Why Vietnam Needs to Reevaluate its Weapons Procurement Strategy

Growing concerns over a Chinese-funded canal project in Cambodia underscore the need for a shift from maritime to continental security.

Cambodia’s plan to build the Funan Techo Canal, a project backed by the China Road and Bridge Corporation, is causing much anxiety in Vietnam. Besides the environmental impact that the canal may have on Vietnam’s Mekong Delta, it also presents a geopolitical threat. The canal could allow the Chinese navy to travel upstream from the Gulf of Thailand and the Ream Naval Base to Vietnam’s western border.

Traditionally, China’s threat to Vietnam has come from the north and the east. As China expands its influence in Cambodia in addition to Vietnam’s weakening leverage over Laos, the Chinese encirclement of Vietnam is growing more comprehensive. And if history provides any guide, it is that Vietnam will be more upset with a China-backed Cambodia posing military threats to its western land borders than the Chinese threat from the South China Sea.

Hanoi launched an invasion of Cambodia in 1978 after exhausting all diplomatic options to remove the Khmer Rouge from power to protect its western flank. As a country lacking strategic depth, Vietnam cannot afford to let a hostile power pose a threat that could cut the country in half.

In full: https://thediplomat.com/2024/04/why-vietnam-needs-to-reevaluate-its-weapons-procurement-strategy/

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