Vietnam - News & Discussions

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Vietnam - News & Discussions

Postby RajeshA » 14 Oct 2010 20:57

Considering that Vietnam is going to be India's new best friend for the next decades, I thought it appropriate that we all ought to get better acquainted with Vietnam. Hence this thread.

India and Vietnam has had historic relations. Defence Minister A.K. Antony was in Vietnam just recently and concluded several agreements. Later this month our Honorable Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh would be visiting Hanoi for the India-ASEAN summit and the EAS meeting, both being hosted by Vietnam.

There will be much happening. The Look East Policy Tree sown by PVNR is now starting to bear fruit.

Please support in making this thread a success.

Personal narratives of experience with Vietnam and Vietnamese would be especially appreciated.

Thanks

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Re: Vietnam - News & Discussions

Postby RajeshA » 14 Oct 2010 21:00

X-Posting from Managing Chinese Threat Thread

Published on Oct 14, 2010
India for Asean alliance to counter ‘aggressive’ China: Hindustan Times
In a calibrated assertion against China’s increasing military assertiveness, India will strengthen its cooperation with countries in the extended neighbourhood, especially in the ASEAN (Association for Southeast Asian Nations) region, without escalating tensions, said highly placed government sources.

India is getting closer to countries such as Japan, South Korea and Vietnam, which have tense relations with China. However, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said India aims that "the engagement quotient in the ties (with China) should go up and the confrontation quotient should come down."

In Washington, India’s ambassador to the United States, Meera Shankar was far more direct. "We are somewhat concerned over — and it’s not directed towards India — increasing Chinese assertiveness in terms of Chinese behaviour vis-à-vis many issues on which it may have difference with its neighbouring countries,” she said.

Answering questions after her talk on Indo-US relations at the George Washington University, Shankar also added that there were concerns about ‘capacities’ the Chinese were building. “There are concerns about transparency, intentions and the purposes for which these capacities are being built,” she said.

India is keenly watching the unraveling power play in China, in which the army is becoming more assertive.

"Much depends on the internal calculus in China. The role of People’s Liberation Army (PLA), the Chinese army is becoming more muscular, more assertive,” a senior government source said.

As a counter, India is seeking to strengthen the cooperation with its neighbours—both extended as well as immediate (for instance, Indonesia, a key ASEAN member) — with huge resources and strong cultural synergies. Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhyono will be the chief guest at next year’s Republic Day parade in Delhi. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will be going to Malaysia this month and later to Vietnam for the East Asia summit and Japan for a bilateral summit.

India on Wednesday announced a slew of measures to expand its defence ties with Vietnam, including joint training of armies and support to strengthen and upgrade the capabilities of the Vietnamese armed forces. Defence Minister AK Antony, who is in Hanoi, met Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and his Vietnamese counterpart General Phung Quang Thanh.

China is actively engaged in Sri Lanka, Nepal, Pakistan and Myanmar, fostering economic ties and pumping investments, to India’s discomfort.

China’s recent actions on Kashmir have caused heartburn in Delhi. Though China has officially maintained that Kashmir should be resolved through a dialogue between India and Pakistan, its recent moves have virtually endorsed Pakistan’s claim on Kashmir.

The issue of stapled visa to the residents of Jammu & Kashmir as well as Beijing aiding projects in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir are reflective of such a “mutated stance”, these sources said.

These issues have resulted in India putting on hold all defence exchanges barring the border personnel meeting. The immediate provocation for that was Northern Army commander Let Gen B S Jaswal, whose jurisdiction includes Kashmir, not getting a visa to travel to China.


So, is India getting her act together?! The recent GoI interactions with South Korea, Japan, Vietnam and Indonesia are encouraging. What sometimes happen is that after much fanfare GoI starts an initiative, but soon loses interest and the files gather dust in some bureaucrats office.

India still has miles to go before we have a credible Asian Security Alliance in place. But 'Bravo' indeed!

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Re: Vietnam - News & Discussions

Postby RajeshA » 14 Oct 2010 21:01

X-Posting from Managing Chinese Threat Thread

Originally posted by kmkraoind
Published on Oct 14, 2010
By Manu Pubby
Vietnam offers repair services for Indian warships: Indian Express
In a significant gesture, Vietnam has offered repair and maintenance facilities for Indian warships at its ports, taking bilateral military relations up several notches. After a meeting with Defence Minister A K Antony in Hanoi, his counterpart Gen Phung Quang Thanh welcomed more port calls by the Indian Navy and offered maintenance and repair facilities for warships at Vietnam ports.

This would extend a major advantage to the Indian Navy that has been scaling up operations in the region, specially in the South China Sea where several patrols have been carried out in the past few years. Vietnam is strategically located in the region and has several sea ports, including Hai Phong, located near China’s Hainan island, that could be of great interest to India.

Hai Phong is possibly the nearest port made available for the Indian Navy to the Hainan island where the biggest Chinese naval base in the region is located. China has constructed a major naval base that includes an underground facility that can hide the movement of submarines from spy satellites.

The military facility, the nearest Chinese naval base to India, is located barely 1,200 nautical miles from the strategic Mallaca strait and provides access to the Indian Ocean — a region that New Delhi considers its personal security responsibility. In 2008, China deployed its new Jin-class nuclear submarine, which is armed with 12 nuclear tipped missiles, to Hainan.

Vietnam’s offer came even as Antony announced that India would host a joint jungle and mountain warfare exercise with the country next year and New Delhi would help upgrade capabilities of the Vietnamese armed forces.

After meeting with the top Vietnamese leadership including Gen Phung Quang Thanh, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and the President Nguyen Minh Triet in Hanoi on Wednesday, Antony announced that India would help enhance the capabilities of the Vietnamese forces in general and would focus on the Navy in particular.

It may be recalled that India is already supplying spare parts for the Petya-class of light frigates that are operated by the Vietnamese Navy. India has already decommissioned 11 of the Russian origin warships. After Wednesday’s meeting, the Indian Navy will increase its involvement to other types of warships, possibly including maintenance of the new Kilo-class submarines that Vietnam has ordered from Russia.

Speaking after the meeting, Antony said that “New Delhi will provide support to Vietnam to enhance and upgrade capabilities of its Services in general and the Navy in particular” and emphasised that India will help Vietnam in its “capacity building for repair and maintenance of its platforms”.

Besides, the “joint training in mountain and jungle warfare in India next year”, the India Army will also impart IT and English Training to Vietnamese Armymen. “The two sides will work towards developing cooperation among defence institutes and establishing links for sharing experience and knowledge,” Antony said.

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Re: Vietnam - News & Discussions

Postby RajeshA » 14 Oct 2010 21:03

X-Posting from Managing Chinese Threat Thread

Published on Oct 14, 2010
By P. Chacko Joseph
India finally wakes up to Vietnam: Frontier India
We have been hearing reports of Vietnam wanting Prithvi Missile, Brahmos Missile and Indian Navy eying Cam Ran Bay port facilities. We then waited for all this to fructify as Chinese were supplying arms and other support to Pakistanis. But, it did not happen. Again, analyst told us that India did not want to antagonize china. India even did not develop its on areas bordering China. Vietnam was a far away land. Until 2 years back, India was in chorus with South East Asia propagating enough room for China. The quadrilateral exercise that India attended once fell apart. Australia, Japan, India and US were not quadrilateral any more.

Then Chinese cracked the whip. All the collective pretensions of “accommodate China” slogan went up in smoke. Suddenly China was in Kashmir, Spratly Islands and diplomatic offensive. China asked US for this side of the Pacific in joke, that did not go down well with the particular side that Chinese asked for. It also said that Indian Ocean is not “India’s Ocean.”
In last few days, the India defence minister AK Antony was in Hanoi for First ASEAN Plus Eight Defence Ministers’ Meeting. He did not just go and read out a written text. We heard a slew of military to military co-operation efforts with Vietnam.

Vietnamese Gen Phung Quang Thanh, while expecting more Port Calls by the Indian naval ships, has offered maintenance and repair facilities for Indian naval ships in Vietnam Ports. It can serve both Indian and Vietnamese naval ships as both use Russian equipment.

Indian Army offered Mountain and Jungle Warfare Exercises. But, I sincerely hope, Indian Army will learn from Vietnamese how to build those enormous underground tunnels networks.

Of course, the offer of help in Information technology systems and English language to Vietnamese forces is commendable.

Even if India has been late in engaging Vietnam in military sphere, India should enable Vietnam with weapon systems for protecting itself from a larger adversary. This is not just the need of the hour, but also a historic responsibility for and of India in South east Asia.

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Re: Vietnam - News & Discussions

Postby RajeshA » 14 Oct 2010 21:53

Published on Oct 14, 2010
India, Vietnam to conduct warfare tactics exchange: Pioneer
India and Vietnam will conduct the first-ever joint mountain and jungle warfare training exercises here next year and New Delhi will also help in maintenance and upkeep of the warships of the Vietnam Navy, Defence Minister AK Antony announced in Hanoi on Wednesday.

Antony was there to take part in the four-day first-ever Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Defence Ministers’ meeting, which ended on Wednesday. Besides the ASEAN nations, India, US and China were the other prominent countries which took part in the deliberations.

Vietnam has a history of successful jungle warfare as its Army withstood the US military and the Indian Army will learn valuable lessons. Given the Indian Army’s expertise and experience in operating in all kinds of terrain, including inaccessible mountains, Vietnam in turn will gain knowledge from their Indian counterparts.

Antony also offered training to the Vietnam troops for UN peacekeeping missions. India has an outstanding record of such operations and has taken part in many peacekeeping missions throughout the world for the last 40 years.

Antony’s announcement came after a meeting with his Vietnamese counterpart General Phung Quang Thanh. Antony also elaborated upon these slew of measures for bolstering ties during parleys with Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and President Nguyen Minh Triet, Defence Minister spokesperson Sitanshu Kar said.


Published on Oct 14, 2010
Report
India to help Vietnam train peacekeeping forces: Canadian Press
HANOI, Vietnam — India became the latest country to cozy up to Vietnam's military amid rising tensions involving the South China Sea.
The South Asian powerhouse will help Vietnam train forces for international peacekeeping while the communist country offered to provide repair, maintenance and fuel for Indian naval ships, the Tien Phong (Pioneer) newspaper reported Thursday. The agreement was reached during talks Wednesday between Vietnamese Defence Minister Phung Quang Thanh and his Indian counterpart A.K. Antony, it said.
The newspaper said Thanh had asked Antony to send experts to Vietnam to help train soldiers for international missions, marking the first step in establishing Vietnamese U.N. peacekeeping forces.

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Re: Vietnam - News & Discussions

Postby RajeshA » 14 Oct 2010 22:51

I'll be posting here some old articles as well which shed light on India's relations with Vietnam.

Originally posted by Stan_Savljevic
Published on Oct 27, 2009
By Pallab Bhattacharya
India frees trade with Vietnam: The Daily Star
India has granted market economy status to communist-ruled Vietnam, an important step to ramp up its economic engagement with the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean).

Industry and trade officials here said yesterday that the move gave more substance to a free trade agreement between the two sides.

India granted the market economy status during bilateral talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Tan Dung on the sidelines of Asean summit in the sea resort of Hua Hin in southern Thailand on Sunday.

The conferring of market economy status by India to Vietnam came before the World Trade Organisation (WTO) deadline after Hanoi insisted on it before signing the India-Asean Free Trade Agreement.

In a market economy, prices of goods and services are determined by demand and supply.

With the new move, India will accept prices prevailing in the Southeast Asian nation as the basis for determining investigations into complaints of anti-dumping against imported goods, officials say.

India is yet to give such status to China, another communists-ruled country.

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Re: Vietnam - News & Discussions

Postby jamwal » 14 Oct 2010 23:50

Any articles about India-Vietnam relations after the war (with USA) will be highly appreciated.

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Re: Vietnam - News & Discussions

Postby Rony » 15 Oct 2010 03:14

X Posted from India-Asean thread


Rony wrote:Vietnam hedges its China risk

As Vietnam and China celebrate an official "Year of Friendship" marking the 60th anniversary of diplomatic ties, Hanoi is quietly pursuing a balance of power plan against its neighbor to the north. The contours of the still-evolving strategy consist of developing a common position vis-a-vis China within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), engaging the United States and forging security ties with other key regional powers.

Asian allies
On the other hand, Vietnamese leaders have no qualms about partnering with Russia, a former Cold War communist ally. A deepening security relationship with Moscow now provides an additional hedge against China and has helped to modernize Vietnam's military, which is still largely reliant on Russian equipment dating from the 1970s.

Hanoi is now among Russia's top arms clients, including recently signed contracts for six Kilo-class diesel submarines and 20 Sukhoi Su-30 multi-role fighters. Later this year, Vietnam will take possession of two Russian-made Gepard-class frigates, and discussions are underway for Russia to build and help operate a new submarine base in Vietnam, possibly in the strategic Cam Ranh Bay.
India is another regional player finding common strategic cause with Vietnam. On July 27, the countries agreed to strengthen their defense cooperation during a visit by Indian army chief General V K Singh. New Delhi is wary of Beijing's efforts to extend its reach into the Indian Ocean. China and India also have a longstanding border dispute, which flared into war in 1962.

New Delhi and Hanoi share China-related strategic concerns and have enjoyed historically close ties forged from their common anti-colonial struggles. Both militaries also operate similar Russian equipment.

An ostensibly commercial deal could deepen India-Vietnam strategic ties. BP, which is raising capital to cover the cleanup costs of its oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, has put various of its global assets up for sale, including an investment in the Nam Con Son basin off the southern coast of Vietnam. According to press reports, Vietnam's government has given approval to a consortium of state-owned Indian energy firms and Petro Vietnam to buy out BP's stake.

Significantly, this large-scale natural gas project is located in an area of the Nam Con Son basin where BP announced in March 2009 that it would cease exploration in response to pressure from China.
By turning to Indian firms less likely to be intimidated by Beijing, Vietnam is now strongly asserting energy rights in its 200-mile exclusive economic zone.

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Re: Vietnam - News & Discussions

Postby Rony » 15 Oct 2010 03:16

Ancient relations between India and Vietnam.It is a pity that many Indians and Vietnamese are unaware about this part of history.
The India in Indo-China

On a stone pillar in My Son, an ancient, now-ruined temple town in central Vietnam, is a long inscription in Sanskrit. It records that Bhadravarman, a king who ruled at the cusp of the 4th and 5th centuries, donated wealth to the nearby temple of Shiva. After declaring exactly what land and people were gifted, the inscription ends with a royal admonition:

If you destroy it, all your good deeds in your different births shall be mine, and all the bad deeds done by me shall be yours. If, on the contrary, you properly maintain [the endowment], the merit shall belong to you alone. I again declare... he who maintains, the merit belongs to him. He who does not maintain but destroys, will himself be destroyed.

My Son, unhappily, was heavily bombed and mined by the Americans during the Vietnam War, who surely earned themselves no merit by their deeds. The place is now a Unesco World Heritage Site drawing thousands of tourists, as well as restoration experts from Japan, Germany and Italy.

But not from India, says Geetesh Sharma, an elderly amateur scholar and Indo-Vietnam friendship activist. He has written a short, polemical book called Traces of Indian Culture in Vietnam (Banyan Tree, Rs 450), and in it he explains why it is almost certain that the Champa people of Vietnam — whose ancestors lived at My Son — have their roots in ancient south India. King Bhadravarman’s inscription above is from Sharma’s book, which also laments that official and scholarly India have so little interest in all this readily available evidence of India’s glorious past in a distant land.

The story of My Son is tragic but also impossibly romantic. Once known as Simhapura, capital of Amaravati, it had a long history as a power centre of the Hindu kings of what is now Vietnam. Sharma says, insightfully, that “It was due to regular worship, building and maintenance of more than a thousand years that MySon [sic] could retain most valuable remains of past architecture, sculpture and steles [stone pillars] that could not be found elsewhere.”

The last big temple there was built, says Sharma, by a Hindu king in the 1200s. After that, the town was abandoned and eventually swallowed up by the jungle. In 1898 — in what must have been a classic colonial explorer moment — My Son was rediscovered by a Frenchman. A few years later, French scholars counted 70 surviving temples. Now there are just 20, all of which have either received or still need restoration, and a host of scattered but imposing shivlings.

Sharma is right to complain: the Archaeological Survey of India should offer its skilled services, Indian researchers should be much more curious about the shared past of India and Vietnam, and Indian schoolchildren should be given the chance to learn much more about Indo-China, our cultural neighbour. After all, for the government’s ‘look east’ strategy to work it has to involve more than just trade, aid and military agreements. Ordinary citizens can be a powerful tool of international relations.

Ordinary people in Vietnam are already working to save this Indian heritage. Vu Kim Loc, for example, has set up a small museum for his important collection of Champa artifacts, especially jewellery and pottery. He has also co-written a book on Champa material culture — that is, all the things the Champas used and made — which weighs the Indian influence and speculates about how artisans and ideas travelled back and forth. All this useful work gets virtually no recognition or gratitude here in India.

“He who does not maintain but destroys, will himself be destroyed,” says king Bhadravarman’s inscription. In this case the phrase ought to be modified thus: “He who does not remember but forgets, will himself be forgotten.” In the long term, which is worse?

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Re: Vietnam - News & Discussions

Postby RajeshA » 15 Oct 2010 03:22

Rony ji,

Please don't put the article under a second-level quote. Make it prominent, perhaps with no quotes at all! Thank you!

I was also thinking of posting that article! :)

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Re: Vietnam - News & Discussions

Postby Rony » 15 Oct 2010 03:30

Chindu was worried that vietnam might agree to lease cam ranh bay and promtly came up with this headline :D

Cam Bay not for lease: Vietnam
Vietnam on Tuesday said the strategic Cam Ranh Bay naval base would not be leased out to any foreign power for military purposes.

This was stated by Vietnam's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Nguyen Phuong Nga on the sidelines of the first-ever Asia-Pacific Defence Ministers' meeting in Hanoi. She was answering questions arising from the recent news reports that the Russian Navy had now drawn up proposals for returning to the base it vacated several years ago. Russia was represented at the Asia-Pacific conference by the First Deputy Minister of Defence, General Nikolai Makarov, who is also the Chief of the General Staff.

Interestingly, Hanoi's position, more or less on the same lines, was spelt out in November 2004 by the then Vietnamese Foreign Minister Nguyen Dy Nien in his written answers to questions from The Hindu on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the first meeting between Jawaharlal Nehru and Ho Chi Minh.

The answer was: “For a long time, Cam Ranh has been known as a military port, which is now no longer the case. In 2003, the Vietnamese Prime Minister approved the master plan for developing the Cam Ranh Gulf until 2010 for civil use. This has been strongly implemented and the Cam Ranh airport was inaugurated on May 19, 2004, and it is now open for commercial flights.”

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Re: Vietnam - News & Discussions

Postby Rony » 15 Oct 2010 05:13

RajeshA wrote:Rony ji,

Please don't put the article under a second-level quote. Make it prominent, perhaps with no quotes at all! Thank you!

I was also thinking of posting that article! :)


RajeshA garu, Point noted.Will keep that in mind for posting future articles. :)

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Re: Vietnam - News & Discussions

Postby Venkarl » 15 Oct 2010 07:10

Some old and known news reports...posting here for record.

Indian drug firms sell big, spend little: official

ONGC to finalize BP Vietnam asset valuation in few weeks

Partnerships with India, S Korea to be practical, effective

Vietnam urges SE Asia to consider nuclear power use

Along with Russia, senior energy officials from Japan, China, India, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand are in Da Lat this week for a series of meetings.


India to impose DVD-R from Vietnam


Vietnam, India issue joint declaration on strategic partnership {range of partnerships mentioned...informative.}

India, Vietnam to hold combat exercise next year


Good initiative RajeshA....thanks to you.

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Re: Vietnam - News & Discussions

Postby Johann » 15 Oct 2010 14:08

Rony wrote:Chindu was worried that vietnam might agree to lease cam ranh bay and promtly came up with this headline :D

Cam Bay not for lease: Vietnam
Vietnam on Tuesday said the strategic Cam Ranh Bay naval base would not be leased out to any foreign power for military purposes.


This is Chinese carrots and sticks at work here

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Re: Vietnam - News & Discussions

Postby VinodTK » 16 Oct 2010 04:22

China increasingly isolated as Hanoi and New Delhi forge closer ties

Finding peaceful solutions to various territorial disputes through dialogue has taken centre stage at the ‘ASEAN plus eight’ meeting of defence chiefs currently underway in Hanoi, Vietnam. The near-total agreement has resulted in China’s increasing isolation on the matter.

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Re: Vietnam - News & Discussions

Postby RajeshA » 18 Oct 2010 15:58

Published on Oct 18, 2010
The Greater East Asian Anti-Chinese Alliance: Strategy Page
Vietnam is acquiring an impressive list of nuclear armed allies. Russia is now a major supplier of weapons to Vietnam, and is discussing returning to Cam Rahn Bay. France has been approached to supply high tech equipment and training for Vietnamese ground forces.

China considers Vietnam part of southern China. But despite centuries of military efforts, the Chinese could never keep Vietnam under control. Now Russia, India and France are arming, training and otherwise helping this wayward part of the motherland. China has not made open claims on Vietnam for over a century, but the animosity, and memories, are still there. And China was not happy about these other nuclear powers stepping into this family feud. But the fact of the matter is that an anti-Chinese coalition is forming in the region.


Vietnam will form the Hub of the China Containment Coalition - of East Asian countries and South East Asian countries including India.

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Re: Vietnam - News & Discussions

Postby Suppiah » 18 Oct 2010 16:04

You cannot forge a anti-china coalition out of nations that are part Chinese, or have handed over control of 90% of their economies to ethnic chinese...that would be like running on a anti-hispanic ticket in Florida..

India has to enable/wait for ethnic cultures of these nations to assert some degree of control over their nations' economic destinies and find some kind of equal status...

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Re: Vietnam - News & Discussions

Postby RajeshA » 18 Oct 2010 16:21

Economy doesn't say everything.

Indonesians had strong anti-Chinese sentiments, especially because the Chinese were economically well-off.

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Re: Vietnam - News & Discussions

Postby RajeshA » 02 Nov 2010 17:53

Published Nov 02, 2010
Vietnam's Cam Ranh base to welcome foreign navies: AP
HANOI, Vietnam -- Vietnam will open repair facilities for foreign naval ships and submarines at the former U.S. military base at Cam Ranh Bay, state media reported Tuesday, amid regional concerns over China's growing maritime might.

Tuoi Tre, or Youth, newspaper quoted the defense minister as saying the port also could be a fuel stop for aircraft carriers.

Phung Quang Thanh told local reporters on the sidelines of a National Assembly session that the facilities would mainly serve Vietnam's own navy but services provided to foreign navies could help offset operating costs.

That follows similar comments by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung at the weekend at the end of an Asian summit here that the services would be offered to vessels from all countries at market rates.

Vietnam's offer comes amid concern among Southeast Asian countries over a series of aggressive moves by China on the high seas and long-running territorial disputes - including a recent spat with Vietnam after China arrested nine of its fishermen near disputed islands in the South China Sea. China eventually released them.

Cam Ranh is strategically located near key shipping lanes in the South China Sea and is close to the potentially oil-rich Spratlys and Paracel islands. The Spratlys are claimed by Vietnam, China, Malaysia, the Philipines, Brunei and Taiwan. The Paracels are claimed by Vietnam and China.

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Re: Vietnam - News & Discussions

Postby arunsrinivasan » 14 Jan 2011 10:30

Vietnam Presses the Flesh in Asia

Just about any overture Vietnam made or received last year was interpreted as a further move in some kind of China containment strategy, or at the least as a response to the territorial dispute with Beijing over ownership of the oil-rich Spratly-Paracel archipelago in the South China Sea.

The clearest evidence was in the US-Vietnam relationship, which in 2010 appeared warmer than ever. Indeed, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Vietnam twice—in July for the ASEAN regional forum and in October for the ASEAN and East Asia summits—during which time she made a point of reaffirming the importance of the relationship. (Although perhaps to her hosts’ irritation, she also raised the communist nation’s human rights record and its blocking of internet sites such as Facebook).

US Defence Secretary Robert Gates, meanwhile, also paid a visit in October, marvelling at the progress in ties between the two countries since the Vietnam War. In addition, the two countries have conducted joint military operations, including a training exercise involving the USS John McCain and Vietnamese forces. These moves followed the symbolic visit by the USS Lassen in 2009, which docked in Vietnam captained by Commander Hung Ba Le, who fled Vietnam at the age of five.

But although it has been blossoming ties with the United States that have been getting much of the attention, a China-wary Vietnam has for some time been pursuing improved ties with other nations in the region.

Russia

‘Inside each piece of meat is love between Vietnam and Russia,’ says Pham Thanh Giang, a Soviet-trained former economist, over lamb shashlik at his ‘Russian-style’ barbecue restaurant in Saigon.

Giang, like tens of thousands of others, studied in the Soviet Union—first Ukraine then Uzbekistan—for nine years, before moving back to Vietnam and working in a research institute on Vietnam’s five- and ten-year plans. He says he opened his Spartan-looking restaurant beside the War Remnants Museum in 1994, cooking up some of the recipes his Ukrainian girlfriend’s mother had taught him.

The museum is one of a handful of examples of communist involvement pre-1991, with the odd, concrete monstrosity of a building surviving among the now-feted colonial architecture.

Prior to the fall of the USSR, Vietnamese students were often educated in Soviet Bloc countries, with scientists and central planners moving back to take up important positions in government. The less lucky were exported as guest workers, and many today still take their chances working illegally in Russia and former bloc countries such as Ukraine. (Interestingly, some have argued that the ongoing problems of state-owned ship building company Vinashin and those besetting EVN can be partly traced to the government’s old-style Soviet training).

‘Even though the socialist system has changed…I feel the same. People don’t change,’ says Giang, who still appears sentimental over his busty, blonde Ukrainian love some three decades on.

Russia and Vietnam have in many ways been echoing this refrain of late. For example, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev was in Hanoi for ASEAN talks late last year, in a trip that included the signing of a deal under which Russia will build Vietnam’s first nuclear reactor as part of a $5 billion project.

For Russia, the deal was a welcome affirmation of its technological prowess and came after Vietnam also purchased six Kilo-class submarines, a move many see as tied to Vietnam’s ongoing Spratly-Paracel dispute.

Gavin Greenwood, an analyst with Allan and Associates, a security consultancy group based in Hong Kong, says, ‘The surge in defence spending ahead of the Party Congress, particularly for weapons systems…that appear to be directed at somehow countering growing Chinese military power in the region, may be seen by key leaders in Hanoi as a small price to pay for giving the appearance of standing up to Beijing—regardless of the economic and military realities.’

All of this said, it seems unlikely that these warmer ties will ever echo the Internationale days of old. After all, trade isn’t spectacular, Russia doesn’t give much in aid to Vietnam, and the West, Europe and Asian nations such as Japan and Korea are still the preferred choices as study destinations.

Meanwhile, despite the rumours, the Cam Ranh naval base—which was leased to Russia after the Americans vacated—won’t be taken over again, according to state media. (Although it will be open to foreign navies).

India

The relationship between India and Vietnam is also one of friendship, dating back to Indian opposition to the US invasion of Vietnam. As Vietnam analyst Prof. Carlyle Thayer, of the Australian Defence Force Academy, notes: ‘There’s a historical dimension dating back to the time of Ho Chi Minh and Nehru. There’s a nostalgic relationship as India was one of the main leaders in the non-aligned movement.’

Thayer and Indian academic Ramesh Thakur wrote a treatise in 1991, just before the fall of the Soviet Union, about Vietnamese-Soviet, Soviet-Indo and Indo-Vietnamese relations. Even then it was noted that not only did India regard Vietnam as a partner and balance against China, but that both also had strong alliances with Moscow. Indeed, both India and Vietnam are among Russia’s five largest arms customers, with India buying and producing Russian arms and helping upgrade Vietnam’s MiG aircraft and navy patrol boats.

And, although India’s Naxalites—the Maoist rebels who killed hundreds in India last year alone—once took Vietcong guerrillas as a role model, Vietnam and the Indian army have agreed to joint military exercises. During October’s ASEAN meet in Hanoi, for example, Indian Defence Minister A. K. Anthony and Gen. Phung Quang Thanh signed a deal extending defence ties, and there are also plans for India to help Vietnam in IT and in the English language sector.

Japan

Japan’s relations with Vietnam have been a little more complicated. It occupied French Indochina in the 1940s, a period during which as many as 2 million Vietnamese starved to death, according to some estimates. But as with many of Vietnam’s former enemies, time and victory have healed old wounds.

Japan is Vietnam’s biggest aid donor, giving more in ODA than any other nation, most of which is used for infrastructure projects such as underpasses, bridges, roads, sewers canals and a planned subway. Indeed, Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan reiterated at the ASEAN summit his country’s 79 billion yen commitment to 5 large-scale projects.

Meanwhile, Japan was also set to supply the technology for the country’s first bullet train, a multi-billion dollar folly pushed for by Prime Minister Nguyen TanDung that was roundly rebuked by National Assembly members, who noted the country’s poor infrastructure and the huge cost of the project.

More recently, Japan has announced it’s set to build two more of Vietnam’s nuclear power stations, and has signed a contract to mine rare earth metals in the country’s north, which Japan hopes will lessen the Chinese stranglehold on a commodity vital to its high-tech industry.

South Korea

The size of South Korea’s business interests are most evident in the new, glitzy Korean districts in both Vietnam’s major cities, which are full of Korean restaurants, bars, supermarkets and upscale gaming cafes that lack their Vietnamese counterparts’ ashtray ambience. (The areas also usually lack the traffic chaos so common in the rest of the country).

More importantly, Dung is a long-time admirer of Korea’s chaebol system of conglomerates and has hoped to model Vietnam’s state-owned enterprises along the same lines. (This effort, though, has met with varying degrees of success, with many companies including the doomed Vinashin becoming involved in businesses hugely unsuited to them, such as hotels).

Vietnam has also become an important country in Korea’s bride trade—both legal and illegal. These days, many children are growing up bi-lingual in what was once a near-totally homogenous country, with remittances from these families overseas often being sent back to their poorer relatives in Vietnam.

And, as in the rest of South-east Asia, Hallyu is popular in Vietnam. Korean Pop star Rain’s concert four years ago, for example, drew unprecedented crowds, while Korean romantic comedies attract far larger audiences than the Vietnamese films on offer.

‘Since 1992, Vietnam has welcomed and encouraged South Korean investment,’ Thayer says. ‘South Korea has been designated a strategic partner alongside Japan—Hyundai is the core of Vietnam’s shipbuilding industry at Van Phong Bay and can be expected to play a greater role in Vietnam in future.’

He adds: ‘South Korea is seen by Vietnam as another ally in balancing Vietnam’s relations with all-powerful China.’

And what about Seoul’s reclusive neighbour, North Korea? Well, there’s also some mutual interest between Pyongyang and Hanoi, analysts say.

For a start, fellow communist country Vietnam’s booming economy hasn’t gone unnoticed in Pyongyang, which is interested in Vietnam’s economic reform model. In addition, North Korea sends students to Vietnamese universities, and there’s also an outlet of the ‘Pyongyang’ chain of restaurants in Hanoi (staffed typically by unusually tall, pale women who double as waitress and entertainment, singing happy songs about their nation, and food).

So what’s behind all this diplomatic activity? With its powerful and increasingly assertive neighbour to the north, Vietnam’s moves are perhaps inevitably seen by many as aimed solely at containing China and securing support over territorial disputes. But despite recent concerns about government management of the economy, foreign investment in Vietnam has been rising as some nations look to it as an alternative manufacturing hub to China, with its lower costs and wages.

Even with a careful eye on China, it seems, Vietnam may well be able to afford to have the other one on the bigger international role that many see it as also craving.

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Re: Vietnam - News & Discussions

Postby darshhan » 15 Jan 2011 00:08

Guys I had a question.Should we provide nuclear weapons to Vietnam?

In my opinion since Vietnam is a responsible country and faces real threat from a nuclear power it should be okay to provide them with around 20 nuclear warheads along with missiles with suitable ranges.

What is your opinion in this matter?

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Re: Vietnam - News & Discussions

Postby arunsrinivasan » 15 Jan 2011 01:06

^^ Well for a start, before we can give, Vietnam should want it. Second, US is doing building Vietnam's nuclear capability by signing a Civil Nuclear agreement. Lastly, I'm not sure if we have nukes to spare, plus the risk of losing our carefully built reputation of a responsible nuclear power(not that it matters much ... given how TSP & PRC are treated).

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Re: Vietnam - News & Discussions

Postby RajeshA » 15 Jan 2011 13:56

darshhan wrote:Guys I had a question.Should we provide nuclear weapons to Vietnam?

In my opinion since Vietnam is a responsible country and faces real threat from a nuclear power it should be okay to provide them with around 20 nuclear warheads along with missiles with suitable ranges.

What is your opinion in this matter?

I think it is a must. We must provide Vietnam with a nuclear weapon capability. We should also have our nukes further tested in Vietnam. Not just we, but other countries in East Asia - Japan, South Korea and most of all Taiwan, should use Vietnam to get their nuclear arsenals tested. There is a need for a String of Nukes all around PRC.

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Re: Vietnam - News & Discussions

Postby JE Menon » 15 Jan 2011 17:05

Do you mean just the sort of thing they did with Pakistan? Giving the designs, testing facilities, expertise, and possibly the weapons themselves to a country bordering India, and perennially hostile to it? It seems you do. I'm not sure that a rational argument can be made against such a transfer, from the Indian perspective - if, of course, Vietnam is keen on the idea.

The risk, just as in the case of China-Pakistan, is whether one day Vietnam will turn those weapons against us. What do you think: is Vietnam more likely to turn those capabilities against us than Pakistan is to China? :) Of course, it is not necessary that we ourselves make the transfer. In time, America might happily oblige. Why, even Russia might feel an advantage in it at some point.

Peculiar world we are moving into isn't it.

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Re: Vietnam - News & Discussions

Postby RajeshA » 15 Jan 2011 21:36

JE Menon wrote:Do you mean just the sort of thing they did with Pakistan? Giving the designs, testing facilities, expertise, and possibly the weapons themselves to a country bordering India, and perennially hostile to it? It seems you do. I'm not sure that a rational argument can be made against such a transfer, from the Indian perspective - if, of course, Vietnam is keen on the idea.

The risk, just as in the case of China-Pakistan, is whether one day Vietnam will turn those weapons against us. What do you think: is Vietnam more likely to turn those capabilities against us than Pakistan is to China? :) Of course, it is not necessary that we ourselves make the transfer. In time, America might happily oblige. Why, even Russia might feel an advantage in it at some point.

Peculiar world we are moving into isn't it.


JE Menon saar,

They say, if you want something done, do it yourself. With respect to China, all America is good at right now is to send it some subtle signal here, some there. Americans worry about China, so as China modernizes its military and capacities, it still keeps America occupied and pinned down in an economic and political tango, to an extent at least that Americans are not willing to introduce game changers. In fact the few cards they have, are looking more and more useless - Taiwan & Tibet/Dalai Lama. So we can count on Americans just as much to help us contain China as they help us contain Pakistan. As the Germans say, "Das ist unser Bier"! It is up to us.

We have to develop the lobbies, the special interests, the constituencies in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam who are willing to push their countries over the nuclear threshold. They need not be the Presidents or Prime Ministers. They can be influential nationalists at lower levels as well.

The high morality straitjacket of Japan, the vice-like alliance grip of America over South Korea, and the shivering dhotis in Taiwan would not take the plunge so easily or would not go for nuclearization or do nuclear weapon testing. Vietnam is the bad boy we all need to make it work.

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Re: Vietnam - News & Discussions

Postby JE Menon » 15 Jan 2011 21:57

They also say sometimes the most effective victory is gained by fighting with the "shadow sword" - actually, a Chinese usage I believe. Moreover, it is always good to keep in mind PVNR's advise - in my opinion perhaps the most under-rated and under-appreciated prime minister of India.

That's said, I'm not suggesting that we sit back and do nothing, or rather hope that what we want materialise. Merely pointing out that others might jump the gun and move faster than us, and that will not necessarily be a bad thing. Even a joint effort is possible.

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Re: Vietnam - News & Discussions

Postby RajeshA » 15 Jan 2011 23:40

Well with Japan, South Korea and Taiwan on board, it will be much easier to muddy the waters.

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Re: Vietnam - News & Discussions

Postby Yayavar » 16 Jan 2011 00:09

JE Menon wrote: PVNR's advise - in my opinion perhaps the most under-rated and under-appreciated prime minister of India.


Serious question - what accomplishments have gone unappreciated? MAybe OT for this thread ...

TIA

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Re: Vietnam - News & Discussions

Postby sanjaykumar » 16 Jan 2011 00:25

Why not start with something more practical. I will know India is serious and ready to enter the game when vietnam field Brahmos missiles in anticipation of China's six aircraft carriers, now in construction or on the drawing boards.

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Re: Vietnam - News & Discussions

Postby TonyMontana » 16 Jan 2011 01:03

RajeshA wrote:Vietnam is the bad boy we all need to make it work.


You can start here. A bit dated, but you get my point. From wiki.

India wrote:Continuing the rapid pace of growth, bilateral trade is expected to rise to USD 2 billion by 2008, 2 years ahead of the official target.


China wrote:Both governments have set the target of increasing trade volume to USD 10 billion by 2010.

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Re: Vietnam - News & Discussions

Postby svinayak » 16 Jan 2011 02:36

Trade with China is different from Trade with India for all of these countries.
Trade with India also includes security for them.

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Re: Vietnam - News & Discussions

Postby TonyMontana » 16 Jan 2011 02:49

Acharya wrote:Trade with China is different from Trade with India for all of these countries.
Trade with India also includes security for them.


USD$8,000,000,000 worth of security?

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Re: Vietnam - News & Discussions

Postby svinayak » 16 Jan 2011 02:54

TonyMontana wrote:
USD$8,000,000,000 worth of security?

Free security with a free country!

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Re: Vietnam - News & Discussions

Postby JE Menon » 16 Jan 2011 03:16

Viv, he was the man who started, and steered, the process in the early 1990s which helps us now to crow about India's fast growth, etc. etc. He was in politix well before though. After that Congress treated him very badly, the way he was pushed aside within the Congress was not pretty ... till the end. Very simple, in any of the achievements of Indian leaders you rarely hear the name of PVNR... There's much more. I think BR is the only place which constantly brings up PVNR's name... He was truly a chankian in my book.

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Re: Vietnam - News & Discussions

Postby RajeshA » 16 Jan 2011 03:46

TonyMontana wrote:
RajeshA wrote:Vietnam is the bad boy we all need to make it work.

You can start here. A bit dated, but you get my point. From wiki.
India wrote:Continuing the rapid pace of growth, bilateral trade is expected to rise to USD 2 billion by 2008, 2 years ahead of the official target.
China wrote:Both governments have set the target of increasing trade volume to USD 10 billion by 2010.

How much trade does China have with the USA? Which country does the PLA think of as its biggest threat?

The world has become a bit more complicated. Business and Strategic Rivalry seems to be able to coexist now!

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Re: Vietnam - News & Discussions

Postby TonyMontana » 16 Jan 2011 09:24

RajeshA wrote:How much trade does China have with the USA? Which country does the PLA think of as its biggest threat?


Exactly my friend. The PLA. Not the PRC. I hope you're not one of those that are confident of a shooting war between the USA and PRC in the near future. Domestic agenda is the name of the game. The threat is played up by both sides to appease the fanbois, while the "important" people makes important money. Would you forsee China stationing IRBM in central america? Same reason Vietnam will never go nuclear. Rivalry and escalation are two different kettle of fish. Why would Vietnam escalation tension with China up a decibel for India?

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Re: Vietnam - News & Discussions

Postby RajeshA » 16 Jan 2011 11:50

TonyMontana wrote:
RajeshA wrote:How much trade does China have with the USA? Which country does the PLA think of as its biggest threat?
Exactly my friend. The PLA. Not the PRC.

That's the usual good cop, bad cop routine. PLA and CCP both have their spheres of "responsibility", PLA's being everything to do with security. So saying, PLA are the rotten apples, just doesn't cut much ice.
TonyMontana wrote:I hope you're not one of those that are confident of a shooting war between the USA and PRC in the near future. Domestic agenda is the name of the game. The threat is played up by both sides to appease the fanbois, while the "important" people makes important money. Would you forsee China stationing IRBM in central america?

No, I don't expect a shooting war between US and China.
TonyMontana wrote:Same reason Vietnam will never go nuclear. Rivalry and escalation are two different kettle of fish. Why would Vietnam escalation tension with China up a decibel for India?

I can assure you, that Vietnam's acquisition of nuclear weapons would be for peaceful purposes only. Just because one has nukes does not mean one wants war. It actually means one wants to avoid war.

The prime example is of course Pakistan. Because China wanted to stop all these wars between two stupid neighbors - India and Pakistan, China did the only thing rational and provided Pakistan with all the nuclear technology and weapons it needed. As such war became too costly for the stupid neighbors. The people of India are infinitely grateful to the people of China for ensuring peace in South Asia, through PRC's technology transfer, even though it went against all the values China believed in - nuclear non-proliferation. India should simply try to repay this debt of gratitude in any small way possible in ensuring a similar peace in East Asia, so that the people of China also can enjoy the same peace of mind, as Indians do.

Vietnam is not going to do anything for India. All Vietnam would do is for its own national interests, and my reading of it is, having a nuclear umbrella is part of that national interest.

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Re: Vietnam - News & Discussions

Postby svinayak » 16 Jan 2011 12:09

TonyMontana wrote: Why would Vietnam escalation tension with China up a decibel for India?


They have common interest

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Re: Vietnam - News & Discussions

Postby TonyMontana » 16 Jan 2011 14:39

RajeshA wrote: I can assure you, that Vietnam's acquisition of nuclear weapons would be for peaceful purposes only. Just because one has nukes does not mean one wants war. It actually means one wants to avoid war.

The prime example is of course Pakistan. Because China wanted to stop all these wars between two stupid neighbors - India and Pakistan, China did the only thing rational and provided Pakistan with all the nuclear technology and weapons it needed. As such war became too costly for the stupid neighbors. The people of India are infinitely grateful to the people of China for ensuring peace in South Asia, through PRC's technology transfer, even though it went against all the values China believed in - nuclear non-proliferation. India should simply try to repay this debt of gratitude in any small way possible in ensuring a similar peace in East Asia, so that the people of China also can enjoy the same peace of mind, as Indians do.


Look. I get it. ==. But the factor of the matter is, Pakistan wanted the nukes. China just gave them what they wanted. I'm not convinced that Vietname is willing to go nuclear any time soon. If you got evidence that proves me wrong, please enlighten me. Till then, this is still wishful thinking on the part of the Indian Jingoes.

RajeshA wrote:Vietnam is not going to do anything for India. All Vietnam would do is for its own national interests, and my reading of it is, having a nuclear umbrella is part of that national interest.


[Citation Needed]

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Re: Vietnam - News & Discussions

Postby RajeshA » 16 Jan 2011 17:16

TonyMontana wrote:Look. I get it. ==. But the factor of the matter is, Pakistan wanted the nukes. China just gave them what they wanted. I'm not convinced that Vietname is willing to go nuclear any time soon.
RajeshA wrote:Vietnam is not going to do anything for India. All Vietnam would do is for its own national interests, and my reading of it is, having a nuclear umbrella is part of that national interest.
[Citation Needed]

So it is not a question of:
  • Moral right of India to share nuclear weapons technology with Vietnam
  • Trade Volumes between nations, including between China and Vietnam
It is only a question of whether Vietnam sees it to be in its national interest to opt for nukes. Perhaps Chinese incursions into Vietnamese waters will help them make their minds sooner rather than later.

TonyMontana wrote:If you got evidence that proves me wrong, please enlighten me. Till then, this is still wishful thinking on the part of the Indian Jingoes.

Well I think you will come across a lot of wishful thinking on any Jingo site, and BRF is no exception. Why would one expect something else on this site.

Besides expressing wishful thinking openly and publicly is an integral part of molding public opinion.


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