Publication:
Coping with a rising power: Vietnam’s hedging strategy toward China

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Authors
Tran, Tuan Uy
Subjects
Vietnam
China
United States
ASEAN
balancing
bandwagoning
hedging
South China Sea
doi moi economic reform
military modernization
enmeshment
bilateral
multilateral
Advisors
Malley, Michael
Date of Issue
2018-03
Date
Mar-18
Publisher
Monterey, California: Naval Postgraduate School
Language
Abstract
The competition for power and influence between China and the United States in Southeast Asia has presented strategic uncertainties in the region. Vietnam, like the rest of Southeast Asia, has adopted a hedging strategy to minimize security and political risks, and maximize the diplomatic benefits of flexibility. In recent years, however, China’s increasing aggression in the South China Sea may have put pressure on Vietnam to balance against China. By using a hedging spectrum between balancing and bandwagoning, this thesis seeks to understand Vietnam’s hedging behavior in response to China’s aggression and the possible reasons for that degree of change. It examines how Vietnam continues to pursue contradictory hedging behaviors to address Hanoi’s low-intensity balancing policies toward China while providing a closer engagement and solidarity with Beijing. This thesis found that Vietnam’s hedging behavior has shifted toward the balancing end of the hedging spectrum. In addition, Vietnam continues to put greater emphasis on indirect-balancing and dominance-denial policies, which also signify a degree of power rejection vis-à-vis China. This thesis offers two distinct explanations for Vietnam’s current trend toward the balancing behavior. First, through military modernization and security cooperation, Vietnam’s indirect balancing component has been strengthened, and second, Vietnam’s recent bilateral and multilateral enmeshment strategies have led it to a greater commitment to dominance denial, cultivating a balance of power and binding processes through institutionalist mechanisms.
Type
Thesis
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Department
National Security Affairs (NSA)
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Distribution Statement
Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited.
Rights
This publication is a work of the U.S. Government as defined in Title 17, United States Code, Section 101. Copyright protection is not available for this work in the United States.
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