Xi Jinping’s upcoming state visit set to cement China-Vietnam ties

BEIJING: Over the years, China and Vietnam have witnessed frequent high-level exchanges and breakthroughs in practical cooperation, which have benefited the two peoples and facilitated regional as well as global peace and development.

The comradely and brotherly bonds between the two countries are in the spotlight again as Chinese President Xi Jinping, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, is due to pay a state visit to the country from December 12 to 13 at the invitation of the Vietnamese side.

Six years after his last Vietnam trip, experts say Xi’s upcoming visit is bound to consolidate mutual political trust and promote mutually beneficial cooperation.

In October, President Xi met with Vietnamese President Vo Van Thuong in Beijing at the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. Exactly a year before that, General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Central Committee Nguyen Phu Trong became the first foreign leader to visit China after the 20th CPC National Congress and was awarded the Friendship Medal of the People’s Republic of China by Xi. Reciprocal visits of both leaders took place in 2017, with Xi’s state visit to Vietnam being his first overseas trip after the 19th CPC National Congress.

It was during Xi’s 2017 state visit to Vietnam when a memorandum of understanding was signed on the joint implementation of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative and Vietnam’s Two Corridors and One Economic Circle plan, resulting in major projects that substantially improved the people’s well-being.

The China-constructed Cat Linh-Ha Dong metro line project in Hanoi, Vietnam, November 6, 2021. /Xinhua

The China-constructed Cat Linh-Ha Dong metro line project in Hanoi, Vietnam, November 6, 2021. /Xinhua

Vietnam’s first city metro is an example of such projects. The 13-kilometer-long Cat Linh-Ha Dong line, which covers three districts in Hanoi with 12 stations, provides convenient and comfortable alternatives to traffic for commuters in the city crowded with millions of motorbikes and cars. Built by China, the metro line has demonstrated how the two countries are pushing forward practical cooperation.

The cooperation has reached a higher level as the two countries mark the 15th anniversary of their comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership this year. China has remained Vietnam’s largest trading partner for years, while Vietnam has been China’s largest trading partner in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

After the entry of Vietnamese durians in the Chinese market last year, vegetables and fruits exports from Vietnam have been expanding, with the durian exports expected to hit $1 billion this year.

Still, Chinese investment in Vietnam has been on the rise, ranking second in the first nine months of this year. Personnel exchanges have bounced back, expecting to grow as more flights resume.

“Economic and trade cooperation between China and Vietnam has evolved from a simple trade pattern to a higher level of cooperation closely related to the industrial and supply chains,” Zhang Jie, director of the Department of Asia-Pacific Security and Diplomatic Studies at the National Institute of International Strategy under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told media.

The two economies have great complementarities and deepening economic and trade cooperation serves the fundamental interests of both the countries, Zhang said.

Statistics from China Customs show that the two countries’ trade increased to $230.2 billion in 2021 and the figure hit $234.9 billion in 2022.

“The friendship, deeply rooted in shared ideals and beliefs of the two countries with the same social system, has been epitomized in their respective foreign policies that regard the bilateral relationship as a priority,” said Xian Manxue, associate professor at the School of Foreign Languages, Peking University.

The upcoming trip will tighten the bond between the two peoples and provide a strong impetus for ushering in a new stage of bilateral relations at a higher starting point, Xian added.

China and Vietnam should maintain high-level strategic communication, strengthen cooperation mechanisms in national defense and public security, jointly build a mutually beneficial, stable and unimpeded production and supply chain system, and strengthen personnel exchanges, said Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi while co-chairing the 15th meeting of the Steering Committee for Bilateral Cooperation in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi earlier this month.

While meeting with Wang, also a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, Nguyen Phu Trong said that the further development of Vietnam-China relations accords with the aspiration of the Vietnamese people, and the “comradely and brotherly” friendship between the two countries will be cemented through joint efforts.

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