Mike and Jude are joined by Huong Le Thu, Deputy Director of the Asia Program at the International Crisis Group. She is also an Adjunct Fellow with the Southeast Asia Program at CSIS and a former senior fellow at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. Her research on Vietnam’s defence and foreign policy, Southeast Asia’s security, ASEAN regionalism, and China-Southeast Asia relations has featured in a wide range of publications.

The conversation begins with an overview of Vietnam’s geostrategic landscape, exploring how the strategic thinking of its political leaders has matured over the recent years and months. Next, they describe Vietnam’s recent attempts to leverage competition between China and the United States to its advantage. They delve into the drivers behind Vietnam’s recent decision to upgrade its relationship with the United States to a comprehensive strategic partnership and review areas in which Chinese inroads in South and Southeast Asia may be underappreciated in the West.

They then explore the ways in which Vietnam is adopting an omnidirectional foreign policy, seeking to improve its resilience by buttressing relations with as many partners as possible. Finally, they discuss the evolving role Vietnam envisions for ASEAN as it broadens its partnerships outside the region.