[MA] Vietnamese Take to Streets to Protest China Oil Rig

[Bloomberg] Vietnam’s communist government allowed thousands of citizens to protest in the nation’s biggest cities to denounce a Chinese oil rig placed in contested waters that has led to clashes between ships from the two countries.

About 1,000 people marched in Ho Chi Minh City streets while hundreds gathered in a public square in front of the Chinese embassy in the capital city of Hanoi as police officers watched without interrupting. There were smaller protests in Danang and Hue in central Vietnam, Tuoi Tre newspaper reported. Protestors carried signs and banners, sang and chanted to protestChina’s exploration offshore. Continue reading “[MA] Vietnamese Take to Streets to Protest China Oil Rig”

Will Development Lead to Democratisation in Vietnam and China?

[ISEAS Perspective #23/2014]

Many countries around the world have undergone a transition to democracy over the last few decades. In the 1980s and 1990s, the so-called “third wave of democratisation”1 swept through Asia to bring about democratic transitions in nine countries: Bangladesh (1990), Indonesia (1998), Mongolia (1990), Nepal (1990), Pakistan (1988), the Philippines (1986), South Korea (1987), Taiwan (1987), and Thailand (1992). In tandem with fast-changing world developments, both the scholarly community and policy practitioners have been revisiting the processes of democracy-building and discussing how democracies develop. Continue reading “Will Development Lead to Democratisation in Vietnam and China?”

[MA] Vietnam’s new constitution shows limits of reform

[Deutsche Welle, 6/1/14] Vietnam has had a new constitution since the beginning of this year, after a near-unanimous vote by the National Assembly in November 2013. But it leaves much to be desired in terms of political and economic reform. Continue reading “[MA] Vietnam’s new constitution shows limits of reform”

Vietnam’s Hedging Strategy against China since Normalization

[Contemporary Southeast Asia] ABSTRACT: Since the normalization of Sino-Vietnamese relations in 1991, Vietnam’s China policy has been shaped by a combination of approaches which can be best described as a multi-tiered, omni-directional hedging strategy. The article argues that hedging is the most rational and viable option for Vietnam to manage its relations with China given its historical experiences, domestic and bilateral conditions, as well as changes in Vietnam’s external relations and the international strategic environment. The article examines the four major components of this strategy, namely economic pragmatism, direct engagement, hard balancing and soft balancing. The article goes on to assess the significance of each component and details how Vietnam has pursued its hedging strategy towards China since normalization. Continue reading “Vietnam’s Hedging Strategy against China since Normalization”

[MA] Kerry Revives Asia Focus With Trip From Hanoi to Manila

[Bloomberg] U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will emphasize the American presence inSoutheast Asia in visits to Vietnamand the Philippines after PresidentBarack Obama’s absence from a summit in October ceded the spotlight toChina.

Obama skipped the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in Brunei because of the partial U.S. government shutdown at the time. His absence raised questions in the region about America’s promised strategic re-balancing toward the Asia-Pacific even as China exerts expanding influence in the region.

“The U.S. is trying to overcome the fallout from the no-show in Brunei,” Carlyle Thayer, an emeritus professor at the Australian Defence Force Academy in Canberra, said in a phone interview. “In terms of re-balancing, Vietnam is a major strategic player in Southeast Asia.” Continue reading “[MA] Kerry Revives Asia Focus With Trip From Hanoi to Manila”

The One Party-State and Prospects for Democratization in Vietnam

[ISEAS Perspective] The Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) is one of the longest ruling parties in the world. It has been governing continuously for 68 years, 38 years of which have been in peace time. Within the next 7 years, it will be challenging the record held by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) of having the longest unbroken rule by any political party in modern world history.

The Party’s turn to performance-based legitimacy—the state’s ability to provide for the welfare of the people through sound economic performance—has served as the essential foundation for its continued rule. This began with the adoption of the Doi Moi policy in the late 1980s. However, prolonged economic difficulties, the public’s growing frustration with endemic corruption in the Party’s ranks, the increasing number of dissidents attempting to organize themselves into opposition movements, and pressure for deep political reforms from within the Party have presented the CPV with serious challenges to its political legitimacy.

This paper seeks to examine recent major challenges to the CPV’s rule and assess
the key conditions and forces that are either accelerating or slowing down prospects for democratization in the country. Continue reading “The One Party-State and Prospects for Democratization in Vietnam”

Defence cooperation underpins Vietnam–Russia push for renewed economic cooperation

[East Asia Forum] On 12 November 2013, Russian President Vladimir Putin paid an official visit to Vietnam. This was his second visit to a country in the Asia Pacific since he regained the presidency in May 2012, and is further evidence of the maturing comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries.

Vietnam’s close relationship with the Soviet Union and the Russian Federation, its main successor state, date back to the early decades of the Cold War. The relationship was strengthened during the 1960s and 1970s, culminating in the 1978 Bilateral Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation. The bilateral relationship suffered a lull after the Soviet collapse in the 1990s as Russia enacted a wholesale transformation of its economic system and a major foreign policy reorientation. But relations regained momentum in the post-Cold War era with the establishment of the Vietnam-Russia Strategic Partnership in 2001. The partnership was then upgraded to the comprehensive strategic level in 2012 to reflect the increasing depth and breadth of the relationship. Continue reading “Defence cooperation underpins Vietnam–Russia push for renewed economic cooperation”

[MA] China continues SEA charm offensive

[The Straits Time] On Monday night, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang stopped by a small shop in Ha Noi. The shop, which was about to close for the night, stayed open for its VIP customer.

As Li bought some tea, he asked the shop owner not to give him a discount and said that “we are making a fair trade”.

The exchange, which the Chinese state media highlighted with several photos of an affable-looking Li in the shop, gave a sideways glimpse of China’s latest efforts to soften its image and win over its neighbours anew.

In recent years, the region has grown leery of the country’s assertiveness and territorial ambitions, particularly in the resource-rich South China Sea – a sentiment which Beijing has tried to soothe in the past two weeks. Continue reading “[MA] China continues SEA charm offensive”

Should the US forgo its primacy to accommodate China?

[The Strategist] Professor Hugh White, a respected Australian academic and strategist, has long argued that as China has emerged as a great power in the Asia Pacific, it’s time for the Middle Kingdom to play a greater role in the regional order, to the extent that the United States should forgo its long-standing primacy and share its regional leadership with China. Whether the US comes to terms with this fact, White contends, has far reaching implications for the region, as the US insistence on its primacy will inevitably lead to China’s growing grievances. As a consequence, US–China strategic rivalry will intensify and regional peace and stability will suffer in the long run.

White’s argument is valid with respect to China’s impressive economic and military rise over the last three decades, which brings it greater respect and influence in regional affairs. However, whether China should enjoy a greater regional status rests not only on its growing power, but also its moral authority and regional acceptance. The region’s future peace and stability, therefore, is not determined by whether the US forgoes its primacy or not, but primarily by how China behaves to prove it deserves such a concession from the US. Continue reading “Should the US forgo its primacy to accommodate China?”

[MA] Vietnam Rises as Middle Power at Defense Summit: Southeast Asia

[Bloomberg] Vietnam values its cooperative relationship with the U.S., Defense Minister Phung Quang Thanh said, as a major security summit in Brunei puts Vietnam in focus as an emerging middle power in Southeast Asia.

General Thanh told U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel during their meeting today that he was “very happy to witness recently the defense and military cooperation between the two countries.”

Hagel held individual talks with defense ministers ahead of a broader gathering tomorrow of officials from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, plus China, Japan and South Korea, at a time a number of countries are vying for access to oil, gas and fish in disputed waters in the South China Sea. Continue reading “[MA] Vietnam Rises as Middle Power at Defense Summit: Southeast Asia”