Trial begins of Vietnam fish farmer turned folk hero
The trial of a Vietnamese fish farmer who became a folk hero after using homemade shotguns to resist eviction began, with scores of people defying a heavy police presence to show their support. Hundreds of police shut down the roads by the Hai Phong People’s Court to hold back supporters of Doan Van Vuon, who […]

Vietnamese Women Fall Prey to Sex Racket
Fifteen Vietnamese women have been forced into sex slavery after going to work in Russia, according to one of them who managed to escape following a one-year ordeal at a Moscow brothel but is still living in fear of her captors. Huynh Thi Be Huong said she was among four women who initially fled the […]

EU-Vietnam weigh FTA
HANOI – A proposed free-trade agreement (FTA) between the European Union and Vietnam promises to bolster already fast-rising bilateral trade. While both sides agree an FTA would on the whole be mutually beneficial, negotiations will likely be complicated by the potential socio-economic impacts a pact would have on Vietnam’s fragile transitional economy. Negotiations, which started […]

Malaysia Rejects Pardon for Jailed Opposition Leader
Anwar Ibrahim is running out of options. Malaysia has rejected a petition seeking a royal pardon for imprisoned opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, his lawyers said Wednesday according toReuters. The petition, filed by Anwar’s family on his behalf after his sodomy conviction was upheld by Malaysia’s highest court in February, was rejected by the pardons board. The board reportedly gave no explanation for the decision. “We would definitely be appealing on the leave rejection, and we will be askin...

Vietnam and Great Power Rivalries
Will Russian use of Vietnam’s Cam Ranh Bay derail improving Hanoi-Washington ties? It all began with apparently innocuous activity reported in both the Russian and Vietnamese press citing the Russian Defense Ministry on January 4. According to the reports, Russian Air Force Il-78 Midas tanker planes were granted access last year to Vietnam’s aerodrome facilities in Cam Ranh Bay, located in the southern Vietnamese province of Khanh Hoa. The Il-78s enabled the refueling of Russian Tu-95 “Bear” ...

Tibetan Buddhism’s Karmapa Lama
A religious figure comes into his own as artist and green activist Ogyen Trinley Dorje, the 17th Karmapa Lama, arrived in India in January 2000, literally moving from his 12th century headquarters in Tibet onto the front page of international papers. Now, imagine a setting where, as a 28-year old teacher, he holds a few […]

Vietnamese Coffee Brews Global Dreams
When it comes to beverages of choice, Asia conjures images of tea for most, from the bitter powdery green tea (matcha) of Japan’s tea ceremony and China’s soothing oolong to India’s sweet-spicy masala chai. Through a twist of historical fate, however, Vietnam bucks this trend and has developed one of the most thriving coffee scenes […]

The rise of Chinese contractors in Vietnam
By the end of 2009 Chinese engineering companies were involved in projects worth US$15.4 billion in Vietnam, making the Vietnamese market their largest in Southeast Asia. On occasion, Chinese contractors have even accounted for up to 90 per cent of EPC (Engineering/Procurement/Construction) contracts for thermal power plants in the country. Two major factors account for the […]

Japan PM Abe’s Pacific trade pact gambit pays off
Reuters – Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s first politically risky step of declaring the country’s intent to join talks on a U.S.-led Pacific Rim free trade pact appears to be paying off as his record high ratings edge even higher. Public opinion surveys showed on Monday that Abe’s support ratings had risen since last month […]

China Accused of ‘Weaponizing’ Global Internet Users
Internet activists on Tuesday accused Chinese authorities of carrying out or enabling massive cyberattacks on the anti-censorship website and coding site GitHub, saying Beijing had “weaponized” innocent Internet users around the world to target sites offering ways around its Great Firewall. “Based on the technical forensic evidence provided above and the detailed research that has been done on the GitHub attack, we can now confidently conclude that the Cyberspa...

Better looking PMIs belie a weak Chinese economy
China’s factory activity surprisingly expanded in March, government data showed on Wednesday, but analysts are still betting on more easing measures to come, to prevent growth from slipping further. The official Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), the bellwether of large industrial firms, rose to 50.1 in March from February’s 49.9, a touch above the 50-mark that that separates growth from contraction. A Reuters forecast had expected a figure of 49.8. The reading was better tha...

Philippines dismisses China concerns over South China Sea military repairs
(Reuters) – The Philippines dismissed concerns by China over its plan to repair military facilities in South China Sea, a foreign ministry spokesman said on Saturday, insisting Manila has sovereign rights over territories in the disputed areas. The possible repair “is no way comparable to China’s massive reclamation activities, which not only violate international law…but also unnecessarily raise regional tensions”, spokesman Charles Jose said in a statement. ...

Mourners Clash with Vietnamese Authorities
Hundreds of protesters clashed with riot police during a funeral this weekend in northern Vietnam, officials and state media said Monday, in a rare incident highlighting the alleged impunity enjoyed by top-ranked officials in the one-party communist nation. The violence broke out in the Vinh Phuc provincial capital Vinh Yen on Sunday, according to the […]

The Challenge to China’s South China Sea Approach
Beijing’s ‘dual track approach’ confounds more than it clarifies. Since at least August last year, China has been officially advocating what officials have called a “dual track approach” with respect to the South China Sea issue. Beijing continues to use this approach in discussions today. Indeed, an entire session at the recent Boao Forum for Asia was devoted to the topic: “South China Sea: Dual Track Approach and Win-Win Cooperation.” While the approach itself could be dismissed as old wine...

China’s Xi Sets Tone on Regional Relations
BOAO, China—Chinese President Xi Jinping acknowledged Asian “frictions” and “hot spots” in an address on Sunday to regional business and political leaders amid mounting alarm over North Korea’s nuclear threat and territorial disputes between China and its neighbors. Mr. Xi didn’t single out any country in his address at the three-day Boao Forum for Asia, […]

Last Minute Twists Before China Bank Deadline
BEIJING— More than 40 countries have added their names to a growing list of those seeking to become founding members of China’s multibillion-dollar Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, but the United States and Japan say they will remain on the sidelines. Just days before the deadline at the end of March, Russia added its name to the list that has more than doubled since China announced its plans to build the bank late last year. A growing number of Washington’s allies in Asia and Europe hav...

Enough is enough, Opposition MPs say of editors’ arrests
MPs lament that it has become a trend for the police to lock up and seek remand for those they wish to investigate. KUALA LUMPUR: A number of Opposition MPs came together in a press conference today to show solidarity for the editors of The Malaysian Insider (TMI) who were arrested yesterday and this morning. Among the MPs present were DAP’s Teresa Kok, PKR’s Johari Abdul and Tian Chua and PAS’ Hanipa Maidin. “We are here to show our dissatisfaction at the detainment of a number of editors an...

Three Uyghurs Held for Resisting Land Takeover
Authorities have arrested three Uyghurs who they say resisted and assaulted public officers sent to expropriate their farmland for a market in northwestern China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, according to local sources. Farmer Mettohti Imin, his teenage son Abdusalam Mettohti, and a family friend were taken into custody in late March after confronting “more than […]

Chinese Artist Depicts Tibetan Protesters
Self-immolations by Tibetan monks have spiked with China’s leadership change. Beijing continues to ignore their message. BEIJING — On the fifth anniversary of violent protests against Chinese rule in Lhasa, Tibet, authorities are still grappling with unrest and a wave of self-immolations in Tibetan areas of China. One Beijing-based artist is trying to commemorate the lost […]

‘My Sister Was Forced Into Sex Slavery’
Hui Danh’s sister Huynh Thi Be Huong is one of 15 young women from Vietnam who fell prey to a Vietnamese-run sex trafficking ring in Russia. According to the women, when they asked for help from the Vietnamese embassy in Moscow, their situation got worse because officials there were linked with the traffickers. On April 11, 2013 […]

US Blasts China’s ‘Great Wall of Sand’ in the South China Sea
America’s top Pacific commander takes Beijing to task. In a direct public criticism of Chinese land reclamation in features in the South China Sea, America’s top Pacific commander accused Beijing of building a “great wall of sand” in disputed areas, media outlets reported March 31. U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander Admiral Harry Harris Jr. reportedly told a gathering in Australia Tuesday that China’s unprecedented land reclamation activities – which had now created around 1.5 square miles of artif...

Vietnamese Dissidents Attacked by Police-Linked Thugs
Unidentified assailants believed to be connected to the police on Tuesday ambushed and severely beat a Vietnamese dissident a day after he tried to shield a prominent woman land rights activist from harassment and attack by suspected government agents, according to the victims. Five or six men appeared suddenly from a bush and beat dissident […]

Vietnamese Political Prisoner ‘Seriously Ill’
The health of one of Vietnam’s longest-held political prisoners is deteriorating rapidly and he is seeking medical parole, his daughter said Monday, raising concerns about inadequate medical care in the prison. Poet Nguyen Huu Cau, 66, who is serving a life sentence for “sabotage” over his writings that exposed corruption by ruling Communist Party officials, […]

Tibetan Protester is Freed After Serving Three Years at Hard Labor
A Tibetan prisoner held in northwest China’s Qinghai province was freed by authorities this week after serving a three-year term at hard labor for taking part in protests challenging Chinese rule in Tibetan areas, sources said. Tseten Gyal, aged about 28, was released on March 29 and secretly escorted by police to his home in Gepasumdo (in Chinese, Tongde) county in the Tsolho (Hainan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, a local sourced told RFA’s Tibetan Service. Gyal had been one of a group of T...

Malaysian Authorities Arrest 5 Members of Media for Sedition
Malaysian authorities have arrested five employees of a private news website and placed them under investigation for sedition, in what is seen as the government’s latest attempt at stifling dissent and free speech. The Malaysian Insider says three editors, a publisher, and a chief executive were arrested, apparently over a recent report that claimed the government had rejected a proposal for allowing tough Islamic law punishments. Police raided the news portal’s offices late Monda...

US: Vietnam Backsliding On Human Rights
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration expressed concern Thursday about Vietnam’s “backsliding” on human rights and asserted that advancing individual freedoms is key to U.S. policy in Asia. One example cited is Hanoi’s treatment of bloggers who have faced prosecution under national security laws. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Dan Baer told a congressional panel […]

Vietnam: Rights Dialogue Should Produce Concrete Steps
Washington, DC – The Vietnamese government should use the opportunity of the upcoming US-Vietnam Human Rights Dialogue to release political prisoners and make commitments to end the persecution of bloggers, land rights activists, and other peaceful critics, Human Rights Watch said today. The 17th US-Vietnam Human Rights dialogue will take place in Hanoi beginning on April […]

Vietnamese folk hero jailed for 5 years
HANOI — A court in northern Vietnam has sentenced two shrimp farmers charged with attempted murder during a land seizure to five years in prison. The case has stoked debate over crucial land use reforms in the country. On Friday, the Hai Phong People’s Court handed down the sentence to shrimp farmer Doan Van Vuon and […]

Vietnamese reject Chinese fruit
HANOI – Jack Nguyen had sold 20 of his 30 containers of imported American grapes when a fresh round of rumours hit the internet and state-run media: Chinese fruit on sale in Vietnam might look good, but it contains deadly levels of preservatives and pesticides. Shoppers quickly stopped buying imported fruit altogether, believing it all […]

Want to Reduce Inequality? Consult China, Vietnam and India
In 1981, half of the developing world earned less than $1.25 daily. By 2011, the portion had dropped to 17%. President Obama has called income inequality the “defining challenge of our time.” Many progressives blame the market economy and doubt John F. Kennedy’s view that “a rising tide lifts all boats.” In 2011 Mr. Obama chided those who believe “the market will take care of everything.” It’s a “simple theory,” he said. “It fits well on a bumper sticker. Here’s the problem: It doesn’t work. ...

Vietnamese Blogger’s Home Targeted with Rank Liquid
A prominent blogger said Monday that he and his family in central Vietnam have been victimized by what he believes are agents hired by local security forces to threaten him over his online criticism against the state. The once-imprisoned Huynh Ngoc Tuan, 50, told RFA’s Vietnamese Service that the attack occurred at 12:30 a.m. on […]

Trials begin in Vietnam controversial land revocation case
Two trials in the high-profile land revocation case involving a violent clash between farmers and authorities in the northern port city of Hai Phong last year are scheduled to get underway early this month. In one hearing, which will be held April 2-5, Doan Van Vuon, 51, his two brothers and his nephew will be […]

Myanmar Government And Ethnic Leaders Sign Tentative Peace Deal
Myanmar’s government and a coalition of armed ethnic groups inked a tentative nationwide cease-fire agreement Tuesday ending six decades of conflict, with President Thein Sein suggesting a final deal could be signed as early as next month. “This draft agreement is the strongest push to sign the final agreement,” Thein Sein said during the meeting at the government-affiliated Myanmar Peace Center in the commercial capital Yangon. “I would like to say that we could definitely sign the final cea...

Bangladeshi Blogger’s Killing Sends Ominous Message
KOLKATA, INDIA—The stabbing death of an atheist Bangladeshi blogger in Dhaka a month after the killing of a prominent Bangladeshi-American author highlights the growing threat facing critics of religious fundamentalism in the South Asian nation. Three men attacked Washiqur Rahman Babu, 27, with meat cleavers in front of his house Monday in Dhaka. Two people caught two of the assailants as they fled and handed them over to the police. Passersby rushed Babu to Dhaka Medical College Hospital, wh...

Farmers Tried for Fighting Police in Vietnam
A Vietnamese court has begun hearing the trial of four fish farmers charged with attempted murder for fighting back against police and army officers seeking to evict them from their land last year. Landowner Doan Van Vuon and three male relatives are accused of using improvised explosive devices and shotguns and injuring seven security officers. […]

Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty will help neither workers nor consumers
“China wants to write the rules for the world’s fastest-growing region … We should write those rules,” President Obama declared in his State of the Union address. To sell Congress on giving him authority to “fast track” consideration of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade and investment treaty with 12 nations that has been under negotiation for five years, the president argues it is vital that “we” write the rules. The real question, of course, is what does he mean by “we”? Our globa...

Asia’s Middle Class Changes Demand for Wheat Grain Exporters
BANGKOK— Asia’s growing middle class is stimulating demand for grains, especially wheat-based foods. The increase in demand is a consequence of changes in the tastes and diets of this segment of the Asian economy and marks a boon for wheat exporters such as Australia and the United States. Recent analysis indicates the demand for wheat-based food will continue in the years ahead, posing challenges for the global food industry. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development says by ...

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher Dies
‘Iron Lady’ Was Among Most Influential Global Leaders of Postwar Period Margaret Thatcher, the former British prime minister who became one of the most influential global leaders of the postwar period, died on Monday, April 8, 2013. LONDON—Margaret Thatcher, the former British prime minister who became one of the most influential global leaders of the […]

Catholic mothers face enormous pressure to abort baby girls
Three years ago, Hoai Anh terminated her 14-week-old pregnancy after an ultrasound scan showed the baby would be a girl. “I feel thoroughly miserable for having taken away my child’s life. If my parents had also had gender-selective abortion, I would not exist,” the Catholic woman said, in tears. Pale and thin, she says she […]

On Trial and Split Apart, Vietnamese Clan Defiant
The broken bricks and roof tiles of Doan Van Vuon’s house, bulldozed by Vietnamese authorities trying to evict him, lie next to his relatives’ new home, a shack of bamboo and corrugated iron that testifies to their perseverance. Vuon and three male relatives have been detained for more than a year and are now on […]

Taiwan, China Pursue New Trade Deal Despite Popular Opposition
TAIPEI—Taiwan and political rival China are negotiating this week what could be their farthest-reaching agreement ever after nearly eight years of warming relations. But the deal to cut tariffs faces opposition in Taiwan, while China has turned much of its attention to pacts with fellow exporters Japan and South Korea. Trade representatives from Beijing and Taipei are meeting in China from Tuesday through Thursday for a 10th round of talks on an agreement to cut import tariffs, potentially in...

What China Learned from the Soviet Union’s Fall
Why the process of assessing blame for the collapse of the USSR is still a hot topic in Beijing   In a major speech on July 24, 2012 China’s President, Hu Jintao, called for the country to “unswervingly” carry out reform and opening up and to fight against rigidity and stagnation.  This follows on the heels […]

Vietnam Factory Workers in Rare Strike to Protest New Insurance Law
Thousands of textile workers at a Chinese-owned factory in southern Vietnam held a fifth day of strikes Tuesday to protest a government policy on social insurance coverage, in a rare demonstration in the tightly-controlled communist nation. The strike at the Pou Yuen Vietnam footwear factory at the Tan Tao Industrial Park outside of Ho Chi Minh City began on March 26, when as many as 90,000 employees protested the new law, which prohibits workers from collecting a lump-sum payment of the insu...

Mysterious Attack on a Vietnamese Blog
Round up the usual suspects… Twenty months ago, I was approached by a member of the team that puts out the Anh Ba Sam blog, Vietnam’s leading source of “alternative news.” Would I mind, they asked, if they posted a Vietnamese translation of a story that I’d written on the deepening South China Sea crisis. […]

Kissinger Urges Return to Deng’s Way on South China Sea Spat
(Bloomberg) — The U.S. and China should look to the example of Deng Xiaoping when it comes to defusing China’s territorial spats in the South China Sea, said Henry Kissinger, secretary of state during Richard Nixon’s presidency. China and the U.S. should “remove the urgency of the debate,” Kissinger told reporters on Saturday in Singapore. Kissinger, 91, was the architect of Nixon’s historic 1972 trip to China that led to the opening of diplomatic ties between the two countries. “Deng X...

In Vietnam, Rampant Wildlife Smuggling Prompts Little Concern
U MINH, Vietnam — Luc Van Ho slips through a tangled thicket of jungle, graceful as a dancer. A blanket of dried bamboo and melaleuca leaves on the forest floor barely crackles beneath his bare feet. Only the smell of cigarette smoke betrays his presence. A hunter, Mr. Luc, 45, set out at dawn from his family’s bamboo-thatched home in Vietnam’s U Minh forest to check a half dozen homemade traps rigged along animal trails in the underbrush and on canal banks frequented by snakes and turtles. H...

Vietnamese always at a disadvantage when doing business with Chinese
China has always been gaining the upper hand in doing business with Vietnam. Experts believe that Vietnam has been yielding to the big foreign partner on many issues. China remains the No. 1 trade partner for Vietnam. A report of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) showed that the two-way trade turnover in […]

Anti-Nuclear Energy Activists Becoming More Vocal in Taiwan
TAPEI — A wave of mass street protests in Taiwan has prompted the island’s government to reconsider a fourth nuclear power plant. Demonstrators at concerts and elsewhere this past weekend said the plant would threaten inhabitants of Taiwan’s north coast. About 220,000 people turned out for loud, emotional demonstrations in Taiwan’s three biggest cities to […]

Vietnam’s Prosecutors Seek Lenient Sentence for ‘Folk Hero’ Farmer
Vietnamese prosecutors on Thursday (April 4, 2013) asked a court to impose a lenient sentence on a former soldier who fought off a government eviction from his farm, a move some say is meant to avoid angering a public fed up with land seizures and corrupt officials. Prosecutors proposed that Doan Van Vuon be sentenced […]

Vietnam’s Obstacles to Reform
Despite the Vietnamese public’s lack of trust in the government, despite the government’s rights violations, reform remains a distant hope. The path to change is littered with obstacles, and what comes after is equally challenging. Vietnam’s economic woes might finally be turning a corner; however, the damage has been done, and its impact has been […]

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