Diplomatic Briefing

Your exclusive news aggregator handpicked daily!

Archive for Vietnam

Newsline: Vietnam’s foreign ministry pledges to protect legal rights acts in South China Sea

Vietnam’s foreign ministry pledged to protect its legal rights after a Vietnamese ship monitored a Chinese Coast Guard vessel on Saturday in a Russian-operated gas field in Vietnam’s South China Sea exclusive economic zone (EEZ). A spokeswoman for Vietnam’s foreign ministry said that Vietnam acts in the South China Sea “to protect its legal rights”. (https://neuters.de/world/asia-pacific/vietnam-sends-ship-track-chinese-vessel-patrolling-russian-gas-field-eez-data-2023-03-27/) Chinese coast guard ships have sailed directly into energy exploration blocks operated or owned by Russian firms in Vietnam’s EEZ about 40 times since January 2022, according to vessel-tracking data from Vietnamese research organisation South China Sea Chronicle Initiative (SCSCI), an independent non-profit. The gas-rich fields exploited by the Russian companies are among the furthest from Vietnam’s coast and are close to the strategic boundary with Indonesia’s EEZ, and to blocks claimed by China. Zarubezhneft, Gazprom, and Russia’s foreign ministry and embassy in Hanoi did not respond to requests for comment. A spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry said the Chinese Coast Guard carries out patrols in the areas under China’s jurisdiction in the South China Sea while respecting international law, and said it was not aware of patrols in energy exploration blocks operated by Russian firms. Exclusive economic zones generally extend 200 nautical miles (370km) beyond its shores. By international law, a country’s territorial waters – in which it can control all activities – typically extend about 12 nautical miles from its shores. Conflicts can arise where such claims overlap. Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Brunei are among other countries that have competing claims in the South China Sea.

Newsline: Vietnam faces increased diplomatic disputes over Spratly Islands

As territorial tensions mount in the area around the Spratly Islands, known in Vietnam as Truong Sa, Hanoi moves towards a sad anniversary. On March 14, 1988, 64 Vietnam’s naval personnel died in combat defending Johnson Reef, known in Vietnam as Gac Ma, against China’s assault. As the 35th anniversary of the Gac Ma battle approaches, Vietnam remains determined to defend its sovereignty over Truong Sa Islands. Last year, Vietnam was reported to conduct dredging and landfill work at several of its Truong Sa outposts. Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) said the work in the Spratly Islands had created roughly 420 acres (170 hectares) of new land and brought the total area Vietnam had reclaimed in the past decade to 540 acres (220 hectares). This landfill work is seen as a major move toward reinforcing Vietnam’s position in the Spratlys. Meanwhile, China claims most of the South China Sea and has established military outposts on artificial islands it has built there. China insists it has sovereignty over the Spratly Islands, known in China as the Nansha Islands, and its adjacent waters. The scale of Vietnam’s landfill work is still seen falling far short of the more than 3,200 acres of land created by China from 2013 to 2016. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Taiwan, also have overlapping claims in the sea, which is crisscrossed by vital shipping lanes and contains gas fields and rich fishing grounds. In recent weeks, the Philippines repeatedly complained it had spotted Chinese naval and militia vessels around Thi Tu, a contested Philippine-occupied island in the South China Sea. The Philippines has filed 77 complaints against China’s activities in the sea, including a claim that a Chinese coast guard ship on Feb. 6 directed a “military-grade laser” at one a Philippine coast guard ship on a supply mission. In February, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr said the Philippines “will not lose an inch” of territory as the Southeast Asian protested China’s “aggressive activities” in the sea. As Hanoi faces increased controversy over Spratly Islands, firstly Chinese claims of sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea, the territorial issue remains a sensitive matter in Vietnam. Earlier this month, a tourist company in Danang was fined for using a map of Vietnam as a logo without Truong Sa and Hoang Sa (Paracel) islands.

Newsline: Vietnam disciplines former, current top diplomats

Vietnam’s National Assembly, the country’s lawmaking body, on Thursday voted to dismiss two deputy prime ministers from their posts, a government statement said. There was no explanation of parliament’s decision to remove Pham Binh Minh and Vu Duc Dam, but the move comes at a time when the communist-ruled country is intensifying its fight against graft. The men have not been arrested and no charges have been filed against them. Minh, 63, served as the country’s foreign minister between 2011 and 2021, and as a deputy prime minister from 2013. The communist party removed Minh from the politburo, its most powerful decision making body. In a separate move, police in Vietnam on Thursday arrested a former Vietnamese ambassador to Malaysia, Tran Viet Thai, as it widened its investigation into the scandal. Thai, who was appointed ambassador to Malaysia in 2020, is accused of “abusing power in performance of official duties,” the Ministry of Public Security said in a statement. (https://neuters.de/world/asia-pacific/vietnam-removes-two-deputy-pms-amid-anti-corruption-drive-2023-01-05/) The party last month disciplined the Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son over the involvement of several ministry officials and diplomats in the scandal over repatriation flights.

Newsline: Vietnam’s Communist Party ousts top diplomat from Politburo

The Vietnamese Communist Party removed Standing Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh, who is in charge of foreign policy, from its Politburo amid an ongoing crackdown on coronavirus-related scandals. (https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/Vietnam-s-Communist-Party-ousts-top-diplomat-from-Politburo) It is highly unusual for a member of the Politburo to be ousted from the key decision-making body.

Newsline: Vietnam embassy warns of workers trapped in Africa

The Vietnam Embassy in Angola has advised Vietnamese to research carefully before going to Africa for work, following multiple reports of workers who could not leave. The embassy said it had received multiple requests for help from Vietnamese citizens being trapped in certain African countries, including the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia. (https://e.vnexpress.net/news/news/reports-of-vietnamese-workers-trapped-in-africa-embassy-4522898.html) The workers said they were in tough circumstances. Some said they were persuaded to come for construction work, with accommodations and meals covered, and a monthly salary of $1,500-3,000. But in fact, they were forced to work at casinos or karaoke parlors, had their passports seized by employers, or had their salaries delayed or reduced. Some were told to owe $8,000 of living costs and travel costs to Africa, and they would have to pay this money back if they want to return to Vietnam, or they would be reported to authorities. Many workers could not speak local languages, making it difficult for them to contact authorities for help. The embassy said it is trying to deploy citizen protection measures for the workers.

Newsline: Vietnamese consulate receives ‘constant calls day and night’ from victims of human trafficking in Cambodia

The Vietnamese consulate in Cambodia has been receiving dozens of rescue requests from victims of human trafficking as rescue efforts face several challenges. Amid the ongoing human trafficking crisis in Cambodia, the Vietnamese consulate in Sihanoukville has been receiving numerous calls from victims on a daily basis. “Recently calls have been coming day and night and constantly. We don’t dare turn off our phones,” Consul General Vu Ngoc Ly told VnExpress. (https://news.yahoo.com/vietnamese-consulate-receives-constant-calls-231019114.html) The consulate has been collaborating with Cambodian authorities to carry out joint operations in rescuing Vietnamese individuals who have been lured and held captive by human traffickers. The crime syndicates operating in Cambodia have targeted individuals from Southeast Asian countries, including Thailand, Malaysia, Taiwan, Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam. Thousands of people are lured by traffickers promising them “easy jobs with high wages,” when in reality, they are exploited and held as prisoners.

Newsline: Illegal migrants tried to ‘occupy’ Bangladesh Embassy in Hanoi

A group of 27 illegal Bangladeshi migrants tried to forcibly occupy the Hanoi embassy of Bangladesh in Vietnam on Tuesday. Disclosing this, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) in a Press Release on Monday said that these Bangladeshi nationals were lured by human traffickers to Vietnam. After it came to the notice of the Bangladesh embassy in Hanoi, it arranged for a repatriation flight for them on July 2. While eleven illegal immigrants took the flight back to Dhaka from Hanoi, 27 of them refused to return asking the government to pay the fare. These people went live on social-media making derogatory comments against Bangladesh. They are now threatening in the social media that if their demands are not met they will similarly occupy all Bangladesh embassies abroad. (http://www.newsonair.com/News?title=Illegal-migrants-tried-to-%E2%80%98occupy%E2%80%99-Bangladesh-Embassy-in-Hanoi&id=393158) The statement said that the Bangladesh government does not have a provision to pay for the airfare of returning illegal workers. According to the release, a certain quarter is trying to tarnish Bangladesh’s recent success in controlling human trafficking by threatening to attack Bangladesh missions abroad involving illegal Bangladeshi migrants. In the recently released US State Department report on Trafficking in Persons (TIP), Bangladesh has been upgraded to tier-2 for its efforts to check illegal migration from the country.

Newsline: Slovakia expels Vietnamese diplomat over abduction case

Slovakia said it had expelled a Vietnamese diplomat over a case involving the abduction of a Vietnamese businessman in 2017 from a Berlin street. In a final ruling on the case, a German court dismissed the appeal of the last suspect in the kidnapping of businessman Trinh Xuan Thanh, who had been seeking asylum in Germany at the time of his disappearance. Trinh was taken – via Slovakia – back to Vietnam, where he was tried and jailed for life in 2018 for violating state regulations and embezzlement. Slovakia’s foreign ministry said in a statement posted on its website late that it had informed Vietnam’s ambassador to Bratislava that one of his diplomats must leave the country within 48 hours. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-slovakia-vietnam-kidnapping/slovakia-expels-vietnamese-diplomat-over-abduction-case-idUSKBN20019I) “Slovakia took this step in connection with the German court ruling. The ministry had flagged strong diplomatic consequences if the very serious suspicions of abuse of Slovakia’s hospitality are confirmed officially,” the ministry said. The ministry declined to comment further on the case. Vietnam’s embassy to Slovakia was not immediately available for comment.

Newsline: US embassy bails out performer detained in Vietnam airport over jewelry

Lil Jon has been known to rock some insane amounts of bling throughout his storied career. But it turns out his affinity for jewelry might not be as well known in other parts of the world. He had to call the US embassy when he was detained at an airport in Vietnam over his jewelry. The 48-year-old took to his Instagram story as he was held up at Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City. Jon also posted a photo of a group of airport security officials laying his jewelry out across a table for inspection. (https://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-7693833/Lil-Jon-calls-embassy-bail-hes-detained-Vietnam-airport-jewelry.html) But luckily, he was able to get in touch with the US embassy, who sent some people to vouch for him.

Newsline: Chinese diplomat had affairs and sold secrets in Vietnam

A senior Chinese diplomat stationed overseas who led a playboy lifestyle, fathered two children out of wedlock and had affairs with foreign agents has appeared in court on charges of leaking top state secrets. The Chinese cadre surnamed Zhang, said to be with a ministry responsible for technology, was hauled before a court to face charges for leaking top state secrets to foreign spies and was subsequently given a death sentence with a two-year reprieve. Zhang’s exploits and the betrayal of his country were revealed by state broadcaster China Central Television in a name-and-shame program aired during evening prime time. The program’s aim is to warn officials and the people that China was still “crawling with foreign spies” and that those posted overseas must stay vigilant against seduction and instigation. CCTV did not mention where Zhang was posted, but unverified posts circulating on WeChat and Weibo claimed he committed treason while working in Vietnam. (https://www.asiatimes.com/2019/11/article/chinese-diplomat-had-affairs-and-sold-secrets) There were also claims that his illegitimate children were kept hostage to force him to feed more secrets about China’s diplomacy, the domestic situation as well as the health records of state leaders to foreign agents.