Vietnam’s Alliance Politics in the South China Sea

Source: Le Hong Hiep, “Vietnam’s Alliance Politics in the South China Sea”, Trends in Southeast Asia, No.6, 2015.

Executive summary: 

– Vietnam has long maintained “no alliance” as a core principle in its foreign policy. However, as China becomes increasingly assertive in the South China Sea, there are indications that Vietnam is moving towards “alliance politics”, or efforts to forge close security and defense ties short of formal, treaty-bound alliances with key partners, to deal with the new situation. Continue reading “Vietnam’s Alliance Politics in the South China Sea”

Vietnam: The Global Economy and Macroeconomic Outlook

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Source:  Sanjay Kalra, “Vietnam: The Global Economy and Macroeconomic Outlook”, Journal of Southeast Asian Economies, Vol. 32/1 (Apr 2015).

Abstract: After almost a decade of high growth, Vietnam’s growth rate fell during 2011–13. Since 2001, the country has also experienced two bouts of high inflation, booms and busts in equity and real estate markets, and episodes of large capital inflows and outflows. Against the backdrop of the global economy, this paper provides an account of macroeconomic developments in Vietnam during 2011 to 2013, examines the imbalances that came to a head in 2011, the macroeconomic stabilization achieved during 2012 to 2014, and the outlook and challenges going forward. The paper concludes that successfully designing and implementing a broad set of policies — staying the course on macroeconomic stabilization, while accelerating the pace of structural reform significantly, and integrating into the global economy — will allow Vietnam to further advance the remarkable gains that it has already made in poverty alleviation and achieving its Millenium Development Goals.

Continue reading “Vietnam: The Global Economy and Macroeconomic Outlook”

Combating Corruption: Implications of the G20 Action Plan for the Asia-Pacific Region


Source: Norman Abjorensen, Combating Corruption: Implications of the G20 Action Plan for the Asia-Pacific Region (Tokyo: Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, 2014)

Nepotism, Bribery, Patronage, Collusion… The list of categories in the murky sphere of corruption appears to be a bottomless pit. The obstinate prevalence of corruption has, for the longest time, been one of the most perturbing thorns in the flesh of nation states all around the globe. Especially in Asia, large parts of both the public and private sector are riddled with corrupt practices, gravely undermining efforts to expedite the conduct of ‘good governance’.

Continue reading “Combating Corruption: Implications of the G20 Action Plan for the Asia-Pacific Region”

Rules of origin, labour standards and the TPP


Source: David Vanzetti & Pham Lan Huong, “Rules of origin, labour standards and the TPP”, paper presented at 17th Annual Conference on Global Economic Analysis, June 18-20, 2014, Dakar.

Abstract: Vietnam is in a process of active negotiations to participate in Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) — a free trade agreement among Pacific economies, including the United States but excluding China. The negotiations are considered of high priority for Vietnam, because the likely impacts are thought to be positive. Although the negotiations have not yet been completed, the three sectors to benefit most in Vietnam include textiles, apparel and footwear. However, Vietnam may face major constraints in maximizing TPP’s potential benefits due to restrictive rule of origin requirements. Furthermore, Vietnam may be obliged to improve its labour standards, for example by allowing freedom of association. The likely effects of these restrictions are quantified using a general equilibrium model.  Continue reading “Rules of origin, labour standards and the TPP”

China: Maritime Claims in the South China Sea


Source: Office of Ocean and Polar Affairs, Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, U.S. Department of State

Date of publication: December 5, 2014


This study analyzes the maritime claims of the People’s Republic of China in the South China Sea, specifically its “dashed-line” claim encircling islands and waters of the South China Sea. Continue reading “China: Maritime Claims in the South China Sea”

“The Virgin Mary is Going South”: Refugee Resettlement in South Vietnam, 1954–1956


Source: Jessica Elkind, “The Virgin Mary is Going South”: Refugee Resettlement in South Vietnam, 1954–1956″, Diplomatic History, Vol. 38, No. 5 (2014), pp.987-1016.

In the months following the 1954 partition of Vietnam, nearly one million people fled their homes north of the seventeenth parallel, hoping for better and more secure lives in the south. Many of those fleeing had served in the French colonial administration and were Catholics, and they feared political or religious persecution under Ho Chi Minh’s government. South Vietnamese and American officials actively encouraged and supported the migration, despite the fact that the influx of northerners presented immediate challenges both to the southern government and to the partnership between Washington and Saigon. Continue reading ““The Virgin Mary is Going South”: Refugee Resettlement in South Vietnam, 1954–1956”

Fraternal Support: The East German ‘Stasi’ and the DRV during the Vietnam War


Title: Martin Grossheim, “Fraternal Support: The East German ‘Stasi’ and the Democratic Republic of Vietnam during the Vietnam War”, Cold War International History Project Working Paper #71, September 2014.


In the post-war world, new linkages were established between the so-called “Second World” and the “Global South.” This working paper explores the role which the German Democratic Republic (GDR), or East Germany, played as a second-tier member of the socialist camp in the evolution of state socialism and state modernization in Vietnam. The paper analyzes the links that were forged between the secret service of a minor player in Cold War, the GDR, and the newly constituted intelligence service in the post-colonial Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV). On a more general level, the paper highlights the role of the periphery and demonstrates the importance of middle- and small-powers in the history of the Cold War. Continue reading “Fraternal Support: The East German ‘Stasi’ and the DRV during the Vietnam War”

Perspectives on the South China Sea: Diplomatic, Legal, and Security Dimensions of the Dispute


Authors: Murray Hiebert, Gregory B. Poling, Phuong Nguyen (editors)

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies

Summary: The South China Sea is arguably one of the world’s most dangerous regions, with conflicting diplomatic, legal, and security claims by major and mid-level powers. To assess these disputes, CSIS brought together an international group of experts—from Australia, Canada, China, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Vietnam. This volume gathers these experts’ analyses to provide a diverse and wide-ranging set of perspectives on the region and to explore possibilities for future cooperation. Continue reading “Perspectives on the South China Sea: Diplomatic, Legal, and Security Dimensions of the Dispute”

Inflation dynamics and monetary policy transmission in Vietnam and emerging Asia


Title: Inflation dynamics and monetary policy transmission in Vietnam and emerging Asia

Author: Rina Bhattacharya

Source: Journal of Asian Economics 34 (2014) 16–26

Abstract: This paper provides an overview of inflation developments in Vietnam in the years following the doi moi reforms, and uses empirical analysis to answer two key questions: (i) what are the key drivers of inflation in Vietnam, and what role does monetary policy play? and (ii) why has inflation in Vietnam been persistently higher than in most other emerging market economies in the region? It focuses on understanding the monetary policy transmission mechanism in Vietnam, and in understanding the extent to which monetary policy can explain why inflation in Vietnam has been higher than in other Asian emerging markets over the past decade. Continue reading “Inflation dynamics and monetary policy transmission in Vietnam and emerging Asia”

Explaining US Strategic Partnerships in the Asia-Pacific Region


Author:  Prashanth Parameswaran

Source: Contemporary Southeast Asia, Vol. 36, No. 2 (2014), pp. 262-89.

Abstract: Since the mid-1990s, strategic partnerships have emerged as a new form of alignment between states, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region. Yet only recently has the United States begun to pursue such relationships, especially under the Obama administration which has signed new partnerships with Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia and New Zealand. As a result, the current literature does not yet include significant study on how the United States views strategic partnerships. This article attempts to fill this gap by exploring the emergence of strategic partnerships as a new form of alignment in US strategy in the Asia Pacific under the Obama administration. Drawing on the existing literature on alignment, government documents, as well as conversations with policymakers from the United States and Southeast Asia, it argues that Washington is pursuing strategic partnerships as part of a deliberate effort to both enlist target countries to share the burden in addressing challenges and to institutionalize its relationships in the Asia Pacific. It constructs an original three-part analytical framework to understand how US policymakers conceive, craft and evaluate strategic partnerships in the Asia Pacific and applies it to analyse the similarities and differences in US partnerships with Indonesia and Vietnam. Continue reading “Explaining US Strategic Partnerships in the Asia-Pacific Region”

Joint Development Possibilities in the South China Sea: a Vietnamese Perspective

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Author: Truong-Minh Vu & Huynh Tam Sang

Source: East Asia Policy, Volume 6, Number 2, Apr/Jun 2014, 117-123.

Abstract: Southeast Asian countries have refused to accept China’s proposal to set aside disputes and pursue joint development since 2009. Why? This paper argues that China is becoming too powerful and has increasingly possessed more hard power such as economic and military capability. It, however, has not agreed to limit its power by institutional frameworks. Southeast Asian countries have little sympathy for China’s cooperative projects given the lack of “constitutional order”. Continue reading “Joint Development Possibilities in the South China Sea: a Vietnamese Perspective”

Locating Vietnam-Japan strategic partnership in the changing East Asian political landscape


Author: Do Thi Thuy

Source: Japan Institute of International Affairs Working Paper series

Abstract: Unlike the other complicated bilateral relationships in East Asia, Vietnam and Japan are the two generally ‘problem-free’ neighbours. Despite having been ‘strategic partners’ since 2006, due to domestic and external constraints, until recently this strategic partnership was mainly confined to the economic domain. However, with the changing regional political landscape stemming from China’s growing unilateralism and assertiveness in territorial disputes, the ambiguity of U.S. commitment to Asia, Continue reading “Locating Vietnam-Japan strategic partnership in the changing East Asian political landscape”

Vietnam’s South China Sea Disputes with China: The Economic Determinants

Author: Le Hong Hiep

Source: The Korean Journal of Defense Analysis, Vol. 26, No. 2, June 2014, 175–191.

Abstract: This article seeks to provide an investigation of the influence of economic factors on the dynamics of Vietnam’s South China Sea disputes with China as well as the shaping of its related strategy. The article argues that since the late 1980s economic factors have contributed significantly and in different ways to the evolving dynamics of the bilateral disputes. Vietnam’s effective exploitation of the sea’s resources for economic development and China’s moves to counter such efforts have generated constant tensions in their bilateral relationship. Continue reading “Vietnam’s South China Sea Disputes with China: The Economic Determinants”

Ethnic Minorities, Government Policies, and Foreign Relations: The Ethnic Chinese in Vietnam and Ethnic Vietnamese in Cambodia

Author: Ramses Amer 

Source: Asia Paper, June 2014.

The main purpose of this study is to analyse the impact of government policies and foreign relations on ethnic minorities. This is done through two case studies from East Asia. The cases are: 1) the ethnic Chinese in Vietnam and Sino-Vietnamese relations, and 2) the ethnic Vietnamese in Cambodia and Cambodia-Vietnam relations. Both cases display that inter-state relations can have considerable impact on the situation of ethnic minorities in neighbouring countries. The two cases also display that deteriorating inter-state relations can influence government policies toward ethnic minorities. In both cases deteriorating inter-state relations combined with government policies have caused large-scale migrations, in particular in the 1970s. The empirical evidence provided by the two cases and the lessons drawn from them are used to analyse the relationship between government policies and inter-state relations both in relation to the two cases and more broadly. The two cases display the relevance of studying the triangular relationship between host country, country of origin, and ethnic minority. In both cases the minorities can be seen as diasporas in countries bordering on their country of origin. The case of the ethnic Chinese in Vietnam displays a case when the minority comes under pressure for a period of time due to a deterioration of relations between host country and country of origin. The case of the ethnic Vietnamese in Cambodia display a similar pattern of development coupled with a domestic situation in which the ethnic Vietnamese are facing negative repercussions due to the domestic political situation. Thus, the basic difference between the two cases is that the ethnic Chinese in Vietnam have been reintegrated into Vietnamese society while the ethnic Vietnamese in Cambodia have not. Continue reading “Ethnic Minorities, Government Policies, and Foreign Relations: The Ethnic Chinese in Vietnam and Ethnic Vietnamese in Cambodia”

“New thinking” about the history issue: Japan’s lost chance in China?

Author: Đỗ Thị Thủy*


China and Japan have undergone a long history of bilateral relations fraught with traumas and bitterness. The memory of Japanese aggression in China during the World War II is still haunting many hearts and minds in both countries. The unresolved history issue thus ranks very high in their bilateral agenda. Taking a retrospective look at the evolution of the history issue, it seems that the management of this issue represents the patterns of cooperation and struggle between the two East Asian powers. While many former enemies have become true friends in international relations today, this is not the case of China and Japan. The Cold War period elapsed without Sino-Japanese reconciliation as the way France and Germany did although there had been time China and Japan were ‘de facto allies’ against Soviet hegemony in East Asia. The post-Cold War period witnesses the rapid rise of China, Japan’s strive to become a “normal country”, and a tensed dispute between the two countries over the history issue. It is against this context that this study aims to examine what stays behind the history issue in China-Japan relations. Continue reading ““New thinking” about the history issue: Japan’s lost chance in China?”

Vietnam in 2013: Domestic Contestation and Foreign Policy Success

Title: Vietnam in 2013: Domestic Contestation and Foreign Policy Success

Author: Carlyle A. Thayer

Source: Southeast Asian Affairs 2014, pp. 353-372.


The year 2013 marked the mid-way point in the tenure of the Vietnam Communist Party (VCP) Central Committee elected at the eleventh national party congress in 2011. During the year the Central Committee began to assert its prerogative as the party’s executive authority between national party congresses. The Central Committee’s new political assertiveness has been at the expense of party Secretary General Nguyen Phu Trong and his supporters in the Politburo. The Central Committee’s assertiveness also strengthened the power and influence of Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung. Continue reading “Vietnam in 2013: Domestic Contestation and Foreign Policy Success”

Deconstructing the “Socialist” Rule of Law in Vietnam: The Changing Discourse on Human Rights in Vietnam’s Constitutional Reform

Title: Deconstructing the “Socialist” Rule of Law in Vietnam: The Changing Discourse on Human Rights in Vietnam’s Constitutional Reform

Author: Bùi Hải Thiêm

Source: Contemporary Southeast Asia Vol. 36, No. 1 (2014), pp. 77–100.


Over the past two decades, efforts by the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) to build a “socialist” rule of law through legal and judicial reforms have contributed to the vibrant constitutional politics in the country. During the process of amending the 1992 Constitution, the socialist theoretical foundations of the Constitution quietly shifted as a result of new thinking and values. The complex interactions of old and new ideological precepts were prominently reflected by the changing discourse of human rights during debates about amendments to the 1992 Constitution. This article investigates the development of the “socialist” rule of law and the changes taking place in the discourse of human rights during the constitutional reform process in Vietnam. In setting out the context and content of constitutional reform, it seeks to deconstruct the socialist rule of law and interpret the discourse of human rights accordingly. In doing so, the mechanisms by which human rights have been socialized will be unpacked to make sense of subtle changes in the human rights discourse. Furthermore, the paper aims to uncover the implications of such a change for the development of Vietnam’s human rights regime.

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Business associations and the politics of contained participation in Vietnam

Title: Business associations and the politics of contained participation in Vietnam

Author: Nguyễn Phương Tú

Source: Australian Journal of Political Science, DOI: 10.1080/10361146.2014.896317


The development of the private sector in Vietnam since the mid-1990s has accompanied the emergence of organised business interests, which is recognised as vital to pursuing the agenda of economic modernisation. This article aims to explore the significance of the interactions between the state and business associations representing small-and-medium enterprises. It demonstrates that business associations have transformed state–business relations in a way that is distinguishable from state corporatism or societal pluralism. The analysis examines the interplay between state actors and emerging non-state entities, and the deliberative capacity of intermediary organisations in the policy-making process, specifically through the Vietnam Association of Small and Medium Enterprises. It is argued that this process constitutes a new mode of political participation that reflects the entanglement of the state and private capital interests. It reveals features of contained participation and contributes to the research agenda on deliberative and governance practices in post-socialist transitional economies. 

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Rethinking the end of the Cold War and Francis Fukuyama’s ‘End of History’ hyphothesis

Title: Rethinking the end of the Cold War and Francis Fukuyama’s ‘End of History’ hyphothesis

Author: Đỗ Thị Thủy

Source: International Studies, No. 24, June 2011, pp. 239-260.


The year 1991 marked a turning point in the world history – one of the two superpowers (the Soviet Union – USSR) collapsed, putting an end to the bipolar system and nearly half a century of the intense confrontation between the United States (US) & the USSR in their global Cold War. Two decades have passed since that day but scholars keep debating about its end, perhaps no less heated as they did about its origins. The fact that no single international relations theory managed to predict such an end and even had difficulties explaining it makes the end of the Cold War more attractive and controversial for both historians and theorists. Coming out right after this very end, Francis Fukuyama‟s book “The end of history and the last man” furthered the debate as it provoked the idea that the end of the Cold War would be the end of all kinds of IR theory and mankind‟s history toward a long-lasting peace and stability dominated by liberalism and Western values.

How can we explain the end of the Cold War? Did it really end? Why did IR theory fail to predict such an end? Is the end of the Cold War an end to theory and history? These questions have been and are still shaping a great debate between international historians and IR theorists. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Cold War‟s end – a perfect time for revisiting these issues. With the hope to contribute to the clarification of the aforesaid puzzles, this paper will review the debate and give its own assessment.

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APEC 2011 and the Future of Regional Architecture in Asia Pacific

Author: Vu, Le Thai Hoang, Ph.D. [1]

Source: International Studies, No. 24 (June – 2011), pp. 203-219.

Being the first-ever symbol of open regionalism[2] in Asia-Pacific since 1989, APEC with the principle of non-discrimination is seen as the premier forum to promote regional trade liberalization and economic integration while strengthening cooperation to address non-traditional security issues. In the overall regional strategy of the Obama Administration, APEC continues to serve as an important and most appropriate bridge to link US economic interests to regional economies, thereby helping the US achieve its short-term target of doubling exports within five years while delivering on its long-term “back-to-Asia” commitment and vision to consolidate leadership, at least economically, in the evolving two-pronged regional architecture to be founded on the East Asia Summit (EAS) (as the politico-security pillar) and APEC (as the economic pillar). 2011 when the US hosts APEC is a golden opportunity for the Obama Administration to create next breakthroughs in the grand journey to return to the region in all dimensions and in the immediate future earn significant points in the race for presidency for Obama himself. Continue reading “APEC 2011 and the Future of Regional Architecture in Asia Pacific”

Vietnam’s hedging strategy against China since normalization

Title: Vietnam’s hedging strategy against China since normalization

Author: Lê Hồng Hiệp

Source: Contemporary Southeast Asia, Volume 35, Number 3, December 2013, pp. 333-368.


Since the normalization of Sino-Vietnamese relations in 1991, Vietnam’s China policy has been shaped by a combination of approaches which can be best described as a multi-tiered, omni-directional hedging strategy. The article argues that hedging is the most rational and viable option for Vietnam to manage its relations with China given its historical experiences, domestic and bilateral conditions, as well as changes in Vietnam’s external relations and the international strategic environment. The article examines the four major components of this strategy, namely economic pragmatism, direct engagement, hard balancing and soft balancing. The article goes on to assess the significance of each component and details how Vietnam has pursued its hedging strategy towards China since normalization.

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The development of civil society and dynamics of governance in Vietnam’s one party rule

Title: The development of civil society and dynamics of governance in Vietnam’s one party rule

Author: Bùi Hải Thiêm

Source: Global Change, Peace & Security, 25:1, 77-93


Civil society has been in operation under one-party rule in Vietnam in the years since the Doi Moi (renewal) in 1986. Despite the continued monopoly of political power by the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV), civil society has been gradually expanded and developed. The paper reviews recent arguments in the political science and area studies literature on the emergence of civil society in Vietnam’s Doi Moi period over the past two decades, to comment on the dynamics of the relationship between civil society and the party-state, problematizing the development of civil society in the context of a one-party-dominated state. At a certain level, civil society has been ‘tolerated’, ‘endorsed’, or recognized by the party state to fill a gap in the governance network. In practice, it has never been an easy project for civil society to make its way into Vietnamese society given the party-state’s Gramscian concession to maintain the existing hegemony.

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Vietnam’s Domestic–Foreign Policy Nexus: Doi Moi, Foreign Policy Reform, and Sino-Vietnamese Normalization

Title: Vietnam’s Domestic–Foreign Policy Nexus: Doi Moi, Foreign Policy Reform, and Sino-Vietnamese Normalization

Author: Lê Hồng Hiệp

Source: Asian Politics & Policy—Volume 5, Number 3—Pages 387–406.

This article examines the link between Vietnam’s adoption of the Doi Moi (renovation) policy and transformations in its China policy in the late 1980s and early 1990s as a case study of the domestic–foreign policy nexus. The article argues that during this period, changes in Vietnam’s foreign policy in general and its China policy in particular originated first and foremost from the Vietnamese Communist Party’s (VCP) domestic agenda of promoting economic reform and protecting the regime’s survival. As the VCP considered hostile relations with China as detrimental to both its economic reform and regime security, it strived to mend relations with China as quickly as possible. Against this backdrop, Vietnam made a number of important concessions to China regarding the Cambodian issue in order to accelerate the normalization process, which eventually concluded in late 1991.

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