Asia now

Vietnam Now, Jonathan Mirsky, a review of Vietnam: Rising Dragon, by Bill Hayton, New York Review of Books, June 24, 2010

Vietnam, now, is ruled iron-clad by a one party Politburo.  It is a police state.  One in six vietnamese works for state security.  Politburo members achieve their position, godfather style, by building guanxi – “a network of supporters and delivering them benefits in return”, essentially protection rackets.  The internet is censored, there is a “pervasive sense of fear”.  Dissent is severely repressed, dissidents are jailed.  Prostitution is everywhere.  “On a day to day basis every official transaction is likely to require some form of payment.  Corruption is built into every public activity.

State run businesses, however, are allowing market methods, farmers have been given “control over their fields”, the economy is growing and attracting outside investment.  There is extensive environmental degradation, environmental “laws” are widely ignored.  Vietnamese logging has taken as much forest as once did America’s agent orange.  Hanoi just celebrated its 1000 year anniversary.  It is choked in traffic.

It remains a point of pride for the American protest movement that they ‘stopped’ the War in Vietnam.  There is no South Vietnam the way there is a South Korea.

Like Vietnam, so like China.  The Chinese Communist Party is “like one group in Washington naming the members of the Supreme Court, all the members of the Cabinet, the editors of The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal, the heads of all major think tanks, and the CEOs of major companies like General Electric, Exxon-Mobil, and Wal-Mart“.  The Party:  Impenetrable, All Powerful, Ian Johnson, New York Review of Books, September 30, 2010

In China, privatization has turned state-owned companies into shareholder-owned companies, but the majority shareholder is the state.  All companies, large and small, have a party “secretary” managing them along side their CEO.  Party meetings precede board meetings, which then give routine approval to Party decisions. In government, Party “leading groups” instruct and direct government ministers. Contrary to predictions, economic liberalization has increased Party control, not lessened it.  Personal liberties have increased but not political liberties.

The Party  “has largely withdrawn from the personal lives of Chinese citizens, allowing them to pursue their own ambitions and goals as long as they avoid the high crime of directly challenging the Party.

The Party has 78 million members, equal to the population of Germany.  They are actively involved in all levels of society.  The second largest budget category for Chinese government spending – the first is the military and the third is health, education, and welfare – is for “stability maintenance”, monitoring people and preventing unauthorized organization.  China, from Famine to Oslo, Perry Link, New York Review of Books, January 13, 2011

China has become the world’s second largest economy.  It’s GDP has grown 10 times in 26 years, has overturned Japan’s GDP, and will overtake the US by 2027.  It is the largest automobile market in the world, and uses twice as much steel as Europe, the US and Japan, combined.  Niall Ferguson, Wall Street Journal, November 18, 2010

We do not seek to contain China’s rise”   President Barack Obama, November 16, 2009, Shanghai, China

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