Philippines–Vietnam relations

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Philippines-Vietnam relations
Map indicating locations of Philippines and Vietnam



The Philippines–Vietnam relations refers to the bilateral relations of the Republic of the Philippines and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Since the end of the Cold War, relations between the two countries have warmed significantly. Vietnam is sometimes referred to as the only communist military ally of the Philippines.

Early history[edit]

Relations between the Philippines and Vietnam began centuries ago. There was proof that inhabitants of both countries were already involved in maritime trade prior to the arrival of Europeans. Ships from Luzon in the Philippine archipelago came to the great port of Vietnam in the Gulf of Tonkin to trade. Maritime trade relations were disrupted with the conquest of the Philippines by the Spaniards in the 16th century and the conquest of Vietnam by the French in the 19th century.[1]

Philippine relations with South Vietnam[edit]

Philippines-South Vietnam relations
Map indicating locations of Philippines and South Vietnam


South Vietnam

South Vietnam was not recognized by the Philippines immediately. President Ramon Magsaysay recognized South Vietnam in July 1955, an act which did not require the Senate's consent. Some Filipino medics went to South Vietnam for humanitarian aid in the Vietnam War, with the approval of Magsaysay in 1954. Their efforts were known as Operation Brotherhood, which received international support in order to help the operation's goals to aid the Vietnamese refugees.[1][2][3]

During the administration of President Diosdado Macapagal, Manila sent technical aid to Saigon. The Philippines even suggested that it would join the United States' fight against communism if requested.[1]

In July 1964, South Vietnam asked the Philippines for assistance against its belligerents in the North when Major General Nguyen Kanh sent a note to President Macapagal asking for aid in the Vietnam War. On April 14, 1965, Prime Minister Phan Huy Quat sent a letter to the Philippine President stating South Vietnam's dire need for military assistance. In the same letter, Prime Minister Quat hopes to see about 2,000 Filipino soldiers sent to South Vietnam. President Macapagal asked the Congress for the fulfillment of South Vietnam's request.[1]

President Ferdinand Marcos sent a second aid to South Vietnam with the approval of the congress on July 14, 1966 under Republic Act No. 4664.[1][4]

The Philippines participated in the Manila Summit in October 1966 where 7 members promised aid to South Vietnam against the communist North. South Vietnam was a United Nations member and under the UN Charter a mechanism that would ensure international peace and security was provided.[1]

The Philippine embassy in Saigon ceased operations on April 29, 1975.[1]

Philippine-Socialist Republic of Vietnam relations under Pres. Marcos[edit]

Before the fall of Saigon, the Philippines was already preparing to establish relations with North Vietnam. Former President Ferdinand Marcos authorized Imelda Marcos to make direct contacts while she was conducting state visits to Middle-eastern countries in early 1975. The communist takeover of Cambodia and the impending defeat of South Vietnamese forces led Manila to establish ties with Hanoi. The move was not seen as surprising as it was in line with Marcos' foreign policy to strengthen ties with socialist states in order to broaden economic and trade ties.[1]

On July 9, 1976, Vietnam Deputy Foreign Minister Phan Hien arrived in Manila to discuss the formal establishment of ties between the two countries. On July 12, 1976, formal relations were finally established with the Philippines[5] the fourth country in the ASEAN to establish relations with the Socialist Republic of Vietnam after Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore. The Philippines and Vietnam opened their respective embassies in 1978.[1][6]

Among the first problems to test the relation between the two countries was the repatriation of 14 Filipinos and 10 Vietnamese families who were still in the city of Ho Chi Minh, attempts of Vietnamese nationals to illegally enter the Philippines by claiming themselves to be members of Filipino families, and the involvement of Filipinos in the black market was received by the Philippine embassy. These issues hampered relations until the early 1980s.[1]

Post-Cold War relations[edit]

Despite Vietnam's alignment with the Soviet Union and the Philippines with the United States during the Cold War, bilateral ties between the two countries can be recently described as friendly. On October 26, 2011, Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang made a state visit to the Philippines where he met with his Filipino counterpart President Benigno Aquino III. The two countries signed four agreements on naval, coast guard and tourism as part of the Philippine-Vietnam Action Plan 2011–2016 framework.[7][8][9] A Memorandum of Understanding agreement supported information sharing between the Philippine Navy and the Vietnam People's Navy.[10][11]

Despite being victims of Typhoon Haiyan themselves,[12] the Vietnamese still donated to help Philippines in its rehabilitation efforts after the natural disaster, through Vietnam Red Cross Society.[13]

South China Sea disputes[edit]

The Philippines and Vietnam have territorial disputes over the Spratly Islands, among with Brunei, China, Malaysia, and Taiwan. The Philippines and Vietnam both disapprove of China's nine-dash map which China uses as justification of its claim in the South China Sea.[14][15][16] Both countries were also committed to a multilateral diplomatic approach to the resolution of disputes in the South China Sea with the UNCLOS taken to account.[10] Vietnam has formally supported the Philippines in its arbitration case against China regarding China's nine-dash claim over the South China Sea.

Military ties[edit]

A Memorandum of Understanding agreement supported information sharing between the Philippine Navy and the Vietnam People's Navy.

On November 23, 2014, two frigates from the Vietnamese People’s Navy made its first port call to the Philippines. Vessels HQ-011 Dinh Tien Hoang and HQ-012 Ly Thai To docked at the Manila South Harbor for a goodwill visit which lasted three days.[17]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Lim, Benito ed. Asian Studies. Quezon City: Asian Center, 1997. 57-68
  2. ^ "1958 Ramon Magsaysay Awardee for International Understanding - Operation Brotherhood". 1958-08-31. Retrieved 2012-06-09. 
  3. ^ "Flipinos US Military Service in Vietnam War". 1955-08-27. Retrieved 2012-06-09. 
  4. ^ Date: Saturday, June 09, 2012. "Supreme Court E-Library - REPUBLIC ACT NO. 4664: AN ACT AUTHORIZING THE INCREASE OF PHILIPPINE ECONOMIC AND TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE TO SOUTH VIETNAM". Retrieved 2012-06-09. 
  5. ^ "Phl, Vietnam Celebrate 35th Anniversary of Bilateral Relations in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City". 2011-07-18. Retrieved 2012-06-09. 
  6. ^ "Vietnam Embassy in Philippines - Bilateral relations". Retrieved 2013-09-04. 
  7. ^ "Vietnamese President visits the Philippines". Asia Society. 2011-10-26. Retrieved 2012-06-09. 
  8. ^ "Aquino hopes for stronger Philippines-Vietnam relations". ZamboTimes. Retrieved 2012-06-09. 
  9. ^ "Sang: Vietnam is a reliable friend". 2011-10-29. Retrieved 2012-06-09. 
  10. ^ a b "Philippines, Vietnam forge naval agreement on Spratlys | Inquirer Global Nation". 2011-10-27. Retrieved 2012-06-09. 
  11. ^ "Philippines, Vietnam Set Military Exercises | The Manila Bulletin Newspaper Online". 2012-03-30. Retrieved 2012-06-09. 
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ "Aquino: China’s ‘nine-dash line’ is the problem in West PHL Sea | GMA News Online | The Go-To Site for Filipinos Everywhere". 2012-04-16. Retrieved 2012-06-09. 
  15. ^ Jamandre, Tessa (2011-04-13). "PH protests China’s '9-dash line' claim over Spratlys | The Inbox - Yahoo! News Philippines". Retrieved 2012-06-09. 
  16. ^ "Vietnamese intellectuals back PH Panatag claim | Top Stories". 2012-05-22. Retrieved 2012-06-09. 
  17. ^ Mai Thanh Hai (25 November 2014). "Vietnamese warships make first-ever port call to Philippines". Thanh Nien News. Retrieved 31 December 2014.