Common Ground for Vietnam and the U.S. – The New York Times

“Within the last two years, Vietnam has become the United States’ largest trading partner in Southeast Asia, with two-way trade totaling $35 billion last year. That trade is projected to grow to $57 billion by 2020.”

via Common Ground for Vietnam and the U.S. – The New York Times.

This writer thinks that the US should not demand too many concessions from Vietnam in exchange for more trade. The arguments for increasing relations with Cuba apply here. More successful exchanges with the West will move the Viets more than bullying by the US. Our mutual interest in containing China should make most smaller issues recede.

“Last Days in Vietnam,” Great documentary film, very painful, and yet uplifting.

Last night, I watched again the movie, Last Days in Vietnam, which I’d just seen two weeks earlier at a Yale South East Asia Association viewing. Great documentary film, very painful, and yet uplifting. The North Vietnamese communists won, but as this piece below reflects, now they have to govern, and keep the hearts and minds of a new generation, while the population of Vietnam, like much of the world, has quadrupled. Vietnam has grown in population from 20 million to 80 million in just forty years.

While the government talks of its victory in 1975, the Vietnamese people talk of its failures today.|By Nguyen Qui Duc

On the success of farming fish in Vietnam, Roger Cohen, NYT

My favorite comment regarding the piece below on the success of farming fish in Vietnam. Numerous commenters insult the Vietnames health standards, and low wages as dangerous to us.

New York Yesterday

Um – just to chime in: The minimum wage in Vietnam is $114-$146 USD – the variance reflects cost of living differences dependent upon location. The average income in Vietnam is currently $148/mo. in Ho Chi Minh City, $145/mo. in Hanoi – reflecting that the majority of Vietnamese earn minimum wage. Thus a $220/mo. income is considerably greater than the average Vietnamese worker earns.
Some commenters have questioned the quality of the fish – in 2001 a group of U.S. catfish farmers and processors traveled to Vietnam on a fact-finding mission. “We thought we’d find them growing fish in polluted water and processing them in crude plants,” says one processor who went on the trip. “But that’s not what we found. We came back scared to death.” The Vietnamese operations were vastly better than what we had expected.

Graves in the life-giving rice paddies along the Mekong Delta suggest the Asian gift for acceptance.|By Roger Cohen