This article examines Vietnam–China economic relations since 1991 as a case of China’s cooperation with ASEAN countries. The analysis on achievements and shortcomings of Vietnam–China economic relations in three periods (in the 1990s, 2000–2009, 2010–2015) revealed the impacts of political ties on outcomes of economic collaboration. Overall Sino–Vietnamese economic cooperation made contribution to economic growth and manufacture of Vietnam. However, there has been mainly quantitative growth in bilateral economic relations, while qualitative development is still not enough. Consequently, Vietnam has been encountering with a number of issues related to increasing trade deficit and negative impacts of Chinese investment projects. From regional perspectives, China has implemented different policies toward Southeast Asian countries divided into two groups: the ASEAN-6 and the CLMV. Trade and investment structures of China in CLMV countries are different from those with ASEAN-6 which have increased disadvantages of CLMV. As a result, the widened development gap between the two groups has been an obstacle to a fully established and efficient ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). Implications of China’s initiatives, particularly the RCEP, to Southeast Asia emphasize the importance of a candid and efficient ASEAN Community, as well as ASEAN’s independence in launching its own new initiatives and in making decisions.
Dr. Nguyen Thi Bich Ngoc is Acting Deputy Director General, Institute for Foreign Policy and Strategic Studies, Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam (DAV), Hanoi.