Vietnam and China: Strange Bedfellows in the Era of Strategic Competition


As the Asia-Pacific becomes the central stage of the US-China rivalry, Vietnam has emerged as one of the key countries to watch. While Vietnam has positioned itself as a critical player in the United States’ Indo-Pacific strategy, and Hanoi’s distrust of China has grown in response to Beijing’s increasingly aggressive stance in the South China Sea, the Vietnam-China relationship transcends mere geopolitical binaries.

Joining Dr Natali Pearson on SSEAC Stories, Nguyen Khac Giang discusses Vietnam and China’s complex relationship, reflecting on the intimate ideological links, economic dependency, and security concerns that link the two countries. He discusses some of the key strategic challenges faced by Vietnam, how they can be negotiated, and whether it is possible for Hanoi to leverage relations with both China and the United States to minimise the potential geo-political risks associated with great power competition.

About Nguyen Khac Giang:

Nguyen Khac Giang is a research fellow at Vietnam Centre for Economic and Strategic Studies (VESS). Giang is currently a PhD candidate at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, where he compares the Vietnamese and Chinese political developments. His academic work appears in, among others, the Asian Journal of Political Science, Contemporary Southeast Asia, the Constitutional Political Economy, and the Asia & the Pacific Policy Studies. Giang is a frequent commentator on Vietnamese affairs and writes extensively for major Vietnamese and English news outlets such as the Saigon Times, The Diplomat, VnExpress, and the East Asia Forum.

For more information or to browse additional resources, visit the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre’s website:

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Natali Pearson

Dr Natali Pearson is Curriculum Coordinator at the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre, a university-wide multidisciplinary center at the University of Sydney, Australia. Her research focuses on the protection, management and interpretation of underwater cultural heritage in Southeast Asia.

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