News / Economy

Vietnam Seeks to Step Out of China's Economic Shadow

A vendor transports lychees for sale on the street in Hanoi, June 14, 2007.
A vendor transports lychees for sale on the street in Hanoi, June 14, 2007.

The lychee harvest is in full swing in Vietnam's northern Hai Duong province, but local officials say fewer Chinese traders have come to buy the sweet and juicy fruit this summer due to concerns about anti-China sentiment.

Observers say tensions over a Chinese oil rig in disputed waters of the South China Sea are having a negative impact on the economic ties between the two neighbors.

Pham Duc Tuan, a high-ranking official of Thanh Ha district, told VOA’s Vietnamese service that the move to diversify its trading partners is very important while Hanoi and Beijing continue their standoff at sea, causing every aspect of the bilateral relations to deteriorate.

“It applies not only to lychee, but to other fruits as well.  It is riskier if we rely too much on any market.  If there is something unfavorable, it would have impacts on imports.”

Fruits traditionally grown in the north and exported to China are reportedly piling up in markets in the south, with prices plunging in half as Vietnamese seek to curb their country's dependence on the Chinese market.

To show support for farmers, calls on consumers to purchase local fresh fruits, one of Vietnam’s main exports to China, are inundating social networks.

Vietnamese American economist Alan Phan, who has extensive business experience in both Vietnam and China, said China has dominated Vietnam’s economy, and it is a weapon that Beijing can use to its advantage.  

“It is nearly impossible for Vietnam to be economically free from China.  Its export products over rely on cheap raw materials from China, so it is difficult to switch to other sources.  The incomes of Vietnamese are low, so they prefer inexpensive Chinese goods.”

Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang was quoted by local media as saying this month that Vietnam should not let itself “depend on any nation in both economics and politics.”

Economists have suggested that tensions over the oil rig could slow Vietnam’s 2014 growth rate.

Beijing’s placement of the drilling platform sparked riots in Vietnam last month, leaving at least two Chinese workers dead and forcing Beijing to carry out mass evacuations of its citizens.

According official statistics, China was Vietnam's largest trading partner with total two-way trade reaching over $50 billion in 2013.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Vietnamese service.

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Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
by: tom from: Austin
June 28, 2014 1:59 PM
Recently acquired clothing at Wal Mart which was made in RVN. How ironic.
In Response

by: LiveFree from: US
July 02, 2014 12:09 PM
If we check the label before we buy, eventually Walmart will get the message and import from somewhere else.

by: Tim from: Houston
June 27, 2014 7:35 PM
We all need to boycott China's products and stop dealing with this bully. Not only this helps reducing trade deficit with China, you stop financing China's defense to invade others and your country. Don't ever think that this will only happen to others. Xinjiang, Tibet, India, Russian, Mongol, etc .. have clearly show us China's invasion doesn't stop at sea. No one is safe!!!
In Response

by: Tony LE from: Australia
June 29, 2014 4:35 AM
Yes, China's expansion in the future will not be limited to South and East China Seas. Hawaii and US interests would also be at risk.
Buying made-in-China equals financing this expansion!

by: John from: MD
June 27, 2014 11:54 AM
For those who have never eaten a lychee "because they are exotic", this fruit is delicious. I love them, but here in the US they are hard to come unless you live in a sector like CA with a big Asian community, who know what really good things are. It wouldn't be "exotic" if we imported it more and sell it in supermarkets all over the country. Hey, if we get grapes from as far from Chile, what's the problem getting lychees? As far as I know,America had no oranges. They come from ASIA and they don't seem to be "exotic" now, right? Just trade and take that dumb "exotic" tag out of fruits. They can be harvested all over the world if farmers just get into it. Believe me, I would be a #1 lychee customer if they were to be found locally. I love them.
In Response

by: GoodGuy from: US
July 02, 2014 12:04 PM
I think you just found yourself a new business. Congratulation!
In Response

by: Jerry from: Usa
June 29, 2014 2:18 PM
I agree

by: open your eyes VN from: USA
June 27, 2014 11:51 AM
Ok. let me serious. The Vietnamese people and its government need to take action. Vietnam is a great place to grown fruits, vegetables...etc. Why don't they grown their own food in which be all benefit for every living soul there? Importing food(poison) from China is a shame. The Chinese from over 2000 years wanted VietNam as China and it will NEVER change. So china has gotten Vietnam by the Throat. China don't want to help North Vietnam during the Vietnam war. They want to insert their own in the Vietnamese government. And now the government there are like little puppet. The people can't fight the Chinese invader, sadly their leader is corrupted and nothing but a dog of china. Bottom line the Chinese import of fruits consist of chemicals, and once eaten it will harm and kill you eventually. Sadly the vietnamese people know that... but i just don't understand.. why they still eating and consuming poison from China....*sigh
In Response

by: LiveFree from: US
July 02, 2014 12:07 PM
They never help Vietnam. Vietnam fought hard in VN war to unite the country, China wants VN to stay divided. It is easy for them to manage Vietnam that way, isnt it?

by: Trongnguyen from: Garden grove
June 27, 2014 11:28 AM
China going too far steal Pirate the aggressor harm to all World peace . I say to keep World Peace we need to Stop china invade and intrude attack china from all front

by: Vincent Nguyen from: Garden grove
June 27, 2014 11:22 AM
China has no respect to all Nation by invade Vietnam Island In 1974 and another in 1988 and called it their territory now . Call the whole free World to protest china and boycott all china bad Product

by: Karuna from: North America
June 27, 2014 10:07 AM
China has been using its economic might to coerce Vietnam and other ASEAN nations in order to achieve its expansionism ambitions in the East and SCS. China's 9-dash line claims are absurd and have to be contested at the world court. China is cunningly isolating and intimidating a few nations at the time. The end results are the same; all Asian nations within China's territorial claims including Malaysia, Taiwan, Indonesia and Brunei will be dealt with later after The Philippines and Vietnam. If these nations are wise, they should reduce their economic and political dependence with China, trade with other nations and form a strong alliance against China's belligerent and dangerous moves in the region.

by: Bay Area from: USA
June 27, 2014 8:47 AM
China is FAKE, STEAL, ROB, CRUEL, and NO International LAW...The World should Boycott Made in China...
China has a long history of selling shoddy/dangerous/poisonous products to the US. They have virtually no regulation and some of the food and other products sold to the US are contaminated, poisonous, dangerous or just plain bad for you. In supporting this boycott you are also supporting Made in The USA, as well as sending a message that we will not tolerate crappy, dangerous or toxic products imported from China. As long as people keep buying their inferior products, they will keep producing them. Time to vote with your wallets!

by: TacoBueno from: North & South America
June 27, 2014 8:46 AM
Why US, Canada, Europe, South America are focus on China? China is big industrial trade for the world comparing to countries on population. Exotic fruits consume 2X to 3X in China than other country.
In Response

by: andy from: san jose ca
June 27, 2014 11:24 AM
china does not consume goods from Vietnam, she just bought and dump so the Vietnam economy replies on china, Vietnam should seek other source such as Japan, Europe, US to sell exotic fruits

by: Lee Min from: China
June 27, 2014 8:09 AM
China is towering over Vietnam so the country has no easy way to step out of Beijing's shadow! NO WAY!
In Response

by: LiveFree from: US
July 02, 2014 12:03 PM
Where there is a will, there is a way. Never say NO WAY, son.
Comments page of 2

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