Sunday, April 15, 2018

Vietnam is a good model for the Philippines on how to deal with a powerful country like China

By Roilo Golez
National Security Adviser (2001-2004)

In spite of their 10-year war in the late 60s up to the early 70s of the last century, both Vietnam and the US have moved on from that bloody war to able to address the present geosecurity situation with aggressive and coercive China as a common security concern.

Trump Hosts Prime Minister Phuc of Vietnam and Announces Trade Deals
MAY 31, 2017

Mattis visit highlights shift in US-Vietnam relations JANUARY 25, 2018

USS Carl Vinson is anchored at Tien Sa Port in Danang, Vietnam. This visit of a US super carrier is the most eloquent demonstration of the warming relations between the two countries. China of course expressed its consternation.
March 5, 2018

Vietnam has also developed a very strong relations with Japan, another bitter geopolitical rival of China. 
This has resulted in military exchanges, supply of 6 coast guard ships and radar satellites from Japan. 
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks as his Vietnamese counterpart, Nguyen Xuan Phuc (right), listens during their summit meeting in Tokyo.
June 2017

"Japan is contributing to Vietnam’s defense capabilities by enhancing military exchanges and defense personnel interoperation. It also transferred six Coast Guard vessels to Vietnam in 2014 and pledged another six in 2017. Vietnam analyst Le Hong Hiep has reported that Japan will transfer two advanced radar satellites to Vietnam in 2018 as part of its official development assistance, noting that Hanoi is also mulling purchasing anti-submarine and surveillance aircraft from Japan. This equipment will expand Vietnam’s maritime domain awareness capabilities in the South China Sea.

 Vietnam has also turned towards India, a rival of China in the Himalayas and of late, Indian Ocean Region. Japan and India strengthen defence ties signaled by the state visit to India of Vietnam's President Tran Dai Quang.
ASEAN+ March 19, 2018 01:00
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R), and Vietnam's President Tran Dai Quang (2-L), Indian President Ramnath Kovind (L) and Quang's wife, Nguyen Thi Hien (2-R), during a ceremonial reception at the President house in New Delhi, early March/EPA

INDIA: "Hanoi is expanding cooperation with India as well. When Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Hanoi in 2016, the two countries elevated their relationship to a comprehensive strategic partnership, and Modi pledged $500 million in credit to upgrade Vietnamese defense capabilities. New Delhi also offers training for the Vietnamese submarine fleet and Vietnamese pilots submarine because both countries use Russian manufactured subs and Sukhoi -30 fighter planes.. On top of defense cooperation, Vietnam has extended exploration rights to Indian state-run oil company Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) Videsh to mine the seabed in block 128, territorial waters that fall within China’s “nine-dash line.”

 Vietnam India Joint Oil Exploration

QUAD COUNTRIES: "Vietnam’s expanding relations with these “Quad” countries have unfolded alongside growing divisions within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on how to cope with China’s rise and activities in the South China Sea in particular.


On May 2, 2014 China unilaterally placed an oil-drilling rig in waters 120 miles from Vietnam’s coast – near islands claimed by both countries and well within Hanoi’s 200-mile exclusive economic zone set by international law. From the outset, approximately thirty Vietnamese vessels tried to intervene, but were repelled by the eighty plus Chinese ships protecting the rig. Although the platform was scheduled to maintain its position until August 15, China withdrew it on July 16.

CHINA: "Vietnam is mindful that China can dole out economic pain as well. China is Vietnam’s largest trading partner, accounting for nearly 30 percent of Vietnam’s imports and over 10 percent of its exports, and Beijing hasn’t hesitated to leverage its economic influence in the past. 


Vietnam has a long and proud record of dealing with China, its aggressive sea and land neighbor:

1. Vietnam fought a land war with China in 1979 and reportedly gave China's PLA a bloody nose using only its militia against PLA regulars. 

2. In 1988, they had an uneven naval encounter (three Chinese frigates vs. two Vietnam transport ships) in the Spratlys (Johnson South Reef) resulting in 64 Vietnamese soldiers and sailors massacred.

3. In 2014, China attempted to bring in a huge oil rig into Vietnam's EEZ. Vietnam resisted and there was a physical clash, collisions of coast guard ships and fishing vessels. Vietnamese rioted against Chinese facilities inside Vietnam. After three months, China withdrew the oil rig. 

In spite of these incidents, Vietnam has skillfully managed their diplomatic and economic relationships.

Vietnam has a continuing program to strengthen its defense capability which now boasts of:


- 6 modern Kilo class submarines from Russia, a big threat to the Chinese Navy (PLAN)
- 4 Gepard class frigates (with anti ship missiles and surface to air missiles) from Russia
- 5 Petya class frigates from Russia
- 13 corvettes from Russia
- 1 Pohang class corvette from South Korea

Air Force:
- 40 Su-30 multirole fighters from Russia
- 36 Su-22 fighters from Russia
- 450 anti-ship cruise missiles from Russia
- Numerous surface to air missiles from Russia, topped by 14 S-300 launchers
- Plan to buy Brahmos missiles from India

The Vietnamese pilots and submarines crews are trained by india which uses the same systems

Balance defense with vibrant economic development: 
Vietnam has a vibrant economy with a growth rate of around 7.6% higher than that of the Philippines. 

Vietnam's GDP is around $200 Billion, lower than Philippine GDP of around $300 Billion but it is able to invest significantly in defense and impressive infrastructure (its Hanoi airport is a lot better than our airport), modern 8.5 km long Hanoi Bridge, modern North-South highway. Vietnam gets a lot of support from Japan.

Tourism arrivals is above 10 million per year compared to 5 million for the Philippines.

Vietnam is skillfully balancing its diplomatic relationship and has a good relations with the US, India and Japan to counter China's aggressiveness

Here's how Vietnam developed a credible defense force to deter a neighbor's over aggressiveness.

Six (6) Kilo Class Submarines from Russia:

Four (4) Gepard class Missile Frigates from Russia:

One Pohang class corvette from South Korea

Forty Su-30 Multirole Fighters from Russia

36 Su-22 Fighters from Russia

Numerous S-300 Surface to Air Missiles from Russia

450 Anti Ship Cruise Missiles: The Zvezda Kh-35U ('Star', RussianХ-35УAS-20 'Kayak') is the jet-launched version of a Russian subsoniccruise[7] anti-ship missile. The same missile can also be launched from helicopters, surface ships and coastal defence batteries with the help of a rocket booster, in which case it is known as Uran ('Uranus', SS-N-25 'Switchblade'GRAU 3M24) or Bal ('Ball', SSC-6 'Sennight', GRAU 3K60). It is designed to attack vessels up to 5,000 tonnes. Range 300 km.

Vietnam has a good Coast Guard.

Modern Hanoi Airport

Modern 8.5 KM Nhat Tan Hanoi Bridge (Japan Financed)

North-South Highway

Gross domestic product rose 7.65 percent in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, data on Wednesday showed. Exports increased 21 percent in 2017 to a record $214 billion, with mobile phones and parts making up the biggest segment at about a fifth.

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