Doi moi and the February 2019 Trump-Kim Summit in Hanoi
KF-VUB KOREA CHAIR POLICY BRIEF • 02/2019
By Maximilian Ernst
Over recent months, speculations about the venue for the next Trump-Kim summit were ubiquitous. On February 6th, President Trump announced during the State of the Union Address that the summit would take place on February 27-28 in Vietnam and, on February 9th, he confirmed Hanoi as the venue via Twitter. The other candidate in Vietnam was the coastal city Da Nang. The advantages of Vietnam are that the country has stable diplomatic relations with both Washington and Pyongyang and that it can be reached by Kim’s own airplane. In addition, media commentary emphasises the symbolic value of Hanoi and Vietnam for North Korea’s future. Vietnam, a former adversary of the US, has become a partner with shared interests in the South China Sea. In the mid-1980s, Vietnam underwent drastic yet successful economic reforms, called Doi Moi, which can be seen as an alternative to the Chinese model of reform and opening. Vietnam’s key lesson for North Korea is that reforms, economic development, and integration into international organisations represented a path for Vietnam to fundamentally improve relations with neighbouring countries and the United States.