Vietnam: Open Secrets on the Road to Succession

Vietnam: Open Secrets on the Road to SuccessionThe normally opaque Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam has made a public splash with its recently concluded 10thCentral Committee plenum. The stakes are high and carry implications not only for Vietnam’s development but also for the strategic outlook of the entire region. So what exactly is going on? The excitement centers on…

Vietnam Expects Intense Political Year in 2015

Vietnam Expects Intense Political Year in 2015Vietnam begins 2015 on a fairly sound economic footing. The national economy has largely recovered from Hanoi’s ill-advised efforts to mitigate the impact of the 2009 Great Recession. That sobering experience exposed structural weaknesses which, left unfixed, could condemn Vietnam to languish in a middle-income trap, unable to realize the potential of its relatively young…

The Significance of the US-VN Arms Deal

The Significance of the US-VN Arms DealThe US’s partial suspension of its decades-old ban on weapons sales to Vietnam on Oct. 2 was one of the most significant steps in improving relations between the two former enemies since they normalized diplomatic ties nearly two decades ago.  The US State Department made clear this decision related only to maritime surveillance systems and…

The Rising Tide of Change in Vietnam

The Rising Tide of Change in VietnamUS Assistant Secretary of State Tom Malinowski did not mince words when he urged Vietnam to improve on human rights at the end of his five-day tour of the country late last week. It may or may not have been a warning to the communist government, but the implication was clear: US–Vietnam relations will likely…

US-Viet Weapons Deal: No Room for Human Rights

US-Viet Weapons Deal: No Room for Human RightsVietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh can return to Hanoi content, if not delighted. His meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry in Washington, D.C., concluded late last week with the announcement that the United States would ease its arms embargo on Vietnam. Specifically, the State Department referred to the sale of maritime defense equipment…

US and Vietnam to Discuss Curbing China’s Sea Claims

US and Vietnam to Discuss Curbing China’s Sea ClaimsWhen Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh and US Secretary of State John Kerry meet in early October, China's aggressive behavior in the waters of Southeast Asia will top their agenda. In the months leading up to the meeting, Washington’s foreign policy elite have been debating whether it is in America’s interest to get involved…

The US, Vietnam and Shifting Alliances in Asia

The US, Vietnam and Shifting Alliances in AsiaThe budding alliance between Russia and China may be redrawing old battles. The Soviet Union has long since collapsed, China has jettisoned much of its communist ideology, and the Soviet–Sino split has been relegated to another chapter of the Cold War. Certainly the frequency of Russia–China summit meetings suggests that these two countries have grown…

Vietnam Quickly Shutters ‘Land Reform’ Exhibit

Vietnam Quickly Shutters ‘Land Reform’ ExhibitIn Hanoi this week, a short-lived exhibition at Vietnam's National History Museum, Land Reform 1946-57, triggered a national moment to relive a long-ago trauma. On September 5, the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Sports website posted an announcement saying that the History Museum would hold an exhibit from September 8 until December assembled from the…

Will the US Arm Vietnam?

Will the US Arm Vietnam?In a recent bipartisan press conference in Hanoi, Vietnam, Republican US Sen. John McCain, joined by Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat, expressed it best when he remarked how a partnership built on shared values is “the closest, strongest, and most enduring friendship two nations can have.” In the same press conference, McCain announced the possibility of…

Standing Up to China on the South China Sea

Standing Up to China on the South China SeaLast weekend’s Association of Southeast Asian States meeting in Naypyidaw in Myanmar has shown once again the impotence of the 47-year-old organization when it comes to defending the interests of concerned members over China’s aggressive actions in the South China Sea. It will always be thus because the interests of mainland states, particularly small and…