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Vietnam - to them or to us?

Experts recommend not to give the best, once, a friend of the USSR to the mercenary of the West

On the eve of the visit of the President of Vietnam to Moscow, experts from the Institute for Far Eastern Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences have been diagnosed: the level of development of bilateral relations between the Russian Federation and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam lags far behind what was in the Soviet era and could be now. Vietnam is increasingly drawn into the orbit of the United States and the West as a whole, moving away from Russia, practically, in all spheres of activity. Today, one way to reverse the negative trend - the involvement of Vietnamese private business in Russia's economic projects in the Far East - scientists believe. EastRussia listened to the opinions of experts.

Vietnam - to them or to us?
Photo: VTC News
The visit of President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam Tran Dai Quang to Moscow, scheduled for the end of June (by the way, his first official visit to Russia as head of state) is formally considered as another step in the development of good-neighborly relations between our countries, which have long been interacting with each other in the format of a comprehensive strategic partnership. At the same time, there is an increasing involvement of Vietnam, once one of the most reliable allies of the USSR, into the economic and socio-cultural orbit of the United States and other Western countries. On the eve of Chiang Dai Quang's visit to Moscow, the participants of the expert press conference and round table "Current state and prospects of Russian-Vietnamese relations", which took place at the Institute of Far Eastern Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, spoke about the alarming for Russia the deepening of this trend and possible ways of its refraction.

According to the gathered experts, the progressively warming relations between Vietnam and the United States (in the recent historical past, sworn enemy of Vietnam) are promoted by the traditionally strained relations of Vietnam with China. The latter, as we know, pretends to be one of the leading roles in the Asia-Pacific region and has for many years been unable to resolve with Vietnam and other countries of Southeast Asia the question of the nationality of a number of islands in the South China Sea (the Paracel and the Spratly Archipelago ).

"The Chinese factor objectively stimulates the rapprochement between Vietnam and the United States. And Washington is powerfully and systematically strengthening its positions in all spheres of economic and political interaction with Vietnam in opposition to its geopolitical competitor in the region - China. If Moscow's position is neutrality, complete non-interference in territorial disputes between Vietnam and China, calling for a peaceful bilateral negotiation process on this issue between the conflicting parties themselves, America stands for the international debate and even condemns China. Therefore, it is not surprising that such political position of the White House is more appealing to Vietnam than to the position of non-interference from the Kremlin, "said Sergei Luzyanin, director of the Institute of Far Eastern Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Doctor of Historical Sciences.

Head of the Center for the Study of Southeast Asia, Australia and Oceania of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Doctor of Historical Sciences Dmitry Mosyakov stated in his report that the economic influence of Russia in Vietnam has significantly weakened, but the dominance of developed countries led by the United States grows in all strategic directions of the national economy countries. 

"This, however, does not cause concern to the Vietnamese leadership, although it threatens the economic and political sovereignty of the SRV. At the same time, Russia's positions in trade and investment cooperation with Vietnam are much weaker than those of Western countries, and are developing at a slower pace, "the scientist said.

Grigory Lokshin, a leading researcher at the Center for the Study of Vietnam and ASEAN of the Institute for Far Eastern Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, agreed with the assessment of his colleagues, but stressed that the Vietnamese-American partnership is of a dual nature. “Vietnam's relationship with the United States is more of a partnership not out of love, but out of interests. On the part of Washington, certain conditions and requirements are constantly being put forward, which in essence means a demand for a change in the social system of Vietnam. But Vietnam will never agree to this ... ”.

The manipulative nature of such a policy towards Vietnam was emphasized by Vladimir Kolotov, head of the Department of History of the Far East of the St. Petersburg State University: "The West is applying to Vietnam a strategy for changing regimes, preparing and conducting" color revolutions. " The Vietnamese media space has become permeable to external influences and reflexive control. Through it in social networks and a number of Internet media, so-called fake news will spread to distort reality, discredit the leadership and policy of the Russian Federation, reduce the status and undermine Russian-Vietnamese relations, reorient the sympathies of the population towards other states. "

Characterizing the movement of Vietnam from Russia towards Western countries, the participants of the round table also noted such sad facts and trends as: Vietnam's refusal to build a nuclear power plant on its territory by Russia, refusal to purchase small arms in Russia in favor of Israel, increased control from the West Over the economic sovereignty of Vietnam, the declining number of Vietnamese students in Russia (for comparison, today in the US they are taught about 40 thousand, while in the Russian Federation - no more than 5 thousand people), the fall is popular The Russian language in Vietnam, increasingly criticized by the Vietnamese media for its neutral position in the Vietnam-China territorial disputes, the disappointment in Russia of a significant part of the Vietnamese elite, the curtailment of scientific and cultural cooperation between the Russian Federation and the SRV.

The main conclusion voiced at the expert press conference and round table "Current state and prospects of Russian-Vietnamese relations" is that the level of development of bilateral relations between our countries is far behind what it was in the Soviet era and could be now. It should be borne in mind that a lot has changed since the time of great friendship between the two states. Russia is not the USSR, and Vietnam is no longer the same, it has become much more powerful economically and politically. To get out of the degrading relations with him, Russia must make certain efforts. To change the situation for the better, the experts, as always happens at the discussion sites of the Institute of the Far East of the Russian Academy of Sciences, have developed a number of recommendations.

According to them, Russia needs to: diversify its political and trade and economic relations in the APR (not focusing only on China); to offer Vietnam assistance in combating the negative and manipulative influence on the public opinion of this country from the West, to form in the eyes of Vietnamese society a positive and friendly image of our country, supporting it with concrete actions; in the mutual trade, switch to the currencies of the two countries, abandoning the US dollar and creating a joint investment fund and foreign exchange reserves; expand the removal of trade restrictions under the Free Trade Agreement between Vietnam and the EEU, which entered into force last year; actively attracting Vietnamese private business to investing in various economic projects in different parts of Russia.

The last recommendation is closely linked to the projects in the Russian Far East, which have already begun to be implemented within the territories of advanced development and the Free Port of Vladivostok.

Vladimir Mazyrin, the moderator of the round table, the head of the Center for the Study of Vietnam and the ASEAN countries of the Institute of the Far East, said in an interview with EastRussia: "After the introduction of Western sanctions against Russia and devaluation of the ruble to businesses from developing countries, including Vietnam, Agriculture, for example. In particular, in the spring of this year, the largest Vietnamese company TH True Milk (during the March visit of Plenipotentiary Yury Trutnev to Vietnam) expressed interest in the construction of a cattle-breeding complex and a milk processing plant in the Primorsky Territory. The project is expected to be implemented within the framework of the TOP. To invest in it the Vietnamese company intends not less than one and a half billion US dollars and now is looking for suitable land plots. She already has experience in investing in Russia. In the Moscow and Kaluga regions, TH True Milk launched similar projects, announcing a sum of investments of 2,5 billion. This is even more than all Vietnamese investments in Russia that have been accumulated since the 90-ies, including investments in the oil and gas sector, where giant state corporations such as Gazprom and PetroVietnam cooperate.

In addition to agriculture, Vladimir Mazyrin believes, the Russian Far East is potentially of interest to Vietnam as an industrial site for food and light industry, as well as a place for joint projects with Russia in the field of tourism.

BOOK EastRussia
Vietnam became the first state with which the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) entered into a Free Trade Agreement (signed on May 29, 2015, entered into force on October 5, 2016). Within the framework of the Agreement, it is planned to intensify trade and economic ties, increase the mutual flow of goods, services, investments between the EAEU member states and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. As for the largest member of the EAEU, Russia, its foreign trade turnover with Vietnam in 2016 amounted to about $ 2,7 billion, which is an order of magnitude less than that of Vietnam with the United States or the European Union. Vietnam's share in Russia's foreign trade turnover is only 0,7-0,8%. The Russian-Vietnamese strategic partnership is based mainly on cooperation in the exploration and production of oil and gas. Interacting with each other, the profile associations of the two countries - PJSC Gazprom, JSC Zarubezhneft, PJSC NK Rosneft and the state oil and gas corporation Petrovietnam - are implementing joint projects in Russia and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Also, cooperation has been established in the military-industrial sphere: 90% of the armament of the SRV Army is made by Russian-made equipment. In addition, the Russian Federation supplies fuel, oil products, fertilizers, building materials, ferrous metals and products from them to Vietnam. Vietnam exports tea, coffee, spices, knitwear, footwear to Russia.

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