Vietnam has shifted its strategic attention to the sea, but what can it hope to accomplish against China’s array of aircraft and warships? In a recent Naval War College Review article, Wu Shang-su, research fellow at Nanyang Technological University, examined why Vietnam has turned to the sea, how it has decided to approach defense against China, and what it might do in the future.
Vietnam began to shift its strategic attention to the sea in the years following the Sino-Vietnam War. The inconclusive nature of that war, combined with a relatively amicable process of border delineation with China, convinced Hanoi that China would no longer pose a critical threat from the land. The People’s Army of Vietnam (VPA) held presumptive superiority over the armed forces of Laos and, following withdrawal, Cambodia, making those borders relatively safe, as well.
At the same time, Vietnam’s economic strategy developed in two directions that made a maritime focus appealing. First, Vietnam began to integrate itself more heavily into the global economy, making access to shipping a critical need. Second, Vietnam became increasingly interested in exploiting offshore resources, which required the defense of islands and other geographic features in the South China Sea.
IDSS / Online
Last updated on 11/01/2017