While the South China Sea dispute remains Vietnam’s top security concern, the country also confronts a variety of growing non-traditional threats, such as illegal fishing, maritime violence, smuggling, ecological degradation and climate change.
These issues adversely affect Vietnam’s external relations, socio-economic development, marine ecosystems and political stability, while engendering and exacerbating regional tensions.
In response, at the national level, Vietnam has focused on building a blue economy and strengthening its law enforcement capacity.
At the international level, Vietnam has participated in a variety of bilateral and multilateral cooperative mechanisms. However, these efforts have been impeded by internal and external factors, such as corruption, inadequate capacity and lack of budget, as well as ASEAN’s institutional limitations and sovereignty sensitivities.
To better confront these multifaceted maritime issues, Vietnam will need to (1) formulate a comprehensive national strategy for maritime security; (2) streamline the overlapping responsibilities of maritime security agencies; (3) enhance its maritime domain awareness; (4) ensure proper policy and investment to improve climate resilience and coastal development; and (5) optimize its approach to multilateralism.
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