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Vietnam’s Relations with China, 

North Korea and the United States


North Korea and the United States

Professor Carl Thayer
Conference on Authoritarianism in East Asia, 
o e e ce o u o a a s as s a,
Southeast Asia Research Centre, City University of 
Hong Kong, June 29‐July 1, 2010
1950 Diplomatic Recognition
p g

Chou En‐lai, Mao 
and Ho Chi Minh

Ho Chi Minh 
H Chi Mi h
and Kim Il‐sung
China Stands By Vietnam
y
Comparing Bilateral Relations
Comparing Bilateral Relations
Vietnam‐China
Vietnam China Vietnam‐North
Vietnam North Korea
Korea
• Provided support during  • Provided support during 
Vietnam War Vietnam War
• China invaded Vietnam ‘to  • Relations estranged, 
teach it a lesson’ following  Norodom Sihanouk given 
invasion of Cambodia
invasion of Cambodia sanctuary
• 1991 normalisation of  • 1989 Intergovernmental 
political relations
p Committee established
• 1999 long‐term cooperative  • 1991‐92 relations soured 
framework agreement over Hanoi‐Seoul relations
Comparing Bilateral Relations
Comparing Bilateral Relations
Vietnam‐China
Vietnam China Vietnam‐North
Vietnam North Korea
Korea
• 1999 Land Border Treaty • 2000 after eight years high‐
• 2000 Gulf of Tonkin 
2000 Gulf of Tonkin level ties resumed
delimited • 2001 Intergovernmental 
Committee revived
• 2006 Joint Steering 
• 2002 Vietnamese president 
2002 Vietnamese president
Committee visits North Korea
• 2008 strategic partners • 2007 Vietnam’s party leader 
• 2009 strategic cooperative 
2009 strategic cooperative visits North Korea and
visits North Korea and 
partnership North Korea’s DPM visits 
Vietnam
Asymmetric Relations
Asymmetric Relations
Mature 
Asymmery
•Acknowledge
A k l d
ment of China 
Vietnam pre‐eminence
•Acknowledge
ment of 
Vietnam’s 
autonomy
Vietnam’s 3 Strategies
g
Relegate contentious issues to 
technical working groups

Promote multilateral efforts

Self‐help – develop defence
capacity
China‐Vietnam
China Vietnam Border Markers
Border Markers

Relegate contentious 
issues to technical 
working groups
k
Long‐term 
Agreements

Joint Steering 
Defence ties
Committee

Economic  High‐level 
relations party visits
party visits

High‐level 
High‐level
state visits
High‐Level Party‐to‐Party Visits
g y y

Nông Đức Mạnh & Hu Jintao


5th CCP
CCP‐CPV
CPV Theoretical Seminar
Theoretical Seminar
High‐level State Visits
g

Nguyễn Tấn Dũng & Hu Jintao April 2010


High‐level Defence
g Visits

Nguyễn Khắc Nghiên & Chen Bingde – Chiefs of General Staff


China‐Vietnam SAREX 2010
$11 billion 
deficit 
with China
with China

Economic 
and Trade 
Relations
$9 billion
$9 billion 
surplus 
with the 
US
Domestic Management of China Relations

Achieving consensus within CPV on how 
Achieving consensus within CPV on how
to respond to Chinese assertiveness in 
the South China Sea

How to harness rising anti‐China 
g
sentiment to buttress one‐party rule and 
not overplay hand with China
Anti‐China Student Protests
D
December 2007
b 2007
China’ss ‘invasion
China invasion plan
plan’
Vietnam‐North
Vietnam North Korea Relations
Korea Relations
‘Guns
Guns for Rice
for Rice’ 1990s
1990s

Top right: Igla (SA‐16 
Gimlet) portable air 
defence missile, 
missile
Yugo‐class mini‐
submarnie and Scud 
C b lli ti i il
C ballistic missile
DPRK Foreign Minister
DPRK Foreign Minister
North Korean Refugee Issue
North Korean Refugee Issue
Vietnam‐United
Vietnam United States Relations
States Relations
US‐Vietnam
US Vietnam Bilateral Trade Agreement
Bilateral Trade Agreement
General Phạm Văn Trà and Secretary 
of Defense Donald Rumsfeld ‐
f f ld f ld 2003
Welcome for President Bush
Welcome for President Bush
May & June 2007
May & June 2007

President Nguyen Minh 
Triet in Beijing

President Nguyen Minh 
President Nguyen Minh
Triet in Washington
US‐Vietnam
US Vietnam Strategic Dialogue
Strategic Dialogue

October 7, 2008
Vietnamese Officers Visit USS John C. Stennis
Vietnamese Officers Visit USS John C. Stennis

Launching aircraft in 
the South China Sea
Phùng Quang Thanh Up Periscope
Quang Thanh Up Periscope