BienDong.Net

How Laos Tries to Balance Its Powerful Neighbors

HONG KONG — A rare spotlight is being cast on Laos as world leaders, including President Obama, prepare to gather in its capital, Vientiane, for meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or Asean, and other countries beginning on Tuesday.

A former French colony that gained full independence in 1954, Laos is one of the world’s few remaining Communist countries. It has long depended on its neighbors China, Vietnam and Thailand for investment and political patronage.

Is ASEAN about to fracture?

The ten Southeast Asian nations making up ASEAN will also hold their summit in Vientiane, almost as a sideshow alongside the EAS. Yet they are there because ASEAN is at the centre of Asian regionalism and regional cooperation.

The ASEAN grouping celebrates its 50th anniversary next year and continues to defy the odds on falling apart. [READ MORE]

India-Vietnam Relations After Modi's Visit

Amid the changing regional and global political tides, the India-Vietnam partnership is of strategic importance in the Asia-Pacific century.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Vietnam was very timely considering the fact that his government has laid significant importance on strengthening links with Southeast Asian countries through his “Act East Policy.” [READ MORE]

Beijing is on the back foot over the South China Sea dispute - America must act now

Since the Tribunal constituted under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea handed down its unanimous and sweeping award on July 12 in the case brought by the Philippines against China, there has been an eerie calm in the waters of the South China Sea.

As expected, Beijing rejected the ruling, which found that China has no legal basis for claiming historic rights inside its nine-dash line that covers 62 percent of the South China Sea's approximately 1.4 million square miles of water. [READ MORE]

The Legacy of Obama’s “Pivot” to Asia

The administration will portray this as a victory lap, asserting that Obama is America’s first “Pacific president” (in fact, Richard Nixon made a similar claim in 1969, while William H. Taft, Herbert Hoover, John F. Kennedy, and George H.W. Bush also spent formative years in the region).

The administration will also claim credit for a wave of initiatives that actually started in the George W. Bush administration (the G-20, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the strategic partnership with India, the Pacific Command force posture changes, etc.). [READ MORE]

Vietnam's Three Strategic Options

China’s actions in the South China Sea are increasingly militaristic. Due to Vietnam’s lack of strong treaty allies, the country is particularly vulnerable compared to its peers.

In response to Vietnam’s deteriorating security situation, it is likely to choose one of three strategies: 1) continue the current strategy of hedging between the U.S., China and Russia; 2) ally with the U.S. against China; or 3) develop Vietnam’s military capabilities, including a potential nuclear deterrent. [READ MORE]

A US-Vietnam Alliance: Prospects And Challenges

China’s increasing militarization and persistent maritime claims against Vietnam threaten not only that country, but the international rule-based system of international law developed over the last century.

The League of Nations, founded in 1919, and the United Nations, founded in 1945, were meant to be rule-based systems to decrease the risk of military conflict. [READ MORE]

Vietnam seeks help to ease S. China Sea tensions

HANOI • France and other countries should help to keep the peace in the disputed South China Sea, Vietnam's President said yesterday, as unease grows over China's increasingly muscular approach in the key waterway.

China claims most of the sea where it has built up reefs capable of hosting military equipment, sparking ire from competing claimants, including Vietnam. [READ MORE]

IS LAOS SHIFTING ALLEGIANCES FROM CHINA TO VIETNAM AND THE U.S.?

The secretive communist government of Laos, a country with a population of less than 7 million, rarely causes a ripple on the diplomatic circuit. And yet its sleepy capital will spring to life next week when global leaders arrive for an Asian summit.

Barack Obama will be among them, making the last push of his presidency to rebalance Washington's foreign policy toward Asia, a strategy widely seen as a response to China's economic and military muscle-flexing across the region. [READ MORE]

Did China Cyber Attack Vietnam Over South China Sea Dispute?

(Bloomberg) — The spyware used in cyber attacks on Vietnam’s major airports and national carrier last month is now suspected of having bombarded many more official sites, amid tensions with China over territory in the disputed South China Sea.

A malicious code disguised as anti-virus software found lurking in everything from government offices to banks, major companies and universities was the same as that used in “politically-colored” attacks on two of the country’s biggest airports and Vietnam Airlines, said Ngo Tuan Anh, vice chairman of Hanoi-based network security company Bkav Corp. [READ MORE]

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