Mechanisms of Vietnam’s Multidirectional Foreign Policy

Nicholas William Chapman


It has been nearly 30 years since Vietnam shifted to a multidirectional foreign policy that places greater emphasis on cultivating friends and engaging with the international community. Vietnam has moved from being an isolated country, largely dependent on Soviet aid, to a country that bolsters its standing in bilateral and multilateral forums whilst reaping the economic benefits of greater integration into the global economy. Since the start of the 21st century, China’s more assertive posture, along with an increasingly complex, interdependent and multipolar world, has provided Vietnam with a host of problems. This article formulates a definition for a multidirectional foreign policy using Vietnam as a case study and argues that multidirectionalism allows Vietnam to reap economic benefits whilst safeguarding against uncertainty. Furthermore, the article tracks the three principal mechanisms through which Vietnam implements its multidirectional foreign policy: strategic and comprehensive partnerships, trade agreements, and multilateralism.

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