China, Vietnam seek sea border resolution this year

BEIJING (Reuters) – China and Vietnam have agreed to find a solution to a festering maritime territorial dispute this year, the two sides said in a joint statement in Beijing.

The two countries dispute sovereignty over the Spratly Islands, a string of rocky outcrops in the South China Sea suspected of containing large oil and gas deposits and also claimed by Taiwan, Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines.

They also agreed to consult on finding “a proper area and way of making joint exploration,” the statement said, according to Xinhua news agency.

“The two countries will coordinate more closely to solve the remaining problems, so as to ensure they complete demarcation and erecting land markers along the whole borderline by year end,” Xinhua quoted the joint statement as saying.

China supported the Vietnamese Communists in their decades-long war against South Vietnam and its U.S. sponsors.

But Vietnam has traditionally been wary of its larger Asian neighbor and in 1979 the two countries fought a brief border war after Vietnam occupied Cambodia and overthrew the murderous Khmer Rouge regime that favored Beijing.

Beijing and Hanoi normalized relations in 1991.

In 1988, China and Vietnam fought a brief naval battle near one of the Spratly reefs in which more than 70 Vietnamese sailors died.

Another set of islets further north of the Spratly group, the Paracel Islands, were seized by China in 1974 and have been occupied by them ever since despite Vietnamese protests.
In July, China told Exxon Mobil Corp to pull out of an oil exploration deal with Vietnam that it saw as a breach of Chinese sovereignty.

(Reporting by Nick Macfie; Editing by David Fox)
China, Vietnam seek sea border resolution this year | International | Reuters

Vietnam Annual Inflation Slows a Second Month on Fuel Prices

By Jason Folkmanis

Oct. 25 (Bloomberg) — Vietnamese annual inflation slowed for a second month in October, eased by fuel-price cuts and the reluctance of local banks to make loans. The monthly inflation rate declined for the first time since March 2006.

Consumer prices climbed 26.7 percent in October from the same time a year earlier, according to figures released today by the General Statistics Office in Hanoi. Year-on-year inflation in September was 27.9 percent. On a monthly basis, prices fell 0.2 percent in October from September, the first decline in two-and-a-half years.

Inflation has seen “a vast improvement from earlier in the year,” DWS Vietnam Fund Ltd. said in a note sent to investors on Oct. 23.

On Oct. 21, the State Bank of Vietnam cut its key interest rate to 13 percent from 14 percent, with HSBC Holdings Plc saying the bank was encouraged by evidence of slowing inflation. U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and the heads of six other central banks said this month that global inflationary pressures are moderating amid a financial crisis.

“The world is changing quickly,” said Alain Cany, the Ho Chi Minh City-based chairman of the European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam, in an Oct. 20 telephone interview. Vietnam “may not have to fight inflation so much by themselves. Commodity prices are coming down.”

Prices in the category including transportation rose 24.8 percent from a year ago, down from a 26.1 percent annual rate in September, and fell 0.9 percent from September. The price of 92-RON gasoline, the country’s most commonly used grade, is now at 15,500 dong ($0.92) per liter, down from 17,000 dong at the beginning of the month.

Food Prices

Food prices rose 40.6 percent year-on-year, down from a 42.7 percent annual rate in September. On a monthly basis, food prices fell 0.4 percent from September, with prices in the sub- category including rice declining 1.9 percent.

Export prices for Vietnam’s top-quality rice grade fell 15 percent in the week ending Oct. 7 from a month earlier, according to the U.S. Agriculture Department. “Global rice prices continue to decline,” the Agriculture Department said in a report this month.

Prices in the category including construction materials rose 22.8 percent, down from a 26.1 percent year-on-year rate in September, and declined 1.1 percent on a monthly basis.

Local companies are having difficulty securing financing after a rise in interest rates earlier in the year and amid a government focus on keeping credit expansion in check, the U.K.-listed fund Vietnam Holding Ltd. said this month. “Inflation has responded to policy changes,” Vietnam Holding said.

Vietnam’s inflation rate in August reached 28.3 percent, the highest year-on-year level since at least 1992, according to figures from the General Statistics Office in Hanoi.

To contact the reporters on this story: Jason Folkmanis in Ho Chi Minh City at Asia

Vietnam rejects wrong views on former journalists’ trial

VietNamNet Bridge – Vietnam rejected what it referred to as wrong opinions regarding the trial of two former journalists on October 24, stating that it continually encourages the press to join the fight against corruption.

The Foreign Ministry spokesman Le Dung made these remarks in response to correspondents’ questions about opinions overseas relating to the trial of Nguyen Viet Chien, a former journalist with Thanh Nien newspaper and Nguyen Van Hai, a former correspondent with Tuoi Tre newspaper, based in Ho Chi Minh City.

“We reject any wrong opinions about the trial of Nguyen Viet Chien and Nguyen Van Hai. The trial was held publicly, in line with legal procedures and in accordance with international human rights standards, including a 1966 civil rights covenant on the rights to freedom of opinion, the expression and collection of information and accompanied liabilities and duties ensuring national security and public order”, he said.

Dung noted that representatives of foreign missions and a number of foreign journalists also attended the trial.

“Vietnam is fully aware of the threat of corruption, and considers corruption as a national disaster and the fight against corruption as a very important task,” he said, adding “The Vietnamese Government always encourages the press to take an active part in the fight against corruption in a comprehensive, thorough and lawful manner.”

On October 15, the Hanoi People’s Court sentenced Chien to two years in prison and Hai to 24-month non-custodial sentence after being found guilty of the charge of “abusing democratic freedom rights to infringe upon the interests of the State, the legitimate rights and interests of organisations and individuals” under Clause 2 Article 258 of the Penal Code.

(Source: VNA)
VietNamNet – Vietnam rejects wrong views on former journalists’ trial