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CHANGING SYNTHESIS OF STRATEGIES: - page 17 / 18

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the anti-imperialist policy toward China. Indeed, Vietnam pursued its solidarity strategy in a deferential manner.

The modernizers develop their grand strategy out of the assumption that legging behind other countries in the region is Vietnam’s largest danger. Thus, the grand strategy of modernization is in itself an effort of internal balancing. And yet, this grand strategy is based on the view that Vietnam’s internal buildup can only be achieved through the country’s integration to the world and the region and through close ties with the West. Internal balancing thus requires something that provides large potential for both external balancing and enmeshment.

The continuant existence of the two Vietnamese grand strategies is directly responsible for the continuant existence of a strategy synthesis in Vietnam’s China policy. The two contending grand strategies are, for their parts, two Vietnamese responses to perceived shifts in the international balance of power, which was demonstrated by the Gorbachev reforms in the Soviet Union and ultimately the end of the Cold War.

The change of saliency, or the up and down of the approaches, within the strategy synthesis seems to result from the interplay of the strategies of major international and domestic actors. The two major international actors are China and the United States. China’s refusal to play the solidarity game and America’s denial to play the balancing game with Vietnam in the aftermath of the Cold War proved catalytic of the rise of the enmeshment approach after 1991. China’s consistent preference of the deference to the solidarity game has “taught a lesson” to the Hanoi leadership and after a decade or so, the deference approach has gained more influence across ideological lines in Vietnam. The salience of the balancing approach since 2003 is a result of Vietnamese modernizers’ effort to harness the opportunity offered by the change in great power relations in the aftermath of the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

In the domestic arena, as we have seen, the leadership style of the VCP chiefs has left its imprint on Vietnam’s grand strategy. The salience of the enmeshment approach and the hidden agenda of solidarity during 1992-1997 reflected Do Muoi’s playing the moderator role between the two grand strategies. The surge of the solidarity and its related

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