As they say, keep your friends close, your enemies closer, and make your frenemies your biggest trading partners!
In one of history’s rather bizarre twists of fate, the United States is now fully lifting its ban on selling military equipment to Vietnam that has been in place for five decades. President Obama says it’s so Vietnam can defend itself. But from whom?
Obama said, “The decision to lift the ban was not based on China or any other considerations.”
Riiiight. It’s certainly not to encourage a balance power in the hotly contested South China Sea.
Five trillion dollars worth of shipping goes through the South China Sea every year. It’s also loaded with natural resources, like oil. And China wants those resources.
So while the US builds its partnership with Vietnam, China has its own strategy: building partnerships with other countries in the region, like Thailand, Myanmar (Burma), Malaysia, and Laos.
Even countries that have bad blood with China have financial ties. In fact, every country in with the disputing claims in the South China Sea has China as one of its top three trading partners. Chinese leader Xi Jinping even reached out the Philippines president-elect Duterte to establish “a friendly, stable and sound” relationship.
Because when you’re frenemies, who wants to go to war?