Who Will Win the Fight for “Friendship” with Vietnam?

Russia has to compete for “friendship” with Vietnam. Positive events for media consumption often get ahead of actual progress on economic projects. It is necessary to realize that for Vietnam Russia is no longer the only provider of technology, arms, education and economic opportunities. It is time to elaborate a new mechanism of bilateral development that would operate on the principles of mutual benefit, believes Yevgeny Vlasov, deputy prorector for international relations at Far Eastern Federal University and participant in the Valdai Club’s Russia-Vietnam conference.

Cooperation with Asia-Pacific countries has long been one of Russia’s main foreign policy priorities. “Russia’s turn to the East” has largely shaped Russia’s roadmap for the next few decades, which includes reestablishing the country's political, economic and cultural presence in the region and integrating it into regional processes. At present, Asia-Pacific countries are the main driver of global development. The region is marked by the expansion of trade and transport logistics, rapid technological and innovation development and the concentration of financial and political activity. 

At the same time, international dialogue in the region is complicated by a number of internal and external divergences. Relations between leading global and regional players and the formation of a new system of interstate communications are becoming increasingly important in the establishment of new international formats and trends of cooperation in the Asia-Pacific Region. 

Faced with new challenges, Vietnam is making major progress in upgrading its political system and developing relations with foreign partners. The results of consistent reforms under the Doi Moi policy, which first affected the economy and later on politics, enabled the Socialist Republic of Vietnam to consolidate its position as a serious regional actor. 

Based on the positive dynamics in the multi-vector relationship between Russia and Vietnam, which is often officially acknowledged by both countries, Vietnam can be considered one of Russia’s key partners in the region. But there is a fly in the ointment, since positive events for media consumption often get ahead of actual progress on economic projects. 

Apart from the high-level political dialogue between the countries, it is worth mentioning in-depth defense industry and security cooperation. However, for the time being this is primarily the result of the accumulated potential of successful USSR-Vietnam cooperation in many areas. Regrettably, today’s relations are more inertial than proactive. 

It is necessary to realize that for Vietnam, Russia is no longer the only provider of technology, arms, education and economic opportunities. Russia has to compete for “friendship” with Vietnam in the context of its domestic political processes, socio-economic liberalization, the Communist Party’s flexible foreign policy strategy and the country's integration in the international economic space. 

Taking into account current technological and political challenges, as well as generational turnover and the resulting cultural shifts in the socialist republic, it is essential to elaborate the most acceptable mechanism of bilateral development that will operate on the principles of mutual benefit. 

The development of human resources is indispensable for ensuring sustainable economic growth in the context of international turbulence, the interconnection and interdependence of economies and the transition to a new technological era. Creating the infrastructure to foster human capital should become a priority of Russia’s regional policy. The accumulated academic experience and system of reproducing knowledge, ideas and fundamental research are playing a major role in the development of the state, civil society and a productive economy. It is education that can serve as a platform for integrating all areas of bilateral cooperation. 

New requirements on the global division of labor are changing the focus of education. Universities should position themselves as drivers of change in the region and the development of human capital and the skills of the future, as well as create a new socio-cultural space.

Russian-Vietnamese Military-Technical Cooperation
Konstantin Makienko
Russian-Vietnamese military-technical cooperation hinges on traditional longtime military ties between both countries and is implemented in conditions of mutually complementary foreign-policy and military-political interests between Vietnam and Russia.
Expert Opinions

Far Eastern Federal University (FEFU) was the first stone in the foundation of this system of humanitarian cooperation centered on innovation. In December 2018, it opened its office in Hanoi. Its goal is to expand cooperation between universities in many areas. Alongside expanding academic exchanges and joint educational programs in the humanities and technical fields, there are plans to increase training of students and teachers of both countries in the Russian language and Vietnam studies and launch an innovation project as part of the FEFU ecosystem with the Russky Technology Park and partner labs and centers. 

There is demand for such cooperation. The younger generation of Vietnamese and Russian students is interested in it without any political encouragement from above. 

Russia’s partner is FPT, a major Vietnamese technology corporation. It plans to open a student office for supervising educational projects based at the FEFU campus. The new infrastructure will make it possible to create a new space for the interaction of the next generation of specialists without borders, who will be working toward a safe, sustainable and economically prosperous future. This is an ambitious project to form strong interethnic communities that are capable of raising bilateral relations to a fundamentally new level in a new era.

Russia-Vietnam: International Cooperation in a Troubled World
Opening the Russia-Vietnam conference, organized on 25-26 February in Ho Chi Minh City by the Valdai Discussion Club in partnership with the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam (DAV), Andrey Bystritskiy, Chairman of the Foundation for Development and Support of the Valdai Discussion Club, expressed hope for a fruitful two-day conference. He drew attention to the fact that the construction of a new world is currently taking place and that it is necessary to ponder and negotiate its future.
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