Coronavirus News Asia

Vietnam poised to be big post-pandemic winner

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Through early and efficient border closures, uncharacteristic official transparency and strategic Covid-19 diplomacy, communist-run Vietnam is fast emerging as a likely post-pandemic winner.

For a nation that has long-sought to secure it’s place as a reliable and responsible global actor, the coronavirus outbreak and its minimal impact on Vietnam has presented the nation an opportunity in crisis analysts say it is firmly grasping. 

Carl Thayer, emeritus professor at the University of New South Wales in Australia and a recognized Vietnam expert, says that Hanoi was “quick off the mark” in its version of “coronavirus diplomacy”, a gambit China, Taiwan and others have likewise deployed to strategic effect.

Vietnam has recently ramped up medical equipment production and made related donations to countries in Covid-19 need, including to the United States, Russia, Spain, Italy, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

The latter five European nations, all grappling to cope with the pandemic, have negotiated strategic partner agreements with Vietnam in recent years, Thayer noted.

US President Donald Trump earlier this month thanked “our friends in Vietnam” in a Twitter post after America received 450,000 protective hazmat suits manufactured in Vietnamese factories owned and operated by US chemical company DuPont.

Vietnam has also donated face masks, hand sanitizers and other Covid-19 containing supplies to medical services in neighboring Cambodian and Laos, countries with which Vietnam shares special relations and where China has recently made inroads and gains.

“The coronavirus pandemic has been a great opportunity for Vietnam to enhance its soft power, as it helped to broadcast Vietnam’s generous behavior toward the international community,” said Alexander Vuving, professor at the Daniel K Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies in Honolulu, Hawaii.

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