Category Archives: Vietnam

(BBC) Germany expels Vietnam attache over suspected kidnap

(BBC)

Vietnamese national Trinh Xuan Thanh sitting on a park bench in BerlinImage copyrightAFP
Image captionTrinh Xuan Thanh was reportedly seeking asylum in Germany

Germany has expelled Vietnam’s press attache over the suspected kidnapping of a man allegedly bundled into a car by armed men at Berlin Zoo.

Trinh Xuan Thanh, who was the subject of an international arrest warrant, disappeared in Berlin nine days ago.

As a result, the German government has ordered the attache to leave within 48 hours.

German foreign ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer called the incident a “scandalous violation”.

“The kidnapping of Vietnamese national Trinh Xuan Thanh on German soil is an unprecedented and scandalous violation of German and international law,” said Mr Schaefer, warning it could damage relations between the two countries.

He also said there was “no serious doubt” about the role the Vietnamese embassy and secret service had played in the alleged kidnap of the former oil executive.

Reuters and Agence France Presse news agencies reported that the expelled attache was an intelligence officer at the Vietnamese embassy.

Trinh Xuan Thanh was accused of causing about $150m (£113m) in losses at a Vietnamese state firm.

The Vietnamese government issued an international arrest warrant for him in September.

He is the former head of the state-owned Petro Vietnam Construction Corporation, and one-time Communist Party official – although he has since been kicked out the party.

Mr Thanh, who had reportedly been seeking asylum in Germany, handed himself in to Vietnamese authorities on Monday in his home country.

(Reuters) Exclusive: Vietnam moves new rocket launchers into disputed S.China Sea – sources

(Reuters)

Vietnam has discreetly fortified several of its islands in the disputed South China Sea with new mobile rocket launchers capable of striking China’s runways and military installations across the vital trade route, according to Western officials.

Diplomats and military officers told Reuters that intelligence shows Hanoi has shipped the launchers from the Vietnamese mainland into position on five bases in the Spratly islands in recent months, a move likely to raise tensions with Beijing.

The launchers have been hidden from aerial surveillance and they have yet to be armed, but could be made operational with rocket artillery rounds within two or three days, according to the three sources.

Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry said the information was “inaccurate”, without elaborating.

Deputy Defence Minister, Senior Lieutenant-General Nguyen Chi Vinh, told Reuters in Singapore in June that Hanoi had no such launchers or weapons ready in the Spratlys but reserved the right to take any such measures.

“It is within our legitimate right to self-defense to move any of our weapons to any area at any time within our sovereign territory,” he said.

The move is designed to counter China’s build-up on its seven reclaimed islands in the Spratlys archipelago. Vietnam’s military strategists fear the building runways, radars and other military installations on those holdings have left Vietnam’s southern and island defenses increasingly vulnerable.

Military analysts say it is the most significant defensive move Vietnam has made on its holdings in the South China Sea in decades.

Hanoi wanted to have the launchers in place as it expected tensions to rise in the wake of the landmark international court ruling against China in an arbitration case brought by the Philippines, foreign envoys said.

The ruling last month, stridently rejected by Beijing, found no legal basis to China’s sweeping historic claims to much of the South China Sea.

Vietnam, China and Taiwan claim all of the Spratlys while the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei claim some of the area.

“China has indisputable sovereignty over the Spratly islands and nearby waters,” China’s Foreign Ministry said in a faxed statement on Wednesday. “China resolutely opposes the relevant country illegally occupying parts of China’s Spratly islands and reefs and on these illegally occupied Spratly islands and reefs belonging to China carrying out illegal construction and military deployments.”

The United States is also monitoring developments closely.

“We continue to call on all South China Sea claimants to avoid actions that raise tensions, take practical steps to build confidence, and intensify efforts to find peaceful, diplomatic solutions to disputes,” a State Department official said.

STATE-OF-THE-ART SYSTEM

Foreign officials and military analysts believe the launchers form part of Vietnam’s state-of-art EXTRA rocket artillery system recently acquired from Israel.

EXTRA rounds are highly accurate up to a range of 150 km (93 miles), with different 150 kg (330 lb) warheads that can carry high explosives or bomblets to attack multiple targets simultaneously. Operated with targeting drones, they could strike both ships and land targets.

That puts China’s 3,000-metre runways and installations on Subi, Fiery Cross and Mischief Reef within range of many of Vietnam’s tightly clustered holdings on 21 islands and reefs.

While Vietnam has larger and longer range Russian coastal defense missiles, the EXTRA is considered highly mobile and effective against amphibious landings. It uses compact radars, so does not require a large operational footprint – also suitable for deployment on islets and reefs.

“When Vietnam acquired the EXTRA system, it was always thought that it would be deployed on the Spratlys…it is the perfect weapon for that,” said Siemon Wezeman, a senior arms researcher at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

There is no sign the launchers have been recently test fired or moved.

China took its first Spratlys possessions after a sea battle against Vietnam’s then weak navy in 1988. After the battle, Vietnam said 64 soldiers with little protection were killed as they tried to protect a flag on South Johnson reef – an incident still acutely felt in Hanoi.

In recent years, Vietnam has significantly improved its naval capabilities as part of a broader military modernization, including buying six advanced Kilo submarines from Russia.

Carl Thayer, an expert on Vietnam’s military at the Australian Defence Force Academy, said the deployment showed the seriousness of Vietnam’s determination to militarily deter China as far as possible.

“China’s runways and military installations in the Spratlys are a direct challenge to Vietnam, particularly in their southern waters and skies, and they are showing they are prepared to respond to that threat,” he said. “China is unlikely to see this as purely defensive, and it could mark a new stage of militarization of the Spratlys.”

Trevor Hollingsbee, a former naval intelligence analyst with the British defense ministry, said he believed the deployment also had a political factor, partly undermining the fear created by the prospect of large Chinese bases deep in maritime Southeast Asia.

“It introduces a potential vulnerability where they was none before – it is a sudden new complication in an arena that China was dominating,” he said.

(TSF) Obama e Bourdain no Vietname, numa tasca com bancos de plástico

(TSF) O famoso chef convidou o não menos famoso chefe de Estado para um jantar. Obama aceitou e jantaram massa. Preço da refeição: cinco euros. Pagou Bourdain.

Quem convida paga. Isto, mesmo que o convidado seja o Presidente da nação mais poderosa do mundo e mesmo que não seja nada comum ver alguém com o poder de Obama num estabelecimento com aspeto de tasca.

O encontro foi marcado para o restaurante Bún ch? Huong Liên, na parte velha de Hanói. A chegada de Obama foi demasiado aparatosa para passar despercebida.

Os dois encontraram-se para gravar um episódio de “Parts Unknown” em que o convidado especial é Barack Obama. Na série, o chef e os seus convidados passam por várias zonas de uma cidade ou país à procura de refeições típicas e da história daquele local.

Bourdain partilhou uma fotografia dos dois em que elogia a destreza de Obama com os pauzinhos.

No Twitter o chef revelou o preço da refeição. Cerca de cinco euros. Bourdain pagou.

De Hanói, Obama irá ainda até Ho Chi Min e depois segue viagem até ao Japão. Vai tornar-se no primeiro Presidente norte-americano a visitar Hiroshima após o lançamento de uma bomba atómica sobre a cidade no final da segunda Grande Guerra.

O episódio de Obama em “Parts Unknown” será emitido em setembro.