Vietnam’s Relations with China and the U.S.: A Delicate Internal and External Balancing Act

Download the Event Audio, Speaker Bios, and Photos Here

Watch the previously recorded livestream at the bottom of the webpage. 

In recent years, Vietnam’s foreign alignment strategy has raised broad attention from the region. Vietnam has a long and complicated history with China. Particularly in light of the 1979 Sino-Vietnam war and the existing maritime disputes, there exists profound distrust and an arguably fundamental rift between the two despite the complexity of “comrade plus brother” relationship. In contrast, against the history of the Vietnam War, US’ relations with Vietnam has made steady progress in the past decade, culminating in the visits by President Obama in 2016 and by President Trump in 2017. Secretary of Defense Mattis just completed his trip to Vietnam in late January 2018, opening channels for more conversations and defense ties that are widely interpreted to assist Vietnam to counter China’s growing strength and ambition in the region.

Although the alignment choice for Hanoi appears clear, the picture is significantly complicated by Vietnam’s domestic politics. The power struggles among different political factions within the party play an innate role in determining and influencing the country’s foreign policy. The Stimson Center is pleased to host the top Vietnam specialists from China and the U.S., Dr. Pan Jin’e from China Academy of Social Sciences and Murray Hiebert, Deputy Director of the Southeast Asia Program from the Center for International and Strategic Studies, to discuss the current state of Vietnam’s relations with the two great powers, the triangular relationship and the factors influencing their future.


WHAT: An on-the-record discussion with Pan Jin’e and Murray Hiebert on Vietnam’s relations with China and the United States.
WHERE: The Stimson Center, 1211 Connecticut Avenue, NW, 8th Floor, Washington DC, 20036
WHEN: Friday, February 16, 2018 | 9:30 AM – 11:00 AM
FOLLOW@StimsonCenter on Twitter for event news and use #StimsonNow to join the conversation.



Pan Jin’e, Senior Researcher and Professor, China Academy of Social Sciences
Pan Jin’e is a senior researcher and professor at the China Academy of Social Sciences, where she focuses on Vietnam’s reform and its comparison to the Chinese experience, Vietnamese politics, economy and foreign policy as well as Sino-Vietnamese relations. The top Vietnam expert in China, Pan frequently advises Chinese leaders and government on Vietnam. 

Murray Hibert, Senior Associate, Southeast Asia Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies
Murray Hiebert is a senior associate of the Southeast Asia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C. He earlier served as senior adviser and deputy director of the CSIS Southeast Asia Program. Prior to joining CSIS, Hiebert was senior director for Southeast Asia at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Earlier, he was a journalist based in Asia for two decades.

Yun Sun, Senior Associate, East Asia Program, Stimson Center
Yun Sun is a Senior Associate with the East Asia Program at the Stimson Center. Her expertise is in Chinese foreign policy, U.S.-China relations and China’s relations with neighboring countries and authoritarian regimes.

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