For now, however, neither side appears eager for a rapprochement. Both China’s insertion and its withdrawal of the oil rig were done on its terms. And as the stronger, richer and more economically diversified of the two countries, it can more easily absorb the shock of extended bad relations. As for Vietnam, Dr Tuan says that China “underestimates the power, strength, will and nationalist sentiments of its opponents”. The flames of nationalism are always easier to stoke than to put out, however. If the Vietnamese public comes to see its leaders as weak in the face of foreign aggression, it may be the Communists in Hanoi that get burned.