DIALOGUE UNIT 8: One Belt and One Road Initiative in Southeast Asia: Sino-Vietnamese Relations


The OBOR initiative seeks to revitalize the traditional land-based silk road and also establish a maritime silk road. For the latter, the South China Sea is the geographical core area. This project part focuses on the strategic, economic and political impact of OBOR on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in general and Vietnam (case study) in particular. Aiming to upgrade the infrastructure in Asia and connect the different sub-regions with one other, the land and maritime silk road seem to be at first view an ideal addition to ASEAN’s regional connectivity plans and Hanoi´s infrastructure projects as well as trade and economic development.

This part of the project will examine whether OBOR can indeed develop as win-win-cooperation for China and Southeast Asia or whether it may actually become an instrument for Beijing to make smaller Southeast Asian countries economically even more dependent. It will therefore be asked whether OBOR could transform the South China Sea and (parts of) Vietnam into a kind of Sinophone borderlands. In order to answer this question, the OBOR concept and China’s foreign policy in general need to be analyzed in more detail to highlight not only patterns, but also contradictions. While OBOR is a multilateral project, Beijing promotes unilateralism in the critical security dispute in the South China Sea. The latter dispute is a litmus test for Beijing´s willingness to accept international law and accept international norms. There will be a special focus on Sino-Vietnamese strategic, political and economic relations, where special attention will be paid to their bilateral South China Sea dispute in order to examine OBOR´s impact on Vietnam.

Hence, this Dialogue Unit aims to crutinize the following topics of China´s OBOR strategy and:
its geopolitical impact on individual Southeast Asian States;
its impact on the cohesion of ASEAN;
its impact on relations with Vietnam;
and last, but not least, its impact on the South China Sea dispute.

Mag. Dr. Alfred Gerstl, MIR
Mgr. Mária Strašáková, Ph.D.


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