Vietnam-China-US Triangle: Navigating the challenges in the Xi–Trump Era

Dr. Huong Le Thu
18 December 2017

Like many states in the region, Vietnam faces the challenge of rapidly changing and increasingly unpredictable strategic future. However, unlike many neighbours, Vietnam’s relations with China and the US in both cases can examples of one of most challenging asymmetrical relationships. This seminar assesses Hanoi’s strategic positioning in the current geo-political development of the region, particularly since 2014. It will discuss the trajectory of this complex set of triangular relationship and analyze Vietnam’s current domestic considerations. It will give particular focus to Hanoi’s foreign policy adjustments and remaining limitations since the new leadership was appointed following the 12th Vietnamese Communist Party Congress in early 2016. The seminar aims at contributing to the wider debate on how small- and mid-sized powers not only cope but also strive to have agency in the times of structural power shift.

About the Speaker: Dr. Huong Le Thu is currently based at the Strategic and Defence Studies Center at the Australian National University. Prior to the ANU, she worked in Singapore, Taiwan and has held short-term research fellowships in Seoul (private think-tank), Kuala Lumpur (University of Malaya) and Jakarta (the ASEAN Secretariat). Huong is a recipient of a US State Department Fellowship on East Asian Security and an alumna of the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies in Honolulu. She was awarded inaugural fellowship of the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue Southeast Asian Young Leaders’ Program in 2016. Her research focuses on the nexus of domestic politics and foreign policy in Vietnam and Vietnam’s relations with great powers. She has also published on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) norms building. Her analyses and commentaries have appeared in a number of public policy debate platforms, including the Brookings Institute’s blog, CSIS CogitAsia, Nikkei Asian Review, East West Center Bulletin, The Asia Pacific Policy Forum etc. She speaks five languages (including Mandarin Chinese) and has published in four of them. Huong has previously worked as a diplomatic translator and a research consultant, including for the UN, the EC and ASEAN.