Posts tagged ‘Vietnam’

Friday, October 4, 2013

Obituary: Vo Nguyen Giap, 1911 – 2013

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Vo Nguyen Giap worked as a teacher, journalist, historian and revolutionary, a Voice of Vietnam newsarticle says. The following are newsarticles or excerpts in Chinese (from CNA, Xinhua, and Ta Kung Pao). Subtitles and links within blockquotes added during translation.

1. CNA, Taiwan, 22:49 Taiwan local time

Independence Hero

CNA Hanoi, October 4, summary report

Reuters reports that according to his family people, Vietnam’s highly respected independence hero, General Vo Nguyen Giap has died, aged 102. A government source [in Hanoi] told AFP that “I can confirm that General Vo Nguyen Giap has died today at 18:06″. A military source confirmed the time of death. Vo Nguyen Giap had been receiving treatment in a Hanoi military hospital for several years in a row.

Vo Nguyen Giap was one of Vietnam’s best-known personalities of the 20th century. The guerilla tactics he adopteddefeated France in 1954 and American-supported South Vietnam in 1975, and historians see him among Montgomery, Rommel, MacArthur, and similar military giants.

Vo Nguyen Giap was one of the main founders of the Communist Party of Vietnam, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam [North Vietnam], the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, and of the Vietnam People’s Army. He also served as a general of the People’s Army, as defense minister, as member of the politburo, and in other functions.

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2. Takungpao, Hong Kong, October 4, 23:12

“An old Friend of the Chinese People”

Vo Nguyen Giap, Vietnamese important military leader in the wars of resistance against France and America, died on October 4, aged 102.

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Vietnam came under control of groups leaning towards the Soviet Union and opposing China, but because of Vo Nguyen Giap’s position, there remained a balance between leaning towards China and the USSR. When overseas Chinese people [in Vietnam] were treated unfairly after 1975, Vo Nguyen Giap criticized this as “overbearing”. When the rift between China and Vietnam grew after 1978, he suggested “to ease the conflict with China”. he was dismissed [from his political functions, apparently] in February 1980, and made efforts for improvement of Sino-Vietnamese relations in 1990. Relations were normalized one year later [in 1991]. Vo Nguyen Giap was warmly referred to as “an old friend of the Chinese people”.

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3. People’s Daily online, via Xinhua,

Not a Soldier from the Beginning

October 4 (same news article published by Huanqiu Shibao)

According to American media reports of October 4, the important military leader in Vietnam’s wars of resistance against France and America, Vo Nguyen Giap, has died aged 102.

Vo Nguyen Giap was born in Vietnam’s Quang Binh Province, on August 25, 1911. According to Vietnam Newsagency VNA, he is among the longest-living personalities in worldwide military history. He wasn’t a soldier from the beginning, having studied law and political economics, and later joined Ho Chi Minh’s Vietnam Independence Alliance.

After the outbreak of the war of resistance against France, Vo Nguyen Giap directed military operations for several years, as defense minister and chief commander. The Vietnamese army’s victory over the French aggressor troops in the battle of Dien Bien Phu astonished the world. In his own words, it was “[Vietnam's] first victory over the West”.

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Giap lived in Chinese exile for some time as Japan invaded Vietnam, writes the BBC. His first wife was arrested during that time, and died in a French prison.

In his late years, Giap was a critic of bauxite mining in Vietnam.

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Related

» Threat of Invasion, April 29, 2009

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Friday, January 11, 2013

Rising China, Rotten Diplomacy: No Game-Changer in Sight

Chinese leaders established a China Public Diplomacy Association in Beijing on December 31 last year. English-language party mouthpiece China Daily carried a news article on page 4 one day later, either because of the expected importance the new organization might carry, or because of the relative prominence of at least two participants in the event, foreign minister Yang Jiechi (杨洁篪) and former foreign minister Li Zhaoxing (李肇星, now chairman of the National People’s Congress foreign affairs committee).

What strikes me in the article is that Yang Jiechi isn’t his own party boss in the foreign ministry. His vice minister, Zhang Zhijun, is. Wu Bangguo on the other hand  is both chairman and party secretary of the National People’s Congress (see notes underneath that post). Not sure how many ministers (if any) double as minister and their ministry’s party secretaries. At the ministry of health, it is also the vice minister who doubles as party secretary, while at the ministry of culture, the minister takes both the state and the party function. Minister of Public Security, Guo Shengkun, also doubles in both functions. He took both the positions in December.

Does this indicate something about Yang Jiechi, or about the importance of his job as foreign minister – i. e. the importance of irrelevance of diplomacy? Not necessarily. But there are other indicators, too. Yang wasn’t even a member of the 17th politbureau (let alone its standing committee). Late in November, in an article for CNN, Linda Jakobson pointed out that the power status of diplomacy within the Chinese leadership was unlikely to rise.

So, one shouldn’t expect the China Public Diplomacy Association to become a game-changer. It’s nice for the (public) diplomats that the 18th National Congress – referred to by Yang Jiechi as quoted within the article translated below – gave public diplomacy a mention in its report. But if that’s something to celebrate, it sheds a sad light on the discipline as a whole. No wonder that Zhao Qizheng, director of the CPPCCs foreign affairs committee, longs for the good old days of Zhou Enlai‘s “convivial diplomacy” (official, semi-official and people-to-people diplomacy). Zhou, after all, was a member of the politburo’s standing committee – and for the first nine years after the establishment of the PRC, he was also its foreign minister. In the 1970s, foreign relations were still a job for the top, and in February 1979, Deng Xiaoping celebrated the improving Sino-American relations with an attack on Vietnam.

We probably have to see the inaugural session of the China Public Diplomacy Association in the light of those glory days – it’s a contrast that doesn’t make either official or unofficial diplomacy look important these days.

Maybe the new situation, frequently mentioned by Yang in his congratulatory speech, is just that situation. But then again, maybe not.

Form your own opinion if you can.

Source:
Committee for Friendship with Foreign Countries of Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference Shanghai Committee, January 8, 2013.

Main Link: Tell China’s story well, let China’s voice be heard. China Public Diplomacy Association established, Zhou Taitong attends. (讲好中国故事 发好中国声音 中国公共外交协会成立 周太彤出席)

On December 31, 2012, the China Public Diplomacy Association inaugural meeting was held at Diaoyutai Guest House, with foreign minister Yang Jiechi, foreign ministry party secretary and vice minister Zhang Zhijun and other leaders participating and unveiling the association’s nameplate. Shanghai Municipal People’s Consultative Conference vice chairman and Shanghai Public Diplomacy Association’s vice director Zhou Taitong represented Shanghai’ Public Diplomacy Association at the meeting.

2012年12月31日,中国公共外交协会成立大会在北京钓鱼台国宾馆举行,外交部部长杨洁篪,外交部党组书记、副部长张志军等领导出席并为协会揭牌。上海市政协副主席、上海公共外交协会副会长周太彤代表上海公共外交协会出席会议。

At this first general assembly, the “China Public Diplomacy Association charter (draft) was passed, National People’s Congress foreign affairs committee chairman and former foreign minister Comrade Li Zhaoxing was elected as the association’s first president. [1] Former ambassador to Britain and to the Council on Security Cooperation in Asia and Pacific Region Ma Zhengang; [2] China Museums Association deputy director, China Council for the Promotion of Peaceful National Reunification director, and [3] Central Research Institute of Culture and History staff member Comrade Shu Yi were elected as deputy presidents, and China Institute of International Studies fellow Song Ronghua was elected secretary-general.

在协会召开的第一次会员大会,通过了《中国公共外交协会章程(草案)》,选举全国人大外事委员会主任委员、前外交部长李肇星同志为首任会长,选举中国前驻英国大使、亚太安全合作理事会中国委员会会长马振岗、中国博物馆学会副会长、中国和平统一促进会理事、中央文史研究馆馆员舒乙同志为副会长,中国国际问题研究所研究员宋荣华为秘书长。

Minister Yang Jiechi delivered the congratulatory speech. He pointed out that public diplomacy, in a new situation, is an objective requirement for perfecting the design of our country’s diplomacy, and important in broadening our country’s diplomatic work. The 18th National Congress report says that “we must sturdily promote public diplomacy and cultural exchanges”. This exacts higher demands on the promotion of public diplomacy under the new situation. In the new situation, promoting public diplomacy and cultural exchanges means putting efforts into mutual knowledge between China and the world, deepening China’s relations with the world, as well as promoting China’s and the world’s benign interaction and common development. We must develop and expand equality and mutual trust, be tolerant of each other and learn from each other in the spirit of win-win cooperation, we must strengthen dialog and exchange with the peoples of the world, promote mutual understanding, trust, friendship, and cooperation. Developing public diplomacy requires ample use of resources from all walks of life and bringing all factors from society into play. We hope that the China Public Diplomacy Association will carry out and implement the spirit of the 18th National Congress, make major contributions to the cause of China’s public diplomacy, and build fine foundations for the public-opinion environment and the will of the people.

杨洁篪部长在会上致贺辞。指出,公共外交是新形势下完善我国外交布局的客观要求,是我国外交工作的重要开拓方向。党的十八大报告提出,“我们将扎实推进公共外交和人文交流。”对新形势下推进公共外交提出了更高要求。新形势下,推进公共外交和人文交流,就是要着力促进中国与世界的相互认知,深化中国同世界的关系,推动中国与世界的良性互动和共同发展。我们要大力弘扬平等互信、包容互鉴、合作共赢的精神,加强同世界各国人民的对话交流,促进相互了解、信任、友谊与合作。开展公共外交需要充分利用各界资源,发挥全社会的作用,希望中国公共外交协会认真贯彻落实党的十八大精神,为推进中国公共外交事业做出重要贡献,为国家发展和外交工作营造良好的舆论环境和民意基础。

Yang Jiechi emphasized that public diplomacy absolutely needed innovating ways and means, strengthened communication and exchanges with the masses, it needed to draw on the wisdom and the will of the people, domestic and foreign coordination, wholistic planning of the overall domestic and foreign situations, it needed to tell China’s story well and let China’s voice be heard, it needed to explain a real China to the world, and to establish a just and comprehensive view of China.

杨洁篪强调,一定要创新公共外交方式方法,加强对民众的沟通与交流,汲取民智和民意,国内国外相互配合,统筹国内国外两个大局,讲好中国故事,发好中国声音,把一个真实的中国介绍给世界,树立公正全面的中国观。

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Related

» Destined to Fail, The Diplomat, January 7, 2013
» A related discussion, Peking Duck, Jan 7, 2013

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Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Presidential Debate and Voice of America: “Very Rusty Tonight”

“He was very rusty tonight” – that’s how the BBC quotes New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof as he “rated”  U.S. president Barack Obama‘s performance.  Mitt Romney‘s performance, on the other hand, was probably a positive surprise to many of the Republican supporters.

For cultural reasons probably, I wouldn’t have been able to tell who of the two candidates did better – except that Obama occasionally seemed to lack concentration or focus -, but many commenters seemed to see that lack throughout the debate. Romney had his share of stutters, too, but he seemed to be more focused. And as for my lack of cultural insight, Michael Moore filled some of my gaps – because he criticized the moderator, Jim Lehrer:

Eastwood’s chair would do a better job moderating this debate. Romney is both candidate and moderator. Has Clinton arrived yet???!

Maybe Moore would “stop the subsidy to PBS”, just as Mitt Romney would. Anyway – Moore’s criticism of Lehrer seems to suggest to me that he sees Romney as the winner of this debate. But then, maybe Lehrer did a lousy job. Again, for cultural reasons, I can’t tell.

They say that presidential debates don’t sway many voters either way in America. Television debates in Germany don’t either – at least that’s what German television watchers say themselves. Either way, I remember a German television debate where the incumbent looked unusually tired during the first debate, and then went on to “win” the second and last debate: that was Gerhard Schröder, against his challenger Edmund Stoiber, in summer 2002. Similar to Romney, nobody ever expected Stoiber to do well in a debate – that worked to his advantage, at least in the beginning.

What I can tell though is that the Voice of America (VoA) did a lousy job. I tried all their far-Eastern frequencies at 01:00 UTC, and got nothing but international news there – I stopped trying at 01:25 UTC and then watched the debate on the internet. Granted – 09:00 a.m. local time in China or 08:00 a.m. in Vietnam may not be a time when too many people would listen to the radio anyway. But then, why would they bother to broadcast to the region at that time of the day at all?

No matter if Jim Lehrer did a good or bad job, presidential debates are a proud institution – something VoA should cover live – on shortwave.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

What the Dalai Lama’s (potential) Travels may have to do with Soviet History, Oil Prices, and the South China Sea

The Dalai Lama hopes that the new, coming leadership would be more lenient, according to Reuters. Reuters writes that

[i]n the early 1950s, the Dalai Lama knew Xi Jinping’s father, Xi Zhongxun, one of the most liberal leaders of the Chinese revolution, who was known to have had a less hardline approach to Tibet.

Xi Zhongxun (习仲勋) is said to have opposed the 1989 Tian An Men crackdown, about a year after his retirement in 1988. The article suggesting this stance by Xi Zhongxun also suggests that Xi Jinping himself is the only leader who served in the military. If true, this could mean that he has a more realistic view of the limited use of violent crackdowns. However, according to a Singapure National University document, Xi Jinping’s military role was rather political:

Unlike other frontrunners of the fifth generation leadership, Xi has had some
military service before. Upon his graduation from Qinghua University in 1979, he worked for Geng Biao (耿飚), the then secretary general of the Central Military Commission (CMC), for about three years.

Meantime, Huanqiu Shibao is quoted as having reported on an eleven-day visit by the Dalai Lama to Japan, scheduled for November this year. The article can currently not be found on Huanqiu (only the search results seem to be available at Google). Beifang Net apparently republished the short news article. It closes with quoting the foreign ministry’s standard condemnation:

Concerning the Dalai issue, the FMPRC has expressed many times that Tibetan affairs are China’s internal affairs. The Dalai has for a long time been a political exile under a banner of religion, engaging in anti-China splittist activities. China resolutely opposes any country and any person making use of Tibetan issues to interfere in Chinese internal affairs.

中国外交部就达赖问题多次表态称,西藏事务纯属中国内政。达赖是长期打着宗教旗号从事反华分裂活动的政治流亡者。中方坚决反对坚决反对任何国家、任何人利用涉藏问题干涉中国内政。

Russian president Vladimir Putin told Buddhist citizens on July 31 that the Russian government worked in the direction of inviting the Dalai Lama to Russia. Feng Chuangzhi, a regular congtributor to china.com, a website operated by the state council, wrote in an editorial on August 8 that given many years of friendly cooperation between Putin and Beijing, Chinese reactions to Putin’s comment eight days earlier had been low-key, just its reaction to the Russian shelling of a Chinese fishing boat had not been radical (过激). After a short re-cap of the usual allegations against the Dalai Lama, Feng writes that

under such circumstances, the likelihood of a Dalai visit to Russia as expressed by the Russian president does, of course, hurt the feelings of the Chinese people, and can lead to contradictions emerging between the two sides [China and Russia].

在这种情势下,俄总统发出的为达赖访俄罗斯创造可能性理所当然伤害了中国人的感情,双方的矛盾可能会因此而出现。

However, the ways in which Putin and Western countries invite the Dalai are different. Putin spoke about the possibility, but didn’t make it definite. People know that a so-called possibility is no official decision. It should also be said that he made these remarks in a discussion, saying that “we obviously understand the hopes of our people living here in [the Republic of] Kalmykia that the Dalai Lama comes to them”.

但是,同样说邀请达赖,普京与西方等国邀请达赖的口角就有所不同。普京只是说到创造达赖访俄罗斯的可能,并未把话说死。人们知道,所谓可能性,只是一种预 测,不是正式决定。还应一提的是,所说的邀请达赖来的是在同论坛与会者们交谈时的表示,“我们当然理解我们那些生活在卡尔梅克并期待达赖·喇嘛到来的 人”。

The following lines explain the history of the “so-called Kalmyks” (所谓卡尔梅克人). Feng then returns to the present tense:

Putin promised the Kalmyks to invite the Dalai Lama to alleviate their historical wounds.  One can imagine that for some time, the Kalmyks raised the invitation of the Dalai, and as a Russian politician, [Putin] can’t ignore their wishes, but he also can’t be unaware of the Chinese government’s attitude towards the Dalai, and therefore can’t simply do things that would lead to tensions in Sino-Russian relations. Agence France-Presse said on August 1 that Putin had always acknowledged China’s position concerning the Tibetan issue, and believed that the Dalai was “a politicial personality engaging in secession”, and that the Dalai’s announcement of abandoning the political role had perhaps changed Russia’s traditional approach. “The Australian” said that perhaps, Putin’s remarks on July 31 marked “a turning point in attitude”. There are Western media that say that if Putin, only for a single day, allows the Dalai Lama to visit Kalmykia, it would put Sino-Russian relations to a direct test. Therefore, Putin’s invitation to the Dalai Lama is rather to curry favor with the Kalmyks, and also rather makeshift.

普京面向卡尔梅克人承诺邀达赖访问一事其为平抚卡尔梅克人历史创伤之意。可以想到,一段时间以来,卡尔梅克人早就发出了邀请达赖来访的声音,身为俄罗斯政 治家,不能不顾及卡尔梅克人的意愿,但普京也不可能不知道中国政府对达赖的态度,决不会冒然做令中俄关系紧张的事情。法新社1日说,普京一直认同中国西藏 问题立场,认为达赖是“从事国家分裂的政治人物”,去年达赖宣布放弃政治角色,或能让俄改变传统做法。《澳大利亚人报》称,普京7月31日的发言或是“态 度转变的契机”。有外媒称,普京一旦允许达赖访问卡尔梅克,将“对俄中关系构成直接考验。因此,普京发出邀请达赖访俄更多是讨好卡尔梅克人之意。也就是权 宜之计。

It wasn’t clear if Putin also “played the Dalai card” to put pressure on China in negotiations about the price for Russian oil, where there was disagreement between the two sides, writes Feng, and also gives Russia’s alliance with Vietnam a mention. Feng doesn’t describe Russia as a foe, but uses quotes instead to whip up  readers’ paranoia. Referring to Cam Ranh Bay, among other recent issues in the news, Feng quotes analysts:

Russia’s president Putin wants to tie China down and weaken it by inviting the Dalai. It wants to slow Chinese action against Vietnam down, thus giving Russia the opportunity to arm and support Vietnam, and to build military bases in Vietnam.

俄罗斯总统普京想通过达赖来牵制削弱中国,企图通过捏中国的痛处,迫使中国放慢对越南动手的脚步,使俄罗斯能够有机会武装、援助越南,并且有时间在越南建立军事基地。

China and Russia are friendly neighbors, and to promote Sino-Russian friendship is the mainstream volition of the people on both sides. The most important thing in their relations is to respect territorial sovereignty and integrity, and each others core interests. If core interests are involved, contradictions will arise. This author [Feng] believes that both countries’ politicians, facing a complicated international situation, will handle sensitive issues, including those of  the “Dalai Lama card” type, appropriately. Floating clouds won’t blind them, and they will maintain and promote the general situation of Sino-Russian friendship.

中俄是友好邻邦,促进中俄友好是两国的主流民意。两国关系最重要是尊重领土主权完整,尊重双方的核心利益。一旦涉及核心利益,矛盾就会萌生。笔者相信,面对复杂的国际形势,中俄两国政治家会妥善处理包括打“达赖牌”之类的敏感问题,不被浮云遮望眼,保持和推进中俄友好大局。

I’ve sometimes wondered what it may feel like, for the Dalai Lama’s emissaries, to “negotiate” with Chinese cadres. Articles like Feng’s seem to give me a vague idea.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Huanqiu Shibao: is South-East Asia replacing “Made in China”?

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The following are loosely translated extracts from an article by Huanqiu Shibao, published on Friday, and authored by several Huanqiu reporters.

It refers to an UNCTAD 2012 Investment Report, apparently this one, officially published on July 5, 2012.

There is a rising trend at Huanqiu Shibao to provide emoticon votes, rather than opening a commenter thread. This article doesn’t appear to allow online readers’ comments either (there is a button, but it leads nowhere, and there are indeed no comments), although it is hard to see how its topic should be particularly sensitive.

Links within the following paragraphs were added during translation — JR

Main Link: Is South-East Asia replacing “Made in China”? (Huanqiu Shibao, August 10, 2012)

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From Adidas to Oclaro [currently Shenzhen, scheduled to leave for Malaysia within three years], foreign manufacturing investors announce relocations from China to South-East Asia, write the Huanqiu reporters. And a recent UNCTAD report said that in 2011, foreign direct investment (FDI) to South-East Asian nations had reached 117 billion US dollars, an increase by 26 per cent, far more than a rise by less than eight per cent in FDI to China. And Vietnam’s state news agency excitedly announced that the scale of NIKE trainers made in Vietnam now exceeded that of those made in China, making Vietnam the world’s biggest NIKE trainers producer. Currently, Vietnam’s share in NIKE trainers global production was at 41 per cent, with China’s only at 32 per cent. Previously, Adidas had announced it would move its only wholly-foreign-owned factory in China to [correction - 20130729] Cambodia Laos. This causes worries to people at home that international investors could be moving from China to South-East Asia, in terms of manufacturing, writes Huanqiu.

越南国家通讯社日前兴奋地宣称,全球知名体育品牌耐克的运动鞋在越南的生产规模已经超过在中国的生产规模,成为世界最大的耐克鞋生产国。目前,越南生产的耐克运动鞋占耐克运动鞋总量的41%,而在中国生产的耐克运动鞋比例只占32%。此前,阿迪达斯公司也决定关闭中国唯一独资工厂,将工厂搬到柬埔寨。这让国内许多人担心国际资本在制造业方面的投资是否正从中国转向东南亚。

Souvenir from Turkey, made in China

Souvenir from Turkey, made in China

The article then quotes a Chinese garment manufacturer who is sympathetic towards European and American buyers’ demands that he relocate his production to South-East Asia. “I find that understandable – who wouldn’t want to buy at low prices?” (我很理解,谁不希望以更低价格拿到进货呢?) The European Union had allowed duty-free imports from Cambodia from January 2011.

However, a Standard Chartered Bank analyst is also quoted, with more encouraging news for the readers: It was difficult to determine if this was a real shift from China to South-East Asia, as foreign investment in China was rising, too.
A major reason for the slowdown in foreign investment in China was that the global economy had slowed down, and China’s economy along with it, but that didn’t mean that South-East Asia would replace China. Some international companies were seeking diversification, especially because of rising costs in China, and to avoid risks of protectionism against China in some [importing] countries.

尽管国际对东南亚制造业的投资迅速增长,但渣打银行亚洲研究部主管许长泰对《环球时报》记者表示,这并不表明制造业从中国向东南亚的重大转移。他说,对东南亚制造业的外国投资上升,但很难确定这些投资是否是从中国撤出的,因为对中国的外国投资仍然在增长。尽管外资进入中国速度放缓,但主要是由于全球经济形势严峻,中国经济也在放缓,而不是东南亚取代中国。一些国际企业正在寻求多样性的可能,主要是考虑到在中国经商成本的上升,以及为了规避一些国家对“中国制造”采取贸易保护主义措施的风险。

After a discussion of Japanese investment in South-East Asia, the article addresses the challenges it sees for South-East Asia.

Vietnam’s 41 per cent share in Nike’s trainers’ production didn’t spell great practical benefits for the people. A Nike trainer on the Vietnamese market costs about as much as one anywhere else, according to Huanqiu Shibao’s research, and would therefore be out of reach for normal Vietnamese buyers.Besides, Huanqiu’s Hanoi correspondent quotes a 28-year-old worker from the 10th Garment Factory in Hanoi’s suburbs, the monthly income is at 2,500,000 Vietnamese Dongs (1 USD about 21,000 Dongs). That is above the state-defined minimum wage standard, and a free lunch is included as another benefit, but that is mostly spent on her motorcycle rides to and from work (500,000 Dongs monthly spent on gasoline), a monthly flat rental (1,200,000 Dongs), water, energy etc. at 300,000, etc.. Even her and her husband’s incomes combined didn’t pay the bills, when they both worked at the garment factory, and extra jobs needed to make ends meet.

尽管全球41%的耐克运动鞋产自越南,让越南工商界和一些学者颇感高兴,但这些国际巨头的投资并未给越南民众带来太多的实惠。《环球时报》记者在调查中发现,越南市场上销售的耐克鞋价格与国际市场基本持平,普通人基本买不起。而对于为国际资本打工的普通人来说,赚的也都是血汗钱。28岁的阮兰香在位于河内市郊的第10制衣厂工作。每月到手的工资只有250万越南盾(1美元约合2.1万越南盾),尽管这比政府规定的最高工资标准要高,公司中午还提供免费工作餐。但是她给《环球时报》记者算了这样一笔账:骑摩托车上下班每月燃油支出50万越南盾,房租每月120万越南盾,水电费每月30万越南盾……自己的工资都不够维持家里基本生活。因此,原本和她一起在制衣厂打工的丈夫不得不辞去工作,在外面多打几份零工,养家糊口。

Companies like Nike had moved to South-East Asia mainly for lower labor costs and to achieve a maximum profit, writes Huanqiu. Adidas, one of the biggest London Olympic Games sponsor, was facing investigations by the London Organizing Committee not long ago, for allegations that factory workers only earned ten British Pounds a week, and their factory therefore being called a “sweat shop”.

实际上,像耐克这样的国际巨头将生产线移师东南亚,主要是为了充分利用当地较低的劳动力成本优势,实现自己利润的最大化。不久前,伦敦奥运会最大赞助商之一阿迪达斯公司因只向为其生产伦敦奥运会特许商品的柬埔寨服装厂工人支付每周10英镑的工资而被称为“血汗工厂”,目前正面临伦敦奥组委调查。

Dissatisfaction with wages had led to protests among workers in many South-East Asian countries, and after the “Adidas sweat shop” incident, the Cambodian minstry of labor had stipulated that from September 1, factories in the Cambodian textile and shoe industry had to provide an extra amount of five US dollars, a non-leave pay (or attendance bonus) of ten US dollars, seven dollars for transport and living costs etc., which would then amount to 83 US dollars a month as a minimum wage. The Vietnamese government had also adjusted the minimum wages several times in recent years, most recently in October 2011, stipulating that foreign-invested companies needed to pay 2,000,000 Dongs as a monthly minimum, instead of only 1,550,000. But this still didn’t meet the demands of Vietnamese workers. According to statistics by the Vietnamese garment-industry “labor union”, fluctuation within the workforce at state-owned companies was at 15 to 20 per cent, it was at 20 to 30 per cent in some small and medium-sized companies, but at 40 per cent in foreign-invested companies.

同样,东南亚国家制造业发展也面临种种挑战。由于普通工人不满工资低,许多东南亚国家频频爆发工人抗议。阿迪达斯“血汗工厂”事件后,柬埔寨劳工部长发布通告称,9月1日起,柬埔寨的纺织、服装和制鞋工厂应向每名工人每月提供补助金5美元、全勤奖10美元、运输和住宿费7美元等,使每月最低工资达到83美元。越南政府近年来多次上调最低工资标准,最近一次调整是在2011年10月,越南将此前规定的外资企业155万越南盾的最低月工资标准均调整为200万越南盾。尽管如此,仍未达到越南工人的要求。据越南纺织业工会统计,国有大企业工人变动比例为15%至20%;在一些中小企业工人变动比例为20%至30%;而在一些外资企业里,这一比例高达40%。

Also, Huanqiu quotes Jiang Jianhua, the Cambodia Wenzhou Chamber of Commerce’s deputy managing director, as saying that while labor costs in some South-East Asian countries were relatively low, Vietnam’s garment industry’s management costs were close to those in China, and that they didn’t provide a great advantage. Besides [it isn't quite clear from the article if the following should still be attributed to Jiang], Vietnam’s legal system was rather backward, its taxation system not transparent, and these, too, were hampering factors. In Thailand, garment manufacturing costs were too high, frequently higher than even in China, and while Cambodia’s political environment was rather stable and labor costs cheap, investors in Cambodia needed to be mindful about backward infrastructure and a usually low quality among the workforce.

柬埔寨温州商会常务副会长姜建华告诉记者,尽管东南亚一些国家人工成本相对较低,但实际上,越南的服装制造企业的管理成本已经接近中国国内,没有太大优势。此外,越南法律体系相对落后,税收制度不透明也是很大的制约因素。泰国的服装制造企业成本太高,很多地方甚至已经超过中国。柬埔寨的政局相对稳定,人工便宜,但赴柬埔寨投资也需要注意交通基础设施落后以及工人素质普遍不高带来的问题。

It was quite true that the textile industry was gradually shifting to the entire Asia-Pacific region, the article quotes a KPMG report. Rising labor costs in China had compelled multinational companies to look to other parts of Asia, and a number of South-East Asian countries were going to profit from regional integration and preferential terms of trade. But from consumer electronics to furniture and other hardware products, China remained the country of origin. Besides, a Chinese consultant is quoted, most of the South-East Asian countries were rather small, and none of them provided the entire industrial chain. In that regard, there were complementary relations between China and South-East Asia.

国际也十分关注制造业从中国向东南亚转移的迹象。国际著名会计师事务所毕马威日前发布的最新报告称,“中国制造”的成本上升迫使跨国公司在亚洲其他地区寻找新的投资地。由于区域一体化和优惠的贸易条件,许多东南亚国家正日趋成熟,将从最近这一转变中受益。不过,该报告认为,虽然服装和鞋类生产正广泛向整个亚太地区转移,但从消费类电子产品到家具等硬产品仍然来自于中国。

中国正略钧策管理咨询公司副总裁陈睿对《环球时报》记者表示,制造业确实存在从中国向东南亚转移的情况。对外资来说,以出口为导向的企业转移会更快,劳动密集型和资源密集型的制造业会转移到东南亚。但他同时称,东南亚国家一般较小,不可能一国拥有很全的产业链,有些制造业这些国家做不了。从这方面来说,中国和东南亚有一些结构性的互补关系。

Unctad’s latest report also believed that while there was stagnation in foreign direct investment to China in the short term, China remained the place with the highest attractiveness for foreign investment. Some people in the market had also said that the absolute majority of the Made-in-China industry was looking for its own road, i. e. upgrading production or moving to hinterland provinces in China, seeking development there. There were close customer and supplier links between China and other regions, and some manufacturers would continue to rely on China even after relocation, in that they needed to import production equipment from China, or in that they needed China as an export market, for example.

联合国贸发组织最新的报告也认为,短期来看,投资到中国的制造业FDI出现停滞,但是中国仍然是最有吸引力的外国投资目的地。一些市场人士还表示,绝大多数中国制造业也在寻求自己的路,产业升级或向内陆地区寻求发展。而中国与亚洲其他地区开始建立紧密相连的供应链。一些制造产业即便转移后仍依赖中国,比如需要从中国进口生产设备或者依赖对中国市场的出口等。

And a Standard Chartered Bank analyst is quoted as saying that if the manufacturing industry was actually moving to South East Asia still remained unclear. China was more competitive than many South-East Asian nations in terms of logistics infrastructure, and Chinese manufacturers no longer produced for export markets only, but for growing domestic demand, too. Rather than reductions in foreign investment in China, there might rather be more rapid investment in other east Asian markets. Some European and American market participants also said that it was too early to talk about a large-scale manufacturing relocation to South East Asia. However, they also suggested that China should address improvement issues among its suppliers, as timely adjustment from passive to active patterns would be helpful for China’s development.

渣打银行亚洲研究部主管许长泰称,制造业是否会向东南亚转移目前还不明确。首先,中国的物流基础设施仍然比许多东南亚国家更具竞争力。此外,中国的制造商已不再只是为出口而生产,中国国内需求正在发挥日益重要的作用。因此,我们可能看不到生产者减少他们在中国的投资,而是以更快的速度增加其在东南亚和其他市场的投资。一些接触欧美公司的市场人士对记者表示,现在说制造业大规模转移东南亚为时尚早。但中国也要正视自身市场供应优势的变化,及时调整化被动为主动更有利于中国经济的发展。

In the words of the report – apparently this one,

FDI flows to China also reached a record level of $124 billion, and flows to the services sector surpassed
those to manufacturing for the first time. China continued to be in the top spot as investors’ preferred
destination for FDI, according to UNCTAD’s WIPS, but the rankings of South-East Asian economies such
as Indonesia and Thailand have risen markedly. Overall, as China continues to experience rising wages and production costs, the relative ompetitiveness of ASEAN countries in manufacturing is increasing.

FDI outflows from East Asia dropped by 9 per cent to $180 billion, while those from South-East Asia rose
36 per cent to $60 billion. Outflows from China dropped by 5 per cent, while those from Hong Kong, China, declined by 15 per cent. By contrast, outflows from Singapore registered a 19 per cent increase and
outflows from Indonesia and Thailand surged. [page xvi - xvii]

And

FDI inflows to developing Asia continued to grow, while South-East Asia and South Asia
experienced faster FDI growth than East Asia.
The two large emerging economies, China and India, saw inflows rise by nearly 8 per cent and by 31 per cent, respectively. Major recipient
economies in the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) subregion, including
Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, also experienced a rise in inflows. [pages 3 - 4]

As indirectly quoted by Huanqiu Shibao, the report states that

Among the economies of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), four – Brunei
Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore – saw a considerable rise in their FDI inflows. The
performance of the relatively low-income countries, namely Cambodia, the Lao People’s Democratic
Republic and Myanmar was generally good as well, though Viet Nam declined slightly. Although natural
disaster in Thailand disrupted production by foreign affiliates in the country, particularly in the automobile
and electronic industries, and exposed a weakness of the current supply-chain management systems,
FDI inflows to the country remained at a high level of nearly $10 billion, only marginally lower than that of
2010. Overall, as East Asian countries, particularly China, have continued to experience rising wages
and production costs, the relative competitiveness of ASEAN in manufacturing has been enhanced.
Accordingly, some foreign affiliates in China’s coastal regions are relocating to South-East Asia,2
while others are moving their production facilities to inland China. [page 43]

Addressing FDI into Chinese manufacturing in particular, the report states slowing growth as a short-term prospect:

FDI growth in the region has slowed since late 2011 because of growing uncertainties in the global economy. FDI to manufacturing stagnated in China, but the country is increasingly attracting market-seeking FDI, especially in services. According to the annual World Investment Prospects Survey (WIPS) undertaken by UNCTAD this year, China continues to be the most favoured destination of FDI inflows. FDI prospects in South-East Asia remain promising,
as the rankings of ASEAN economies, such as Indonesia and Thailand, have risen markedly in the survey. [page 44]

The report doesn’t only discuss China’s (and other developing countries) as recipients, but also as sources of foreign direct investment.

All in all, the Huanqiu Shibao article appears to be basically assuasive, but still somewhat more “alarming” than the UNCTAD report would seem to warrant. It’s conventional wisdom that China is moving up the value-adding chain, and rising wages are a logical phenomenon in this process. The main goal in terms of propaganda appears to be that the laobaixing, the common people, should continue to push ahead in terms of personal education and qualification, in a competitive global economy. In this context, it also makes sense that websites like “Utopia” remain closed down – a measure which was reportedly criticized, among others, by some 1,600 cadres and scholars who accused chief state councillor Wen Jiabao in particular for closing these sources down, and of subverting the socialist market economy. That Huanqiu Shibao may distrust the outside world appears to be an intended goal (no cohesion within China, without such distrust) – but another intended goal is that the readers accept the challenges posed by global competition, rather than rejecting them in favor of, for example, Maoism.

I hadn’t been a regular reader of Utopia, one of the websites that have been closed since spring this year, but came across an article there some six months before the closures. The article’s author was Gu Genliang, a People’s University (aka Renmin University) professor, and it wasn’t exactly globalization-friendly:

We are mired in heavy dependence on foreign resources and on on our own cheap exports. Large-scale low-end exports consume a lot of energy and natural resources, which led to our country’s dependence on foreign energy and resources which not only made the prices for these sources explode, which transferred the fruits of our people’s hard work into the hands of energy-exporting countries, but also has the potential of making us suffer from foreign countries’ embargos, thus carrying a huge security risk. At the same time, while our country is so reliant on foreign resources, it is ridiculous that we are exporting large quantities of rare earths and minerals coal, etc. at low prices.

The topic of Huanqiu Shibao’s article on ASEAN as a competitor for efficiency-seeking FDI doesn’t look exactly sensitive, but a current anti-”Maoist”, anti-”utopian”, or simply anti-”nostalgia” struggle might help to explain why there is no room for readers’ comments underneath. Such comments could spoil the article’s intended pro-competition message.

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Related

» UNCTAD World Investment Report 2012

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Sunday, August 5, 2012

What Syria and the South China Sea may have in Common

China’s foreign ministry summoned the U.S. Embassy’s deputy chief of mission, Robert Wang, to make “serious representations” about remarks by the US State Department raising concerns over tensions in the disputed South China Sea. The statement by the State Department had been published on Friday, and was authored by Patrick Ventrell at the office of press relations.

Lin Zexu says

Lin Zexu says

While urging all parties to take steps to lower tensions in keeping with the spirit of the 1992 ASEAN Declaration on the South China Sea and the 2002 ASEAN-China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, the press release does, in its criticism of recent developments, emphasize China’s upgrading of the administrative level of Sansha City and establishment of a new military garrison there “in particular”. The statement doesn’t include remarks about the passage of a Vietnamese law earlier this summer, declaring sovereignty over areas of the Spratly and Paracel Islands and to come into effect at the beginning of next year, or the initiation of Vietnamese patrol flights in June this year, for example.

We do not take a position on competing territorial claims over land features and have no territorial ambitions in the South China Sea, says the State Department’s press release of Friday, however, [...]

It’s a pretty elaborate However.

More to the point, the statement does also urge all parties to clarify and pursue their territorial and maritime claims in accordance with international law, including the Law of the Sea Convention.

With the statement, the U.S. positions itself on Vietnam’s side – hence Beijing’s representations -, but stops short of committing itself to practical or military measures that would support Vietnam.

It would help if all claimants were prepared to accept a verdict from the  International Tribunal For the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) – and Xinhua happily points out that not only China is cherry-picking when it comes to international law. If the case was brought to the court by all parties involved, however, and if all parties were prepared to accept the court’s verdict, the judges could hardly refuse to accept the case.

And the mention of international law by the State Department is crucial: after all,  Beijing wants to negotiate with every single claimant, one by one. It wants to control the process not only bilaterally, but in effect unilaterally.

Is it wise for the U.S. to position itself as clearly as the Ventrell statement does? That’s no easy question – and the answer would need to include hints to an American ability not to “disappoint” Hanoi, as this would probably damage the limited and informal alliance with Vietnam.

But anyone who demands or welcomes steps towards democratization in international relations should – logically – welcome both China’s and Russia’s role at the UN when it comes to Syria, and America’s role in the South China Sea.

____________

Related

» China doesn’t object to Hegemonism, July 13, 2012
» Vietnam’s Contributions, Greatly Appreciated, State Department, July 10, 2012

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Monday, July 30, 2012

Cam Ranh Bay: Nothing to Deploy

-

The following are translations from People’s Daily and from the Voice of Russia‘s German service.

Links within blockquotes added during translation.

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People’s Daily, July 30, 2012

Russian president Vladimir Putin said on July 27 that Russia would provide ten billion US dollars in loans to Vietnam, eight billion thereof for the construction of nuclear power plants in Vietnam. Vietnamese state chairman Truong Tan Sang said on the same day that Vietnam will allow Russia to build a ship maintenance base in Cam Ranh Bay. Truong Tan Sang clarified that Russian use of the bay didn’t amount to a military base, but it could help to improve “military cooperation” between the two sides, and agreed with Russia’s proposal to upgrade the two countries’ relations to a a strategic-partnership level.

7月27日,俄罗斯总统普京表示,俄罗斯将向越南提供约100亿美元贷款,其中约80亿美元用于在越南建设核电站。越南国家主席张晋创同日随即称,越方将允许俄罗斯在越南金兰湾港设一处船舶维修基地。虽然,张晋创澄清,俄方所建海上船舶维修基地并非军事基地,但金兰港可用以帮助发展双方之间的“军事合作”,并同意俄方将两国关系提升至战略伙伴关系水平的倡议。

In fact, Putin’s generous loan for Vietnam means to counter American encroachment on Cam Ranh Bay. In June this year, American secretary of defense Leon Panetta made a high-key three-day visit to Vietnam, after participating in the Shangrila Dialog Forum. On June 3, Panetta visited and inspected Cam Ranh Bay’s former American base, thus being the first American secretary of defense after the Vietnam war to visit Cam Ranh Bay. He then separately met with Vietnamese prime minister Nguyen Tan Dung and defense minister Phung Quang Thanh, to explore the prospects of military cooperation between the two countries.

实际上,俄罗斯总统普京对越南慷慨贷款是有针对性的,意在对抗美国染指金兰湾。今年6月,美国国防部长帕内塔出席香格里拉对话会后,便对越南展开为期三天的高调访问。6月3日,帕内塔考察了越南金兰湾的前美军基地,从而成为自越战结束后首位访问金兰湾的美国国防部长。接着他还分别会见了越南总理阮晋勇和国防部长冯光青,探讨了两国的军事合作前景。

At a joint press conference with the Vietnamese defense minister, Panetta publicly said: “Only if Vietnam or the Philippines become powerful, there will be stability in the South-East Asian region.”1) Panetta also said that Cam Ranh Bay was an important harbor bay, and if Vietnam wanted to improve the Cam Ranh Bay area and needed help, America would like to provide help. The U.S. Navy would be interested in visiting Cam Ranh Bay regularly in the future. Panetta emphasized that the purpose of his trip to Vietnam was to establish mutual trust between the two countries and their militaries. America and Vietnam should continue to develop their bilateral relations in all fields, especially in defense and security cooperation. Panetta’s visit, full of symbolic meaning got [a lot of] attention and was seen as a prelude to growing warmth in comprehensive U.S.-Vietnamese military cooperation.

在与越南国防部长冯光青举行的联合记者会上,帕内塔公开表示:“只有越南或菲律宾变得强大,东南亚地区才会稳定。”帕内塔还表示,金兰湾是一个重要的港 湾,如果越南有意改善金兰湾地区且需要帮助,美国愿意提供。美国海军未来有意再次赴金兰湾做定期访问。帕内塔强调说,他越南之行的目的是建立两国和两军之 间的互信。美越应该继续发展各领域的双边关系,特别是在国防和安全合作方面。这次充满象征意义的访问备受关注,被认为是美越军事合作全面升温的前奏。

[...]

Cam Ranh Bay in itself isn’t significant for Vietnam. Its navy currently only has less than ten frigates, and isn’t able to build frigates by itself. Therefore, no matter how beautiful its harbors might be, Vietnam’s navy is also just a theoretically-existing navy. Therefore, the significance of Cam Ranh Bay lies in the stationing of big powers’ fleets there.

对于越南来说,金兰湾本身的意义并不重大。现在的越南海军只有个位数的轻型护卫舰,而且本国连制造这种护卫舰的能力都没有。所以,不管拥有何种良港,越南海军也只是一支理论上存在的海军。所以,金兰湾的意义在于被大国舰队进驻 。

Ever since normalization of its relations with Vietnam, Cam Ranh Bay has been on the Americans’ minds, and they made demands to have Cam Ranh Bay leased to them. Especially in 1992, when America withdrew from its last stronghold – Subic Bay and Clark Air Base in the Philippines -, America wanted to return to Cam Ranh Bay even more. In 1994, U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander Richard Macke addressed the issue of re-opening Cam Ranh Bay as a military base.

自从美国与越南的关系实现正常化以后,美国念念不忘金兰湾,不断向越南提出租用金兰湾的要求。特别是1992年,美军撤出在东南亚地区的最后堡垒———菲律宾苏比克海军基地和克拉克空军基地后,美国更是想重返金兰湾。1994年,美国太平洋舰队司令理查·马克就曾向越方提出在金兰湾重开军事基地的问题。

[...]

It seems that by now, America and Vietnam have made up their minds to cooperate. Panetta said in June that to deploy its warships from its West Coast to the Asia-Pacific region, it just needed to be able to use harbors like Cam Ranh Bay. [...]

目前看来,美国与越南合作的决心已定。帕内塔今年6月份访问越南时表示,美国在把部署在美国西岸的战舰调至亚太地区时,就需要能够使用像越南金兰湾这样的港口。 [...]

As it gains national strength, Russia also prepares to return to Cam Ranh Bay. On October 6, 2010, the Russian Naval Inspection Department “suddenly” said that the Russian Navy bad recently completed its work on material relating to a restoration of Cam Ranh Bay. If possible, Cam Ranh Bay should be used as a naval base again within three years. Russian paper “The Independent” quoted naval sources as saying that would enter a leasing contract to return to Cam Ranh Bay. The leasing period should have a duration of at least 25 years, with a possibility to extend the duration after those 25 years.

随着国力加强,俄罗斯也在做重返金兰湾的准备。2010年10月6日,俄罗斯海军参谋部“突然”表示,俄罗斯海军方面最近已完成了有关恢复金兰湾海军基地工作的资料论证。如果可能,3年内可以重新启用越南金兰湾的海军基地。俄罗斯《独立报》援引海军消息来源的话说,俄罗斯这次会以租赁的形式返回金兰湾。租赁期将至少达25年,而且租赁期满后可延长。

Vietnam’s foreign ministry said many times that it wouldn’t lease Cam Ranh Bay to foreigners, asserting that “Vietnam emphasized many times that it won’t use Cam Ranh Bay for military purposes in cooperation with foreign countries, and will develop the Cam Ranh Bay region’s potential for serving the cause of construction and defense of the country”. But there are also views that when it comes to the fengshui treasure of Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam is waiting for the best bid and has turned Cam Ranh Bay bargaining chip in its game with America, Russia, and even China.

越南外交部多次表示,不会对外出租金兰湾用做军港,声称“越南多次强调不会与外国合作使用金兰湾用于军事目的,而将开发金兰湾地区的潜力,服务于建设和保 卫国家的事业”。但有评论认为,面对金兰湾这块风水宝地,越南是待价而沽,越南已把金兰湾当作与美国、俄罗斯甚至中国博弈的筹码。

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Voice of Russia (German service), July 30, 2012

Russia, or its official media, seem to see Cam Ranh as a future naval base, anyway. At least, that’s how a Russian press review by the Voice of Russia’s German service comes across (even if with one or two side blows at the Russian navy). However, the story may already be superseded by more remarks from Moscow which deny that Cam Ranh Bay would become a full military base, and from Vietnamese state chairman Truong, who remarked (also to the Voice of Russia, reportedly) that the ship repair and maintenance facilities at Cam Ranh Bay will be available to all friendly navies and can be used to deepen military cooperation between Hanoi and Moscow. Anyway, the Voice of Russia reported [earlier] that

Russia intends to establish as many as three naval bases abroad. [The return] to the Vietnamese harbor Cam Ranh and to the Cuban harbor of Lourdes are planned. The admirals may rather prefer the Seychelles, which are popular with tourists. Experts view this as future plans, however, as currently, the country [Russia] has nothing to deploy there.

Russland hat vor, gleich drei Marinestützpunkte im Ausland einzurichten. Geplant ist [die Rückkehr] in dem vietnamesischen Hafen Cam Ranh und den kubanischen Hafen Lourdes. Die Admiräle werden wohl die bei den Touristen populären Seychellen-Inseln vorziehen. Experten bewerten dies aber als Zukunftspläne, weil heute das Land einfach über nichts verfügt, was es in den ausländischen Stützpunkten stationieren könnte.2)

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Notes

1) From the U.S. Department of Defense transcript:

And the goal of the United States — let me make clear — is to advance exactly what the general referred to, advance the independence and the sovereignty of all nations in this region. It is in the interest of stability — it’s in the interest of stability to have a strong Vietnam, a strong Indonesia, a strong Philippines, a strong Singapore and strong nations throughout the Asia-Pacific region. Frankly, the most destabilizing situation would be if we had a group of weak nations and only the United States and China were major powers in this region.

2) Voice of Russia (Stimme Russlands), July 30, 10:10 GMT, 15700 kHz.
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Related

» Not a Military Base, Vietnam Net, July 29, 2012
» Keeping an Angry Readership posted, July 28, 2012
» Cam Ranh Bay, Wikipedia, accessed July 30, 2012

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Saturday, July 28, 2012

Keeping an Angry Readership Posted: Will Vietnam become an American Ally?

Soft power is something China’s leaders want to build both abroad and at home – those among China’s leaders who care about the concept, anyway. Huanqiu Shibao, the trade journal for angry nationalists, tries to involve its angry readers, and is quite probbly following a consensus between a number of stakeholders (not least the propaganda department).

When reading Huanqiu Shibao these days, it feels a bit like reading a copy of Reader’s Digest from the 1960s (I still got some on the attic), and I’m pretty sure that Huanqiu’s more recent approach is modelled after that perfect exemplar of the monolithic conformist Eisenhower ’50s – only from a very different kind of conservatism.

In short, and only my personal, rough working hypothesis of course, Huanqiu has begun a shift away from angry articles on how to become America’s adequate adversary, to the sedate, even-handed and self-confident voice of a rising superpower.

The readership, however, may not change that easily – not if the commenter threads are anything to go by.

It may not exactly be the approach Cheng Tianquan suggests – making Chinese “citizens” participate in foreign affairs -, but at least a try to calm netizens down when it comes to diplomatic issues, as Zhao Qizheng, a public-diplomacy expert, advised earlier this year.

The following are excerpts from a Huanqiu Shibao interview with Qi Jianguo (齐建国), China’s former ambassador to Vietnam.

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Main Link: Vietnam won’t become America’s “ally”, published by Huanqiu Shibao on July 26, 2012. Links within blockquote added during translation – JR

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[Editor's note]

Editor’s note: Recently, the establishment of Sansha City in the Paracel Islands was officially established. This lead to “protests” from the Philippines and Vietnam. America also expressed “concern”. The South China Sea situation once again attracted attention. Looking at the entire South China Sea dispute, people can’t help but ask themselves this question: if the Philippines become America’s ally, with American forces protecting it, thus being “able” to deal with China, couldn’t Vietnam, a country from the “socialist camp” and with intense and deep-seated hatred for the U.S. thirty years ago, do likewise?

编者按:日前,中国海南省三沙市在西沙群岛的永兴岛正式成立,引来菲律宾、越南的“抗议”,美国也表示“担忧”,南海局势再度引发关注。回顾整个南海争端,人们不禁会产生这样一个疑问:如果说菲律宾作为美国的盟国,有联合美国势力来保护自己、对付中国的“可能”,那么,越南作为“社会主义阵营”的国家,而且30多年前曾与美国有“血海深仇”,它有这个可能吗?

After Vietnam and America established diplomatic relations, their relations warmed quickly during the past few years. On the South China Sea dispute, America also openly expressed support for Vietnam, and Hillary Clinton openly praised Vietnam’s reforms. One could see Vietnam and America approaching this point of “ability”. However, what is the current situation like? Could Vietnam throw itself completely into America’s arms and become America’s “ally”? Concerning Vietnam’s foreign and domestic political issues, Huanqiu Shibao’s review channel recently interviewed China’s former ambassador to Vietnam, and Asia-Pacific Research Center director Qi Jianguo. The record of the interview will be published in instalments.

越美建交后,两国关系在近年来急速升温,在南海争端上,美国也公开表示支持越南,希拉里还公开赞扬越南的改革,我们看到,越美两国似乎在向着那个“可能”走近。然而,现实情况到底怎样呢?越南会完全投入美国的怀抱、成为美国的“盟国”吗?针对越南的外交内政问题,环球网评论频道近日专访了中国前驻越南大使、亚太研究中心主任齐建国,专访稿件将分期刊出,敬请关注!

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[The interview]

Q: After the establishment of diplomatic relations between America and Vietnam, the relations between the two countries have become warmer. Which factors brought the two countries closer together?

美国越南正式建交之后,两国关系逐渐升温,是什么因素吸引两国走得越来越近?

A: Vietnam and America established diplomatic relations in 1995, 17 years ago. Objectively speaking, their relationship went from a mutually cool attitude to a warm one. Two examples: trade and politics. As for trade, America has lifted the trade embargo since 1994, but up until 2000, after only six years of diplomatic relations, a trade agreement was signed. That’s to say, relations wer very normal then. Politically speaking – I had become ambassador in Vietnam by then – American president Clinton visited Vietnam to promote progress in their relations, but because Clinton talked a lot about so-called democracy, human rights etc., points of view Vietnam couldn’t accept, then Vietnam CP secretary Le Kha Phieu criticized these views in their meetings with Clinton, and the meetings ended on rather bad terms. Later, America’s ambassador to Vietnam held an informal meeting. He wasn’t satisfied at all, and said that the last meeting had been “stupid”. He called secretary general Le Kha Phieu a “conservative, tough old man”. This shows that in fact, from 1995 to 2000, through all those years, the bilateral ties had been rather cold.

越南和美国1995年建交,今年是第17个年头。客观地说,越美建交以后,经历了一个从相对冷淡到逐渐升温的过程。这里我举两个例子:经贸和政治。在经贸上,美国从1994年解除对越南的贸易禁令,但一直到2000年,双方建交6年后,才签了双边贸易协定,这说明当时关系非常一般;在政治上,2000年,——那时,我已到越南当大使——美国总统克林顿访问越南,本来是打算推动双边关系取得进展,但因克林顿在各种场合讲了很多所谓民主、人权等越南不能接受的观点,所以,当时越共中央总书记黎可漂在会见中对克林顿的上述言论进行了一系列批判,会见不欢而散。后来,美国驻越南大使搞了个吹风会,他很不满意,说最后一场会见是“愚蠢”的,把黎可漂总书记形容为“保守、强硬的老头儿”。这些都显示出,实际上从1995年到2000年这么多年,双方关系比较冷淡。

Only another five years later, in 2005, ten years after the establishment of diplomatic relations, Vietnam’s prime minister Phan Van Khai visited America. It was the first visit by a Vietnamese leader after the end of the Vietnam war thirty years earlier, and this marked the complete normalization of Vietnamese-American relations. In 2006, as Vietnam hosted the informal meeting of APEC leaders, American president Bush visited Vietnam. After that visit, America gave Vietnam the most-favored nation status (MFN), a status of permanent normal trading, and after that, Vietnamese-American relations moved to a stage of rapid development. Particularly during the past two years, as America accelerated the pace of its return to the Asia-Pacific region, the relations clearly warmed.

又过了5年,到双方建交10周年的时候,2005年,越南总理潘文凯访问美国,这是越战30年以后越南领导人首次访问美国,这才标志着越美关系完整地实现了正常化。2006年,在越南召开了APEC非正式领导人会议,美国总统布什顺访了越南。访问之后,美国就给了越南最惠国待遇,永久性的正常贸易关系的地位,从此以后,越美关系走向了快速发展的阶段。特别是近两年来,随着美国重返亚太步伐加快,越美关系明显升温。

Generally speaking, the warming relations between the two countries were a matter of the past few years. It should be said that the background reason was America’s strategic adjustment. The two sides both hope to develop the relations continuously, with both sides having certain requirements [to each other], which led to the relations as they are today.

总的来说,两国关系升温是近几年的事情。要说背后的原因,就是美国的战略调整。双方都有进一步发展关系的愿望,在战略上互有所求,就出现了今天的关系。

Q: What do the two countries want to get from each other? And can they obtain these things?

两国都想从对方那里得到什么?能不能得到?

A: This needs to be looked at from the background of America’s strategic adjustment. What America wants to get in its shift to the East, or its return to the Asia-Pacific region, is – besides strengthening relations with allies like Japan, South Korea, Australia, the Philippines, and Thailand – the strengthening of relations with “new partners”. That’s America’s new need. As for Vietnam’s relations with America, a strategic position is very important. In America’s view, Vietnam is a new partner. At present, the two sides both prepare the advancement of their relations to “strategic cooperation and partnership”, and make efforts to these ends. For America, the main issue isn’t what to get from trade, but it mainly shows in how it uses Vietnam’s important strategic position.

这个问题要从美国战略调整的背景下来看,美国想得到,比如:美国战略东移或叫重返亚太,它除了要加强同日、韩、澳大利亚、菲律宾、泰国等盟国的关系,还要加强同“新伙伴”的关系,这是它的新需求,而越南对美国来讲,战略地位很重要,在美国心目中,越南就是它的新伙伴。目前,越美双方都提出来准备将两国关系提升为“战略合作伙伴关系”,两国在向这个方向努力。对于美国来讲,从经贸上要得到多少不是主要的,主要表现在利用越南的重要战略地位。

Vietnam wants to get a lot from America, both politically and economically. Vietnam hopes that America will gradually abandon its peaceful-evolution towards it, it hopes for support concerning the South China Sea, and of course it also hopes for economic advantages. Currently, America is Vietnam’s biggest export market, and Vietnam’s biggest foreign-trade surplus is the one with America. China has been Vietnam’s biggest trading partner for seven consecutive years, and Vietnam’s biggest trade deficit is the one with China. Vietnam’s trade surplus with the U.S. can’t make up for the deficit with China.

越南想从美国那里得到的很多,有政治上的,也有经济上的。越南希望美国能逐渐放弃对它的和平演变,希望在南海问题上支持它,当然也希望能在经济上得到好处。现在,美国是越南最大的出口市场,越南在对美贸易中顺差最大。中国连续7年是越南的第一大贸易伙伴,越南在对华贸易中逆差最大,越南对美国贸易的顺差全补到对中国的逆差中都不够。

When it comes to what the two sides can or can’t get from each other what they hope to get, this can’t be considered all at once. This needs to be analyzed issue by issue. What can Vietnam get? It can get advanced technology from America, more investment, even American support concerning the South China Sea. As far as that’s concerned, America is already openly supportive. But it can’t get promises and assurances from America to the end that America “won’t overthrow the communist leadership, and won’t change its socialist system”.

至于双方能不能得到自己所想要的,这不能一概而论,要具体问题具体分析。越南能得到什么?越南可以从美国那里得到先进的技术、更多的投资,甚至在南海问题上得到美国支持,这方面,美国已经公开支持了。但它得不到美国“不推翻越南共产党的领导、不改变它社会主义制度”的承诺和保证。

As for America, it can use Vietnam’s strategic position to broaden its influence in South-East Asia, make it serve its strategic adjustment, but it won’t get a promise to establish its military bases there. At best, their navy will have so-called supplies from Cam Ranh Bay. I experienced something about Cam Ranh Bay myself. It was an American naval base, originally. After the Vietnam war, the Soviet Union took it over, and by 2004, the Russians had completely withdrawn, as the Vietnamese defense ministry itself officially informed me: “From now on, Cam Ranh Bay won’t be leased out to any third country, our Chinese comrade can be at ease about that.” In my view, this Vietnamese commitment has not changed. Cam Ranh Bay won’t be what some people believe it could be – there’s no way that, in the wake of the warming ties, the U.S. navy would use Cam Ranh Bay the way they used it in the past.

对于美国来说,它可以利用越南的战略地位来扩大自己在东南亚的影响,为它的战略调整服务,但它得不到在越南建立军事基地的承诺,顶多是所谓的美国军舰到包括金兰湾在内的越南港口补给。在金兰湾的问题上,我曾亲身经历过一件事,金兰湾原来是美国的军事基地,越战结束后苏联接管,到2004年俄罗斯全部撤退,越南国防部就正式向我通报:“从此以后,金兰湾不会再租给任何第三国,请中国同志放心。”我认为到现在为止,越南的这个承诺还没有变化。金兰湾不会像有的人说的那样,随着越美军事关系的升温,美国要像过去那样使用金兰湾,这是绝不可能的。

[Further remarks on two further questions: U.S.-Vietnamese ties will remain close for the foreseeable future, but ideologically, there is no difference between the way America views China and Vietnam respectively.]

Q: There are views that America wants to use the South-China-Sea dispute and the resulting warming relations with Vietnam to change ["evolutionize", 演变] Vietnam – that it wants to achieve what they didn’t achieve with the Vietnam war. How do you view this?

有种观点认为,美国想借助南海问题升温两国关系从而演变越南,达到越战时没达到的目的,您怎么看?

A: I can’t really agree with this view, because the relations and the ideologies between the two countries are different in character: one is about the way the two countries’ relations would develop further, and one is about another country’s nature. The latter issue, for the Vietnamese CP, is one of life and death. Generally speaking, these to issues are different in that one is about benefit, and one is about life and death. Even if America should have these ideas, to achieve peaceful evolution by supporting Vietnam in the South China Sea dispute, it will find it hard to achieve.

我不敢赞同这个观点,因为两国关系和意识形态是性质不同的问题:一个是越美两国关系向前发展的问题,一个是要改变另一个国家性质的问题。后一个问题,对于越共来讲,是生死存亡的问题。概括来讲,这两个问题一个是利益问题,一个是生死存亡的问题。即使美国有这个想法,想通过升温两国关系、在南海问题上支持越南来实现和平演变,它也很难做到。

I believe that the ideological influence on both countries is big, and fundamental. To use an example from my time as ambassador to Vietnam: after the establishment of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and America, the period when America wanted to achieve evolution, relations became cold. During the first years of the 21rst century, America supported independence for Vietnam’s four western provinces by preaching the gospel of freedom etc. Several thousand people came to the provincial parliaments for so-called establishment of national parliaments. This resulted in bloodshed and were then suppressed. It is said that America had supported those people financially. [...]

我认为,意识形态对两国关系发展影响很大,是个根本性的问题。我举个例子,是我在任驻越大使期间发生的。越美建交以后,本来两国关系将要度过冷淡时期而迈开实质性步伐了,结果美国要对越南进行和平演变,一下两国关系又冷却下来了。21世纪的最初几年,美国曾几次通过福音教传教自由等活动支持越南西部地区四省闹独立,有几千人到一个省的省会参加所谓一个国家的成立大会,结果发生了流血事件,后来被镇压下去了。据说美国对那些人还提供了资金帮助。[...]

Neither will, for a long time to come, America give up its plans to change Vietnam’s socialist system, nor will Vietnam give up [or in, to these American plans]. Ideological differences remain the biggest restricting obstacle in the two countries’ relations.

可以说,在今后比较长的时期之内,要让美国放弃改变越南社会主义制度的计划是不可能的,同时要让越南放弃对美国和平演变的防范,也是不可能的。意识形态仍是制约两国关系发展的最大障碍。

[Further remarks: the shadows of the Vietnam War keep lingering, even if "hate-America" feelings in Vietnam aren't particularly strong (在今天的越南,“仇美”的社会情绪应该说有,但不是特别的强烈。). Vietnam attaches importance to developing ties with big countries in general, among "three priorities, since the beginning of the century: ties with neighboring countries, ties with traditionally friendly countries, and with big countries - 三个“优先发展”:优先发展同邻国的关系、优先发展同传统友好国家的关系、优先发展同大国的关系 - Vietnamese-U.S. ties would continue to warm as the America made its return to the Asia-Pacific region.]

Q: How much potential is there in Vietnam-U.S. economic relations? How much benefit can America provide for Vietnam?

越美之间经济往来的潜力有多大?美国能给越南带来多少好处?

A: I believe there’s great potential with broad perspectives. Two examples: one big obstacle in Vietnamese-American trade was removed in 1994, the trade embargo. After that, the trade cooperation went through three stages. From 1994 to July 2001, it was the first stage. Then, after the removal of the embargo, the two countries signed their bilateral trade agreement, that was the second stage, from July 2001 to May 2006. Then the two countries signed an agreement for Vietnam’s accession to the WTO, which meant permanent normalization of Vietnam’s position as a trading partner. From 2006 to now, with most-favored-nation status for Vietnam, their trade cooperation entered the phase of quick development.

我认为,越美的经济合作潜力巨大,前景广阔 with broad perspectives。我举两个例子:一个是越美开展经济往来的障碍彻底消除了,1994年美国取消对越南的贸易禁令 Embargo 以后,两国的经贸合作关系经历了3个阶段:1994年到2001年7月份,这是第一个阶段,从取消贸易禁令到越美两国签订“双边贸易协定”;2001年7月到2006年5月,是第二个阶段,越美签了越南入世的协定,这意味着美国已经给了永久的“正常贸易关系地位”;2006年到现在,是第三个阶段,美国给了它最惠国待遇之后,越美经贸合作进入快速发展时期。

Also, Vietnam’s and America’s economies are highly complementary to each other. Goods Vietnam imports from the U.S., like planes, machinery and electronic products, chemical fertilizers, cotton, etc., and exports of textiles, clothing, footwear, frozen shrimps and petroleum products, that’s highly complementary. From 2000, when the bilateral trade agreement was signed, to 2005, within those five years, their trade went up from 1.4 billion to 7.6 billion dollars, of which 6.5 billion came from Vietnamese exports to America. As soon as in 2005, Vietnam’s trade surplus with America reached 5.4 billion US dollars.

另外,越美经济上互补性也很强。越南从美国进口的产品,包括飞机、机电产品、化肥、棉花等等,向美国出口纺织品、服装、鞋类、冷冻虾和石油产品等等,互补性很强。从2000年双边贸易协定签之后到2005年,这5年之内,越美贸易额从14亿美元增加到76亿,其中越南出口美国65亿,仅2005年越南顺差就达54亿多美元。

In 2011, Vietnam-U.S. trade exceeded twenty billion dollars, and Vietnam’s trade surplus with America was biggest, ten billion dollars. Besides, there is foreign direct investment from America, at least twelve billion U.S. dollars. Therefore, America isn’t only Vietnam’s biggest export market, but also one of its biggest investors.

2011年,越美贸易超过了200亿美元,越南对美贸易的顺差最大,有一百多亿美元。此外,还有美国对越南的直接投资,至少120亿美元。因此,美国不仅是越南最大的出口市场,同时也是越南最大的投资方之一。

Interview conducted and edited by Wang Jingtao (王京涛).

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Related

» Only a Great Importer is a Great Power, May 17, 2012

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