Vietnam shows deft touch in its China diplomacy

DANANG, Vietnam - Hanoi rolled out the red carpet for Chinese President Xi Jinping during his recent surprise visit to Vietnam, but it was more a careful calculation than a warm welcome.

Xi arrived in Hanoi on Nov. 5 for talks with Vietnamese leaders, including Nguyen Phu Trong, the general secretary of the Vietnamese Communist Party.

The visit was unusual for several reasons, most notably the fact that Vietnam, like several of its neighbours, is embroiled in a territorial dispute with China over the South China Sea.

It was also interesting that Xi visited Vietnam for the first time in his dual capacity as general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party and Chinese president. While there, Xi and the Vietnamese leaders attended a series of events playing up the traditional ties between the two communist parties.

One reason for this show of rapport is that China and Vietnam are two of the few remaining socialist countries in the world. Equally important, however, is Vietnam's desire to play its diplomatic cards carefully.

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