Archive for Pacific Politics

President Trump Just Approved Plan for U.S. Navy’s Increased Flexibility in the South China Sea, Which is Great

Posted in Opinions, Politics with tags , , , , , on July 22, 2017 by Ian Pham

Donald Trump, South China Sea(Sunday Express)

Yes, I fully support this move, for obvious reasons.

It’s no secret my views on China. The rude, disrespectful, and uncivil conduct on the international stage, the constant blatant violations of international law, the groveling, whining, and playing the victim when they get caught and called out for expansionism, espionage, and encroaching on other nations’ sovereignties, and so much more. Plus, China is a totalitarian dictatorship that kidnaps, terrorizes, and murders anyone who speaks out against the Chinese government’s crimes against humanity. And, there’s also the little matter of them evidently trying to invade Vietnam, doing so by currently destroying Vietnam’s environment including forests, highlands, coastal waters, etc., killing off Vietnam’s food supply, poisoning Vietnam’s water supply, sending in staggering numbers of undocumented Chinese “workers,” and many more things beyond the scope of this article. There’s also that. So, yes, I am not a fan of China.

China is a threat to international stability and peace, and is, by these measures, a threat to the free world and liberal democracies everywhere.

For this reason, I argue that U.S. President Donald Trump’s recent approval of a plan that allows the U.S. Navy more flexibility to act and react to happenings in the South China Sea is a very, very good thing.

As reported by The Times of India:

US President Donald Trump approved a plan giving the country’s navy greater freedom in operating in the South China Sea and put pressure on China’s efforts to enlarge its military presence by artificially building reefs and atolls in the area.

The move is seen as a challenge to Beijing’s maritime claims over most of the South China Sea and its attempts to overrule overlapping claims by five other countries, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei and the Philippines.

The US move will keep China’s expanding navy busy in the South China Sea and make it difficult for Beijing to deal with its territorial disputes with other countries such as India and Japan…

The new plan, which was submitted by US defence secretary Jim Mattis, involves a full-year schedule of when US navy ships will sail through contested waters.

It seems that under the new U.S. president, China will no longer be able to freely violate international law, throw its weight around without consequence, and make a mockery of international cooperation in a shamefully belittling way that only China is capable of doing.

As per usual, China is employing their time-tested strategy of playing the victim and complaining vociferously while at the same time ignoring all claims and evidence of their wrongdoing.

According to Business Insider:

China has responded forcefully to US incursions into the region, telling the US the moves were provocative and that they must ask permission, which doesn’t align with international law or UN conventions.

“China’s military will resolutely safeguard national sovereignty, security and regional peace and stability,” China’s Foreign Ministry said in response to US bombers flying in the region.

While at the same time (ibid)…

Over the last few years, China has ambitiously built up islands on reefs and atolls in the South China Sea and militarized them with radar outposts, military-grade runways, and shelters for missile defenses.

Military analysts believe China hopes to expand its air defense and identification zone into the western Pacific and build a blue-water navy to rival the US’s, but six other countries also lay claim to parts of the region.

Seriously, how stupid does China think the rest of the world is?

You remember in elementary school, there was that kid who tried to steal your chocolate milk on the playground, but then ran away crying and snitching to the teacher after you got up and broke his nose? That kid is China. China is the crying snitch with the broken nose.

Always plotting, stealing, and sabotaging other nations, then playing the victim when they get caught or called out. That’s China. Pathetic.

I’m glad the United States is finally doing something about this China problem.

I know a lot of you may not be the biggest fans of President Trump (myself included at times), but when he does something right, credit is given where credit is due.

Get ready, East Asia, because America is back.

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As Expected, Zero Progress Made From Nguyen Phu Trong’s “Historic” Visit to Washington

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , on July 8, 2015 by Ian Pham

Washington MeetingImage via Yahoo News

I felt I should follow up from my last article about VCP General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong’s self-proclaimed “historic” visit to meet President Barack Obama in Washington. Like I forecasted just a day ago, the talks indeed yielded zero actual change from the status quo.

The talks were straightforward, relaxed, with little point whatsoever. Pleasantries were exchanged, Nguyen Phu Trong lauds the “progress” that has been made in U.S.-Vietnam relations, with President Obama courteously expressing optimism for the future. The usual topics were brought up, like Chinese aggression in the Pacific, the possibility of the formation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and of course, the issue of human rights.

According to the Washington Times, Trong invited President Obama to visit Vietnam, in which the President has replied that he will do so “… some time in the future.”

There were some notable happenings that revolved around the meeting, but were not part of the meeting itself. A group of bipartisan lawmakers in the White House advised the President prior to the meeting to press Nguyen Phu Trong more strongly on the human rights issue.

From the same Washington Times source:

“This authoritarian one-party system is the root cause of the deplorable human rights situation in Vietnam,” wrote the lawmakers, led by Rep. Christopher H. Smith, New Jersey Republican. “As the list of detained Vietnamese bloggers and prisoners of conscience gets longer and longer, it is even more important than ever that the United States sends a clear message to the Hanoi authorities that respect for human rights is essential for a closer economic and security relationship.”

The other notable happening in relation with Nguyen Phu Trong’s visit was the hundreds-strong protest taking place outside of the White House during the meeting.

According to Jerome Cartillier:

A few hundred protesters rallied outside the White House, calling for expanded human rights in Vietnam — an issue that has sparked concern among some American lawmakers about deepening ties.

Demonstrators carried signs with slogans like “Freedom of speech in Vietnam now” and called on Hanoi to release all political prisoners.

Washington ProtestProtesters outside of the White House during Vietnamese Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong’s meeting with President Obama. Photo via Yahoo News

Although the meeting between President Obama and the idiot General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong was exactly as unproductive and pointless as expected, I am still happy to hear that the issue of human rights is still on the minds of U.S. lawmakers. I am even more proud of the part played by the Vietnamese community.

Commendation to all who participated in the protests yesterday. You made a great impact, and your passion and dedication is undoubtedly being heard. As the actions of the U.S. lawmakers urging the President to be tougher on Trong has shown, your voice is making a difference.

We have to keep pushing, we have to keep making a difference. Persistence is everything.

Predictions For Nguyen Phu Trong, Vietnam’s VCP General Secretary’s Visit to Washington Today

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , on July 7, 2015 by Ian Pham

Nguyen Phu Trong(AP Photo/Tran Van Minh)

Vietnam’s General Secretary, the leader of the VCP and the country’s man in charge, Nguyen Phu Trong arrives in Washington today to meet with President Barack Obama.

According to the White House:

On July 7, 2015, President Obama will welcome to the White House Nguyen Phu Trong, the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam.  The President looks forward to discussing with General Secretary Trong ways to strengthen further the U.S.-Vietnam Comprehensive Partnership, reflecting on the accomplishments of the past twenty years since the normalization of bilateral diplomatic relations.  The President also welcomes the opportunity to discuss other issues, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership, human rights, and bilateral defense cooperation.

I’m not exactly sure what will come out of this meeting. The Vietnamese government in Hanoi has demonstrated time and again that they are firmly under the thumb of Beijing. Moreover, members of the VCP, with party chief Trong being one of the biggest offenders, have all shown ineptitude in reaching any sort of solution to the woes of their country, economically, socially, and politically.

For these reasons, I believe that President Obama’s hopes of establishing closer ties with Vietnam will once again fall short of any substantial gains. Human rights remains an issue that has hindered the U.S. goal of establishing a meaningful partnership with Vietnam, and judging from the ongoing violations that the communist state continues to orchestrate, this issue shows little hope of being resolved anytime soon.

The U.S. has deep interests in strengthening relations with Vietnam, and is willing to offer the communist nation vast benefits to reach that end. However, judging from the VCP’s tendency to fashion their foreign policy in accordance with Beijing’s wishes, it is highly unlikely that Trong or the VCP will risk offending China by warming up to the United States, no matter how beneficial siding with America is to Vietnam’s growth.

In terms of strengthening relations with Vietnam, the U.S. is willing to offer Vietnam a seat in the new Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), as well as the easing of restrictions on the sales of lethal weaponry, and the increasing of economic ties. The U.S. wants to provide Vietnam with these major benefits, and has been very patient with the communist state’s continued intransigence, most notably with Vietnam diplomatically siding with China and blatantly abusing human rights domestically.

Besides the complicated situation with China, human rights is the only major impediment to Vietnam gaining the extensive economic, military, and geopolitical benefits that comes from partnership with the United States. However, as a communist government who is struggling to maintain stranglehold on power, as a cowardly government in constant fear of offending China, and as dullards who can’t hit water if they fell out of a boat, the Vietnamese Communist Party and its leader Nguyen Phu Trong will not be smart enough to take the many benefits that the U.S. is wanting to give to them.

In my predictions, no substantial agreements will be met between Vietnam and the United States. Unless President Obama is willing to overlook the human rights issue completely, something I really hope he does not do, it is doubtful that the establishment of the Trans-Pacific Partnership will become a reality.

Nguyen Phu Trong, nicknamed “Trọng Lú,” or “Trọng the Stupid,” or “Trọng the Confused,” or “Trọng the Dazed,” or “Trọng the Dullard,” (depending on your choice of translation) by the international Vietnamese community, will not make the obvious choice of simply improving human rights to vastly benefit his country. It’s so simple, but he will not get it. He’s called Trọng Lú for a reason.

The only thing I hope to see today are the major democracy, human rights, and anti-communist protests upon Trong’s arrival. Any organization that is staging demonstrations, all the more power to you. Come out in droves, make him hear you.

“Trọng Lú.”

On U.S. Visit, Party Secretary of Hanoi City Makes Disrespectful Gesture to Senator John McCain

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , on August 8, 2014 by Ian Pham

McCainLast week, Politburo member and Party Secretary of the City of Hanoi, Pham Quang Nghi visited Washington D.C., following up on an invitation by the U.S. State Department. While in Washington, the Communist Party member met with a number of U.S. officials including Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman, Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken, Counselor to the Secretary of State Thomas Shannon, and Senator John McCain. Topics covered during the meetings included encouragement of American investment in the Vietnamese economy, the importance of the development of the TPP (Transpacific Partnership), and postwar economic assistance for Vietnam. None of this is important. Nothing here was accomplished.

The first substantial thing to know about this particular trip is that Hanoi Secretary Pham Quang Nghi was not even supposed to be at the meetings in Washington in the first place. The invitation by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was initially extended to a different VCP member, Pham Binh Minh, a known pro-Western voice within the party in Vietnam. At the last minute, Minh was sidelined by the VCP leadership. In his place, a pro-China drone in the form of Nghi was sent to represent the Communist State instead.

With the understanding that Minh was more open to talks with the West, Secretary of State John Kerry invited him for a meeting in Washington. However, with an overwhelming presence of the pro-China faction in Vietnam’s Communist Party, Minh’s trip was stifled by the head members of the Vietnam government, including the party leader Trong. In response to news that Minh was no longer coming, John Kerry appointed other members of the U.S. government to attend the meetings with Vietnam’s new delegates. Among the U.S. representatives was Senator McCain.

Aside from the topics discussed with U.S. representatives, which were fruitless overall, delegate Nghi went out of his way to present Senator McCain with a pair of ‘gifts.’ The first is a painting of the site where McCain was captured during his service days, and the second is a painting of that memorial inscribed with a personal message directly mentioning the Senator. One need not look very closely to find out that these gifts presented to McCain carry some deeply disrespectful messages behind them, aimed directly at the Senator from Arizona.

McCain PhotoThe picture above shows Senator McCain taking a photo with Communist member Pham Quang Nghi with the first gift in hand. Besides the fact that the painting depicts the site of McCain’s capture in 1967, the memorial plaque painting will clarify the Vietnamese official’s intention to humiliate the U.S. Senator.

This second gift, the memorial plaque painting, displays the following message:

“NGÀY 26-10-1967 TẠI HỒ TRÚC BẠCH QUÂN VÀ DÂN THỦ ĐÔ HÀ NỘI BẮT SỐNG TÊN JOHN SNEY MA CAN THIẾU TÁ KHÔNG QUÂN MỸ LÁI CHIẾC MÁY BAY A4 BỊ BẮN RƠI TẠI NHÀ MÁY ĐIỆN YÊN PHỦ  ĐÂY LÀ MỘT TRONG 10 CHIẾC MÁY BAY BỊ BẮN RƠI CÙNG NGÀY.”

Which translates to:

“ON 26-10-1967, AT TRÚC BẠCH LAKE, OUR FORCES AND THE PEOPLE OF THE CAPITAL OF HANOI CAPTURED ALIVE ONE MAJOR JOHN SNEY MA CAN [John Sidney McCain]. AMERICAN PILOT, FLYING A4, WAS SHOT DOWN AT YÊN PHỦ POWER PLANT. THIS IS ONE OF 10 AIRCRAFTS SHOT DOWN THAT DAY.”

MemorialFor a gift that is allegedly meant to commemorate, the message here only outlines the capture of McCain, reminding him that he was their captive, and all the painful implications of that event. Moreover, the message boasts that McCain’s was only one of ten other American planes shot down that day, a further insult to what they claim to be a gift for the Senator. Lastly, the term “TÊN” as used in the original plaque before naming Senator McCain, carries a negative connotation in Vietnamese, comparable to “Guy,” or “That guy,” in English. The term is opposite to a formal address such as “Mister,” and is used deliberately to show how little the Reds in Hanoi are trying to regard Mr. McCain.

The interpretation here is that Hanoi wanted to send a message to John McCain and the United States, signalling that the pro-China faction was dominant within the Communist Party, and that the U.S. should not get involved in Vietnam’s relationship with China. It didn’t work out the way they thought it would, though (it never does). There is so much stupidity in what Pham Quang Nghi did during this trip that one must wonder if these guys know what they’re doing most of the time (they don’t). There is a certain way for a statesman to behave when engaging in diplomacy, and this rude and vulgar conduct is no way to carry oneself when representing an entire nation. It’s not surprising, though. Everything the VCP does at this point is so painfully stupid that it shouldn’t even come as a shock anymore.

In sending a premeditated insult to the U.S. through Pham Quang Nghi, the leaders in the VCP were intending to humilate John McCain and the United States. However, in committing such a crude diplomatic act, the Communists have publicly humiliated themselves instead. The internet is exploding with criticism and ridicule from this episode, wondering how the VCP was capable of such stupidity. Well, anyone following this blog and Vietnamese politics will know that idiocy such as this is nothing new to the VCP. They are wrong for the country, and, to put it simply, they need to go.

Fierce On Their People, Meek To Their Enemies

Posted in IV. Columns, Politics, Society with tags , , , , , , , , on July 20, 2012 by Ian Pham

A brief protest took place on July 1, 2012 before being cracked down by Communist police.

The much anticipated anti-China protest slated for the 1st of July never took place, at least not to the scale that we all expected.  Much of this is due to the quick work of the Communist police network, who swiftly barricaded, detained, and blocked many areas and leaders key to the operation.  As a result, small scale demonstrations did take place before also being put to bed by the Communist police.

The following Sunday however, July 8, 2012, a modestly sized protest did take place in Ho Chi Minh City.  That protest too was suppressed by the Communist police in Vietnam.  Vietnamese authorities have been on high alert and placing heavy surveillance on its citizen, especially bloggers and writers.  The possibility of large scale anti-China demonstrations keep the Communist Party in a state of fear and paranoia.

In Vietnam, expressing patriotism and love of one’s country is grounds for imprisonment and government retribution.  The Vietnamese Communist Party would rather have a safe and cosy relationship with the PRC than its own people.  Fears of an angry China have prompted the government in Vietnam to constantly suppress and crackdown on their own people.

There is a saying associated with the Vietnamese Communist Party, “fierce to its people, but meek to the Chinese.”  It is quite self explanatory.  The Vietnamese Communist Party uses excessive force and expends heavy resources all with the goal of suppressing the Vietnamese population.  At the same time, they won’t hesitate to lower themselves to the Chinese Communist Party, for fear of an angry China.

Relations between the U.S. and Vietnam have developed substantially in recent years, though human rights remains an issue in Vietnam.

This can all be demonstreated by the VCP’s constant crackdowns of Vietnamese bloggers, writers, and protest organizers.  These individuals have not even expressed anti-Party sentiments.  All they’ve done is express love for the motherland and tried to defend her from the invading Chinese.

It is true that the Vietnamese government has passed a law laying claim to Paracel and Spratly, and greatly angering the Chinese.  However, the very same government continues to be submissive and dove-like when dealing with China’s assertive claims to the southeastern sea.

When compared to the Phillipines’ government, the Vietnamese Communist Party does not measure up.  President Benjamin Aquino III has handled the Phillipines’ situation with China promptly and assertively.  Though the military and naval strength of the Phillipines is not up to par with China’s, or even Vietnam’s, the country has shown that they are a force to be reackoned with.  As a result, the Filipino citizens are fully in support of their government, with the world also nodding with approval.

The VCP should take a lesson from the Philippines and start standing up to China more sternly.  It is true that their strategy of bringing in the U.S. to the matter brings great benefits.  However, their constant abuse of human rights and continued spineless approach in dealing with the PRC’s aggression continues to impede the country’s growth.  The Vietnamese should take a tougher stance on China, and a more respectable approach in dealing with its own citizens.  Only then will true progress be achieved.

Major Anti-China Protest Planned for Sunday

Posted in Politics, Society with tags , , , , on June 28, 2012 by Ian Pham

Word has been spreading that the people in Vietnam are ready to stage a major demonstration this Sunday to protest China’s latest act of aggression in the Southeast Asia Sea.  The People’s Republic of China has recently offered bids to foreign oil companies to start operating in areas deep within Vietnam’s Exclusive Economic Zone.  The Vietnamese government has declared these actions illegal, and in strict violation of Vietnam’s law and sovereignty.  Beijing responded by claiming that what they are doing is “normal business activity” and warned Vietnam not to further escalate the situation.

Hanoi cites UNCLOS as evidence against China’s “indisputable” claims of control over the entire Southeast Asia Sea, which Vietnam calls the East Sea.  According to Vietnam, the nine offshore oil blocks that China plans to open to foreign firms is well within Vietnam’s EEZ, violating both international law and Vietnamese law.  This dispute comes as part of a long standing tension building in the Southeast Asia Sea.

After much silence and hesitation on this issue, Hanoi has finally raised its voice, prompting the country’s National Assembly to pass a law claiming official ownership of the Paracel and Spratly islands.  These islands are prominently situated in the Southeast Asia Sea, and have been under Vietnam’s control since the Nguyen Dynasty in the 19th century.  China disregards both Vietnam’s historical claims and its claims based on international law.  The Asian giant continues to assert its claims over the sea in its entirety, putting the country into conflicts with its many neighbors.

The people of Vietnam came out to protest Red China in the summer of 2011.  The weekly demonstrations were permitted by the Vietnamese government for a while, but were formally and forcefully suppressed on the 11th week.

In reaction to the assertions of Red China, the people of Vietnam have come together in preparation for the large demonstration slated for this Sunday.  Protests are set to kick off in two of Vietnam’s major cities, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh (Saigon).  This is reminiscent of protests in Vietnam last summer, which were permitted by the government for a time before being forcibly subdued by Communist police.  Though it is difficult to predict what the protests will yield, it will become clear on Sunday morning.

For those of us who are outside of Vietnam, there is really not much we can physically do.  However, it is important to let the Vietnamese within know that we support them, and that we are behind them in their efforts.  Regardless of what country we are originally from or currently live in, Vietnamese everywhere are fighting for the same cause.  To all the courageous Vietnamese coming out on Sunday, just know that we all support you.  God bless.

Vietnam’s Role, and Leverage in the Southeast Asia Sea

Posted in IV. Columns, Politics with tags , , , , , , , , on June 5, 2012 by Ian Pham

This past Sunday, U.S. Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta paid a visit to Vietnam’s Cam Ranh Bay, a major U.S. base used during the Vietnam War.  The visit yielded agreements between the U.S. and Vietnam to open restricted military sites in Vietnam that would permit searches for MIA soldiers of the war.  Behind these agreements however, is the continuation of a deeper goal, the further normalization of relations between two former enemies.

As of today, Panetta is the most senior American official to visit Cam Ranh Bay.  Not only does this visit signify the developing ties between the two sides, it also signifies America’s national interests in Vietnam as a key player in the Southeast Asia Sea.  According to American analysts, Vietnam currently holds a decisive role in shaping the balance of power in the Southeast Asia Sea.  The Center for a New American Security professes that Vietnam is arguably the pivotal player, or “swing-state” for what happens in the sea.  If Vietnam fails to step up to an increasingly assertive China, smaller countries like the Philippines have little chance of resisting.

These insights paint a vivid picture of Vietnam’s potential in dealing with Chinese hegemony.  Of the many countries in Asia at this point in time, Vietnam remains the key obstacle against Chinese expansionism.  As a result, the U.S. continues to pursue better relations with the country.  Unfortunately, these warming relations comes at the cost of human rights in Vietnam.  To keep Vietnam from running into the arms of the Chinese, the United States must turn a blind eye to the atrocious human rights record of Vietnam.  This is the American dilemma.  In order to keep U.S.-Vietnam relations on the right track, the United States is forced to soften its stance on human rights.

Nonetheless, this reality outlines the importance of Vietnam’s role in dealing with Chinese hegemony in the South China Sea.  Vietnam can very well be the difference maker in China’s success or failure in this territorial dispute, and has the power to counter China’s influence in Southeast Asia.  America understands this, and Vietnam understands this.  This is one major reason why the two countries have become so close in recent years, with an increasingly nervous and aggressive China on the periphery.  Though the human rights abuses continue to cause friction between Vietnam and the U.S., the China issue continues to bring the two closer together.