Archive for President Obama

U.S. Presidential Candidates and Their Stances on China

Posted in Economics, IV. Columns, Politics with tags , , , , , on August 30, 2012 by Ian Pham

As the presidential race heats up, many of us (or maybe it’s just me) are wondering what the candidates’ stance on China will be.  Mitt Romney has already made his ground clear on the matter, pledging to take a tougher position on the PRC as currency manipulators and thieves of intellectual property.  From what is shown so far, Governor Romney has taken, or promises to take a hardline stance on the Chinese, and shows no reservation on sparking a “trade war” with the Asian giant.  According to Mr. Romney, we won’t be “starting” a trade war with China, we are “already in a trade war” with China.

What about President Obama?  Prior to his presidency, Mr. Obama’s stance on China was neither friendly nor hostile.  In the words of the president (before he was president), “They’re [China] neither our enemy or our friend. They’re competitors.”  In the same statement, President Obama also stated that his presidential aims were to establish relationships with the PRC and help stabilize the region.  From this point of view, the president’s stance in previous years were less cynical, and more optimistic.  This optimism however, will change after his inauguration, and a swift change in policy would quickly follow.

President Obama would quickly learn the hard way that nice guys finish last.  After being harassed by the Chinese Navy in the Southeast Asia Sea in 2008 (the Impeccable Incident), snuffed by the Chinese leadership at the Copenhagen Summit in 2009, and the ongoing issue of currency manipulation (just to name a few), the president’s stance on China would take a turn for the strong.  After his return from Copenhagen, President Obama would sell billions of dollars in arms to Taiwan, a direct response to the Chinese after Copenhagen.  Beijing responded with waves of hostility and harsh words, which the president coyly brushed off.

This was just the start, however.  In the latter half of 2010, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made a statement in Hanoi declaring the Southeast Asia Sea a “national interest” of the United States, a statement that greatly angered the Chinese, who were desperately trying to keeping the U.S. out of Asian affairs.  The Obama administration would then release statements saying that as time goes on, the U.S.’s role in Asia would only get bigger.  Earlier this year, January 2012, the president would make promises to bring jobs back to America and launch investigations into China’s unfair trade practices.  Considering the president’s actions in the past several years, the Obama Administration’s stance has become quite clear.

Where does this leave Governor Romney?  For now, we can only say that his stance on China looks promising.  He has for a long time made strong statements in favor of punishing the Chinese for their poor conduct on the international stage.  However, one must be wary of any promises made by politicians.  This is a lesson in history.  Even President Obama has broken a few promises made during the presidential race (Guantanamo Bay, anyone?).  Who knows, it is possible that Mr. Romney will follow through on his promises of punishing the PRC for their disregarding of their colleagues in the world stage.  However, it is also a possibility that promises of economic development and favorable trade agreements with China may lure the Republican nominee away from his initial goals.  Regardless of which party, instances like this have happened before, and quite frequently in politics.

To put simply, I believe that Governor Romney makes an appealing case against Beijing.  If he were to follow through on these promises and not collapse under the many pressures that come with being the most powerful man in the world, then I am all for it.  My position on President Obama is that he has proven himself through the various actions outlined above.  Furthermore, he has shown much more teeth in dealing with the Chinese than many of the presidents before him.  For this reason, and for this particular issue, it seems more likely that our current president, Mr. Barack Obama would handle China in a more effective manner.

Nonetheless, Mr. Romney has made an attractive case in the China issue.  If he follows through on his plans, then America will benefit greatly from it.  Can Mitt Romney take the presidency from Barack Obama?  Besides China, the American economy is a big issue right now, and Governor Romney has made some strong statements about creating work for Americans.  Will President Obama be able to counter Romney’s attacks on his business credentials?  There is still a long time before election day this November, what do you think?

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Obama Mentions Vietnam Dissident in May 3rd Statement

Posted in Democracy Activists, Politics with tags , , , , , , on June 8, 2012 by Ian Pham

Over one month ago, on May 3, 2012, a world celebration known as World Press Freedom Day was held in Carthage, Tunisia.  Many world leaders delivered messages of celebration and commemoration that day, including President Barack Obama.  The President included many prominent names in his statements.  One of which was Dieu Cay, a well known democracy activist imprisoned by the Vietnamese government since 2008.

In the words of President Obama,

“As we condemn recent detentions of journalists like Mazen Darwish, a leading proponent of free speech in Syria, and call for their immediate release, we must not forget others like blogger Dieu Cay, whose 2008 arrest coincided with a mass crackdown on citizen journalism in Vietnam, or journalist Dawit Isaak who has been held incommunicado by the Eritrean government for over a decade without formal charge or trial.”

Dieu Cay is the pen name for Vietnamese blogger and freedom activist Nguyen Van Hai.  He has been detained by the Communist government in Vietnam since 2008 for protesting China’s actions in Tibet, the Spratly Islands, and criticizing the country’s Olympic torch relay.  Idiotically, yet unsurprisingly, the Vietnamese government imprisoned Dieu Cay under the charges “tax evasion”, which is bogus to say the least.

Following his release in 2010, Dieu Cay continued to express his opinions on his blog, before being harassed and imprisoned by the Communist Police once again.  To this day, blogger Nguyen “Dieu Cay” Van Hai is still serving time in Vietnamese jail for charges of “conducting propaganda against the state”.  He is currently facing a possible 20 years in prison, unless he pleads guilty to the bogus charges and concedes to the Communists.  International pressure on the Vietnamese government may help reduce this sentence, as Dieu Cay refuses to plead guilty.

It is a wonder what caught the attention of President Obama to Vietnam’s current human rights situation.  Though it is true that he was aware of the matter, he had yet to publicly speak out in defense of a single dissident, until May 3, that is.  One very viable possibility, is the recent surge of information and momentum made possible by Mr. Truc Ho, the White House petition, and the music of Viet Khang.

We have said in the past that the president listens, now we know that he listens.  Not only does the president listen however, but he also speaks.  Whether you recognize it or not, President Obama wants the votes of Vietnamese Americans, and is now starting to reach out to the Vietnamese community in the U.S.  As members of a proud and democratic nation, we can help foster this movement by exercising our democratic rights.  It’s election season, people.  Let’s show the candidates that we got the vote.

For the full statement by President Obama on Press Freedom Day, May 3, 2012, click here:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/05/03/statement-president-world-press-freedom-day

Truc Ho’s Dedication and the Trip to Washington

Posted in Democracy Activists, Politics, Society with tags , , , , , , on March 10, 2012 by Ian Pham

This past Monday, Vietnamese musical producer and democracy activist Truc Ho flew to Washington D.C., hoping to meet with the President of the United States.  Mr. Truc has been looking forward to this day, campaigning non-stop over the case of the imprisoned musician Viet Khang.  However, upon his arrival at the White House, Mr. Truc was not greeted by the President, or even a representive on his behalf.  What followed instead were a series of confusing events which many are still trying to understand.

The full details of what happened at the White House is still unclear, the only certainty is that there was miscommunication, on many fronts.  According to sources, Mr. Truc was expected at the White House, but his hosts were unclear on who they were meeting.  The officials at the White House had organized a conference briefing on the leaders of the Vietnamese youth, thinking that Truc Ho was a leader of this group.  When Truc Ho arrived in the conference room, he thought he was in the wrong place.  To his surprise, this room was meant for him.

When it became clear that the White House officials had made a mistake, Truc Ho had to explain to them that he was not a leader of the Vietnamese youth.  He was simply a democracy activist trying to raise the issue of human rights in Vietnam to the U.S. government.  After this disappointing ordeal, Mr. Truc Ho departed from the White House and proceeded outside to his many supporters at the White House entrance.  Many of Truc Ho’s supporters had made the trip to Wasington with him, showing that they are behind him 100%.

In the end, Mr. Truc Ho did not meet President Obama, though he was contacted by the White House at the beginning.  Even so, this event should not be labelled as a failure.  Because of his efforts, Truc Ho was able to spread awareness across the globe about the human rights abuses in Vietnam.  Not only did he capture the attention of the Vietnamese in the United States, but in many other countries all over the world.  In 30 short days, Truc Ho’s petition had achieved 149,050 signatures!  Thanks to him, citizens in America, Canada, Australia, France, and many other nations know of Viet Khang and Vietnam’s desperate need for change.

This struggle for freedom and democracy in Vietnam is not a one step process.  It is long and difficult, with many challenges and obstacles along the way.  The belief that President Barack Obama was going fix all of Vietnam’s problems was simply too good to be true.  Truc Ho may not have met with the President, but his movement was a success.  I commend Mr. Truc Ho, along with his team over at SBTN for all of their hard work.  Thanks to them, the Vietnamese across the world are united.  Not only that, but the people in Vietnam now know we are out there, and that we stand behind them no matter what.  This is not the end, people, this is only the beginning.  Freedom for Vietnam.

The President Listens

Posted in Politics, Society with tags , , , , , on February 24, 2012 by Ian Pham

Great news, people!  As of this moment, the human rights petition established by Truc Ho has achieved more than 70,000 signatures!  Furthermore, the success of the petition has captured the attention of a very important individual.  Barack Obama, the President of the United States of America, has answered the calls of the people.  According to SBTN, President Obama is very interested in the petition, and even more interested in the music of Viet Khang.

In the coming weeks, March 5, 2012, Mr. Truc Ho will be meeting President Obama in Washington to discuss the circumstances of Viet Khang, as well as the broader human rights situation in Vietnam.  It is also the wishes of President Obama to listen to Viet Khang’s songs, “Viet Nam Toi Dau (Where’s My Vietnam)?” and “Anh La Ai (Who Are You)?”.  The President wants to understand the words of Viet Khang, to see how the musician has been captivating so many people across the world.

This is a result of Mr. Truc’s hard work and dedication, as he has been advertising and campaigning endlessly on behalf of the imprisoned musician.  At this point in time, the We, the People petition has gained over 70,000 signatures, shattering the minimum threshold of 25,000 signatures.  This is a major accomplishment, but one would be wrong to assume that it is enough.

We may have surpassed the threshold of 25,000, but this is only the beginning, as there is still much work to do.  According to Truc Ho, and it should be obvious to all of us, the power of a petition lies in its signatures.  If we achieve 25,000, which we did, the president will be answering the calls of 25,000 people.  However, if we achieve 100,000 signatures, the president would be responding to 100,000 people! Now imagine 250,000 people, how powerful our voice would be then?

As citizens of democracy, we have the power to make our voices heard by our leaders.  The fact that President Obama, the most powerful man in the world, has taken the time to look over this petition, clearly demonstrates how important our voice is to him.  As autonomous individuals, we don’t all have money and we don’t all have corporate muscle.  What we do have however, all of us, is the vote.  If you think that your voice does not matter to the government, please think again.  You all have the power to make a change, and many of you have already done so much.  Thank you, now let’s keep going!