But now Thailand is about to sell out USA to appease China. Already, Thailand agreed to start to settle some of its financial transaction in Yuans, not Dollars.
So, Thailand is the weak link in ASEAN. Conversely, Vietnam is the strong link in ASEAN. Vietnam formed a strong pact with Laos, Cambodia and recently Myanmar. In addition:
1. Malaysia is friendly with Vietnam. Malay has more conflict against Thailand and Indonesia, and very little conflict with Vietnam.
2. Brunei has just recently showing incline to be allying with Vietnam. Brunei is wary of Malaysia and had some dispute before. Thus Vietnam is viewed as a good counter weight.
3. Philippines is showing sign of allying with Vietnam.
4. Singapore this week is openly showing new allying with Vietnam. The new Singapore Prime Minister visited Vietnam first right after he took office and declared that he wanted Singapore to be a the number one investor in Vietnam.
Outside of ASEAN, Vietnam is the gateway for India to go East, countering China's pearl-string strangle against India with Pakistan, Sri-Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar. Not only that India wants to create a thorn under China's South with Vietnam and ASEAN, but also India wants to rely on Vietnam to break the China's pearl-string strangle for India.
So far, Vietnam succeeded in pulling Myanmar off from the Pearl-string. Sri-Lanka is making friend with Vietnam now as well as Bangladesh. It's just a matter of time these two countries will fall into Vietnam's camp.
Vietnam is also allying big time with Russia. Russia has formed a new group of three Russia, Belarussia, Khazahktan to replace the Shanghai group. They are negotiating Free-Trade-Agreement. In long term, Russia knows that they will face China's threat demanding the huge land loss back during China's Qing empire to Russia's Tsar. Vietnam will be the thorn for Russia against China.
But most importantly, USA is afraid of China taking over the sea lane near the Malacca straight with Vietnam's help. If Vietnam refuses to join China but stay with USA's camp, then USA can protect Taiwan, South Korea, Japan from being force to use Yuan as the international currency. It's USA to keep these countries to use Dollars as the international currency, and Malacca straight must be open free.
If China control Malacca straight with Vietnam's help, the domino effect will follow. Other countries will be threaten by China to drop the Dollars in mass, starting with Africa. Any African countries trading through Malacca straight will be threaten. It's imperative to have Vietnam keeping Malacca safe and open to free trades.
My take is there could be some skirmishes later. If the ASEAN Navies were linked up with USA Navy for some superior ECM and intelligence, then they could win some. China would win some at tremendous loss.
But that's not the biggie yet. USA will use this as a pretext to get UN to impose a trade sanction against China to crush China economically once and for all. I think right now, USA and allies are bidding their time:
1. To reduce China's choke-hold on Rare-earth supply (currently at 95%).
2. To start integration the ECM and Intelligence between US Navy and allies. USA is not clear at Vietnam's full intention yet. Will Vietnam commit 100% to be anti-China and 100% pro-USA or Vietnam is only playing middle ground not wishing a full escalation yet.
If I am USA, I would be the first one to open door for Vietnam. Then wait for Vietnam's reaction. But China must never be allowed to be too strong, it's is the danger to USA and the world.