Vietnam is bordered by China to the north and Cambodia and Laos to the west. Having next-door neighbors presents immense advantages and crucial responsibilities for the nation, from their direct influence on national interests to defense cooperation.
In recent weeks, Vietnam reaffirmed its strengthening relations with China, Cambodia, and Laos through official visits and extensive talks on economic development and peacebuilding. Amidst territorial disputes and policy differences, Vietnam continues to underscore its long-standing friendship with these countries.
Lifting friendly neighborliness with China
Vietnam was one of the first to congratulate China on its 20th National Congress and the re-election of Xi Jinping as General Secretary of the Communist Party of China’s Central Committee on October 17.
“We consistently attach importance to and are ready to, together with the Chinese Party, State and people, make unceasing efforts to consolidate and lift the friendly neighborliness and comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership between Vietnam and China to a new stage of development, meeting the aspirations and essential interests of the two countries’ people and for peace, stability, cooperation, and development in the region and the world,” the Communist Party of Vietnam said.
Vietnamese Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong is set to pay an official visit to China from October 30 to November 2, 2022, at the invitation of President Xi.
Vietnam attaches great importance to good diplomatic relations with China. Both countries have actively worked to promote trade, tourism, and social development. China is Vietnam's largest trading partner and the second-biggest export market. Bilateral trade reached 165.8 billion USD in 2021 and 64.06 billion USD in the first five months of 2022.
While both have conflicting island and maritime claims of the South China Sea, national leaders said the two sides have maintained dialogue and negotiation channels to promote stability and peace.
Growing relations with Cambodia
Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chin warmly welcomed the president of the Cambodian Senate Say Chhum in Hanoi on Tuesday. The Cambodian official visited Vietnam for three days to mark the 55th founding anniversary of the two nations’ diplomatic relations.
PM Chinh spoke highly of Cambodia’s improving international reputation and its positive contributions to maintaining “traditional friendship and comprehensive cooperation” with Vietnam, Vietnam Government Portal reported.
Vietnam and Cambodia relations were recently tested after Vietnamese workers fled a casino in Cambodia’s Kandal Province, which shares a river border with An Giang Province. Since August, over a thousand Vietnamese who were tricked into illegal business have been rescued. Hundreds more are being assisted with repatriation procedures.
The Vietnamese PM said that the two countries should step up cooperation in rescuing workers forced into illegal labor. He further noted that Cambodian authorities should create favorable conditions for Vietnamese victims to return home safely.
Samdech Say Chhum said that amidst the complicated and unpredictable upheavals the world is facing, Vietnam and Cambodia need to “continue to preserve and constantly strengthen the friendship, solidarity, trust, and solid relationship to overcome difficulties together.”
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, two-way trade reached 9.5 billion USD in 2021, up 80% year-on-year. In the first nine months of 2022, bilateral trade rose by 16.7% to 8.45 billion USD. Vietnam has 198 FDI-valid projects in Cambodia with a registered capital of 2.92 billion USD, ranking first among ASEAN member states doing business in Cambodia. Vietnam is also Cambodia’s largest tourist source.
Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, will be hosting the ASEAN Summit in November, which PM Chinh said would undoubtedly succeed.
Promoting border security with Laos
Lao Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Security General Vilay Lakhamphong was in Hanoi this week to review its cooperation plans in drug prevention and control as well as public security with Vietnam.
PM Chinh hosted a reception for the Lao official in Hanoi, where he stressed how Laos has successfully overcome economic difficulties in recent years and has risen as an independent nation.
Vietnamese Minister of Public Security To Lam also met with his Lao counterpart to strengthen the two ministries’ coordination in preventing security threats. The two ministries need to instruct public security forces to implement the agreements regarding border areas in order to ensure security and order and build a common borderline of peace, friendship, cooperation, and development, To Lam said, per the report from state media.
Vietnam played a significant role in the development of stations of public security forces in border areas and the Lao People’s Public Security Political Academy this year. Both sides pledged to ensure social order and safety and to improve information exchange to intercept transnational crime, human trafficking, and smuggling within their borders.