Vietnam-Myanmar Military Relations in Focus with Defense Visit

Both sides continue to develop the defense aspect of their new comprehensive partnership.

Vietnam-Myanmar Military Relations in Focus with Defense Visit
Credit: People’s Army Newspaper

Earlier this month, Vietnam’s deputy defense minister led a high-ranking military delegation on a visit to Myanmar. The trip put the spotlight on the military dimension of the relationship between Hanoi and Naypyidaw, which has been in greater focus over the past few years.

Vietnam and Myanmar, two fellow mainland Southeast Asian states, have cultivated a defense relationship within their broader ties, with a memorandum of understanding on defense cooperation signed in 2010 facilitating interactions such as exchanges, education, and training. Over the past few years, both sides have tried to advance ties in various areas such as military medicine, military-run enterprises, and countering illegal migration and smuggling.

Those efforts have continued on into 2018 as part of ongoing efforts to both implement the comprehensive partnership established in 2017 and deepen defense ties as well. During Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi’s first official visit to Vietnam in April for instance, both sides stressed various efforts underway in the defense realm such as holding a regular deputy ministerial level-defense policy dialogue, inking a new agreement against crimes, and expanding cooperation in areas such as search and rescue.

The defense relationship was in the headlines again when Vietnam’s Deputy Defense Minister Senior Lieutenant General Tran Don led a high-ranking defense delegation to visit Myanmar earlier this month. The visit, which was at the invitation of Myanmar’s defense ministry, took place from June 8 to 12 and saw the delegation meet with a range of Myanmar defense officials, including the commander-in-chief of Myanmar’s military, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, and Defense Minister Lieutenant General Sein Win, as well as engage in several interactions and visit some facilities.

According to Vietnam’s defense ministry, during the visit, both sides reviewed progress on defense ties between the two sides after other high-level interactions in the past year, including Min Aung Hlaing’s visit to Vietnam in March last year and Ngo Xuan Lich’s trip to Myanmar in October. They also discussed ways to advance collaboration in several priority areas.

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Unsurprisingly, few specifics were publicly disclosed about what was agreed upon by the two countries. But in terms of developments, focus was placed on Don’s attendance at a launching ceremony of Mytel, the mobile network of the Military Industry-Telecoms Group (Viettel) in Myanmar on June 9. The event once again highlighted what both sides have been highlighting as a tangible example of Myanmar creating favorable conditions for Vietnamese military enterprises to invest in the country.