Publication in Economics, Politics and Public Policy in East Asia and the Pacific


Vietnam rejects Chinese aggression in the South China Sea

Vessels from the U.S. Navy, Indian Navy, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and the Philippine Navy sail in formation at sea, in this recent taken handout photo released by Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force on 9 May 2019 (Photo: Reuters).

Author: Nguyen Khac Giang, Victoria University of Wellington

As countries in the region are busy dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, China is stirring the pot in the South China Sea. This includes harassing other claimants’ normal economic activities, conducting large-scale drills, consolidating military bases on artificial islands, and sending research ships into other countries’ Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs). Vietnam — as one of the claimants and perhaps the most stubborn — has become the chief target.

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Laying down the law in the South China Sea

The Royal Australian Navy guided-missile frigate HMAS Parramatta (FFH 154) (L) is underway with the US Navy amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6), the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill (CG 52) and the Arleigh-Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Barry (DDG 52) in the South China Sea 18 April, 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Nicholas Huynh).

Author: Donald R Rothwell, ANU

Australia’s 23 July statement to the UN Secretary-General in formal response to a series of diplomatic exchanges between Malaysia, China and other states is the clearest to date on legal issues associated with China’s South China Sea maritime claims. Diplomatically the statement is unremarkable, legally though, it makes Australia’s position on some key issues very clear.

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Standing up for ASEAN in the South China Sea

Warships and fighter jets of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy take part in a military display in the South China Sea, 12 April 2018 (Photo: China Stringer Network via Reuters).

Author: Collin Koh, RSIS

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently stated that the United States considers Chinese maritime claims in the South China Sea illegal. This is a fundamentally new stance. While scholars and pundits are trying to make sense of what the statement means for the dispute, more interesting is how ASEAN will respond as it is inevitably caught in the eye of the South China Sea storm.

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A collective ASEAN response to COVID-19

An official wearing a face mask looks on as Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc attends a special video conference with leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Hanoi 14 April 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Manan Vatsyayana).

Author: Hsien-Li Tan, NUS

When COVID-19 cases first appeared in the ASEAN region early in 2020, there were fears that public health systems would be overwhelmed. Responses around the region have varied. After decisive action — and missteps — in the initial months, Vietnam, Thailand, Brunei, Malaysia, and Singapore are now cautiously relaxing restrictions while working to avert a second wave. Indonesia and the Philippines continue to see significantly higher infection and death rates, leading to strong criticism against the Jokowi and Duterte administrations.

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Vietnam’s environmental challenges risk EU free trade

A worker rides his motorcycle near lorries transporting coal at a port of the Cua Ong Coal Preparation Company in Cam Pha town, Quang Ninh, Vietnam (Photo: Reuters/Kham).

Author: Thang Nam Do, ANU

Vietnam needs to address environmental challenges to fully reap the benefits from its new free trade and investment agreements with the European Union. On 8 June, Vietnam’s National Assembly ratified the EU–Vietnam Free Trade Agreement and Investment Protection Agreement, following the European Parliament’s approval in February. Ratifying the agreement clears the path for Vietnam to expand exports to the potentially lucrative EU market and to attract more investment from the economic bloc.

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Nationalism, heroism and media in Vietnam’s war on COVID-19

Health professionals perform medical check-ups on COVID patients at the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Hanoi, Vietnam on 9 June 2020.

Author: Lena Le, Vietnam National University Hanoi

While many countries around the world are struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic, 11 May 2020 marked the end of the ‘longest New Year (Tet) holiday ever’ for students in Vietnam. When the nationwide lockdown was lifted, Vietnamese students at all levels returned to school. Read more…

Vietnam’s judicial system on trial

Vietnamese policemen stand guard outside a courtroom in Hanoi, Vietnam 8 January 2018, Picture taken January 9, 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Kham).

Author: Duy Dinh, IHEID

On 14 January 2008, two female postal workers were found murdered inside a small post office where they also resided in Vietnam’s Long An province. Ho Duy Hai was detained two months later by the police and it was reported that he admitted to committing the crime. He inexplicably declined lawyers contracted by his family and only accepted the lawyer appointed by the investigative agency. No one was allowed to visit him until the trial day. Read more…

The impacts of COVID-19 on Vietnam and ways to move forward

Residents celebrate after authorities lifted the quarantine in Dong Cuu village, the last Vietnamese quarantined village affected by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), outside Hanoi, Vietnam 14 May, 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Kham).

Author: Minh Cuong Duong, UNSW

The number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in Vietnam are much lower than in most countries worldwide due to early and aggressive anti-pandemic response. But this does not mean that the impact of the pandemic on Vietnam is less severe. Read more…

The paradoxes of private sector development in Vietnam

Labourers work at a shoe factory in Hanoi, Vietnam, 13 November 2014 (Photo: Reuters/Kham).

Author: Vo Xuan Vinh and Chu Duc Manh, University of Economics Ho Chi Minh City

State-owned enterprises were viewed as a dominant contributor to the development of Vietnam’s economy. But because the state sector is inefficient, and Vietnam is increasingly integrating internationally, the private sector is growing. Over 100,000 new private enterprises have registered under the new Law on Enterprises, promulgated in 2000 as the government’s first attempt to boost private sector development. Read more…

Vietnam’s party politics back on centre stage

A poster promoting Vietnam's communist party is seen on a street in Hanoi, Vietnam, 23 January 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Kham).

Author: Hai Hong Nguyen, UQ

Vietnam’s political stage is heating up again after the country’s internationally-lauded success in containing COVID-19. On 11 May 2020, the Central Committee of the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam began its three-day 12th plenum in Hanoi to discuss who among ‘strategic-level cadres’ are qualified to be elected to its three leading central bodies — the Central Committee, Politburo and Secretariat.

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Vietnam leads ASEAN through COVID-19

Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc addresses a special video conference with leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Hanoi 14 April 2020 (Manan Vatsyayana/Pool via Reuters).

Author: Bich T Tran, University of Antwerp

COVID-19 is posing serious challenges to ASEAN in 2020. But Vietnam, as ASEAN chair, is trying to make the best of the situation and demonstrate leadership. As 2020 marks a mid-term review of the implementation of the ASEAN Community Building Blueprints 2015–25, Vietnam chose ‘Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN’ as the theme for its chairmanship. Read more…

Vietnam’s COVID-19 political gains

Residents celebrate after authorities lifted the quarantine in Dong Cuu village, the last Vietnamese quarantined village affected by COVID-19, outside Hanoi, Vietnam, 14 May 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Kham).

Author: Phuong Pham, Queen Mary University of London

Vietnam is handling the outbreak of COVID-19 relatively well. Vietnam has confirmed a total of 327 cases with 278 recovered and no deaths, which is fairly low given its proximity to China. Vietnam has earned international accolades as one of the most successful countries in Asia to contain the virus. But Vietnam may win more than international praise, especially in political terms.

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Is ASEAN’s COVID-19 response leaving migrant workers behind?

Firefighters spray disinfectant on a street during the movement control order due to the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 31 March, 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Teng).

Author: M Niaz Asadullah, University of Malaya

Many ASEAN nations saw a sharp decline in the number of coronavirus fatalities after more than a month in lockdown. New infections in Thailand dropped to single-digit figures and Vietnam has already reopened its economy. The Philippines and Malaysia have conditionally permitted most sectors to resume business.

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Understanding the EU–Vietnam Free Trade Agreement

European Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmstrom, Romania's Business, Trade and Enterpreneurship Minister Stefan Radu Oprea and Vietnam's Industry and Trade Minister Tran Tuan Anh attend the signing ceremony of EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement at the government office in Hanoi, Vietnam, 30 June 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Kham).

Author: Ha Hai Hoang, Hanoi National University of Education

In February, the European Parliament adopted the EU–Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA). This is the most comprehensive and ambitious EU trade agreement with a developing country. Since failing to negotiate an EU–ASEAN trade agreement, the European Union and Vietnam turned to extensive bilateral negotiations to reach a trade deal of their own. Once it is ratified by Vietnam’s National Assembly in May, the EVFTA will open up huge opportunities for businesses and consumers. Read more…

Vietnam’s textile and garment industry hit hard by COVID-19

A woman works at a garment assembly line of Thanh Cong textile, garment, investment and trading company in Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam 9 July, 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Yen Duong).

Authors: Jason Q Nguyen and Quan V Le, Vin University

With a supply chain that over relies on only a few key partners, Vietnam’s textile and garment industry is among the country’s hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more…