Beijing’s coercive diplomacy threaten impact Vietnam’s border trade with China

China has allegedly applied coercive diplomacy against Vietnam following Hanoi’s independent foreign policy approach hampering Vietnam’s border trade with China in a big way.

China has been upset with Vietnam’s refusal to toe the line on Quad, AUKUS and Myanmar, ET has learnt. It is understood that Beijing has taken exception to the fact that Vietnam did not push for inviting Myanmar leaders at ASEAN meet.

Subsequently China is not clearing customs for Vietnamese trucks along the border trading points. 5000 Vietnamese trucks carrying agricultural products are stranded along the border.

Thousands of container trucks still lie stranded at border gates in northern provinces, queuing for customs clearance, according to Âu Anh Tuan, director of Vietnam’s Customs Control and Supervision Department.

Tuan said traffic still tailed back at the Vietnam-China border while new trucks continued to arrive in northern provinces, worsening the situation, according to Vietnamese media.

Authorities are now looking at ways to ease the congestion and get container trucks cleared to cross the border at a faster pace.

There are allegations that China’s tightened COVID-19 preventive measures on people, vehicles and goods packaging has led to sluggish customs clearance. Some border gates are processing customs procedures at a rate much below normal. However, ET has learnt that the delay in clearing customs is part of China’s coercive diplomacy.

Tuan said another contributing factor was crops recently harvested in Vi?t Nam’s southern provinces and rising demand in China has resulted in vehicles, loaded with agricultural produce, coming to northern border gates in large numbers.

The news that China would temporarily suspend the imports of frozen preserved goods during the Lunar New Year holiday has also compounded the problem, leaving many firms in a rush to export. A large flow of traffic to the border in a short period of time gives rise to congestion.

At a conference held Tuesday to look at solutions to ease the congestion, Tu?n said: “The number of trucks passing customs clearance has been dropping recently to around 300-400 trucks per day in L?ng Son.

“Meanwhile, new trucks from inland keep coming to the province in large numbers. This mass exodus, coupled with a limited capacity of car parks, continue to fuel congestions at border gates.”

Since Chinese customs authorities can only accept a small number of vehicles in the long line at the border, congestion increased.

To make the situation worse, the Chinese authorities announced on December 22 the temporary closure of the Móng Cái border gate due to a COVID-19 case being detected.

Customs clearance time has been specified in bilateral agreements, so adjustment requires re-negotiation as well.

Vietnam-China ties have traditionally and historically been lukewarm despite party to party ties over China’s territorial claims & highhandedness including South China Sea region.

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