The incendiary reference to Vietnam as a ‘prodigal son’ points to a filial relationship between Vietnam and China that oscillates between fondness and enmity. The countries could not be more intertwined in terms of history or more proximate in terms of geography. Vietnamese have always been intensely aware of their place on the periphery of the Middle Kingdom, knowing that whatever transpires in China will invariably flow into the Red River and Mekong deltas. Consequently, Vietnam’s national identity very much borrows from China, but has also formed in opposition to it. Filial metaphors are useful in this respect because they highlight how Vietnam and China’s asymmetric relationship does not simply turn on disparate levels of hard and soft power, but also on a set of roles and expectations that have evolved over time. When properly managed, these roles and expectations provide for mutual respect and stability. This occurs when Vietnam receives a measure of autonomy and assurance of non-intervention from China, which in turn receives a measure of deference to the Sinitic order from Vietnam (Womack, 2010, p. 4).
|Title of host publication||Power Transition in Asia|
|Editors||David Walton and Emilian Kavalski|
|Place of Publication||New York|
|Publisher||Routledge Taylor & Francis Group|
|Publication status||Published - 2017|