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Lots of Handshakes, Smiles and an Aircraft Carrier Framed Vietnam PM’s Visit to China

Vietnam’s Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính and Chinese Premier Li Qiang applaud during a signing ceremony in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on June 26, 2023. GREG BAKER / POOL / AFP

Vietnamese Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính wrapped up a jam-packed three-day visit to China on Tuesday with a meeting with President Xi Jinping while a giant U.S. aircraft carrier was docked back home near the central city of Da Nang.

Vietnam’s seemingly contradictory diplomacy that combines smiles, handshakes and deals in Beijing with symbolic displays of hard military power by the United States is typical of Hanoi’s longstanding Great Power hedging strategy.

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