Vietnam will take pride in hosting the second meeting with Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un. Its responsibility in this summit has opened up an opportunity for Vietnam to rekindle its relationship with North Korea. In the 1950s Pyongyang and Hanoi had flourishing ties.
During the war between Vietnam and America, North Korea did not hesitate to offer help to Hanoi in terms of military supplies and air power. However, a few decades later, their relationship suffered a major setback as Vietnam decided to invade Cambodia in 1978, yet another communist state. This invasion did not sit well with North Korea. Further to that, Vietnam commenced diplomatic relations with South Korea, a neighbouring Pyongyang rival in 1992. This proved to be another blow to ties between the two communist states.
Nevertheless, things seem to be looking up between Pyongyang and Hanoi amidst this summit. In case Pyongyang ends up playing a huge role in the International Community, Vietnam will not mind being its partner.
Pham Binh Minh, Vietnams foreign minister, landed in Pyongyang on Tuesday, to go over the details of the upcoming summit which will take place in Hanoi later this month. It is rumoured that Kim Jong-un intends to make a state visit to Vietnam before the much-anticipated summit. The Vietnamese foreign minister's trip to North Korea signifies Hanoi’s recommenced commitment to building rapport with Pyongyang. Mr Pham showed good faith by boarding a Flight with Air Koryo, which is North Koreas national carrier, for his journey. He was in the company of 5 government officials and Vietnamese journalists as it was reported by a North Korean news agency.
Former Hanoi diplomat for North East Asia and China, Mr Nguyen Vinh Quang said that North Korea is a friend who helped Vietnam in the past. He also stated that despite North Korea facing problems and isolation from the international fraternity, Vietnam is hopeful that this situation can be remedied to favour Pyongyang and that North Korea can experience development.
According to Le Hong Hiep, who is a fellow at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore, Kim’s touchdown in Hanoi for the state visit would likely be expected to happen on 25th or 26th February. He then said that for more than 5 decades, no Northern Korean leader has ever made a state visit to Vietnam. Le Hong added that the Pham Binh Minh trip to Pyongyang was not only to refine the details of the Trump-Kim summit but also the speculated Kim Jong-un formal visit.
Last year November, Kim had sent Ri-Yong, his foreign minister, to Vietnam on an infrequent visit. It is said that the North Korean leader has been impressed by what Hanoi has achieved in recent years in terms of economic development. He intends to imitate their model in his country. Doi Moi, Vietnam’s market reforms that were launched in 1986 have been credited to the growth of its GDP five times than it was before.
Vietnam is now ranked among the world’s fastest growing economies. In 2018 its GDP experienced quite a significant growth, which was slightly over 7%. Nguyen Xuan Phuc, who is the current prime minister, said that their decision to adopt the new market reforms couldn’t have been any better due to the major economic strides they have made so far.
A research fellow at the renowned Belfer Research Centre for Science and International Affairs, Mr Viet Phuong Nguyen, explained that by Hanoi rekindling its relationship with Pyongyang and lending its proven economic model to them, Vietnam would be able to take on the international stage and showcase its economic prowess to the world by its economic model being picked up by another country.
It is not impossible for Kim to adopt Vietnam’s economic model. However, he would have to let go of his grip on the immense control he holds in his country. Vietnam has not been subjected to absolute control, neither has it been ruled by a single strong leader for decades. Its citizens enjoy a considerable amount of personal freedom.
Kim remains optimistic that the Trump-Kim summit will bring about some positive change. However, if the US does not reduce the sanctions and pressure that it currently mounts on North Korea, Kim said that things could go haywire.