Ngo Di Lan, Truong-Minh Vu | East Asia
Given systemic anarchy, small states like Vietnam have two basic foreign policy options: (1) align closely with one great power or (2) maintain a hedging posture. The choice between alignment and hedging for small states generally represents a trade-off between survival and autonomy and is mostly predicated on the action of relevant great powers. The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is particularly important in this case, as it could be the key factor deciding Vietnam’s overall posture toward China over the long term. While China’s expansionist behavior in the South China Sea has pushed Vietnam toward alignment with the USA, the BRI, if implemented successfully, could convince Vietnam that maintaining the default hedging position is the best option.