Tag Archives: asean

Obama’s moral dilemma in Vietnam

30 Sep

September 30, 2010

Obama’s moral dilemma in Vietnam
By The Hanoist

As the United States deepens strategic ties with Vietnam in response to a rising China, a question now on many minds is how Washington will address Hanoi’s well-documented and continuing human rights abuses. The moral dilemma for the Barack Obama administration is how it can reconcile long-standing US support for democracy and human rights with its current realpolitik aims of winning friends and influencing states concerned by an overbearing Beijing.

These two often contradictory strands of American foreign policy were manifested in the media coverage surrounding Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s presentations at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum held in Hanoi in July. Her public remarks before Vietnamese government leaders on upholding human rights dominated the first day’s headline.

On the following day, however, Clinton turned her focus to security matters. Her declaration that the US had a national interest in maintaining an open South China Sea and supported a multilateral solution to the maritime disputes there between China and ASEAN countries became the biggest story out of the ministerial meeting and still reverberates several months later. Continue reading

Vietnam hedges its China risk

29 Jul

July 29, 2010

Vietnam hedges its China risk
By The Hanoist

As Vietnam and China celebrate an official “Year of Friendship” marking the 60th anniversary of diplomatic ties, Hanoi is quietly pursuing a balance of power plan against its neighbor to the north. The contours of the still evolving strategy consist of developing a common position vis-à-vis China within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), engaging the United States and forging security ties with other key regional powers.

How this approach unfolds, however, will depend as much on domestic Vietnamese politics as the interests of the individual countries involved. Hanoi has used its chairmanship of the 10-member ASEAN to put territorial disputes in the South China Sea on the grouping’s agenda. China and ASEAN signed a non-binding code of conduct in 2002 and since then Beijing has sought to resolve differences through bilateral negotiations, where one-on-one it often dominates the other side. Continue reading