Vietnam’s “bamboo diplomacy”: establishing strategic partnerships while ensuring independence and security.

Vietnam’s foreign minister, Bui Thanh Son, delivered a speech at the Brookings Institution where he discussed Vietnam’s unique approach to diplomacy, known as “bamboo diplomacy.” Son emphasized that this approach has allowed Vietnam to establish strategic partnerships with both the US and China while maintaining its independence and security.

Son highlighted the deep cultural significance of bamboo in Vietnam and its connection to the country’s history. Bamboo represents strength and flexibility, reflecting Vietnam’s commitment to upholding international law, particularly the UN Charter, to protect its territorial sovereignty. Son acknowledged the tensions, especially with China, over territorial claims in the South China Sea.

The flexibility of bamboo branches symbolizes Vietnam’s diplomatic approach towards its partners. Son stressed the importance of respecting and refining policies towards partners like the US and China. Vietnam aims to play a stabilizing role in maintaining relations between these major powers and has already established comprehensive strategic partnerships with Japan and Australia. Vietnam strives to be seen as a reliable member in the international community.

One specific area of focus in the US-Vietnam partnership is technology transfer. Son discussed the potential for building an ecosystem for the Vietnamese semiconductor industry and leveraging artificial intelligence for development. He also highlighted the importance of digital transfer to enhance the economies of both nations. Vietnam can contribute significantly to supply chain resilience, as evidenced during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Furthermore, Son emphasized Vietnam’s possession of “critical minerals,” essential for manufacturing high-tech products such as smartphones and electric vehicles. While China has been a leader in mining these minerals, Vietnam offers an alternative source. This showcases Vietnam’s potential contribution to high-tech industries and supply chain sustainability.

The US-Vietnam relationship is seen as a model for international relations, having transformed from a history of conflict to friendship. Son noted that trade between the US and Vietnam has increased 24-fold over the past 30 years, reaching an annual value of $110 billion.

Son also addressed recent leadership changes in Vietnam and affirmed the country’s commitment to creating a favorable environment for foreign businesses. He emphasized that one or two resignations do not undermine the Party Congress’ dedication to domestic and international growth.