A success for Vietnam, which has forced Xi Jinping to visit them for the third time, as no other Chinese president had done. But also satisfaction in Beijing, which has managed to include Hanoi in the platoon of its closest allies, to whom it offers the construction of “a shared future.”

In total, the communist governments of China and Vietnam have signed 36 agreements – including railway connections – and a 16-page joint declaration. “We must be vigilant to avoid any disruption of the Asia-Pacific,” summarized Xi Jinping.

Several events have advised Xi to return to Vietnam, after six years of absence, for a two-day official visit that ended this Wednesday. Not in vain, the Vietnamese government allows itself to be loved – among others by the US and Japan – in a context of competition between powers that favors it. Without going any further, US President Joe Biden – who did not fight in Vietnam – landed in the country three months ago to elevate the relationship between both countries to the level of “comprehensive strategic partnership.”

Beijing takes note of the flexibility of this “bamboo diplomacy”, with its own contributions. Last week, two Chinese navy ships debuted the new jetty at the Cambodian naval base of Ream, supposedly suitable for aircraft carriers.

Although China is Vietnam’s first trading partner, caution continues to govern their ancient relations, clouded by a small war in the late 1970s, a skirmish in the South China Sea a decade later and an increase in tension. in these waters since Xi took power.

In reality, the Western courtship arrived when Vietnam was already in the process of repairing bridges with China. Where sparks fly, in Ukraine and Palestine, Hanoi’s position is similar to that of Beijing: Call for peace negotiations, without condemnation of Russia or Hamas.

Like Biden, Xi has met this week with the four pillars of communist power in Vietnam, starting with the general secretary of the Communist Party, Nguyen Phu Trong, as well as the speaker of Parliament, Vuong Dinh Hue, the prime minister and President.

Although China and Vietnam agreed a quarter of a century ago on the demarcation of their 1,300 kilometer land border, this has not been the case with the disputed islets of Paracel and Spratly. However, they are committed to seeking long-term solutions through dialogue and are committed to improving communication and consultation channels in the event of incidents.

Likewise, this Wednesday, Xi placed a wreath of flowers at the mausoleum that houses the mummy of Ho Chi Minh, the ideologue of the fight against the French and then American occupation, who won the war after he died. Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh has expressed Vietnamese support “for Comrade Xi Jinping’s initiatives for world peace, cooperation and development.”

This support has taken the form of Vietnam’s inclusion in the “communities of shared future.” A select group of Beijing’s allies, which also includes Cambodia, Laos, Burma, Thailand, Pakistan, South Africa and Mongolia.

From Vietnam’s point of view, China has occupied the maximum degree of proximity for fifteen years, the comprehensive strategic partnership, to which the US was added three months ago. Russia, India and South Korea already belonged to this and, for the past fifteen days, Japan has also done so, after the visit of the Vietnamese president.

But Vietnam, a country jealous of its sovereignty if there is one, as demonstrated by its anti-colonial struggle, has no intention of allowing itself to be swallowed up by a country fifteen times its size, to which it was already united throughout the first millennium.

Xi reiterated to President Vo Van Thuong that China is willing to improve coordination with Vietnam to find a code of conduct and a long-term solution to their disputes in the South China Sea, where Xi Jinping’s China has maximized its claims.

Vietnam, in any case, has reiterated its support for China’s territorial integrity, pledging to deny state treatment to Taiwan. Finally, both parties have sworn to combat any hint of a “color revolution”, in reference to alleged US interference, expressed through street mobilizations via social networks, with the aim of provoking a change of regime, then of line in politics. international.

It should be noted that their economies do not necessarily compete. They are complementary in rare earths, with Vietnam as the depositary of the second largest reserves and China as its largest processor on a planetary scale. Without forgetting that, even when a European or American company opens a factory in Vietnam, it contributes to strengthening ties between this country and China, a difficult-to-replace source of many raw materials and intermediate products.

Before the pandemic, the economy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam was already running like a motorcycle (motorcycles are also the favorite mode of transportation in Saigon, Hanoi and other cities). But the combination of Covid with the height of the technological and economic rivalry between Washington and Beijing has encouraged many Western companies to shorten and move closer supply chains and diversify risks.

That, at least, was the idea, which would have Vietnam as an ideal candidate to relocate some factories currently in China. The idea has materialized much less in practice than in debates and forums, but that does not mean that Beijing is not attentive to its evolution.