“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Sunday, May 18, 2014

On Second Thoughts: Vietnam smothered anti-China protests on Sunday with a massive security clampdown after deadly riots triggered by a territorial dispute with Beijing spooked investors and the country's authoritarian leadership alike.

China evacuates 3,000 nationals from Vietnam as conflict simmers
Vietnamese government clamps down on demonstrations after attacks on Chinese and other foreign businesses

China has evacuated more than 3,000 of its nationals from Vietnam, state media reported on Sunday, after a wave of anti-China unrest following Beijing's deployment of an oil rig in contested waters.
But the anti-China protests planned for Sunday in Ho Chi Minh City, originally sanctioned by the Vietnamese government, were quickly stopped by scores of uniformed and secret police.
Armed with batons and walkie talkies, they contained the small group of protesters holding up notebook-sized banners reading "Vietnam is small but no coward" and chanting "Vietnam! Vietnam!".
About 15-20 demonstrators were seen to be detained and pushed into unmarked vans.
The government has been sending daily text messages to all mobile phone users in Vietnam, urging them to exercise restraint and not engage in violent behaviour. The latest message, sent on Sunday, warned citizens against joining in the planned protests.
The Vietnamese government is obviously keen to control the situation – Chinese-Vietnamese trade is worth some $50b – but much of the damage may have already been done. In Ho Chi Minh City's Chinese-majority District 5, shopkeepers have begun dismantling, or covering up, any Chinese characters on their storefronts, out of fear that the anti-China aggression may turn directly on them.
"The government sent us a letter telling us to do this," said Van Vuy, the manager of a silkscreen-printing business. "I don't want to, but the owner is scared of what might happen if we don't."
The evacuees "returned to China with the assistance of [the] Chinese embassy to Vietnam," Xinhua news agency said, citing China's foreign ministry.
The Chinese government was also arranging for a chartered plane and vessel to evacuate the staff of China 19th Metallurgical Corporation, a contractor of one of the plants badly hit by the recent violence, Agence France-Presse reported, citing Xinhua.
In a later update the agency reported: "Sixteen critically injured Chinese nationals were evacuated from Vietnam early on Sunday morning aboard a chartered medical flight arranged by [the] Chinese government."
It did not specify which company they were working for.
On Sunday China dispatched a further five ships to speed up the evacuation of its citizens, the Associated Press reported. The first ship left on Sunday morning from the southern island of Hainan, Xinhua said.
Beijing on Saturday advised its nationals against travelling to Vietnam, which has seen its worst anti-China unrest in decades over the past week, AFP reported.
China's positioning of an oil rig in waters also claimed by Vietnam in the South China Sea has ignited long-simmering enmity between the two communist neighbours.
Demonstrations spread to 22 of Vietnam's 63 provinces in the last week, according to the Vietnamese government, with enraged mobs torching foreign-owned factories.
Hong Kong also updated its travel advisory on Saturday, warning its residents to avoid "non-essential travel" to Vietnam.
On Saturday Xinhua reported that security chief Guo Shengkun had spoken to his Vietnamese counterpart and urged the authorities there to quell the violence. Xinhua also said commerce minister Gao Hucheng had called on officials to "bring relevant issues under control".
An alliance of 20 vocal Vietnamese NGOs has called for fresh protests in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and other areas against China's "aggressive actions" in the South China Sea.
However, it urged participants to remain peaceful following the chaos on Tuesday and Wednesday.
"Those violent actions created a bad image for patriotic demonstrations and the people of Vietnam; therefore, they must be stopped," said a statement issued on social media late on Friday.
The alliance largely comprises anti-government organisations and is believed to have played a role in stirring the recent protests.
The oil-rig confrontation is the latest to spark alarm among China's south-east Asian neighbours, which complain of increasing maritime intimidation by Beijing.

China claims nearly all of the South China Sea, which is believed to hold significant offshore energy reserves.


  1. Those companies from Taiwan, Korea, China, few are honest but lots of them are crooks, they employed Chinese managers, workers and few manual Vietnamese workers. They are in Vietnam to rip the benefit of Vietnam 0% tax export to Trans Pacific Partnership countries. They are robbing Vietnam local businesses through loopholes of the law. Lots of them shipped goods already Made in China, then re-boxed them in Vietnam then shipped them out to avoid the tax. These is the kind of common stories in Vietnamese newspapers. These demonstrators don't want them around, they knew who to targets.

    The Japanese are more honest and trustworthy to deal with.

  2. You can't fight crony capitalism if you are in league with them.

  3. No doubt that foreign elements were behind the protest. The protesters attacked the Chines, the Taiwanese, the Koreans and other foreign companies. Vietnamese, especially those who live in the regions, know which companies belong to which foreign countries. The fact that factories belonging to diverse foreign countries were attacked means either the protesters were targetting foreign companies in general or the protesters were imported from other regions. The recent visit of the US president to some Asian countries might have triggered it also. Who knows? After Libya, Syria and Ukraine one should expect anything. It must be added that the losers in the attacks are mainly the Vietnamese and to a lesser extent the companies that were attacked. Many foreign companies will think twice before they invest in Vietnam.

    1. Western-funded NGOs instigated these insane attacks. The losers are definitely the Vietnamese. Vietnam has now gone back by five years. The solution is for the Vietnamese government to clise all the western-funded NGOs. They are a nest of terrorists training camos and a source of subversive activities and unrest.

  4. Yesterday, the best I can figure it, the world's 8th. largest economy derived 55% of its electricity from Non-Fossil Fuel sources. (I'm counting "imports" as being 70% fossil fuel in origin.)


  5. There will, almost certainly, be fighting over the South China Sea, and the oil that Might lie beneath it. Our Warmonger/Colonialists/Military Industrialists will try mightily to get us involved.

    Pray to God that the next President will resist (I, honestly, have very little hope for this.)

    1. I decided two things pretty early on in my deployment:

      1: The Vietnamese were, basically, pretty good people,


      2) The best way to win that war would be to "lose" it.

  6. How the Army Solar Program is like the Affordable Care Act:

    Fresh on the heels of breaking ground on its largest-ever single solar installation of 18 megawatts (MW), the Army solar power program is upping the ante with “Georgia 3×30.” Like the name says, that’s not one but three new 30-MW projects, for Fort Stewart, Fort Gordon, and Fort Benning. Once those arrays are up and running, a whopping 18 percent of the energy consumed by the Army in Georgia will come from on site, clean, renewable, sources. Good, no?

    As for the hate thing, that’s why we’re dragging the Affordable Care Act into this, so bear with us for a bit.

    Who could hate health care reform that actually works? The ACA is far from perfect (as if such a thing exists), but despite the generously funded efforts to whip up public sentiment against the reforms over the past four years, now they are in place, and millions of Americans are benefiting from them.

    As a result of the real life impacts of ACA, while public opinion polls still track against the ACA brand, opinion has shifted in favor of the law’s benefits, to the extent that Republican opponents are beginning to back away from leveraging their mid-term campaign strategy around repealing ACA (that’s okay, they still have #Benghazi!).

    Meanwhile, Democratic candidates are shedding their reluctance to campaign on ACA, a major public policy achievement for which their party can claim as its own.

    Now apply that dynamic to the intense Republican pushback against renewable energy, and you can see the parallel to the ACA. Despite all the anti-renewable rhetoric from the Republican side of the aisle, the Army solar power projects are living proof that transitioning out of fossil fuel dependency is yielding real-life . . . . .



  7. It looks as if we have survived the existential threat from Iran and Syria. They are still dying by the score in Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan. The Neocons and Israeli lobby just may be losing their grip.

    1. You can't take your eyes off the dirty sonofabitches, though. With the astonishing amounts of money involved, they will never, ever quit trying.

      They have time, and the election cycle, on their side. Hillary is just as bought, and paid for, by the Neo-cons as any Republican, running.


    Neocons and other hardliners are still fanning the flames of confrontation with Iran, but the recent thawing of relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia is making the hawks’ work more difficult.
    The Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud Al-Faisal, has announced an invitation to his Iranian counterpart to visit Saudi Arabia. This development is unsurprising, and it is welcome. It follows visits that Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif made a few months ago to some of the other Arab members of the Gulf Cooperation Council.
    Rapprochement between Iran and its Arab neighbors is good for the neighbors as well as for Iranians, good for stability in the Persian Gulf, and good for U.S. interests in the region.
    Secretary of State John Kerry’s comments welcoming the Saudi move are doubly appropriate, given that the United States can claim some of the credit because of its role in currently negotiating an agreement with Iran to keep its nuclear program peaceful.
    The Saudis’ invitation is very likely being made partly in anticipation of successful completion of those negotiations and the prospect of Iran and the United States taking a step toward a more normal relationship. This is the sequence that should be expected: the superpower leads, and lesser allies follow.

  9. I found Henry Kissinger's "On China" to be a really good read. I checked it out as an eBook from my public library.

  10. #Bring Back
    Rat-free Bar

    Hash Tag