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Hanoi should be wary of ploy to use it as a pawn in regional geopolitical game: China Daily editorial

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2023-09-05 19:02

US President Joe Biden's scheduled visit to Vietnam on Sept 10 immediately after attending the G20 Summit in New Delhi is expected, according to reports, to upgrade Washington-Hanoi relations to a comprehensive strategic partnership after 10 years of comprehensive partnership.

There's nothing wrong with the two countries upgrading their bilateral ties. But the fact that Biden has decided to skip the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Leaders' Meeting in Jakarta from Sept 5 to 7 to focus on his Vietnam visit gives rise to concerns about the role Washington wants Hanoi to play in its geopolitical strategy.

Vietnam and China established a comprehensive strategic partnership in 2008, but the two countries have territorial disputes in the South China Sea. Given that Washington has been trying to exploit China's territorial disputes with the Philippines to its advantage, it could use the same playbook to further complicate the dispute between Vietnam and China. After all, exploiting disputes between other countries is how Washington gets its strategic bread and butter from.

It is normal for the US to develop bilateral ties with other countries, including Vietnam. But developing ties with a country with the ill intent of driving a wedge between it and another country is a threat to regional peace and stability.

As far as China's territorial disputes with its neighboring countries are concerned, China has reiterated time and again that they should be settled through talks. China has also pledged to continue talks on the Code of Conduct for the South China Sea, which could help resolve the disputes.

Vietnam knows how important its relations with China are, and what role Sino-Vietnamese relations play in its development. Of course, it should expand economic and trade cooperation with the US. But it should not allow the US to poison China-Vietnam relations.

When it comes to economic and trade cooperation, no country should be forced to take sides between the US and China. If some countries find it difficult to balance their relations with the world's largest and second-largest economies, it is because Washington exerts pressure on them to become pawns in its geopolitical game against China.

With more and more countries, including those in Southeast Asia, becoming wary of Washington's strategic intentions, it will be very difficult or even impossible for the US to force ASEAN member states to take sides in its geopolitical game against China.

It's high time Washington realized it can no longer fool countries and began developing normal ties with Southeast Asian countries without disrupting regional peace and stability.

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