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Web-only Exclusives
November 30, 2000

From Our Correspondent: Hirohito and the War
A conversation with biographer Herbert Bix

From Our Correspondent: A Rough Road Ahead
Bad news for the Philippines - and some others

From Our Correspondent: Making Enemies
Indonesia needs friends. So why is it picking fights?

Asiaweek Time Asia Now Asiaweek story

Week of December 15, 1995

BIG HELPING HANDS

An international aid donors conference organized by the World Bank in Hanoi promised Vietnam $2.3 billion for next year. Japan remains the country's biggest aid donor ($800 million next year) and third largest investor. Taiwan and Hong Kong are the leading investors, attracted by last year's 8.5% growth rate and increasing privatization.


Week of December 1, 1995

MEKONG MEETING

In Vietnam, the Mekong River Commission (Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam) is trying to coordinate aid projects to develop the waterway. Under discussion were 94 proposals; aid donors have pledged $73.9 million of a targeted $125.7 million. The group also debated where to locate its headquarters; no decision yet.


Week of November 24, 1995

DREDGING THE PAST

Vietnam has bought two dredgers worth $12 million from the U.S., the first capital deal between the two countries since ties were normalized in August. The deal was stalled because the U.S. Export-Import bank had not yet approved export credits to Vietnam. What will be next? Talks have started about establishing an air service agreement.


Week of November 17, 1995

CRITICS JAILED

Two dissident veterans of the Vietnamese revolution were jailed for criticizing party policy and advocating Western-style democratic reforms. Hoang Minh Chinh, 76 and Do Trung Hieu, 57, are both reported by family members to be in bad health. They were sentenced to 12 and 15 months respectively.


Week of November 10, 1995

A BILL OF RIGHTS

Vietnam's National Assembly approved a landmark Civil Code guaranteeing 72 million citizens freedom of movement, belief and religion. The bill, 15 years in the making and backed by the constitution, enshrines into law existing economic rights to use land and inherit property. It also defines intellectual property for the first time.


Week of November 3, 1995

OFFICIAL TRIMMING

Vietnam's National Assembly approved plans to restructure the creaking state bureaucracy. Eight government offices will be merged into three super-ministries. Reformers had hoped the planning committees would be dissolved altogether, arguing that the state's diminished role in economic decision-making had rendered them obsolete.


Week of October 27, 1995

LONGER SENTENCE

Vietnam reportedly extended by three months a detention order against ailing dissident Hoang Minh Chinh. The former high-ranking Communist Party intellectual, 76, was arrested June 13 for calling for the rehabilitation of officials purged in the 1960s. Chinh, who has heart, stomach and breathing problems, is in prison near Hanoi.


Week of October 20, 1995

BRIBES THREAT

Vietnam's civil servants were told they would be sacked or demoted if they were caught taking bribes in their dealings with the public. The warning came in a new set of regulations drawn up to improve the operation of the country's vast bureaucracy. Public employees were instructed to be more courteous and to put in a full working day.


Week of October 6, 1995

EXIT TO HANOI

Vietnam reassured 40,000 Vietnamese living in Germany, who are due to be repatriated under an agreement that came into force Sept. 21, that they will not face prosecution for leaving illegally. "They will enjoy favorable conditions for reintegration," a spokeswoman said. Britain gave an assurance to return Vietnamese from Hong Kong. But the repatriations have been slow.


Week of September 29, 1995

UNHAPPY MARRIAGE

P&O Australia pulled out of a $19 million joint-venture container terminal project near Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh City, a year after signing the deal. It is the second foreign company to pull out of Vietnam in as many weeks. Total SA of France announced Sept. 6 it would no longer participate in a $1.2 billion oil refinery project because the remote site chosen by Hanoi made little economic sense.


Week of September 15, 1995

TOP GEAR

Four big-name carmakers are driving into Vietnam. The four - Ford and Chrysler from the U.S. and Japan's Toyota and Isuzu - will invest more than $400 million in joint-venture assembly plants, says the Vietnam Investment Review. The firms will initially assemble cars from imported parts, but have agreed to a 30% local content target within 10 years.


Week of September 8, 1995

STILL FIGHTING

Food prices are buoying Vietnam's inflation. Prices have risen 11.7% since January, above the government target of 10%. Floods in late 1994 pushed food prices up 37% year-on-year, while cement shortages increased construction material costs 20.8% compared to last year. Still, Hanoi has done well stifling inflation, which ran up to 67.5% in 1991.


Week of September 1, 1995

GET OUT TO STAY IN

Visitors to Vietnam must now leave the country to renew their onemonth visas. The new rule could be intended to frustrate tourists who stay to work or overseas Vietnamese with foreign passports. But the tighter policy looks unlikely to reduce the number of travelers to Vietnam, which hit one million last year. Hanoi wants to be welcoming 3.5 million tourists annually by 2000.


Week of August 18, 1995

MORE WANTED

Development priorities clash with economic sense? Hanoi wants a second refinery, although the construction of the first one has been postponed. PetroVietnam's foreign partners want to build between the oil-producing coast and oil-consuming Ho Chi Minh City - not in the far-off and infrastructure-poor central Vietnam region of Dung Quat, the state's selection.


Week of August 11, 1995

PRICED TO SELL?

Property speculation is running amok in Vietnam. The average price of a square meter of land in downtown Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City is $2,000. By comparison, a square meter in Bangkok goes for $680 in the center of the city and $40 further out. Analysts say housing is extremely short in Vietnam's largest cities, and real estate speculators hope to make their usual killing.

Other news from Vietnam this week


Week of July 28, 1995

LET'S COOPERATE

Basking in the glow of new relations with the U.S. and its admission into ASEAN, Vietnam will soon sign an agreement for economic cooperation with the European Union. Foreign Minister Nguyen Manh Camh is in Brussels to conclude the pact, which was two years in negotiation. It covers a range of taxation, trade and investment matters plus refugees and human rights.


Week of July 14, 1995

STUMBLING BLOCK

The latest delegation in a steady stream of American politicians passing through Vietnam's capital met the premier but were rebuffed in efforts to visit a political detainee. Sen. Tom Harkin said he was cheered by Hanoi's actions on missing servicemen, but suggested that human rights could be a barrier to relations even if formal diplomatic relations are established soon.


Week of July 07, 1995

CALL OUT THE ARMY

Vietnam's military is getting into the phone business. In fact, the military is breaking a staterun monopoly in telecommunications and says it plans to begin testing a new national phone system by the end of next year. Meanwhile, officials of the Vietnam Post and Telecommunications Corp. say the new competition will hinder their ability to provide phone service to rural areas.

Other news from Vietnam this week


Week of June 30, 1995

POSITIVE VIBES

It was a good week for proponents of normalized relations between Vietnam and the U.S. Several U.S. legislators who fought in the Vietnam War voiced their support. Vietnam said its president, Le Duc Anh, will visit the U.S. in October. He'll be the highestranking Vietnamese to do so since 1975. And Coca-Cola signed up to build a $33 million bottling plant.

Other news from Vietnam this week


Week of June 23, 1995

SOLELY HOMEMADE

Vietnam faces pressure from European Union importers to ensure that the country's shoes are largely homemade. European nations are concerned that China might try to export footwear through neighbors after itself losing special tariff rates. Vietnam's shoe exports, a leading hard-currency earner, have slumped under requirements that exports have 60% local content.

RICE EXPORTS

Farmers hope to cash in on rice shortages in Vietnam this year. Thai rice exports through the first five months of the year were running 44% higher than last year. The increase is reversing a trend in the other direction; Thailand has lost market share to Vietnam in recent years. Steep food inflation in Vietnam, brought about because the country has been leaving itself short in its rush to export rice, is helping Thailand. But a poor transportation system makes it cheaper for Vietnamese farmers to export their rice than ship it to the north of their own country.


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