China has been watching the visit by the Vietnamese Communist Party boss to Washington closely, with many commentators seeing it as part of US strategy to contain China.
Some see signs that the United States is making mischief by trying to woo the Communist Party General-Secretary, Nguyen Phu Trong, away from his ideological comrades in Beijing.
Most assert, however, that the effort is doomed to failure. “Geopolitical gimmickry,” was how one analyst described Washington’s initiative.
“Speculation that Washington has managed to rope Hanoi into its elaborate scheme to preserve the US hegemonic presence in Asia in the face of an ascending China is childish and fallacious,” wrote Deng Yushan a commentator for the state news agency, Xinhua.
“The line of thinking behind it, rooted in the Cold War mentality of confrontation, diminishes the significance of Trong’s US visit, scorns Hanoi’s independent foreign policy, and disregards the true big picture of China-Vietnam relations,” he said in an article also published by the Global Times, a subsidiary of the People’s Daily.
He said China should welcome reconciliation between the old enemies in Hanoi and Washington as it was of historic significance and held no danger for Beijing.
Chinese newspapers stressed what they described as the traditionally close ties between Hanoi and Beijing, which they insisted had prevailed despite the presence of old and new problems between them.
That’s a reference to China’s growing assertiveness in the disputed waters of the South China sea and Vietnam’s alarmed response.
Some did, however, acknowledge the visit as a breakthrough in relations between Vietnam and the United States.
Gu Xiaosong of the Guangxi Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that their closer ties could help contain China’s ambitions in the South China Sea.
He said Hanoi was seeking to balance its relations between the two global giants and get maximum benefits from both.
Other academics expressed doubt that ties between Vietnam and the US would progress much further because of their profound differences over human rights.