Vietnam Battles Political Scandals As Trump Announces Apec Visit

07-Oct-2017 Intellasia | Forbes | 6:00 AM Print This Post

It was confirmed in recent days that US President Donald Trump will travel to Vietnam in early November to attend the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit in the coastal city of Danang.

Meanwhile, preparations for the gathering which is likely to also be attended by Russia’s Vladimir Putin and China’s Xi Jinping were thrown into turmoil after news broke two of Danang’s top leaders are facing disciplinary measures for what was described as “official misconduct.”

There are myriad issues and complex balancing acts facing President Trump and his team when they arrive in Vietnam ahead of further stops in Japan, Korea, China and the Philippines, where he will also attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) meeting.

The situation in North Korea will naturally be at the top of the agenda, closely followed by trade as the region tries to construct new alliances in the wake of the US withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. China will also be pushing its version of a regional trade agreement while threading the needle of where it stands on containing the rouge actor on the Korean Peninsula.

US President Donald Trump talks to China's President Xi Jinping at the start of the first working session of the G20 meeting in Hamburg, northern Germany, on July 7. (Getty Images)

For US allies such as South Korea and Japan, signals of support for continued security alliances are probably at the top of the wish list, but in the reality of 2017 they will probably settle for anything not inflammatory or off-script. The memories of Trump’s appearances at the G7 and G20 summits earlier in the year are still relatively fresh.

For Vietnam, despite the disappointment of the TPP, the Apec meeting represents an opportunity to continue to work on a relationship with the US that has considerable upside. Vietnam is, after all, the US’s largest trading partner in Southeast Asia.

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And while a nuclear-armed North Korea has pushed the issue of tensions in the South China Sea out of the headlines somewhat, the Vietnamese government will be hoping for the US to take a strong stance and to continue the growing security cooperation between the two countries.

Vietnamese officials will also be keen to showcase Danang, often referred to as the country’s “most livable city”. On the central coast of Vietnam, it is often held up as a model of what can be achieved in the country in terms of urban planning and governance. It’s charismatic leader for a decade until 2013, Nguyen Ba Thanh, oversaw the evolution of Danang into the sleek, modern metropolis it is today. He was subsequently promoted to a post with the central government in Hanoi, but died of cancer in 2015.

Then news broke in late September that Danang’s two senior leaders, local Party chief Nguyen Xuan Anh and People’s Committee chair Hyunh Doc Tho, were to face disciplinary measures for “misconduct, mismanagement and dishonesty”.

Tho was given an official warning from the Communist party for matters relating to preferential decisions regarding land set aside for use by certain businesses.

The young party chief Anh, is still awaiting news of his punishment. He ran afoul of the rules by making decisions without properly consulting the legislature and of accepting improper gifts from business interests, in this case, a car and two houses. In the wake of public outcry when the transactions came to light, he did return the car. No word on the houses.

Subsequently, all government officials in the city have been ordered to cancel any planned overseas trips or reschedule them until after November 15, and to focus solely on preparing for the Apec meeting. The summit is a rare opportunity for Vietnam to be in the centre of the global spotlight, and authorities are leaving nothing to chance.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/davisbrett/2017/10/04/vietnam-struggles-to-get-its-house-in-order-as-trump-announces-apec-visit/#22ac9708348c

 


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