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Matters at hand The issues Vietnam had to tackle in 2017 largely continue into 2018. or CARL THAYER, at che Australian Defence Force ‘Academy Tetnam faced two sets \ Viegas external challenges in 2017. The major domestic challenge war how to reduce corruption and reform the developing economy so that the country could. effectively incegrate into the global economy, This was a dificult challenge given the tise of protectionism. around.» the world The major external challenge was how to manage fis strategic partnerships with major powers without acti Fleing its sovereignty and self teliance, This war 4 complex challenge given. the uncer- taincce surrounding the Trump Administrations pursuit of an “Ametica Fits” policy. and China’ drive to dominate the East Sea How did Vietnam manage these twin challenges in 20172 DOMESTIC CHALENGES The Central Commitee of the “Communist Party of Vietnam held (wo plenary sesione during the year. The fifth plenuin, eld from May 5-10, Yocused on three major issues: perfecting the invttu tions of the socualitoriented matket economy, Feoganieing and improving the efficiency of State enterprises (SOEs), and developing the private’ economy. The sixth plenum, held from October 4 10, adopted an imporvant resolution on petsonnel scrategy and the rotation of leading and managerial personnel During the year the campaign agains. corruption ‘went into top geat, with the mass trial of 51 officials associated with the State-ran COVER STORY PettoVietnam, —Sacombank, OceanBank, and” Vietnam Construction Bank. Mr. Dinh La Thang war dismissed from hhis pose on the Politburo and later arrested for misman- agement during his time as PetroVietnams) CEO. Mr, Nguyen Xuan “Anh was dismissed from his post as Party Secretary of Da Nang for his involvement in illegal schemes EXTERNAL cHALENGES VVieinam ended. the year with a diplomatic flouish, ccs hovting the APEC Economic. Leader’ Mecting anc official vis by the pret dence of che US, Chinar and Chile tnd the Canadian Palme Minis, ‘APEC. Vieinam has 3 Ny Noting esting! of ice tone such a summic mectings of Francophone. nations (i997), APEC. (2006), and ASEAN (2010). The APEC meetings in. 2017 were no Ufferene, As host, Vietnam shaleed numerous preparatory meetings athe wotking senior cial and ministera evels Vietoam later chaired 2 round of APEC meetings Da Nang that resulted in cwo iimpotcan statements, The Bet vrata joine statement by APEC Ininiterslrued on November Tor This ‘meeting. reaffirmed Bn! commitnne four ceve chem: ‘sustainable, growth, deepening regional fengtheniog mict, svall and and enhancing food sccunty dnd sustainable ageculeare in fesponse to climate-change The second. was a. jomnt saroment ised alter the 25ch APEC. Economic Leaders Meeting on November 11 that endorsed the priorities adopted By APEC ministers TPPAT. At the same time, Vicsna was Sncrtely involved in working with Japan the “TPP co fevive the Agreement in. light of US Bresident | Donald Trump's decision’ to" withdrave Unforeunacely, after" general agreement had been reached, Gtadian Prime Minster Justin ‘Fradeat ad las minute reser vations and filed to artend he Foal mecting. This threw the ed Vietnam have nonetheless Sxinved to adtance the TPP ‘Major power Since the carly 19908. Viesnam_has pursued» policy afdinenifing Tad onullateraliing. te xeon relatons Ts as umber of fuegie and swith major powes, including Ui five permancnt members of the UN “Seeurigy Council tell India an Japan Visoam’ semper c.g lvelopment all Thave an Contibutor co regional and flobalsecrig. Te isnot inthe Erces of anf major power to fee Vietnam pulled othe Sit of another major power ‘Vietnam responded quickly to the election of Donald Gump. Prime Miniter Nmuree Xuan ‘Phuc was the fet government. leader fom Soudeare Ava to be received by Prestdene Trump a0 the White Howse, tebe ‘May Tater, afer the APEC rnectingss Feesidene Trump Inade a offal vist 10 Hanot force with, Views leaders Ata scoult: Vietnam bed the US reamed thir Scmprenensiveparenethip Sereed to under fhe ‘Obama iesnieeation ‘Vietnam defy handled che ioe le lnc wrth the US" by agrecing to Megotiate “a blatal tade Hecened the pot by Sinouncing cade des wor seal bf US land Reaction Wsineses and Belts beeen Vieam and China vexperienced a momentary, downturn mide Jean Nevertheless esl of Yank and deep” diecusions an the Fast Sea, bier felaons, were. put buck on Course The fourth fendly order defense exchange war held ia September, Chinas Foreign Miniter Wang. ¥i vinted Mano in. early November to smooth the path for President Xt Jinpings cal vist Inter nthe od Presidents Trump. November 11-12) and Xi (November 12 13) illustrate ies policy of providing equity to each major power to keep Vietnam from falling into the orbie of another major power. President Xi could scarcely have refused £0 visit Hanot in ight of President Trumps vist. His visit merely restored the satus quo before the mid-year contietemps. “Throughout the year, Viernam ‘kept up. high-level contacts with other strategic partners.” Tn Tune, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc travelled (© Tokyo to. meet with hie counterpart, Shinzo [Abe The two issted a lengthy G6cpoin Jone seatement on ecpening their extensive step partnership, including cooperation. 10 ceonomie and. political relations, rade, investment, energy, and security and defense, Japan and. Viecnam shared similar” views "on security in the Fast Sea State President Tran Dai Quang and Russian President Viadimir Putin met onthe sidelines of APEC 2017. Their dscaision focused mainly cilia reciprocal investment in infnvertcrre, transport, and energy. Both Rotel an inerease fn trade tinder the Vietoam-Burasia Economic Union. Free Trade Agiccment. Significantly, they issued a joint statement. on cooperation in safeguarding international information He ak Truong Hoa Binh vsced Seoul in November after APEC 2017 and held discussions with South Korean Prime Minister Tee. Nakeyon_ on advancing thee “atic cooperanve Ried on a namber of economic issues (market desea and Vietnamese Workers), including raisin two-way trade to $160 billion by 2020 under theie bilateral trade agreement. Vietnam is South Koreas fourth-largest trading parener, while South Korea is Viecnams third-largest trading partner. In September and December, Vietars and the EU. held negotiations resolving outstanding issues in the EU:Vietnam Free Trade [Agreement (EVFTA}. war us aneaD? Is 2018, Vietnam will face ac Teast four major foreign policy challenger ths wil tose the political and diplomatic lls of ‘its leaders. P “The fs challenge is how to manage tciorial dipetes in the East Senin the face of two conflicting tend: negotiations ieeween ASEAN and China on 2 Code of Conduct (CoC) and Chinas further: militarization fit artifical islands. Vietnam srl have to press for ASEAN hiya the ne tine a jabbiet major powers to counterbalance China. The Emergence of the Quad - the US, fan, India and Australia could benefit Viewnam The cd calege chow to avoid being caught up in tting tensions benween the US fon the one hand and Rusia tnd China on the other The Trump "Administrations Natiobal Security Strategy has cleanly idenciied. these” wo Gouner aval sod ae Signaled a scong line Akcdlerated major’ power tivalry could renut in pressure bring put on Vietnam to take sidel tnd in the worsvcate Scenatio lead toa breakdown in North Korea. "The third challenge is cconamic, Vietnam oust negotiate ics way through wo possibly. conflicting. “isues Regotiating, 2 bilaetal trade serement wth he US we ssid Vin mt resolve outstanding economic and polite sues affecting the raticaton of the EVETA “The fourth challenge relates co the UN. Vietnam will make 4 major coma to Peace. iecping. with the deployment of Lote Il eld grade hospital to Sudan with 1 follow-on Commitment to. deployin military engineers. A successfal debut Wall strengthen Vietnam's dtrempt 0 be te lected a5 4 nawpeemanent tember of thet Security Council, Bat ‘inorder achieve this objective, Vietnam thay find it dificul to please iil the major powere Binally on the, domestic front, Vieinam wil face major thallenges in tackling lige Scale Corruption, reforming SOs “and” perfecting the focialiscorientared. sranket ceonomy. and ‘State institu: tions wile at che same time stempting “tone GDP row co percent or highe. Gintans "extemal fond domestic challenges are intr related * .