Russia, Vietnam slowly but surely parting strategic ways

Asiatimes Hanoi is now openly diversifying its weaponry purchases away from Moscow, an emerging break driven by the war in Ukraine


When Vietnam hosted this month its first-ever International Defense Expo at a military airstrip in Hanoi, the event signaled a quiet but evolving shift in the communist nation’s defense policy.

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Những chuyến ly hương của người già Đồng bằng Sông Cửu Long

Tiasang – Võ Kiều Bảo Uyên, Nhung Nguyễn

Những biến đổi về môi trường, khí hậu đã đẩy người lớn tuổi ở Đồng bằng Sông Cửu Long (ĐBSCL) phải rời quê tìm đường mưu sinh.  

Bà Nguyễn Thị Áp (63 tuổi) tại chỗ ngủ của mình – một tầng hầm để xe ở chung cư nơi bà làm nhân viên vệ sinh. Ảnh: Thành Nguyễn

Chuyến rời quê đầu tiên trong đời bà Nguyễn Thị Áp* là khi bà đã bước qua tuổi 63. Sáng sớm một ngày tháng Bảy, người phụ nữ tóc bạc trắng xách giỏ quần áo, một mình ra lộ bắt xe đi khỏi quê nhà Chợ Mới, An Giang, tỉnh thượng nguồn ĐBSCL đến Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh (TP.HCM). Không chỉ mưu sinh, với bà, đó còn là một cuộc chạy trốn.

Khoản nợ hơn 100 triệu đồng tích tụ “từ ngày còn mần lúa”, lãi chồng lãi, cùng bệnh tim của người chồng đã đẩy bà Áp – gần như cả đời chỉ quen ruộng vườn – đến đô thị xa lạ tìm kiếm việc làm. Đích đến ban đầu trong kế hoạch của bà là Bình Dương, khu công nghiệp lớn nhất nước, nhưng những hàng xóm đi trước rỉ tai rằng nơi ấy chỉ có việc cho người trẻ. Cuối cùng, theo lời họ hàng chỉ, bà đặt cược vào TPHCM, nơi sẵn công việc làm thuê qua ngày.

“Ruộng đã bán. Con cái có gia đình riêng, và cũng khổ. Dì ở lại [quê] hết đời cũng không thể trả hết nợ”, bà Áp nói, không quên dặn người phỏng vấn giấu danh tính vì sợ chủ nợ nhận ra.

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The U.S. Needs to Change the Way It Does Business With China

Dec. 18, 2022, 6:00 a.m. ET

A security personnel wearing a face shield and mask standing between the national flags of China and the United States.
Credit…Andy Wong/Associated Press
A security personnel wearing a face shield and mask standing between the national flags of China and the United States.

By Robert E. Lighthizer, New York Times

Mr. Lighthizer was the U.S. trade representative in the Trump administration.

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In a recent speech, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo suggested an incremental shift in how the United States approaches “competitiveness and the China challenge.” She recognized the serious threat from China, explaining that the United States “will continue to press China to address its nonmarket economic practices that result in an uneven playing field.” She noted, though, that “we are not seeking the decoupling of our economy from that of China’s.”

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Inside Southeast Asia’s Casino Scam Archipelago

Special Economic Zones and self-governing statelets across the Mekong region have become conduits for human trafficking on a massive scale.

*Mong La, a town on the border between China and Myanmar, is notorious for a gambling town dubbed a ‘City of Sin’ in the heart of the Golden Triangle with Laos and Thailand”

A view of Mong La, a gambling enclave on the border between China and a rebel-administered sliver of Myanmar’s Shan State. (Sebastian Strangio)

Around six months ago, Ekapop Lueangprasert, a local government official and business owner in the Sai Mai suburb of Bangkok, was checking messages sent to his Sai Mai Must Survive Facebook page – a volunteer initiative he’d set up to try and help local people struggling financially during the pandemic – when he received a disturbing video from an 18-year-old girl.

“Today is January 28th at 1 am, 2022. I’m in a building opposite the Karaoke Bar,” says the Thai teenager into the camera, her eyes swollen from crying. She seems exhausted, close to breaking point, but determined to get as much information across as she can while she has the chance. The woman explains that she traveled from Bangkok to Sa Kaeo on the Thailand-Cambodia border to meet a Thai broker who had promised her a job in Poipet, a seedy casino town just over the border in Cambodia. She was then told that the role would actually involve scamming strangers online – and that if she wanted to leave, her father would have to pay 40,000 baht ($1,080) to secure her release. “I know everything and I’m afraid that [the boss] will kill me,” she sobs. “I don’t know what he will do to the others after this and I don’t know if I can contact you again. I’ve heard that at least 20 or 30 people have died.”

The request had come out of the blue and Ekapop was initially apprehensive. “I asked her, how can you use your phone?” he says. But as the teenager hastily sent and deleted location pins, photos from the compound, and other evidence of her treatment, it became clear she was telling the truth – and in the coming months, messages, videos, and photos flooded in from other Thai trafficking victims trapped in borderland casino towns in Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar. All told near-identical stories about being duped by offers of well-paid, legitimate work, only to find themselves imprisoned in horrifying conditions by Chinese gangsters. Under constant threat of violence, they were forced to engage in illegal activities – mostly tricking people into making fake investments online – with the knowledge or even collusion of local authorities.

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