Diplomatic relations between the United States
and Vietnam have come a long way since the two countries ended their 20 year war in 1975.
Formal relations have been reinstated, trade agreements signed, and in May 2016, the US
even agreed to lift a decades old embargo on arms trade. So as the two countries shift
from enemies to allies, we wanted to know, Just how powerful is Vietnam? Well, geographically, Vietnam is fairly small.
At 130 thousand square miles, the country is just larger than the US state of New Mexico.
But despite its size, it boasts a population of more than 90 million, making it the 14th
most populous country in the world. As a long-time Communist state, Vietnam has been traditionally
closed off to the West. But over the last several decades, it has introduced a number
of modern economic and social reforms. Since the mid-1980’s, the country has steadily
moved away from a centrally-planned system by encouraging private business and free trade.
In the 1990’s, it halted requests for compensation for war crimes from the US, and in turn, the
US partially lifted its trade embargo, which had decimated Vietnam’s economy. This, coupled
with aid from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, boosted the country’s economy
by roughly eight percent a year, and made it one of the world’s biggest exporters
of rice. Today, Vietnam’s GDP is more than $180 billion dollars, compared with just $6
billion dollars in 1990. The country also benefits from its membership to the Association
of Southeast Asian Nations which fosters economic growth in the region. Vietnam also is a key player in the Trans
Pacific Partnership, or TPP, which is a proposed free trade deal between the US and 11 other
countries. Vietnam is far from the largest market in the deal, and yet the country is
slated to benefit the most, with its GDP expected to surge by 10 percent before 2030. What’s
more, the deal may be an antidote for Vietnam’s weakening ties with its biggest trade partner:
China. The US hopes that the TPP will eventually end Vietnam’s dependency on China for trade,
leaving them to revert to their second largest trade partner: the US. And the US isn’t the only country with an
interest in Vietnam. Japan, Australia, Singapore and the Philippines have all recently strengthened
defense ties, with the goal of creating a counterweight to the growing threat of China.
The alliance is crucial to Vietnam, as the country has a limited defense budget and dated,
soviet-era equipment. Vietnam does boast an army of roughly five-and-a-half-million, trumping
many of its powerful neighbors, like Japan and South Korea In the US and abroad, it seems that all eyes
are on Vietnam. This newfound attention not only reflects the country’s undeniable potential,
but its transformation over the last few decades. Although there is still room for improvement,
particularly in human rights and the environment, there’s no question that Vietnam is well
on its way to becoming very, very powerful. China and Vietnam has serious territorial
disputes, but what would happen if tensions led to an all out war? Who would win between
China and Vietnam? Watch this video to learn more! Thanks for watching