Published daily by the Lowy Institute


Articles by Helen Clark (16)

  • Laos: Struggling to get out of China's shadow

    Laos probably hoped for more from last week's ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting. US Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Lao Foreign Minister Saleumxay Kommasith (Photo: US Dept of State) In the lead up to the event held in the Laos capital of Vientiane, many wondered if the South China Sea dispute would wreak the same havoc as it did at the Cambodia meeting four years ago, when a failure to agree meant hat, for the first time in 45 years, no joint communique was issued. This time around, a j
  • Obama in Vietnam: Street food soft power trumps choosing fish

    President Barack Obama’s visit to Vietnam (the first by a US president in nearly 10 years) came at a time of unusual political turmoil. In mid-May I wrote on how the large 'fish kill drama' was the first test for the new government in Vietnam, and that until both the immediate problems were properly addressed and the deeper underlying public worries of food security and management of foreign investment taken into account, people would continue to 'choose fish’ over economic development.  Howeve
  • As fishing protests turn violent, Vietnam's new government faces its first test

    Almost every worry in modern-day Vietnam is represented in the fish kill saga. The test for the government is not just in how to respond to protests over pollution, but how to manage many of the deeper problems these protests reflect. Cracking heads at demonstrations has little long term viability. Even in a one-party nation, unexpected political landmines can wrongfoot a government, as the ca chet (dead fish) protests in Vietnam show.
  • Vietnam jails bloggers: Latest chapter in a sorry (and failed) saga of internet censorship

    Two bloggers went on trial in Vietnam last week, charged under Section 258 of the criminal code which relates to abusing democratic freedoms. Section 258 is one of the three, somewhat elastic, sections commonly used in these cases. They were soon sentenced, to five and three years out of a possible seven-year maximum by the Hanoi People’s Court. The United Nations, Human Rights Watch, The Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders all quickly issued condemnatory statements.
  • Vietnam's National Congress: With Dung out, will reform slow?

    Vietnam has just finished its 12th National Congress, the five-yearly event that decides the direction of the country. It is largely conducted behind closed doors, with the local press carrying little more than official statements or excitable-yet-boilerplate copy (see here for some communist elan). Outgoing Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.
  • Vietnam and Australia: Common interests should be reflected in closer ties

    Richard Woolcott recently called for 'a much more sustained conversation with our neighbouring countries in Asia and the south-west Pacific' ('The Turnbull era: Eight Ideas for Fine-Tuning Australian Foreign Policy') and suggested some ways to achieve it, including: greater engagement with regional forums, a clarified approach to the US-China relationship, and prioritising Indonesia. All very worthy, But what about improving bilateral ties with more south-east Asian nations, and Vietnam in part
  • Vietnam draws closer to US, but not too close

    The US and Vietnam have just signed a Joint Vision Statement, but don't expect them to join forces against China. An alliance is ultimately straw-man talk, but provides a useful way to look at the US-Vietnam-China triangle. Last weekend's Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore had one main focus: the South China Sea and China's movements in it.
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