits its purposes and its use of the expression ‗armed vessels‘ is an example of such calculated ambiguity. (56) According to an eyewitness, ‗I was at both [demonstrations] and the security services, if not directly choreographing events, certainly facilitated the protests and did nothing to stop them for an hour or so‘. If the student protests were spontaneous then Vietnamese security officials have much to be concerned about. Vietnamese students independently accessed the web to find information that was not in the state press. Vietnamese students organized the protests to the extent of getting matching t-shirts, slogans and then held simultaneous demonstrations in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. And finally, Vietnamese students contacted the media to garner publicity. If students can do this on a patriotic issue, what else might they do ? (57) Hieu expressed an interest in deepening cooperation in personnel training, frontier and coastal defence and ‗other fields‘. (58) Vietnam has strategic partnerships with Russia, India and Japan and ‗strategic relations‘ with France. Vietnam and the United States have both mentioned raising their bilateral relations to the strategic level. Select Bibliography Amer, Ramses, 2004a. ―Assessing Sino-Vietnamese Relations through the Management of Contentious Issues,‖ Contemporary Southeast Asia, 26(2), 320-345. _____, 2004b. ―Vietnam and ASEAN – A Case Study of Regional Integration and Conflict Management,‖ Dialogue + Cooperation, 1, 9-22. _____, 2004c. ―Vietnam‘s Border Disputes – Assessing the Impact on Vietnam‘s
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