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Tácgiả: dchph gởiđăng vàongày Aug.26.2016
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Tácgiả: dchph gởiđăng vàongày Aug.15.2016
| VOA News |
FILE - Political dissident Nguyen Quang A (C) holds a sign which reads "Formasa - damaged the environment and is a criminal" during a protest in Hanoi, Vietnam, May 1, 2016.
HO CHI MINH CITY —
Observers and activists in Vietnam say a record pollution fine against a foreign-owned steel mill neither compensates all victims nor sends a stern enough warning to the country’s other export manufacturers.
Taiwanese-funded Formosa Ha Tinh was accused of letting toxic waste pollute the ocean in April, causing 80 tons of fish to wash up on beaches in one of the country’s worst environmental disasters.
Taiwanese-funded company fined $500 million for pollution
In June, the government fined the plant $500 million, believed to be the largest ever against a company in Vietnam, for fish deaths along 200 kilometers of coastline southeast of Hanoi. The steel making complex also apologized and agreed to clean up the wastewater system.
But people familiar with the issue say the fine cannot cover the continued losses to fishermen, resorts and locals who may have contracted skin diseases from touching the water. They also hope Vietnamese authorities will test the ocean water to ensure it’s now safe.
Other foreign investors are watching
How much deeper the Vietnamese government bores into the fish death case will send a signal to thousands of foreign investors who have set up export-manufacturing plants in the inexpensive Southeast Asian country to save on costs, in turn helping to expanding the country’s economy by 30 percent over the past five years to $193 billion in 2015.
“We would like to use the case of Formosa as the alert to every enterprise doing business in Vietnam. We don’t want them to get a benefit higher than the environment and the life of the people,” said Le Cong Dinh, counsel in a Ho Chi Minh City law firm. “So we want them to comply with the laws and satisfy the condition of the environment.”
Effects of pollution and fish kill are far reaching
nvironment Minister Tran Hong Ha told local media in June the amount covers only direct material damages, not psychological losses to fishermen who lost income. He called the fine “too small.”
Agreeing with that sentiment, Vietnamese living in Taiwan protested last week, calling for the steel plant’s investor, Formosa Plastics Corp., to leave their homeland.
“When I got information on the massive death of fish in the central region, because I’m an engineer I know the problem is the drainage by Formosa into to sea,” said Tran Bang, who researched the case himself in April. “If you can’t have good technology to control (toxics), it’s very dangerous for the environment.”
FILE- Villagers bury dead fish on a beach in Quang Binh, Vietnam.
Criticism of government
Vietnamese authorities need to take more action because about five million people were affected by the fish deaths and some have not recovered, said Duc Truong, an independent journalist and part of the Vietnamese non-governmental organization Brotherhood for Democracy.
Fishermen in the oceans near the steel plant are catching just one fifth of what they could get at this time a year ago and fish sauce producers are suspected of using the dead fish illegally, Duc and other activists said.
Some may be willing to accept pollution
Environmental authorities should test the water quality of the once tainted oceans, said Tran Bang, an engineer and activist in Ho Chi Minh City. He said an independent report turned up excessive levels of six chemicals.
But one central coast city, Da Nang, told local media in April that its waters were already safe for swimming.
Some suspect the government of going easy on Formosa to protect the firm’s $10.5 billion investment.
Seafood sales have eased around the country and Oscar Mussons, international business advisory associate with the Dezan Shira & Associates consultancy in Ho Chi Minh City, said a lot of people have already moved on.
“They already found who to blame and apparently it was a foreign company that caused this incident, so you don’t always see people talking about it,” he said. “For them it might not be an issue because at the end of the day they have money. They come out to play with the iPhone, they ride around on their motorbikes, so they don’t worry too much about complaining to the government.”
Tácgiả: dchph gởiđăng vàongày Aug.13.2016
I cover news, business and society in 21st century Vietnam
A series of high prolife hacking attacks in Vietnam in recent weeks appears to be linked to the country’s overlapping territorial claims with China, and it has also brought to light the extent of online breaches that are occurring at major organizations.
At the end of July, the system of the country’s flag carrier Vietnam Airlines was breached, and the personal information of 400,000 of its frequent-flyer club members was dumped online.
And on July 29 the monitor screens displaying flight information at Hanoi’s and Ho Chi Minh City’s international airports were taken over and displayed derogatory messages about Vietnam and the Philippines regarding their dispute with China over territory in the South China Sea. The public announcement system at the airports was also hacked, and for several minutes played a similar message, spoken by a male voice in English.
The Philippines recently won a favorable international tribunal decision against Chine regarding the latter’s territorial claims in the region. Vietnam and China also both claim territory in the South China Sea, including the Spratly and Paracel Islands.
Not surprisingly, suspicions immediately fell on China. The message on the screens at the airport appeared to be signed by a China-based hacking group called 1937CN, which has previously attacked websites in Vietnam and the Philippines. The group has since denied any involvement in the cyber attack.
A leading Vietnamese cyber security firm BKAV said it had been monitoring similar malware used in the airport attack since 2012, and had found similar programs in the networks of government agencies, banks, universities and other institutions. Some local banks suspended online services for several days in the wake of the airport hack. The firm estimates possibly two thirds of websites in Vietnam have some kind of malware or spyware lurking on them.
Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry released a statement condemning the attacks and reassuring the public the authorities were taking action. “”Vietnamese authorities have taken swift measures to ensure security and safety at its airports, and cyber police are investigating the incident,” ministry spokesperson Le Hai Binh said in the statement.
At a post-cabinet press briefing the following week, Vietnam’s Minister for Communication and Information, Truong Minh Tuan, urged the local tech community to show restraint and not launch retaliatory attacks. “An investigation into technical issues must be conducted. [In the meantime>, we have to remain calm and discreet and we should not make flawed assumptions,” Tuan said.
What is interesting is the very measured response from the Vietnamese government to an incident that could have been used to stoke the resentment of what is seen as China’s aggressive territorial ambitions. In the wake of The Hague ruling that largely dismissed China’s sweeping clams in the South China Sea the Vietnamese authorities stuck a similar tone, refusing to double down on their claims but rather sticking to its message of seeking diplomatic solutions and abiding by multilateral agreements.
This has not always been the case. Most notable was the government-backed protests in 2014 against a Chinese oil-exploration platform being placed off Vietnam’s southern coast that led to large scale rioting and looting of Chinese factories and businesses.
There seems to have been some lessons learned from that experience, and a new strategy of patience, doggedness and diplomacy now seems to be the order of the day. And given the decades long struggle of Vietnam to see off several foreign powers with just such a strategy, it may just work in the long run.
Tácgiả: dchph gởiđăng vàongày Jul.23.2016
| Robert A. Manning and James Przystup, Foreign Policy |
U.S. President Barack Obama (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping have a drink after a toast at a lunch banquet in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing November 12, 2014. REUTERS/Greg Baker/Pool
No one, not even President Barack Obama, has done more to make the United States welcome in Asia than Chinese President Xi Jinping. Since 2012, Xi’s foreign policy has unraveled years of careful efforts on China’s part to persuade its Asian neighbors of the “win-win” benefits of China’s peaceful rise.
Under Xi, Beijing has suffered a series of diplomatic setbacks so counterproductive that they raise serious questions about his foreign policy competence.
A brief review of the past three years shows a remarkable string of failures and foreign policy defeats. The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague on July 12th nullified China’s “Nine-Dash Line,” which is the basis for Beijing’s claim to disputed islets and reefs, and 85 percent of the South China Sea, as sovereign Chinese territory.
This was a body blow, undoing a major pillar of Chinese foreign policy toward the rest of Asia. The ruling was a troubling metaphor, undermining the smiley-face image China has sought to project.
Yet the Hague decision was only the latest in a series of diplomatic setbacks.
It was preceded by South Korea’s decision to deploy THAAD, a U.S. missile defense system, in the face of China’s strong objections and heavy-handed threats against Seoul. China’s overbearing posture, and call for South Korea to prioritize Beijing’s security concerns over Seoul’s, aimed to drive a wedge into the U.S.-South Korea alliance, but did just the opposite.
he THAAD decision moved South Korea closer to the U.S. and opens the door to trilateral U.S.-South Korea-Japan strategic cooperation, long anathema to Beijing.
The THAAD decision, of course, was related to the failure of Chinese diplomacy to rein in North Korea’s nuclear and missile test programs. Indeed, Pyongyang thumbing its nose at Beijing’s admonitions not to conduct nuclear and missile tests was a stunning rebuke.
A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor is launched during a successful intercept test
Xi had sent a special envoy to Pyongyang to persuade North Korea against a ballistic missile test. Yet, literally as he deboarded the airplane, North Korea announced it would conduct the missile test. And for spite, Pyongyang launched it on the eve of Chinese New Year.
Defeat on the Korean peninsula was preceded by defeat in the Senkakus, the disputed rocks which Beijing had attempted to use to drive a wedge into the U.S.-Japan alliance by raising the question of whether the United States would support Japan in a conflict with China. But in April 2014, during a visit to Japan, Obama made clear that Article V of the alliance extends to the Senkakus.
Meanwhile, China’s continuing air and naval incursions into the Senkakus and East China Sea have had a major impact on Japan’s security policy, leading to the decision in 2014 to reinterpret the constitution to allow for the exercise of collective self-defense and the 2015 Japan-U.S. defense guidelines, which recognize a wider Japanese regional security role.
This spring, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force ships made port calls in Subic Bay in the Philippines, Cam Ranh Bay in Vietnam, and Sydney Harbor in Australia — to Beijing’s horror. And Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s recent Upper House election victory raises the possibility of Japan amending its Peace Constitution, another long-dreaded nightmare for China.
In June, Xi’s forceful diplomacy did score a major success during a meeting between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Kunming, China, where the Chinese government pressured ASEAN to withdraw a statement of concern over tensions in the South China Sea.
At the same time, Beijing’s assertive behavior in the South China Sea has led to bandwagoning and unprecedented security cooperation between Australia, Japan, the United States, and the maritime states of the region.
Beyond Asia, the losing streak continued in Europe, where the European Union, despite Chinese pressure, rejected Beijing’s bid to be granted “market economy status” in the World Trade Organization. Instead, China’s oversupply of steel and other products triggered an anti-dumping tariff from the EU and United States.
In addition, heavy handed Chinese nationalist economic policies penalizing European and U.S. businesses in favor of China’s “national champions,” particularly in the IT sector, have disillusioned the U.S. business community, long the foundation of support for the U.S.-China relationship.
Absent the ballast of support from U.S. business, the already volatile U.S.-China relationship would become still more problematic, shaping the policy environment for a new U.S. president, who will have to make difficult choices.
Perhaps the Politburo Standing Committee should reread the anonymous open letter by a party member that urged Xi to resign in March. The letter found Xi to be lacking “the abilities to lead the party and country into the future,” citing his counterproductive foreign policy as abandoning caution for “dangerous adventurism.”
It defies the imagination that Xi Jinping’s foreign policy has had the unintended consequence of promoting U.S. interests and strengthening Obama’s “rebalance” — success that the State Department or the Pentagon couldn’t match on their best day.
How to explain all this? After the 2008-2009 U.S. financial crisis, Chinese analysts mistakenly concluded that the United States was in terminal decline, and that China’s moment had come to undo a century of humiliation by asserting its influence rather than biding its time as it developed its economy.
Thus, Chinese strategy is based on flawed assumptions: that China, with geography on its side, is getting bigger and militarily stronger, and that a declining United States will gradually leave the region. Asian nations will have no choice but to pay deference to China’s interests. The intriguing question is: With all of Xi’s bad bets going sour, will his Politburo comrades treat him like most companies would treat a demonstrably failed CEO?
Read the original article on Foreign Policy. "Real World. Real Time." Follow Foreign Policy on Facebook. Subscribe to Foreign Policy here. Copyright 2016. Follow Foreign Policy on Twitter.