Asia Times Online
By Richard Javad Heydarian
MANILA – China’s recent controversial announcement of an air defense identification zone (ADIZ) covering disputed island features in the East China Sea has raised concerns in Southeast Asia that Beijing will soon invoke a similar measure for the hotly contested South China Sea.
The ADIZ encompasses the contested leodo/Suyan rock as well as the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea, helping to set China on a sharper collision course with Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, as well as the United States.
Southeast Asian claimants in the South China Sea, particularly the Philippines and Vietnam, have reportedly been alarmed by China’s expressed willingness to “adopt defensive emergency measures to respond to aircraft that do not cooperate in the identification or refuse to follow the instructions”.
China’s Defense Ministry’s announcement said that it will “establish other air defense identification zones at an appropriate time after completing preparations”. To Manila and Hanoi, these statements signal that China intends to eventually adopt an ADIZ over the contested Paracel and Spratly islands and other features in the South China Sea.
Given the lopsided power asymmetry between China and its Southeast Asian neighbors, neither the Philippines nor Vietnam possesses credible indigenous deterrence against China’s prospective announcement of an ADIZ in the South China Sea.
3rd December 2013
Deutsche Bank no longer holds any significant stock in Vietnamese rubber giant Hoang Anh Gia Lai (HAGL) Global Witness has learned. The decision comes after the campaign group’s research revealed a wide range of environmental and human rights abuses in HAGL’s plantations in Cambodia and Laos. However the bank would not confirm if the decision came in response to Global Witness’ call last week for HAGL’s investors to divest following repeated failure to address these concerns.
“Deutsche Bank has refused to explain why it has dropped its stake in HAGL, but we were informed of its decision just six days after making our recommendation that they divest. This move sends a clear message to HAGL and other companies that lack of action to stamp out this kind of abuse is unacceptable and poses a financial and reputational risk to investors,” said Global Witness’ Megan MacInnes.(1)
Deutsche Bank has invested in HAGL for many years, and its subsidiary (Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas) acted as HAGL’s depository bank when the company listed on the London Stock Exchange in 2011. In May 2013, Global Witness’s Rubber Barons report revealed how the company, one of Vietnam’s biggest, was routinely bulldozing local communities’ land and clearing large areas of intact forest.
Since August 2012, Global Witness has made repeated requests to HAGL to bring its operations in line with local law, resolve disputes with affected communities and publicly disclose details of their concessions. Despite making a range of commitments when the report was launched, Global Witness’ consultations with villagers affected by the company’s concessions indicate that very little has improved on the ground.(2)
Martin Petty /Reuters11/28/2013
HANOI (Reuters) – The Vietnam of today wasn’t what Le Hieu Dang had hoped for when he joined the Communist Party 40 years ago to liberate and rebuild a country reeling from decades of war and French and U.S. occupation.
The socialist system of the late revolutionary Ho Chi Minh has been corrupted, he says, by a shift to a market economy tightly controlled by one political party that has given rise to a culture of graft and vested interests.
“I fought in the war for a better society, a fair life for people. But after the war, the country has worsened, the workers are poor, the farmers have lost their land,” Dang told Reuters.
“It’s unacceptable. We have a political monopoly and a dictatorship running this country.”
Opinions like this might be normal in many countries. But in Vietnam, where politics is taboo, free speech is stifled and the image of unity in the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) sacrosanct, analysts say the significance of comrades speaking out publicly cannot be understated.
The CPV-dominated National Assembly on Thursday approved amendments to a 1992 constitution that, despite a public consultation campaign, entrench the party’s grip on power at a time when discontent simmers over its handling of land disputes, corruption and an economy suffocated by toxic debt amassed by state-run firms.
Dang is vehemently against the amendments, and not alone in his views, which are of the kind that have landed dozens of people in jail as part of a crackdown that’s intensified as dissent has risen and internet usage soared to a third of the 90 million population.
For Immediate Release
New UN Human Rights Council Member Not Living Up to Commitments
(New York, December 3, 2013) – The amended constitution Vietnam adopted on
November 28, 2013, failed to address popular aspirations for change and reform,
Human Rights Watch said today. Vietnam’s donors and development partners should
redouble their efforts to press the Vietnamese government for constitutional
and legal reforms to protect basic rights, such as freedom of expression and
When the amendment process began on January 2, the Vietnamese government
and National Assembly urged members of the public to make recommendations for
changing the constitution. Hundreds of thousands of people responded, in an
unprecedented display of public participation in a legal reform process in
Vietnam. Many comments were critical of the ruling Vietnamese Communist Party,
with large numbers of calls for ending one-party rule and instituting genuine
periodic elections. On October 22, Human Rights Watch sent a letter to Vietnam’s
National Assembly urging it to accept amendments to promote and protect rights.
“While proposed amendments were vigorously debated, hard-liners prevailed
and the new constitution has tightened the ruling party’s grip,” said Brad Adams, Asia
director at Human Rights Watch. “Instead of responding to popular demands and
international human rights commitments, Vietnam remains a one-party state with
a constitution that allows authorities to restrict basic rights on vague
grounds whenever it suits them.”
Hanoi, 29 November 2013.
Members of the press, ladies and gentlemen,
I am very pleased to share with you my preliminary observations at the end of my 12-day official visit as the UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights.
Let me begin by warmly thanking the Government of Viet Nam for inviting me and for their extensive work in facilitating a comprehensive and interesting programme of work.
I wish to stress how important this invitation is. Ensuring the enjoyment of cultural rights by all is a complex issue and not an easy task to accomplish. This was demonstrated by various topics I have addressed during my visit: the right to enjoy the arts and to freedom of artistic expression and creativity, the right of people to manifest their cultural identity and to access and enjoy their own cultural heritage as well as that of others, history teaching in schools, and the impact of tourism on the enjoyment of cultural rights.
During my stay in Viet Nam, I visited Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Hoi An and Sa Pa, as well as a few villages in the Da Nang, Quang Nam and Lao Cai Provinces. I had the opportunity to hold meetings with numerous Government officials at the national and local levels, responsible in the areas of culture and tourism, education, information and communication, ethnic minorities, as well as various officials of People’s committees, the Central Commission for Propaganda and Education of the Party’s Central Committee, representatives of the National Assembly and Unions. I also met with artists, academics, directors and staff working in research institutes or cultural institutions, representatives of civil society, members of ethnic communities, people involved in the tourism industry and UN agencies. I would like to thank them all for their time, warm hospitality, and, above all, the wealth of information they shared with me.
Read more: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=14035&LangID=E