The Diplomat, 8 December 2015. Why Vietnam’s Foreign Policy Won’t Change After Its Party Congress, by Carl Thayer.

An edited extract of the original article is reproduced below.

The Central Committee of the Vietnam Communist Party (VCP) is poised to hold its thirteenth plenary session this month. According to informed insiders, this will be crunch time for selecting candidates for Vietnam’s top leadership posts – party secretary general, state president, prime minister, and chair of the National Assembly.

Once the plenum concludes, preparations for the twelfth national party congress, reportedly scheduled for January 7-9, 2016, will go into high gear. There are an unprecedented number of individuals vying for these top posts. Although there is uncertainty as to who will be the next party leader, political insiders predict there will be no major changes in Vietnam’s foreign policy and relations with the major powers.

Two recent reports offer contrasting views of Vietnam’s relations with China and the United States in the coming years. The first report, written by Joshua Kurlantzick for the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations, is entitled “A China-Vietnam Military Clash.” This report was summarized in The Diplomat

In summary, Vietnam will continue to pursue a policy of multi-polar balancing – diversification and multilateralization of relations – rather than a narrower policy of balancing relations between China and the United States in the years following the twelfth party congress.

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