Vietnam’s drive to modernize militarily—causes and implications
Clark, Ryan S.
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Since the initiation of economic reforms in the late 1980s, the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) has increasingly focused on updating its sea and air capabilities while also enhancing its foreign defense relations. Since then, military capabilities outside of Vietnam’s ground forces have increased with the addition of more modern equipment. After the Soviet Union’s collapse, Vietnam expanded its military procurement network and general defense policy beyond Russia. What are the specific details of these modernization efforts? As Vietnam’s economy has developed, its relationship with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has varied due to conflicting territorial claims in the South China Sea (SCS). The PRC took the Paracel Islands from Vietnam in 1974 and portions of the Spratly Islands in 1988 and the mid-1990s; its assertive SCS behavior toward Vietnam has continued. Since 1986, Vietnam’s dramatic economic growth and development focus has led to military updates but also to a growing defense industry as it pursues industrialized status by 2020. Through historical analysis, this thesis seeks to answer the following question: What are the causes and implications of military modernization initiated by the CPV after the Doi Moi reforms of 1986?
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