Vietnam plans to upgrade its relationship with the US to match that of China, bringing the two countries closer together in the face of growing assertiveness from Beijing. The US will sign a “comprehensive strategic partnership” with Vietnam, raising its status in Vietnam’s bilateral ties hierarchy to the top level. This move is seen as a signal of cooperation and alignment between the two countries. Vietnam has long avoided taking this step due to fears of upsetting China. The US sees developing countries in Asia as crucial to countering China’s ambitions in the Indo-Pacific region. Vietnam is seen as a frontline nation facing China’s growing assertiveness in the South China Sea. The upgraded partnership will have security, economic, and market opportunities implications. It will also allow both countries to work on further boosting trade, especially in crucial industries such as semiconductors. Vietnam’s economy has transitioned to a more open and capitalist model, and the US is its largest export market. This partnership is also influenced by Chinese missteps, such as increased intimidation of Vietnamese vessels in the South China Sea. The move is likely to trigger disquiet in Beijing. Despite concerns about China, Vietnam aims to remain neutral between the two superpowers and has been broadening its ties with other nations.

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