Vietnam finds itself at a crossroads facing multiple challenges. It is challenged internally as voices calling for economic and political liberalizations are becoming more vocal and it is challenged externally too as Vietnam’s stakes in the region are on a conflicting trajectory with its important economic partner and powerful neighbour: China. In this sense Vietnam is in a similar situation as other countries in the region, most of them members of ASEAN, pursuing a dual strategy of engagement and hedging against a more assertive Beijing. However, of all the ASEAN members, Vietnam was involved in China’s last major military conflict when the two sides clashed over their shared border in 1979.

In an attempt to face up to Beijing, Hanoi seeks support from its old ally Russia, and from emerging partners like the United States. Indeed, concerns about developments in the South China Sea has pushed Vietnam into courting its former foe. In addition, Vietnam seeks support from other ASEAN members, although the organization remains divided over the issue of coordinated policy towards Beijing.

Contributors to this special issue will address all of these issues. This series of posts will run from March 12 and the distinguished line-up includes:

Edmund Malesky (Duke University)

Regina Abrami (University of Pennsylvania)

Carl Thayer (University of New South Wales)

Ramses Amer (Institute for Security and Development Policy)

Zachary Keck (The Diplomat)

Adam Fforde (Victoria University)