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York Centre for Asian Research Update                        Issue 34, Friday, December 2, 2005

YCAR invites you to its holiday reception on December 8

Come and join us on Thursday, December 8 from 3-5 pm at York Lanes 270B to celebrate another successful year of YCAR and informally meet our faculty, research and graduate associates as well as get to know the people and programs of the centre. This is a potluck gathering and you're most welcome to bring any food dishes and Asian delicacies. Please feel free to bring your family and guests along!  The Centre is closed for the holidays from December 23 to January 2. We will resume our programs and activities on the first week of January 2006. We wish you all the best for the Holiday Season and all the good tidings for the New Year!

York students in art, media and politics in Indonesia perform Marsinah Accuses

On behalf of the FACS 3920 class (Art, media, and politics in Indonesia) taught by York professor Franki Notosudirdjo, York students will perform a play on Marsinah Accuses on Tuesday, December 6, at 8 pm at Accolade West 103, York University, Keele Campus. The play is written by Ratna Sarumpaet (right) and is a story of an Indonesian factory worker who fought for justice and safe working conditions.

Within the play are elements of traditional Indonesian dancing, music, as well as fine acting using art as an expression to build political awareness. There will be a brief discussion about issues surrounding work conditions, government and the arts in Indonesia. The event  is open to the public. Everyone welcome! For more info, contact Julia Petersen at

China-Canada Scholars’ Exchange Programme (2006-2007)

Under the auspices of China-Canada Scholars’ Exchange Program with China Scholarship Council acting as the executive agency, and in partnership with Foreign Affairs Canada, a number of awards are offered to Canadian scholars and students who wish to study and/or do research in subject areas related to China in the Chinese universities that are open to Chinese Government Scholarship recipients for the academic year 2006/2007.  Application for the 2006/2007 awards is now being solicited and all materials must be received by the Education Office of the Chinese Embassy in Canada before February 3, 2006.

Application Procedure

 Applicants should submit five (5) copies of each of the following:

(1)   a completed application form (obtained from the Education Office of the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa or downloaded from its website; For the “Preferences of Institutions of Higher Learning in China,” choose only the Chinese universities which can accept international students on Chinese Government Scholarships;

(2)   a detailed study or research proposal indicating objectives, duration of the proposed stay, methodologies, etc.;

(3)    two letters of reference from university professors or other academic personnel;

(4)    academic transcripts (college level and above);

(5)    a certificate of degree (If the degree is temporarily not awarded at the time of application, a letter verifying the graduation time by the dean (or supervisor) of the department is required.).

In the field of fine arts (painting, graphic arts, sculpture and photography), applicants must submit six pieces of original work, presented in coloured pictures or recorded in a CD, clearly identified. In the field of music, applicants must provide a standard cassette tape or CD no longer than thirty minutes in duration. It should include clearly identified samples of different musical styles performed or conducted by the applicant him/herself. All application materials must be received by the Education Office of the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa before February 3, 2006. All correspondences should be addressed to: Education Office, the Chinese Embassy in Canada, 80 Cobourg Street, Ottawa, ON K1N 8H1, Tel: (613) 789-6312; Fax: (613) 789-0262. For more info, visit the China Scholarship Council website at:

 Migration Policy InstituteCanada-US Fulbright Program announces competition on migration policy research

The Canada-U.S. Fulbright Program is pleased to announce a special competition for: The Canada-U.S. Fulbright Migration Policy Institute Award Special Competition The Migration Policy Institute and the Foundation for Education Exchange has established a special competition award for Canadians for research on topics relevant to Canadian and U.S. migration policy. This award is tenable at the Migration Policy Institute in Washington D.C. for a period of eight to ten months and will have a stipend of $15,000 USD.

Special competition deadline is January 5, 2006 for an award to be taken up in September 2006. For more information, visit the MPI website at, the Fulbright website at or Metropolis Project Canada website at

Applicants seeking information are asked to contact: Michelle Emond, Program Officer, 350 Albert Street, Suite 2015, Ottawa, ON  K1R 1A4. Tel: (613) 688-5513, email:

PUS-Vietnam: Discreet friendship Under China's shadow

The absence of any strategic conflict and important areas of strategic convergence should see it grow
Raymond Burghardt, Yale Global, 22 November 2005

Right caption: See there, our future together: President Bush gives Vietnamese Prime Minister a tour of the White House, June 21, 2005. (Photo: White House)

HONOLULU: After lingering in the shadows of American foreign policy Vietnam has emerged as an important partner. However, Vietnam’s geopolitical situation and political and economic constraints are likely to result in a cautious growth in the relationship. Upon taking office five years ago, Bush administration East Asia policy focused on two related issues: First, engaging with a rising China in ways which protected US interests in the region; Second, strengthening America’s alliances in Asia.


By mid-2003 one oft-repeated message the administration heard from opinion leaders in Japan, India, Indonesia, Singapore, and Vietnam, was that while the US had been distracted with Afghanistan and Iraq, China’s regional influence had been increasing at America’s expense. Vietnam’s leadership authoritatively conveyed its concerns about America inattention to Asia during Deputy Prime Minister Vu Khoan’s visit to the United States in early December 2003. Khoan alluded to these concerns in his public remarks and was even more forthright in his private meetings with Secretary of State Powell and National Security Advisor Rice. By the last year of Bush’s second term, the issue of how to engage with a rising China was once again the main focus of US Asia policy.

As the second Bush administration team settled into office, President Bush and Secretary Rice both stressed that US – China relations were “complex” or “complicated.” Former Secretary Powell’s frequent comment that Sino – American ties were “the best ever” was no longer en vogue. In its place are new indications of strategic distrust between Beijing and Washington. China fears that the US seeks to block its rise to great power status, viewing the strengthening of US ties with countries such as Japan, India, and Vietnam, as aimed at least in part at containing Beijing. The fundamental issue for Washington is whether Beijing is challenging the US role as the balancer and guarantor of Asia’s stability.

An important speech in New York last September by Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick laid down markers by which the Bush administration would evaluate Chinese behavior. He said that “uncertainty about how China will use its power will lead the US - and others as well - to hedge relations with China.” With the Chinese-backed East Asia summit in mind, he warned that China should not attempt “to maneuver toward a predominance of power” by building separate alliances in Asia.


Recent developments in US – Vietnam relations exemplify current priorities in America’s Asia Policy. In the early years after normalization in 1995, American policy toward Vietnam was focused on dealing with historical issues left over from the war: accounting for the missing in action (MIA’s); reuniting the families of refugees; and humanitarian programs aimed at developing trust between the two peoples. As ties strengthened, trade grew rapidly, especially after the Bilateral Trade Agreement (BTA) was signed in December 2001.

For most of the ten years since normalization, US policy toward Vietnam was not driven by geo-strategic objectives. But the administration increasingly recognized Vietnam’s potential for continued rapid economic growth, its potential to play an increasingly important role in Southeast Asian regional organizations and therefore its “strategic potential”.

In a policy of hedging relations with China, Vietnam, with its long history of troubled relations with its huge neighbor, is an obvious partner. The shift towards closer US-Vietnam links came after a June 2003 Communist Party Plenum, which focused on reassessing the country’s national security policy. In private and even some semi-public meetings, authoritative Vietnamese officials specifically raised the Chinese angle in their newfound enthusiasm for the US. As one important foreign policy official put it to me, “the triangle is out of balance.” He noted that while Vietnam’s relations with China had improved a great deal in recent years, US – SRV (Socialist Republic of Vietnam) ties had lagged. Meanwhile, he said, China’s influence in the region had grown. Over the past two years, Vietnamese officials and think tank experts have expressed regular concern over China’s rapidly deepening ties with Cambodia, Laos, Burma and Thailand.


In the second half of 2003, the Vietnamese government selected improved military-to-military ties as one of the first steps toward a deeper relationship. Vietnam’s leadership informed me around September 2003 that Defense Minister Tra was ready to accept the US invitation to visit Washington made by Secretary Cohen during his 2000 visit to Hanoi. We quickly arranged for Secretary Rumsfeld to issue a new invitation. The Vietnamese government also approved our long-standing request for a US naval port call -- for the week after Tra’s visit to Washington. Vietnamese officials commented to us that these events would be high profile: Vietnamese people and Vietnam’s neighbors would immediately understand that the U. S. S. Vandergrift steaming up the Saigon River symbolized a significant improvement in bilateral ties.

Nineteen months later, Prime Minister Khai’s visit to Washington in June 2005 (the first by an SRV chief of state) marked another symbolic milestone. His visit saw agreement to bring Vietnamese defense officials to the US under an international military education and training (IMET) agreement, the fruit of years of difficult negotiation. Hanoi and Washington also announced that they would increase intelligence-sharing and other cooperation in fighting terrorism and other forms of transnational crime, such as drug smuggling and human trafficking. The final paragraph of the joint statement contained an allusion to shared strategic goals: “The President and Prime Minister shared a vision of peace, prosperity, and security in Southeast Asia and the Asia-Pacific region, and they agreed to cooperate bilaterally and multilaterally to promote these goals. “ That reference to the Asia Pacific region as well as Southeast Asia was interpreted by some analysts to evince US interest in having a good relationship with Vietnam as a counterbalance to China, not necessarily militarily, but politically.


Broadening strategic alignment between the US and Vietnam is an important development, but should not be exaggerated. Vietnam, while valuing America’s role in maintaining a regional balance of power, remains deeply suspicious of American proselytizing for democracy, human rights and religious freedom seeing in them elements of an insidious plot to undermine Communist Party rule through “peaceful evolution.” This deep-seated suspicion has slowed the rate of cooperation between law enforcement and intelligence agencies, which is lagging behind bilateral military cooperation.

In the military arena, there have been three US Navy ship visits so far, close collaboration in the field of military medicine and a number of humanitarian construction projects carried out by the Pacific Command. In the future, the Navy would hope to be able to purchase supplies in Vietnam, perhaps even conduct repair and maintenance work. Bilateral military ties can be expected to continue growing, but progress will be slow. Vietnam will value America’s role as strategic balance but will resist being seen as part of a containment policy against China. American policymakers understand and accept this line, as the US has no containment policy against China. Hedging is not containment. While Vietnam will keep looking over its shoulder to ensure that big brother China has not been unduly provoked, US – Vietnam ties should progress. Our two countries have no strategic conflicts and some important areas of strategic convergence.

Raymond Burghardt is Director of East-Seminars at the East-West Center, Honolulu and former US Ambassador to Vietnam (2001-04). Rights:© 2005 Yale Center for the Study of Globalization

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