Putin’s Vietnam visit and ‘bamboo diplomacy’

Last Updated on June 21, 2024 9:15 am

Russian President Vladimir Putin is now in Vietnam after visiting North Korea in Asia. Putin has received a warm welcome in Vietnam as in Korea. Vietnamese President Tho Lam congratulated Putin on his re-election last March, calling him a ‘comrade’.

The US does not look favorably on Putin’s visit to Korea and Vietnam amid the Ukraine war. Instead, it strengthens Putin’s hand like a ball. However, despite the recent improvement of relations with the United States and Western countries, Vietnam does not take into account their objections on the issue of Russia.

Even against Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, the East Asian country of Vietnam has not openly expressed its position. They abstained from voting on several UN resolutions condemning Russia.

Vietnam’s relationship with Russia is very old. The then Soviet Union provided military, economic and diplomatic support to the then communist state of North Vietnam in the 1950s. In addition, when Cambodia invaded Vietnam in 1978 to oust the Khmer Rouge rulers, the Soviet Union still stood by them. At that time, China and Western countries tried to isolate Vietnam and imposed various sanctions.

Vietnam’s relationship with Russia has been very deep since then. Vietnam has always used Russian-made weapons. Although many countries have now overtaken Russia in the world economy; Vietnam therefore had to develop relations with the West. However, this did not affect their relationship with Russia.

At present, the foreign policy of Vietnam is much like that of Bangladesh. Friendship with all, enmity with none; Following this policy, they are now maintaining relations with Russia and Western countries. The country does not want to belong to any kind of alliance even though it has good relations with everyone. This diplomatic position of Vietnam is referred to as ‘Bamboo Diplomacy’ by the country’s Communist Party leaders.

This means that Vietnam does not strictly support any side even though it maintains good relations with both sides over time. Just as in the wind, the bamboos of the bamboo tree are swayed slightly from side to side by the wind, but when the wind stops, they settle back to their place.

Source: Adapted from Jonathan Head, BBC Southeast Asia Correspondent.

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