The World in 2:00 – January 27, 2016

The World in 2:00 – January 27, 2016

By Luke Vargas   

Vietnam's communists reelect their leader, endorsing the country's 'protection through trade' strategy in the South China Sea.

From Hanoi, Vietnam, this is your “World in 2:00.” I’m your host Luke Vargas for Talk Media News.


At a pivotal time in the South China Sea dispute, Vietnam’s ruling Communist Party met here in Hanoi this week to select its leaders for the next five years and set domestic and foreign policies.

Their decision Wednesday to reappoint Nguyễn Phú Trọng as party head reflects a hesitancy to make a major shift in course.

Vietnam already set its course, and time is needed to see it through.

Trần Việt Thái is the Deputy Director of the Institute for Foreign Policy and Strategic Studies, a division of the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry’s Diplomatic Academy:

“The game here is power politics, not rule of law. China has no rule of law.  It’s rule by law, by law China created.”

Not surprisingly, Vietnam is under no illusion that recourse to international law, which the Philippines is pursuing, will come to its rescue.

Under General Secretary Trọng, Vietnam also avoided the sort of defense guarantees that the Philippines has sought with the Unites States. Instead, the country sees economic partnerships as its best defense against Chinese aggression.

The logic is that the more countries with an economic stake in Vietnam, the more countries that will come to its defense should China erect maritime or aviation restrictions in the South China Sea.

“After the Cold War, the importance, the role of military alliances is going down.  So anyone who can help Vietnam become independent, become strong, become developed, it will be our friend. That’s why we joined TPP.”

And there you have it, the pro-Trans-Pacific Partnership argument rarely heard in the United States.

For Vietnam, the hope is that 21st century globalization can deliver the protection 20th century alliances once promised. Vietnam’s future depends on money continuing to talk.


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