Archive for the ‘World trade Organization’ Category

For Ex-Miss Vietnam; Uneasy Lies The Head That Quit High School

November 7, 2008

Vietnam’s new penchant for beauty pageants took an ugly turn after government inspectors found that the new Miss Vietnam didn’t live up to their exacting standards.

Like many up-and-coming nations, Vietnam has been using beauty contests to quickly make its mark on the world. In July, Vietnam played host to the Miss Universe pageant, which was presided over by Jerry Springer and former Spice Girl Melanie Brown (the one known as “Scary Spice”).

By James Hookway
The Wall Street Journal

For many ordinary Vietnamese, the event was more compelling evidence that the country has arrived than joining the World Trade Organization was the year before. Newspapers and TV channels repeatedly pointed out that this was the first time Miss Universe has been held in a Communist country.

But that pride crumbled after government investigators found that the new Miss Vietnam, crowned on Aug. 31, hadn’t finished high school.

[Tran Thi Thuy]

Tran Thi Thuy Dung

Shocked, Ministry of Culture officials stripped 18-year-old Tran Thi Thuy Dung of her most coveted prize — the right to represent Vietnam at this month’s Miss World contest in Johannesburg. Government officials in Hanoi are now trying to find a suitable candidate to send to South Africa. So far, they’ve drawn a blank.

In an interview in her hometown of Danang, in the center of Vietnam’s long, snaking coastline, Ms. Thuy Dung tried to shake off her disappointment at staying behind. “I wish Vietnam can still find the right candidate to send to Miss World, even if it isn’t me,” she said.

Other Vietnamese feel their government’s rigorous enforcement of its beauty-pageant rules has botched their chances of winning the contest. Britain and Australia don’t have any minimum educational requirement for their national beauty contests, while the U.S. gives beauty queens six months to finish high school after their first competition.

“If Ms. Thuy Dung doesn’t have a high-school diploma, she can always make it up later,” says Trung Thi Anh Nga, 22, who works in a boutique here. “If Vietnam doesn’t send a contestant to Miss World, it would be a shame and suggest we don’t have anybody beautiful enough to go.”

The head of the Ministry of Culture’s Performing Arts Agency is having none of this criticism. Le Ngoc Cuong says he has Vietnam’s reputation to protect.

“If we didn’t have the education requirement, then lots of girls would drop out of school to focus on beauty pageants, and we can’t let that happen,” says Mr. Cuong, who is also a well-known choreographer of ballets and a winner of Vietnam’s National Artist award.

Read the rest:

Vietnam ranks 6th in foreign investment

March 21, 2008

HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam, March 21 (UPI) — Vietnam now ranks sixth in the world in attracting foreign investment, a report issued Friday said.Within a year after joining the World Trade Organization, Vietnam has attracted more than $98 billion in foreign investments, which trails only China, India, Russia, India, the United States and Brazil, the Vietnam News reported.

Over the past year, the country has also signed agreements on Rights of Intellectual Property, reduced tariffs, shed subsidies under World Trade Organization guidelines and opened doors to financial investments, the report said.

“Vietnam will continue to develop local resources and take initiatives to integrate into the global economy, especially focusing on improving international trade and investment co-operation,” the head of the Foreign Investment Department Phan Huu Thang said at a conference of business leaders in Ho Chi Minh City Thursday.

The country’s goal for 2006 through 2010 is to attract $150 billion in foreign investment, the report said.

China, Vietnam: Global Issues

January 11, 2008

To U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte;

Dear Sir;

The Public Affairs section of your U.S. State Department announced yesterday that you would travel to China and Vietnam January 16-20, 2008.

John Negroponte
John Negroponte

We know you are well aware of the many issues of interest to the United States and the greater global community with regard to China and Vietnam but we fear that sometimes the niceties of diplomatic discourse mutes the message to China and Vietnam.

Here are the top issues we urge you to consider raising in Beijing and Hanoi:

Human Rights: Both China and Vietnam are on the list of nations who routinely violate human rights. The U.S. Department of state and the United Nations have documented many abuses yet the consequences for the communist governments of China and Vietnam have been inconsequential. China agreed to alleviate human rights abuses during its selection to host the Summer Olympic games later this year. Vietnam said it would address human rights more directly as it was seeking acceptance to the World Trade Organization (WTO). Most human rights organizations say those promises from China and Vietnam turned out to be lies – and the world community has largely stood by idly.

Darfur: China is Sudan’s number one trading partner; yet China continues to largely look the other way at the abuses and possibly even genocide in Darfur. In the last few days, two news items highlighted this problem. First, U.N. peacekeeping chief Jean-Marie Guéhenno told the Security Council on Wednesday that U.N. peacekeeping forces lack the troops and equipment necessary to improve the situation in violence-wracked Darfur and will continue to be ineffective until mid-2008. And, Second, China’s senior diplomat for Sudan and Darfur denied any linkage between the human rights abuses in Darfur and China’s Olympic Games. Liu Guijin, special envoy for Darfur, said China cannot be held responsible for the actions of the government of Sudan. But we wonder if China has exerted its influence in Sudan commensurate with its vast business interests there including oil drilling, infrastructure projects and weapons sales.

Pollution: China and Vietnam are now among the world’s leaders in pollution and global warming. Both nations have extremely high degrees of polluted ground water, much of it caused by over-use of pesticides and fertilizers. We urge the United States to offer ways to ameliorate this problem though training, scientific applications and the use of better methods and chemicals. China’s air pollution is now so severe that Olympic teams are expressing concern for the health of their athletes and nations such as Japan have protested that the air pollution produced in China is now impacting nations around the globe. We urge the United states to continue to raise this issue with Beijing.

Beijing is rushing to make its air clean for the 2008 Olympics, but experts say it will be impossible for the site to be totally safe for athletes at the global sporting event.

Above: A beautiful, sunny morning near Beijing.

Territorial and Resources dispute: China and Vietnam are embroiled in a long-standing dispute over islands and resources in the South China Sea. We urge you to pledge that the United states will participate in resolution of this dispute if asked and certinly the united nations might be able to assist in this matter. The disagreement came to a boil in November and December after China reasserted its claim to the islands. The people of Vietnam reacted so vocally in protests and blogging that China asked the communist government in Vietnam to quell the dissent. This ugly dispute, without resolution, has many possible outcomes: all of which would be harmful to regional peace and stability.
A Vietnamese protestor demonstrates against a Chinese move to exert control over two disputed archipelagos 
China’s actions in the South
China Sea sparked protests
in Vietnam

Dear Sir; we appreciate your efforts dealing with China and Vietnam and offer these suggestions for the future benefit of all mankind.

Peace and Freedom


Rice’s deputy to visit China, Vietnam

Chinese Envoy Denounces Efforts to Link Darfur Concerns, Beijing Olympics

Darfur peacekeeping set back by 6 months

China blogger beaten to death

Secretary Negroponte: Secure The Release of At Least One Jailed In Vietnam

Senate Panel Indicates Readiness to “Squeeze China” Over Currency

July 27, 2007

A country builds its military strength on the back of its economic development.  The West has dealt China a hand with all aces.”

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
July 27, 2007

On the eve of a landmark visit to China by U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, the U.S. Senate’s Finance Committee voted 20-1 to force China to raise the value of its currency.

The Bush Administration opposes the legislation.

But that is no matter.

The president is weak, with some of the lowest approval ratings for any president, and the 20-1 committee vote indicates that the Senate may be able to offer currency legislation aimed at China that would survive any presidential veto.

On Tuesday and Wednesday we wrote about Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson’s trip to China next week under the headline, “To The U.S. Treasury Secretary: China Is Your Worst Nightmare, Sir” (see link below).

One would have to conclude that Secretary Paulson’s nightmare just got longer, scarier, and more convoluted.

“It is time to pass legislation that will have a real effect, and this bill will. A vote of 20-to-1 signals veto-proof support and shows the Chinese it is time to start playing by the rules,” said New York Democrat Senator Charles Schumer.

Senate Finance Committee Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat, said that China’s currency has been undervalued for some time, making Chinese goods very affordable in the U.S. while U.S. goods are overpriced and often go unsold in China.

The net impact of China’s undervalued currency is a trade deficit for the U.S. with China of a record $232.5 billion in 2006. That deficit will certainly be larger this year.

According to Reuters, “The bill would repeal current law requiring the Treasury Department to determine every six months whether a foreign country is manipulating its currency for a trade advantage, and replace it with a new semi-annual report identifying countries with ‘fundamentally misaligned currencies.’”

Politically, the Senate committee action on Thursday is a blow to the Bush Administration which has given China opportunities to act on its own before. Presumably, Treasury Secretary Paulson’s trip to China next week was meant to send the message to China that time was running out for it to act on its own.

Now Secretary Paulson will arrive among some of China’s leadership that undoubtedly will be insulted by Thursday’s Senate committee action.

A Treasury Department insider that asked not to be identified said to Peace and Freedom, “Why don’t they just make Treasury Secretary Paulson walk the plank? Why don’t they just shoot him? He is prepared, well prepared, for some rather tricky diplomatic activity, and now the U.S. Senate annoys the Chinese on the eve of the trip? Incredible. I don’t even know why we are going any more.”

Secretary Paulson may now be put in the position of smoothing ruffled Chinese feathers. China will believe it is being forced to raise the value of its currency by the U.S. Congress.

China would much prefer to be asked by America’s Chief Executive or act on its own.

A consultant in China told us, “The Chinese are very proud. It was not necessary to make a scene in order to achieve the U.S. goal. Now there is potentially bad blood between the two nations without reason.”

I asked my friend Les Lothringer in ShangHai to commment on the situation. Les is a veteran business consultant with over 30 years of commercial experience. He is president of West/Asia Strategy.

Les said, “Regrettably the US has been losing manufacturing capability for some two decades now, driven by short term policies. The danger is just not a misaligned currency but the loss of industrial capabilities, to the advantage of non-democratic regimes, among others. You might say that the West is indulging in riotous living.”

He ended with, “Any country that has no control over its manufacturing is under the control of any other country that supplies its essentials.  A country builds its military strength on the back of its economic development.  The West has dealt China a hand with all aces.

Again we wish all the best to Secretary of the U.S. Treasury Paulson on his mission to China.

To The U.S. Treasury Secretary: China Is Your Worst Nightmare, Sir

China: No More Mister Nice Guy

Senate panel OKs currency bill aimed at China

July 27, 2007

By Doug Palmer 
July 27, 2007

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Senate Finance Committee voted 20-1 on Thursday (July 26)  to give the U.S. government new tools to press China to raise the value of its currency, but the Bush administration said it opposed the bill.

The overwhelming vote shows Congress is headed toward passing legislation by a big enough margin to overcome any presidential veto, said Sen. Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat who helped craft the measure.

“It is time to pass legislation that will have a real effect, and this bill will. A vote of 20-to-1 signals veto-proof support and shows the Chinese ….

Read the rest at:

To The U.S. Treasury Secretary: China Is Your Worst Nightmare, Sir

China: No More Mister Nice Guy

Senate Panel Indicates Readiness to “Squeeze China” Over Currency (July 27, 2007)

Vietnam: U.S. Congresswoman Expresses Concern

July 25, 2007

July 24, 2007

Washington, D.C. – Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) today sent a letter to Vietnamese President Triet, expressing her “serious disappointment regarding the treatment of the peaceful protesters in Ho Chi Minh City on July 18, 2007.” The letter, which calls on the Vietnamese President to personally explain the brutal crackdown on peaceful human rights activists, was also forwarded to Secretary of State Rice. The letter also states that Vietnam is failing to meet the human rights standards that the Unites States expects from its trading partners and that it must make a strong commitment to the promotion of human rights.

  Zoe Lofgren

The complete text of the letter is below:July 24, 2007 His Excellency
President Triet
c/o Embassy of Vietnam
1233 20th Street, NW #400
Washington, DC 20036

Dear President Triet: 

I am writing to express my serious disappointment regarding the treatment of the peaceful protesters in Ho Chi Minh City on July 18, 2007.  It is my understanding that approximately 1,500 Vietnamese police were dispatched to break up a peaceful sit-in of 1,700 peasants.  I have seen reports that approximately 30 peasants were severely injured through acts of violence by the police. 

As a Member of Congress who has advocated for human rights in Vietnam, I am very concerned about these reports of police violence at a peaceful sit-in.  I am especially concerned given that you recently visited with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on June 22 and she expressed to you the importance of human rights in the relationship between the United States and Vietnam.  She and other Members of Congress have made it clear that if the relationship between our two countries is to develop, Vietnam must make a strong commitment to the promotion of human rights. 

In fact, prior to Vietnam’s accession to the World Trade Organization, you and President Bush affirmed that human rights must be an inexorable part of Vietnam’s integration into the world community.  These sentiments were echoed by President Bush during your recent visit to the United States. 

Given the discussion of the importance of human rights at your June 2007 meeting with Speaker Pelosi and Members of Congress, I am disappointed and disturbed by the reports of police brutality in Ho Chi Minh City on July 18, 2007.  I expect to see the Government of Vietnam pay serious attention to human rights.  The continued reports of human rights violations in Vietnam in the recent months are failing to convince the people of the United States that Vietnam meets the human rights standards expected of trading partners and members of the international community. 

I would like to hear from you directly why these violent actions were taken by the police against peaceful protestors.


Zoe Lofgren

Member of Congress

Vietnam: Farmers Protest Government Land Seizures

Vietnam: Respect Rights to Free Expression, Assembly

July 20, 2007

From: Human Rights Watch

(Washington, DC, July 20, 2007)  The police suppression of a peaceful protest in Ho Chi Minh City on July 18, 2007 is a vivid demonstration of Vietnam’s continuing intolerance for government critics and the limits it imposes on free expression and assembly, Human Rights Watch said today. Hundreds of farmers from more than a dozen provinces in Vietnam had been protesting government land seizures outside Ho Chi Minh City’s National Assembly building for almost a month. Police tore down the protestors’ banners and signs, and took away some of the protestors on buses, according to eyewitnesses.

“The crackdown on this demonstration shows Hanoi continues to curtail people’s rights,” said Sophie Richardson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “If Vietnam really has joined the community of nations, it should tolerate dissent, not crush it.”

Similar ? although smaller ? protests have been held in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi in recent years, largely in response to local officials’ expropriation of farmland without properly compensating those dispossessed. This recent protest, like past gatherings, had been closely monitored by uniformed and plainclothes police since it began in the third week of June. At least one person had already been arrested for bringing food to the demonstrators prior to the protest’s dispersal.

A smaller gathering raising the same issues had also come together in recent days in Hanoi. Vietnamese authorities have a history of suppressing the rights of assembly and free expression for peaceful dissidents and protestors. The government is likely to have broken up the most recent protest in part because prominent critics of the government and members of the banned Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV) voiced support for the protest. Since joining the World Trade Organization and hosting the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Hanoi in November 2006, the government has cracked down on its critics, arresting and sentencing dozens, including prominent religious figures, journalists, and scholars.

On July 13, a UBCV delegation visited the protestors and brought them food and money. On July 17, the Most Venerable Thich Quang Do, the 79-year-old deputy leader of the UBCV, made a similar visit. This was a rare public appearance by Thich Quang Do, who has been under house arrest for 26 years. “The Vietnamese government repeatedly says it’s committed to reform and the rule of law, yet it stops citizens from peacefully protesting about abuse by local officials,” said Richardson. Human Rights Watch urged the Vietnamese government to respect the protesters’ rights to peacefully gather and air their grievances. These rights are guaranteed by the Vietnamese constitution and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Vietnam acceded in 1992.

US targets Chinese music download rules

July 19, 2007

By BRADLEY S. KLAPPER, Associated Press Writer

GENEVA – The United States is seeking consultations with China over rules on music downloading and cinema rights that appear to discriminate against foreign sound recordings and films, a U.S. trade official said Wednesday.

In its written statement to the WTO, the U.S. said “various measures in China appear to impose market access restriction or discriminatory requirements on foreign service suppliers seeking to engage in the digital distribution of sound recordings.”

Read the rest: