Archive for May, 2016

Obama, Perhaps Slyly, Calls Attention to Vietnam’s Brain Drain – The New York Times

“HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam — President Obama told a gathering of young Vietnamese on Wednesday that the country need not worry about losing its most talented people, but then he proceeded to describe conditions for emigration that fit Vietnam perfectly.“

The places that lose talent, it’s where there’s a lot of corruption,” Mr. Obama said in Ho Chi Minh City at a town-hall style meeting of the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative, a United States-sponsored mentoring program.Mr. Obama said that people despair of having to pay bribes to start businesses or do the things they want to do, so they leave.Vietnam is deeply corrupt, and development agencies and businesses say they must pay bribes to government officials for anywhere from 20 percent to 50 percent of the cost of a project to get it completed.Another reason people leave their home countries is environmental issues, Mr. Obama added. “No job is so important that it’s O.K. if your children have asthma and they can’t breathe.

”Photo President Obama greeting the crowd after the gathering in Ho Chi Minh City. Credit Doug Mills The New York Times

The United States Embassy in Hanoi, the capital, recently installed air pollution monitors, and during Mr. Obama’s speech, the level of the most dangerous particles in Hanoi was 158, which is considered unhealthy. High pollution levels substantially increase the risk that children grow up with asthma and weakened lungs. Heavy pollution also increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes in adults.”

Source: Obama, Perhaps Slyly, Calls Attention to Vietnam’s Brain Drain – The New York Times

Posted in: Post War Problems in Vietnam, Vietnam

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As Obama Presses Vietnam on Rights, Activists Are Barred From Meeting – The New York Times

HANOI, Vietnam — President Obama won enthusiastic applause here on Tuesday with a supportive reference to Vietnam’s disputes with China, saying in a speech that “big nations should not bully smaller ones.” But several activists who had been scheduled to meet with him before the speech were prevented from doing so, underscoring the gulf with Hanoi on human rights.The White House had requested the meeting as a signal to Vietnam’s Communist government that the United States cares about human rights here. Mr. Obama spent more than his allotted time with the six Vietnamese civil society leaders who did attend the meeting at a JW Marriott hotel, but he said that several others had been prevented from coming.

“Vietnam has made remarkable strides, the economy is growing quickly, the Internet is booming, and there’s a growing confidence here,” Mr. Obama said when a group of reporters were briefly allowed into the meeting. “But as I indicated yesterday, there’s still areas of significant concerns in terms of areas of free speech, freedom of assembly, accountability with respect to government.”

Source: As Obama Presses Vietnam on Rights, Activists Are Barred From Meeting – The New York Times

Posted in: Post War Problems in Vietnam, Vietnam

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Vietnam Arms Embargo to Be Fully Lifted, Obama Says in Hanoi – The New York Times

HANOI, Vietnam — The United States is rescinding a decades-old ban on sales of lethal military equipment to Vietnam, President Obama announced at a news conference in Hanoi on Monday, ending one of the last legal vestiges of the Vietnam War.

The United States has long made lifting the embargo contingent on Vietnam’s improving its human rights record, and recently administration officials had hinted that the ban could be removed partly in response to China’s buildup in the South China Sea.But Mr. Obama portrayed the decision as part of the long process of normalizing relations between the two countries after the Vietnam War.“The decision to lift the ban was not based on China or any other considerations,” he said, with the Vietnamese president, Tran Dai Quang, standing stiffly by his side. “It was based on our desire to complete what has been a lengthy process of moving toward normalization with Vietnam.

”Mr. Obama insisted that the move should not be interpreted as carte blanche for weapons sales to Vietnam and that the United States would review future arms sales to “examine what’s appropriate and what’s not,” as it does with any country.

As for human rights, he said, “this is an area where we still have differences.”Human rights advocates, who had asked Mr. Obama to hold off on lifting the ban until Vietnam had released some prominent political prisoners and promised to stop the police beatings of protesters, condemned the decision.“President Obama just gave Vietnam a reward that they don’t deserve,” said John Sifton, the Asia policy director of Human Rights Watch.Mr. Quang defended his country’s rights record.“The consistent position and viewpoint of the Vietnamese government is to protect and promote human rights,” he said, adding, “Those achievements have been highly recognized and appreciated by the international community.

”American officials have portrayed lifting the embargo as part of a strategy to help Vietnam defend itself against an increasing threat from China in the South China Sea. Analysts have speculated that in return, Vietnam would grant the United States access to the deepwater port at Cam Ranh Bay.While there were no statements about such a deal on Monday, Mr. Obama did announce new commercial agreements worth more than $16 billion, including one in which Boeing will sell 100 aircraft and Pratt & Whitney will sell 135 advanced aircraft engines to VietJet Air, a privately owned low-cost airline.

Source: Vietnam Arms Embargo to Be Fully Lifted, Obama Says in Hanoi – The New York Times

Posted in: Vietnam, Vietnamese Foreign Policy

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Access to Bay Adds Enticement as U.S. Weighs Lifting Vietnam Embargo, By Jane Perlez – The New York Times

“CAM RANH BAY, Vietnam — The ghosts of the Vietnam War have finally faded at the strategic port of Cam Ranh Bay. More than 40 years ago, United States forces left this massive base where Marines landed, B-52s loaded up for bombing raids, and wounded American soldiers were treated.Now, some Vietnamese say they are yearning for the American military to return.“

On Facebook, there was a question recently: What do you want from President Obama’s visit?” said Vo Van Tao, 63, who fought as a young North Vietnamese infantry soldier against the United States. “Some people said they wanted democracy. I said I wanted the Americans to come back to Cam Ranh Bay. A lot of people agreed with me.”

Mr. Obama is scheduled to arrive in Vietnam on Sunday, the third visit by an American president since the war ended. The big question he is expected to answer is whether Washington will lift a partial arms embargo and allow Vietnam to buy lethal weapons from the United States. The Communist government has long asked for the ban to be revoked, and American access to Cam Ranh Bay could be part of the payoff.For the White House, the decision on lifting the embargo has come down to a debate over trying to improve Vietnam’s poor human rights record versus enabling Vietnam to better defend itself against an increasing threat from China in the South China Sea.”

Source: Access to Bay Adds Enticement as U.S. Weighs Lifting Vietnam Embargo – The New York Times

 

My comment to the NYT:

David Lindsay

Hamden, CT

Excellent article. I agree with Secretary Ashton Carter, that the US should lift the arms embargo for Vietnam, without requiring them to change their totalitarian ways. We Americans live in a glass house. We have more of our people imprisoned than almost anyone on earth, including the Vietnamese. The Vietnamese need us, and we need them. They have repelled Chinese invasions at least seven times before the 20th century, when they repelled another Chinese invasion in about 1979. Since 937 AD, the Vietnamese have repeatedly contained China from colonizing Southeast Asia.

David Lindsay is about to publish “The Tay Son Rebellion, a historical fiction of Vietnam, 1770-1802.” He also blogs at InconvenientNewsWorldwide.wordpress.com.

Posted in: David Lindsay, Vietnam, Vietnamese Foreign Policy

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