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Great Game: The Rise Of Vietnam

The ever-prescient Joel Kotkin has a great essay on Vietnam over at the American. Vietnam, Kotkin suggests, has not only grown into an important player in the geopolitical competition under way in Asia but is emerging as one of Asia’s most promising economies:

This combination of a growing and skilled workforce represents the same combination of factors that previously led to rapid growth in other Asian countries, from Japan in the 1960s to South Korea and Taiwan in the 1980s, and China more recently. One local investment house, Indochina Capital, estimates that by 2050 Vietnam’s economy will be the world’s 14th-largest—ahead of Canada, Italy, South Korea, and Spain.

Combined with the strong human ties and its aversion to domineering neighbors, these factors suggest that Vietnam may well prove itself as valuable an ally and trade partner to the United States as it was once an irrepressible enemy.

Vietnam’s rise is a boon for the US, not only commercially but politically as well. American foreign policy toward Asia has centered on promoting a balance of power between China and its neighbors, with no one country dominating or attacking another. The rise of Vietnam makes that kind of Asia more likely — and despite continuing human rights problems, its growing prosperity and economic growth make it a good partner for the US.

The US needs to walk a fine line in Asia.  Our goal is not to contain China in a new Cold War; we want to work with China and its neighbors to create an Asian geopolitical order in ways that avoid the need for a great power standoff.  We don’t want an anti-China alliance with Vietnam; we want good and mutually beneficial relationships with all the rising Asian nations, including Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Australia, South Korea, India and China.  That is the best way to promote a peaceful and prosperous Asia in the century ahead.

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  • WigWag

    Twenty years after expelling the United States from the Subic Bay Naval base and the Clark Air Force base there is considerable sentiment in the Philippines to invite the United States back. At the very least most Philipinnos acknowledge that insisting that the United States abandon the bases was a serious mistake.

    How about an American naval base in Cam Ranh Bay? How ironic would that be?

  • Anthony

    WRM, are we preparing for an Asian century? As a matter of fact APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) is meeting presently in Honolulu discussing regional economic integration (free trade and investment).

  • Lucius

    An excellent and concise analysis. The rise of Vietnam brings interest opportunities for both the U.S and China. China needs to get used to the balance of power game will be the future theme of Asia. If it does not want to be easily balanced by others, it needs to build regional confidence and behave with utmost caution. In a way, it is China that will have to walk the finest line in Asia.

  • Luke Lea

    If we expect to bring Vietnam into GATT on similar terms to China — in fact if we expect to keep these terms with China — it seems we are going to have to implement a graduated expenditure tax (GET) on a global basis as the only way to finance across-the-board wage subsidies for working Americans. The alternative is protectionism at home and chaos in Asia. There are no national solutions to what ails us anymore.

    GET for GATT

  • Luke Lea

    @ GET for GATT – that should have been written that a graduated expenditure tax “is the only ‘fair and efficient ‘ way to finance across-the-board wage subsidies for American workers.”

    An essential qualification. sorry

  • rkka

    “Asia.  Our goal is not to contain China in a new Cold War; we want to work with China and its neighbors to create an Asian geopolitical order in ways that avoid the need for a great power standoff.”

    So much for your crack to me that “if you think the US is more hostile to Russia than it is to China, you aren’t paying attention.”

    So, with your (and US) hostility to Russia confirmed, my point stands that it is unlikely that Russia will ever side with the US in any US-China dispute.

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