Is Vietnam on the cusp of change?

Is Vietnam on the cusp of change?Four successive party congresses have just kicked the ball down the road. They’ve redistributed positions mainly with a view to preserving factional balance. The leadership has been left deadlocked on core issues: Vietnam’s stance toward China and other powers, the state’s role in the economy and whether party actions should be subject to review by…

Under Fire, Vietnam’s Dung Fires Back

Under Fire, Vietnam’s Dung Fires BackOn Dec. 18, while the Central Committee of the Vietnamese Communist party (CPV) was meeting in another effort to agree on who will lead the nation for the next five years, a document was leaked to Anh Ba Sam, a Vietnamese political blog that averages nearly 100,000 hits daily.  Nine pages long, it purports to…

Laos’s Threat to the Mekong River

Laos’s Threat to the Mekong RiverIn the Mekong River’s 4,800 km journey from the snow-capped mountains of Tibet to Vietnam delta, the Sipandon area in southern Laos stands out as a critical part of the river‘s ecosystem, blessed by raging waterfalls, picturesque islands and a small colony of endangered freshwater dolphins. Sipandon – meaning 4,000 Islands – is an area…

Activists beaten, robbed by paramilitaries in Vietnam

Activists beaten, robbed by paramilitaries in VietnamVietnam continues to pay a disheartening lack of attention to human rights violations despite continuing promises that the situation would improve with passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which contains language covering abuses, as the ordeal of a Hanoi-based human rights lawyer and his associates demonstrates. On Dec. 6, Nguyen Van Dai, a human rights lawyer…

Vietnam Heads for Paris with Dirty Hands

Vietnam Heads for Paris with Dirty HandsVietnam belongs to the sad club of countries whose small carbon footprints offer no protection against bleak climate futures. Only the low-lying Netherlands—a country with a GDP five times Vietnam's—stands to lose as much land from a slight rise in sea levels. Given the stakes, Vietnam might be expected to walk into Paris with a…

Opinion: Civil Liberties in Vietnam: Half-Full Glass

Opinion: Civil Liberties in Vietnam: Half-Full GlassHuman Rights Watch is upset that Hanoi is revising "its already draconian criminal code."  Parsing a recent report to Vietnam's National Assembly by the Minister of Public Security, the New York-based advocacy group discerned that "Vietnam will return to its policy of stamping out dissent now that the (Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact) is in place."…

TPP May Not Help Rights Activists in Vietnam

TPP May Not Help Rights Activists in VietnamAlthough the government of Vietnam has agreed to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which the Obama administration in Washington has advocated as a vehicle to improve human rights in member countries, there is precious little evidence of it on the ground in Vietnam. Many of Vietnam’s greatest intellects, independent voices, and enduring spirits remain in jail…

Vietnam Must Reassess South China Sea Strategy

Vietnam Must Reassess South China Sea StrategyChinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Hanoi this week comes at a time when Beijing’s efforts to change the status quo in the South China Sea through the construction of manmade islands has raised tensions across the region. Only Beijing sees the “nine-dash line” it uses to advance its claim to 90 percent of the…

Vietnam Eyes Greater International Integration

Vietnam Eyes Greater International IntegrationFor the first time since Vietnam opened up to the world in the late 1980s, the country’s trajectory could shape the geopolitics of Southeast Asia in significant ways. What that trajectory ought to look like has been a topic of intense discussion among Vietnamese leaders in recent months, as the country gears up for the…

Threat Rises of Another Viet-China War

Threat Rises of Another Viet-China WarThe risk of a military confrontation between China and Vietnam is rising over a long string of issues, according to Joshua Kurlantzick, a Senior Fellow at the US-based think-tank the Council on Foreign Relations, who points out that the previous half-dozen years have led to a growing arms race in the region that is exacerbating…