Vietnam Briefing: COVID-19 Restrictions Bring Social And Economic Costs To Vietnam; Pham Doan Trang’s Case Accepted By United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD)

Vietnam Briefing: COVID-19 Restrictions Bring Social And Economic Costs To Vietnam; Pham Doan Trang’s Case Accepted By United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD)
Workers in a garment export factory in Hung Yen Province, Vietnam. Photo credit: Reuters/ Kham.

International human rights lawyer submits case of journalist Pham Doan Trang to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD)

VOA Vietnamese reports:

  • Turkey-based human rights lawyer Kurtulus Bastimar told VOA Vietnamese that he had submitted the case of Pham Doan Trang to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) over the Vietnamese government’s arbitrary arrest of Doan Trang and its alleged violations of her freedom of speech and right to a fair trial.
  • According to Bastimar, the UNWGAD has accepted his legal submission and is expected to announce an official ruling this September.
  • Pham Doan Trang was arrested in October last year and subsequently charged under Article 88 of the 1999 Penal Code and Article 117 of the 2015 Penal Code.

COVID-19 situation in Vietnam: Prolonged lockdown brings social and economic costs to Vietnam

  • Quick take: As of September 19, 2021, Vietnam has recorded over 677,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases,  with nearly 17,000 fatalities. Only under 7 percent of the country’s population has been fully vaccinated.
  • Ho Chi Minh City risks social and economic costs as COVID-19 lockdown is extended until the end of September, reports Nikkei Asia: “The city has failed to meet the criteria for lifting the lockdown. The two-week average of new daily cases must drop continuously from the prior two weeks and be lower than half of the infections in the week with the highest COVID-19 caseload. But new cases have remained around 5,000 to 6,000 over the past few days.”
  • Major retailers rethink Vietnam as a manufacturing hub over prolonged coronavirus restrictions, writes CNBC: “The obstacles in Vietnam join a litany of other supply chain troubles, ranging from a shortage of cargo shipping containers to backlogged ports and a limited number of truck drivers. Some companies that moved their manufacturing out of China and into Vietnam in the past few years — in a bid to diversify their supply chains and avoid tariffs — have gone as far as to say they are bringing production back to China.”
  • Vietnamese migrant workers were found hiding in a freezer truck as they tried to return home from Ho Chi Minh City, reports VnExpress: “Fifteen people were found hiding inside a refrigerated truck at a Covid-19 checkpoint in the south-central Binh Thuan Province on Sunday. The 15 passengers, who all had negative coronavirus test certificates, claimed they did not know they would be transported in a refrigerated truck.”
  • Vietnam approves the Cuban-made Abdala vaccine for use as it is battling its worst COVID-19 outbreak, reports Reuters. The approval of Abdala, which becomes the eighth COVID-19 vaccine approved for use in Vietnam, comes amid the country’s low vaccination rates and its urgent need for coronavirus vaccinations. The vaccine approval announcement came hours after Vietnamese President Nguyen Xuan Phuc left Hanoi for an official visit to Havana.
  • Donations of vaccines and medical equipment to arrive in Vietnam: On September 16, Vietnam received more than 850,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine donated by Germany via the COVAX Initiative. On the same day, the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs also announcedthat Japan would provide Vietnam with personal protective equipment to help the country fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Ho Chi Minh City introduces “green pass” certificates for vaccinated citizens, aiming to boost vaccination rates and foster economic recovery, reports VnExpress: “The passes, valid for six months, were expected to allow holders to undertake certain activities without normal coronavirus restrictions, like domestic and international travel and participating in public events.”

Vietnamese president to seek allies against COVID-19 during U.S. visit for the U.N. General Assembly session

VOA News reports:

  • According to Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry, Vietnamese President Nguyen Xuan Phuc will pay an official visit to Cuba from September 18 to September 20 before arriving in New York to attend the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly. He will be in the United States from September 21 to September 24.
  • The global battle against COVID-19 is expected to be a top priority issue during Phuc’s trip as he will meet with other leaders in New York to discuss ways of controlling the pandemic and speeding up economic recovery, said Vietnam’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Dang Hoang Giang.
  • This will be the first U.S. visit by a Vietnamese leader since the country’s 13th National Party Congress in late January.

World Bank report: Climate change could trigger a migration influx of 216 million people, including migrants from Vietnam’s Mekong Delta region

Reuters reports:

“Such movements will put significant stress on both sending and receiving areas, straining cities and urban centers and jeopardizing development gains, the report said.

For instance, the sea-level rise threatens rice production, aquaculture, and fisheries, which could create an out-migration hotspot in Vietnam’s low-lying Mekong Delta. But the Red River Delta and central coast region, where those people are likely to flee, face their own threats, including severe storms.”

Vietnam Insight: Learn more about Vietnam

Vietnamese love the US, and China cannot change that

Nikkei Asia/ Dien Luong/ September 13

“With two-thirds of the country’s nearly 100 million born after the Vietnam War, Vietnamese youth account for a quarter of the total population. It is those people who are the bedrock of public opinion, a fact corroborated by various polls indicating an unwavering favorability among Vietnamese toward the U.S.”

Vietnam Welcomes Top Officials From China, Japan

The Diplomat/ Sebastian Strangio/ September 13

“While Kishi’s visit had been postponed from an earlier date due to COVID-19, the fact that it lined up so perfectly with Wang’s visit offered a textbook display of Vietnam’s foreign policy approach, born from its fraught history of relations with China, which since the end of the Cold War has been based on an approach of establishing good relations with as many nations as possible in order to maximize its strategic room for maneuver.”

What’s in the Newly Regionalized Japan-Vietnam Defense Partnership?

The Diplomat/ Prashanth Parameswaran/ September 13

“Japan-Vietnam defense relations have seen their fair share of advances in recent years. Apart from shared concerns in areas ranging from the cyber domain to aspects of China’s behavior, this is aligned with the broader objectives of both countries, with Vietnam strengthening ties with a range of powers as part of its omnidirectional foreign policy and Japan boosting ties with Southeast Asian countries and ASEAN as a whole as part of its own Indo-Pacific vision. That has continued over the past few months, headlined by Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide’s visit to Vietnam last October.”

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