Monday 27 Jun 2022 | 08:35 | SYDNEY
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Vietnam

Thailand seeking to profit from a global food crisis

In response to worldwide supply chain issues caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – who between them previously accounted for nearly one-third of global wheat supplies – the Thai government, headed by 2014 coup leader Prayuth Chan-ocha, is seeking to profit from the 45 per cent increase

Diplomacy is indispensable to manage the Mekong

Milton Osborne mischaracterises the Mekong River Commission when writing last month in The Interpreter that the regional organisation “ignores reality”. To say we were “celebrating” the health of the river at our Mekong Day event on 5 April overlooks the fact that on that day I continued to

Taming troubled waters

While regional countries respond to Covid-19 and the many social and economic consequences, ensuring peace and stability in the South China Sea has become even more important due to its role in connecting continents, fostering international trade and ensuring supply chains are not broken. This will

How the Mekong River Commission ignores reality

Among the many “days” celebrated by the international community, one entrant seems especially incongruous. “Mekong Day” was proclaimed by the Mekong River Commission’s (MRC) headquarters in Vientiane to celebrate the signature of the “Agreement on the Cooperation and Sustainable

China’s nine-dash line proves stranger than fiction

Vietnam recently banned the film Uncharted from domestic distribution due to a scene depicting an “illegal image” of China’s infamous “nine-dash line”. This is not the first time popular culture has become embroiled in the politics of the South China Sea. In 2021, the Philippines’

Stiffening the ASEAN spine in the South China Sea

“Coalition” is one of those politically loaded terms that the sovereignty-conscious member-states of ASEAN tend to avoid – especially in dealing with disputed claims in the South China Sea. Keeping the region away from direct conflict with its giant neighbour the People’s Republic of China

Reading Southeast Asia on Ukraine 

Southeast Asia doesn’t much matter to the outcome of a war far away in Europe. Yet Southeast Asian countries responses to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine offer an insight into the region’s ability to navigate sharpening major power rivalries. So how does the region’s response stack up so far

Vietnam: “Let them eat steak”

There are plenty of ways to squander good will. Vietnam’s communist party has picked an oldie but goodie, with a twist (of salt). Minister for Public Security Tô Lâm has been caught eating a terrifically expensive steak, prepared by a celebrity chef after meeting his French counterpart to

Arms control is not just about arms

Relations between Russian and the United States have been rocky since the 2014 Crimean crisis. Washington imposed various sanctions on the Kremlin in the aftermath of the annexation, accusing it of violating Ukrainian sovereignty. US charges of Russian interferences in the 2016 and 2020 elections

Vietnam had seemingly conquered Covid. Then Delta spread

Ho Chi Minh City and the wider south in Vietnam finished its 24-hour-a-day Covid-19 lockdown of three months last week, allowing people to venture out to buy food rather than wait for soldiers to coordinate deliveries to their homes. Soldiers had manned barricades between precincts as part of social

Russia and Vietnam: An alliance of convenience

Russia is one of the biggest suppliers of weapons to Southeast Asia, with Vietnam alone a major customer for Russia’s arms. While it is estimated that throughout the 1980s Moscow had provided Vietnam with an average of US$1 billion annually in military assistance and another US$1 billion annually

Bad news for Vietnam’s Mekong Delta

The release of recent research from the Netherlands adds an additional insight into what is happening in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta, the country’s all-important food producing region that contributes some fifty per cent to its agricultural GDP. In a stark conclusion the research cites 2050 as the

Obstacles and opportunities in Vietnam-Australia ties

Australia and Vietnam officially became strategic partners in 2018, promising to expand cooperation across multiple domains. Yet economic ties have grown slowly from a relatively low starting point, while defence relations are mostly restricted to training and high-level dialogues. Education and

The ups and downs of the Vietnam–North Korea relationship

When the 2019 Hanoi summit ended in failure, then–US President Donald Trump generously offered his counterpart, North Korean Chairman Kim Jong-un, a ride home on Air Force One. Little did Trump know that unlike him, Kim was in Hanoi not only for the summit. He was also there to revive Vietnam–

The South China Sea map that wasn’t

On 9 September, the US embassy in Hanoi published on Facebook a map of Vietnam on a poster to commemorate the 25th anniversary of US-Vietnam diplomatic relations. At first the map did not attract much attention, given both countries had celebrated the occasion on 11 July, the official date of the

Chinese dams and the Mekong drought

The latest reports from the Lower Mekong Basin are cause for growing concern that another period of drought will succeed that of 2019, affecting Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. Expected rainfall from late May through June and July has not arrived, and the level of water flowing in the river is

Why Vietnam embraces multilateralism at this uncertain time

Today the mere mention of multilateralism leaves many jeering that the heyday of international cooperation has past. Isolationist politics appear preferred. Yet Vietnam’s recent activism in multilateral forums appears to demonstrate that Hanoi does not believe that cooperation is a faded luxury.

Vietnam defies the odds on Covid-19

If you want to see real Olympic-level panic-buying, head to a Vietnamese supermarket a week before Tet, or Lunar New Year.   Yet when the coronavirus broke out in China, Vietnam, with which it shares a border, there was only an hour or two of panic-buying before things settled down to

On the Mekong, Khon Pi rapids saved – for now

Just over a year ago, I reported on the uncertain future of the Khon Pi rapids, located near the Thai town of Chiang Khong and lying in the riverbed between Thailand and Laos. At issue was the desire of a Chinese company to blast the rapids and thus open the course of the Mekong for commercial

Forging consensus in the South China Sea

Analysis as to how Hanoi might resolve its South China Sea disputes with other claimants has been overshadowed by a near exclusive depiction of its competition with Beijing. Hanoi’s current maritime disputes with Beijing have presented few opportunities for strategic progress. Comparatively, the

Another dam on the Mekong

Since the announcement in July last year that the Lao government was notifying the Mekong River Commission (MRC) of its intention to proceed with the construction of a dam due to be completed by 2027, not far from the old royal capital of Luang Prabang, there has been a steady increase in the

Policing Vietnam: How Australia could help

Visitors to Vietnam’s premier police training institution are greeted by a statue of the country’s first president Hồ Chí Minh with his right hand raised and the index finger gently pointing as if to convey an important lesson to the audience. Vietnam has a reputation for valuing education

The Amazing Race flies into North Korea

Even as tensions between the United States and North Korea remain high ­– North Korea’s First Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui recently berated the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for describing Pyongyang’s behaviour as “rogue” ­– the North Korean charm offensive is still in full

The Vanguard Bank standoff shows China remains undeterred

Tensions have risen once again in the South China Sea. For weeks, Chinese and Vietnamese coastguard vessels have been involved in a confrontation after the Chinese survey ship Haiyang Dizhi 8 (HD8) entered waters near the Vietnam-controlled Vanguard Bank on 3 July. The incident has upset both Hanoi

The Vietnamese venue will shape the second Trump-Kim summit

The news is in. US President Donald Trump will meet North Korean Chairman Kim Jong-un for the second time on February 27-28. Instead of Singapore, this time Vietnam will play host. Although there are many concerns regarding the prospect of success for the second summit and North Korea’s

Vietnam: why blogger Mother Mushroom went free

During US Secretary of Defense James Mattis’ two-day visit to Vietnam last week, the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) quietly released the high-profile dissident blogger known as ‘Mẹ Nấm,’ or Mother Mushroom, on the condition of her exile to the United States. While Mattis’ trip and the

Vietnam’s quandary: red or green?

A hand-crafted map on the wall of the Vietnam Academy of Agriculture Sciences (VAAS) neatly captures the country’s strategic vulnerabilities as it emerges as a dynamic new regional player. The map is fashioned out of grains of rice to demonstrate Vietnam’s agricultural production prowess, but it

Death of a president: no power vacuum in Vietnam

The death of Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang was unexpected by the general public: he was due to address the UN General Assembly this week, and Vietnam’s one-party system has a long tradition of keeping a veil of secrecy around the health status of its top leaders. But Quang’s passing

Facebook and Vietnam’s new cybersecurity law

This article was co-authored with a Vietnamese journalist, Cecelia Nguyen. She is a freelance journalist in Vietnam working across a range of media. Her works focus on social injustice, culture, gender issues, youth and education. She has worked with a range of international news

Vietnam: a month of mass protests

June 2018 may go down as a new record for mass protests in Vietnam. Thousands of people across the three main regions of the country took to the streets, mostly in a peaceful manner, to protest against two controversial bills tabled at the National Assembly: the now-delayed special

Vietnam: reconciling the diaspora

In 2018, Vietnam and Australia marked the 45th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic relations by upgrading their ties to a strategic partnership. On this occasion, however, it is hard not to reflect on the disparity between the Vietnamese diaspora and homeland. Almost 45 years after the

Russian pragmatism on display in South East Asia

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu visited Myanmar recently in a clear display of Moscow’s pragmatism. Many Western observers, especially from the US, present Vladimir Putin as either a Machiavellian mixer with almost superhuman abilities – he who put Donald Trump in the White House and

The Vietnamese Communist Party’s corruption hunt

On Monday, Vietnam’s former transport minister Dinh La Thang was sentenced to 13 years in prison. Another prominent figure, Trinh Xuan Thanh, received a life sentence for “deliberate violation of state regulations on economic management”. It is first time in Vietnam’s recent political

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