Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

U.S. Competes With China for Vietnam’s Allegiance

As reported by Jane Perlez of the New York Times, Vietnam’s fast paced emergence as an economic power in East Asia has sparked the interest of two major world players: China and the United States.

The Vietnamese leaders have expressed that although they are ideologically aligned with Beijing, they fear that developing close economic ties with China may lead to uncontrollable Chinese influence within the country.

United States leaders are aware of Vietnam’s worry. Recent visits by Donald Rumsfeld and Bill Gates indicate that the US is actively seeking close economic ties with Veitnam so that they can contain Chinese economic power together.

Beyond the economic ties, the relationship between the US and Vietnam still has its fair share of obstacles. Many in Washington are still troubled by the poor human rights record in Vietnam and there are numerous Vietnamese-Americans who strongly oppose the Hanoi government.

According to this piece,

“Two-way trade between the United States and Vietnam rose to nearly $8 billion last year — from less than $1 billion in 2001 — most of it shrimp, clothes and shoes exports for American shoppers.

“Not to be outdone, the Chinese commerce minister, Bo Xilai, said in a visit here this month that trade between Vietnam and China could reach $10 billion in 2006, an increase of almost 40 percent from 2005.

“In one of the most significant new American investments, Intel chose Ho Chi Minh City as the site of a $600 million microchip plant that will begin production in 2008. With Vietnam's membership in the World Trade Organization expected in the fall, scouts for American banks, and insurance and telecommunications companies are knocking on doors here, poised to invest.

“China's investments have been mostly in raw materials like coal and bauxite, and in building roads and rails that will connect the long coast of Vietnam to southern China.

“One of the nation's best known new entrepreneurs, Ly Qui Trung, 40, opened a noodle soup store three years ago and now has 33 outlets with distinctive décor and polite service, all modeled on McDonald's.

“Called Pho 24, after the national dish of noodles, beef, spices and greens served in an aromatic broth, the stores earn their franchisees up to $40,000 a year, Mr. Trung says, a handsome income in Vietnam.

“ ‘I use the method of McDonald's: everything is standardized, everything is uniform,’ he said. ‘It's nine steps from taking the order to serving the food to saying goodbye.’ ”

To read the article in full, click here


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