Thursday, July 20, 2017

Jim Willie: Global Currency Reserve at Risk – July 15, 2017

Jim Willie: Global Currency Reserve at Risk – July 15, 2017
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Within the US borders, the population remains largely ignorant of the true significance of the global currency reserve concept. It is of paramount importance, yet almost never discussed in the financial press. The public within the United States simply assumes the country operates with the USDollar as its currency, with near blindness to its global role in trade and banking. The end of an era is coming, as the change will be powerful in its effect. The shock wave could hit this year in some form, in a manner to highlight its importance.
The term is tossed around in common manner, often without an explanation of what it means. A strict meaning is followed by a practical meaning. The USDollar serves as global currency reserve, insofar as the USTreasury Bond is the standard for bank reserve core asset usage. Numerous countries have a core foundation to their national banking system. They maintain core assets and ratios. It is not gold bullion, but rather the USGovt debt. It is the USTBond denominated in USDollars. Of course, such practice is upside down and lunatic. Debt operating as core assets in the global banking system is utterly reckless, insane, and bound to force a systemic breakdown. Such is the heresy and risk from the banker cabal.
The practical side of global currency reserve system is that trade payments are standardized as being executed in USDollar terms. A crude oil shipment, a grain shipment, a container vessel shipment, they are paid in USD terms, often with short-term USTreasury Bills. Also, international contracts like for consulting services or for installation of IT systems typically are written for payment in USD terms. As a result, the nations set to pay for a shipment or contract maintain huge USTreasury stores in their banking systems, ready to complete the trade payments.
The King Dollar and its court of financial terror is destined to lose its privileged perch. The abuse to maintain the global USDollar financial system is universal and profound. It all engenders tremendous resentment and backlash in the form of resistance, together with concerted movements toward the non-USD platforms. The movements are emerging from the East. When the global reserve currency status is lost, the American public will face severe problems never before encountered. They will be very confused. They will be lied to in a big way. Consider the import price inflation, the supply chain shortages, and the civil disorder. Running the USEconomy and USGovt on an international credit card, without ever paying the bill, has a certain limited duration. When the reserve status ends, the privilege ends, and the shock begins.
The Eastern nations control significant manufacturing facilities toward the global economic output. Such is the case after a full generation of outsourced industry by Western corporations. At first it was the Pacific Rim in the 1980 decade. Then it was India, Brazil, and a host of other burgeoning nations striving for further development. The West controls the financial markets, with all the elaborate paper instruments, and all the sophisticated market rigging machinery. If it controls anything, the East controls the manufacturing sector. Therefore these nations, led by China and the Pacific Rim, within which is the key player Taiwan, are in a position to dictate the terms of trade payment. The standard as of now is the USTreasury Bill. This will ultimately change, and when it does, the USDollar will officially shed its global reserve status. The impact will be enormous.The Eastern nations, perhaps under the aegis of the Eurasian Trade Zone protective shadow, are in a position to demand alternative forms of trade payment. Consider the Chinese RMB currency, the Ruble currency, or soon the Gold Trade Note. With manufacturing prowess comes the power to dictate trade payment. The risk to the USEconomy is cutoff for supply into the many sectors, most visibly the retail sector. All the while, the One Belt One Road set of massive projects will be conducted outside the USDollar sphere.
The initial impact is most likely to occur within the crude oil market. The key region for the Petro-Dollar defacto standard has been for 40 years the Arab Gulf Region. The OPEC oil cartel has been led by the Saudis, who operate as puppets for the Anglo-American helm and the banker cabal. The Saudis are in heated conflict with Qatar, as the Petro-Dollar has fractured in full view. The Saudis are in an ugly war with Yemen, in order to steal energy reserves. If truth be told, the Saudis are bankrupt and broken. Enter into the void the Natural Gas Cartel, led by Russia, Qatar, and Iran. It is in the formative stage here and now. The key event upcoming is for the Chinese to win the right to pay for Saudi oil in Chinese RMB terms.Following this will be Kuwait, Oman, UAE, and other Arab oil monarchies. The event will mark the final nails in the Petro-Dollar coffin, whose standard structure has been undergoing disintegration for three years.
This is inevitable, a domestic only new USDollar. The Jackass has harped on this topic for two years or more. It is not folly, but rather a reality which approaches closer with every passing month. In time, the Eastern nations will not accept USTBills as trade payment. They will reject the USDollar for its fallacious underpinnings and fraudulent activity and the folly of its management. The King Dollar is backed by the USFed and hyper monetary inflation, called euphemistically Quantitative Easing. It means the rules for limiting the quantity of dollars is relaxed, and African style monetary inflation is permitted. This is reckless and heretical, since the USDollar is the global reserve currency. All national banking systems are undermined by the QE process. The King Dollar is also backed by war, sanctions, and threats of war. The nations which work to sell oil outside the USD sphere have been subjected to war invasion (see Iraq), to sanctions (see Iran), and to global war with conflagration (see Russia).
The rejection of the USDollar in trade payments will mark the beginning of a critical new chapter in modern history. The end of the Petro-Dollar defacto standard will usher in the dawn of the NatGas Cartel and the urgency for launching the New Scheiss Dollar. Given the $550 billion national trade deficit, the USGovt will see massive pressure for devaluation of the New Scheiss Dollar, like 30% every six months. The USGovt will most likely, given its past corrupt history, present a fallacious backing for the new currency. They are likely to present a false gold backing like the infamous ludicrous Deep Storage Gold ledger item. They are likely to present an inadequate oil reserve as partial basis. Keep in mind that the Strategic Petroleum Reserve is worth around $7 billion. Therefore, the trade deficit requires almost 80 such reserves to cover each year’s trade deficit. The USGovt deficit is in the $1.2 to $1.5 trillion neighborhood. It must also be financed. The painful devaluations will be necessary in order to finance the USGovt debt and trade deficit with a cheaper domestic dollar. Washington will be under huge pressure to attract foreign capital. It does not now, since it relies upon the printing press and leveraged machinery. Welcome to the real world, where fundamentals matter. With the higher import prices, will come product shortages and empty shelves from lack of demand. Then comes the civil disorder. The Jackass anticipates three centers will suffer riots and highly disruptive events: supermarkets for food, gasoline stations for fuel, and ATM machines for cash.
The impact felt across the entire financial structural systems will be enormous when the King Dollar loses its prestige and elite privilege, upon loss of the global currency reserve status. With the King Dollar cut off at the knees, the scramble will be on to find a stable core vehicle to serve as the foundation for the global financial system. Enter gold. With the five-fold increase in the monetary supply in the last several years, the solution will be that Gold will seek its proper water level, five times higher in price. It is inevitable. It is as probable as the tide rising in the Bay of Fundy in Maine, the northeastern-most point in the United States. The tide is tremendous in its differentials, in the area among Maine, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia.
With the arrival of the Gold Trade Note, the gold element will enter into the financial system via the trade payment arenas. Expect China to make the introduction, which will kick the King Dollar in the nuts. The kick will be done with a gold-tipped boot, the gold probably re-hypothecated from stolen gold in London and delivered to Shanghai. The Eastern nations will demand proper payment for shipments, which are honorably supplied. The United States has deeply undermined the USDollar for its role in banking, for its role in trade. Big profound changes are coming. The gold price will in all likelihood experience some fritz on the billboard of prices. Expect perhaps a different gold price in every global region, depending upon the corruption and the honesty. The West will strive until its last breath to keep the price down, while the East will strive with its every ounce of energy to produce an honest price. The gold price will make movements to the $2500 level, then $5000 level, then $8000 level, then $12,000 level. It is inevitable, like the dawn after a long stormy night, like the rising tide.
The USDollar failure in the Middle East is a signpost for every country to bail. The series of wars to defend the crippled toxic USD is a signpost for every country to seek a better leading partner. Europe cannot survive without the One Belt One Road cornucopia of $billion contracts and ample projects. All trade goes through China and Russia, who lead the Eurasian Trade Zone formation and provide its SCO security blanket, which will rival NATO. An important factor, causing consternation to the propaganda artisans in the West, is that Russia is a net debt-free nation while the US is bankrupt and cannot save itself. Germany was bounced from Turkey, which now is splintering off the NATO family of warmongers and heroin distributors. Suddenly Turkey appears more influential than the western Nations, and might soon rent the Russian Military some space at the giant Incirlik Airbase. The Petro-Dollar failure gives Iran, Qatar, and Russia the primary hand. The USGovt sanctions on Russia no longer mean anything. European nations are working to restore relations commercially in defiance. The USGovt sanctions against Iran backfired. It produced the Gold for Oil sale with India.
The Global Currency RESET is not far out. The pricing in financial markets is dictated by derivatives solely for the purpose of keeping the Too Big to Fail Banks solvent. The USFed’s hyper monetary inflation, better known euphemistically as QE, is designed to keep these big broken banks liquid. Without the derivatives of bond purchases, the big banks would all be in failure mode like those in Spain and Italy. But the United States is the exceptional nation. The newly emerging NatGas cartel will primarily deal in CNY, RUB, and EUR currencies, which is why the United States is trying to force expensive NG sales onto Europe. The Washington NeoCons are busy throwing hurdles in the way of Nord Stream 2, as well as Turkish Stream. To use Saddam type of language, the mother of all pipelines will be connecting Iran-Qatar-Iraq-Syria-Turkey to Europe. The King Dollar and its reign of terror is coming to an end. That end is now visible. The excitement will come when Gold enters the payment system picture, and the enduring depression among gold investors will come to a welcomed end.
Dollar Demise

How Some Optometrists Are Robbing Patients Blind

Crony capitalism and the spread of misinformation are examples of inefficiency in a society - economically and socially

How Some Optometrists Are Robbing Patients Blind

Last month, the largest optometric lobbying group in the nation flew thousands of its members to buddy up with members of Capitol Hill. This is just another example in the recurring history of the American Optometric Association (AOA) attempting to create security in the eye care market by eliminating competition, making friends in Congress, and spreading misinformation.
Before 2003, eyecare professionals—who are unique in that they sell what they also prescribe—had a virtual monopoly over the contact lens marketplace. Thanks to their brand-specific prescriptions, they could control exactly which brand of lenses consumers purchased—oftentimes name-brand at inflated prices. The draconian nature of their big-stick prescription powers stifled the free market by making it virtually impossible for alternative eye-care retailers to sell affordable goods to consumers.
Finally, in 2003, Congress acted to combat these anticompetitive laws. Passing the Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act (FCLCA), the body hoped that by mandating that optometrists to hand over prescriptions to their customers, consumers would be more able to make economic decisions to buy contact lens in the broader market.
While the law certainly helped, it did not work exactly as intended—even today, one-third of doctors do not automatically give patients copies of their prescription after an eye exam. Most do not even know that they have a right to a copy of their prescription.
The reason that these eyecare professionals do not give prescriptions out is that compliance is hard to mandate, and incentives play a large role in the decision-making process of these doctors. Companies like Johnson & Johnson, the contact lens and health giant, give special “cash-back rewards” to doctors who sell their brand of lenses to their customers.
Obviously, optometrists would withhold prescriptions to make more cash for themselves. Because of this, the industry economy has not improved, and the AOA continues to reign over the market in favor its special interests, all while spending nearly $2 million a year on the federal level alone.
But the most dangerous part of this campaign is not just economic, it is the firm foundation in misinformation that the AOA’s lobbying campaign is built upon. By analyzing AOA’s most recent attempt to pass anti-competitive law, the Contact Lens Consumer Health Protection Act (CLCHPA), a bill which will essentially scrap the large majority of the 2003 reform legislation, it becomes clear that AOA is spreading dangerous falsehoods.
In the AOA’s legislation are several false health claims. The first is that ordering from third-party contact lens suppliers is more dangerous to the eye. The FTC found in 2016 that there is “no reliable empirical evidence to support that such sales are contributing to increased risk or increased incidence of contact lens-related eye problems.”
What is more frightening, though, is not that the AOA is ill-informed, but that they are purposely omitting their own research. In 2016, the American Academy of Optometry (AAO) published a study in the medical journal Contact Lens & Anterior Eye that concluded, “closer access to the eye care provider through in-office soft contact lens purchase did not improve soft contact lens habits or reduce the prevalence of risk behaviors.” Interestingly, this study used Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data, which just so happened to be conducted by the CLAY Group, a research organization which was formed by the AAO and the AOA itself.
It’s quite clear that the AOA is waging a war of misinformation, founded on one idea: to make more money by regulatory capture. In simple language, the AOA wants to kill competition and monopolize an industry.
Crony capitalism and the spread of misinformation are examples of inefficiency in a society - economically and socially. At the end of the day, regulation leads to unintended and unpredictable results, and so lawmakers must be wary of any regulation that promises to solve everything. In this example, it is especially clear that Congress can’t let AOA get its way.

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EXCLUSIVE: Hungarian Gov’t Steps Up Fight Against George Soros

EXCLUSIVE: Hungarian Gov’t Steps Up Fight Against George Soros

After a two-year battle to keep migrants out of the country, Hungary has directed its full attention toward one of its own: billionaire investor George Soros.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban wrapped up a six-week anti-Soros campaign Saturday. The streets of Budapest have been filled with posters and billboards of the Hungarian-born billionaire with the caption “Don’t let Soros get the last laugh!”
The campaign follows a series of moves to halt Soros’ operations in the country. The government argues that Soros is pushing for a one million migrant influx to Europe per year. It is now trying to impose legislation that would force NGOs in the country to reveal where their funding originates and the purpose for which the money was received.
“In Hungarian public life there is a single important element which is not transparent: Soros’s mafia-style network and its agent organizations,” Orban’s spokesman Zoltan Kovacs told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “This is why the government insisted that [the] parliament decide on making these organizations transparent, as the Hungarian people have the right to know who represents what and for what purpose.”
The frosty relationship between Orban and Soros reached an all-time low after Hungary passed education reforms in March that could threaten the future of the Soros-funded Central European University in Budapest. Soros lashed out at Orban, describing his “mafia state” as “one which maintains a facade of democracy.”

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Orban further launched a “national consultation” series in April to ask eligible voters for advise on how to tackle a number of issues the government perceives to be external threats. The prime minister vowed to “stop Soros” from “executing his grand plan and his grand business project” at the consultation’s closing event in June.
“One of the elements of George Soros’s plan is for one million migrants to be brought into Europe every year,” Kovacs told TheDCNF. “The second element in the billionaire’s plan would be a European asylum authority, which would seize powers in this area from the authorities of the member states.”
Kovacs claims around 99 percent of the 1,682,033 people who took part in the consultation backed the government’s stance.
The poster campaign that followed raised some eyebrows for the portrayal of a smiling Soros with the text “Don’t let Soros get the last laugh!” Soros, a Jew, claims the posters deliberately played off Nazi attacks against the “laughing Jew.”
“I am distressed by the current Hungarian regime’s use of anti-Semitic imagery as part of its deliberate disinformation campaign,” Soros said in a statement. “Equally, I am heartened that together with countless fellow citizens the leadership of the Hungarian Jewish community has spoken out against the campaign.”
Kovacs firmly rejects that the government in any way had anti-Semitic motives behind the campaign.
“The campaign you are referring to seeks to draw attention to the threat which George Soros represents on the issue of immigration – namely his standpoint that the borders of Europe must open up to immigrants,” Kovacs told TheDCNF. “We would like to emphasize, however, that the poster campaign has nothing to do with Mr. Soros’s religious affiliation – if indeed he has any.”
The government regards the issue of illegal immigration to be “a matter of national security” and will therefore mobilize “the political and legal power” in its efforts against Soros, according to Kovacs.
“The Hungarian standpoint is that illegal migration is clearly a matter of national security,” Kovacs told TheDCNF. “We shall mobilize the political and legal power of the Hungarian state against anyone who undermines the security of Hungary – regardless of their origins, religious affiliation or wealth.”
Michael Vachon, a spokesman for Soros, described Orban’s accusations as “fantasy” in a statement emailed to TheDCNF.
“Soros’s position is entirely consistent with mainstream European values,” Vachon said. “The Hungarian regime’s xenophobia and demonization of refugees are anti-European. The claim that Soros is promoting a scheme to import a million illegal immigrants into Europe is Victor Orban’s fantasy.”
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Poll: Most Americans Oblivious, But Not Uncaring, to Overseas Suffering

Poll: Most Americans Oblivious, But Not Uncaring, to Overseas Suffering

"Near-famine, which is affecting 20 million people in Africa and the Middle East, is likely the least reported but most important major issue of our time."

By Jake Johnson

July 16, 2017 "
Information Clearing House" - The vast majority of Americans are "oblivious" to the fact that more than 20 million people are on the brink of starvation in Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan, and Nigeria, according to a recent survey conducted by the International Rescue Committee (IRC).

A "staggering" 85 percent of Americans simply don't know that these nations are facing such dire shortages of food and other necessary resources, IRC discovered.

Lack of awareness, however, does not imply deliberate lack of concern, IRC is quick to observe.
Once Americans are briefed on the relevant facts, the organization notes, "the issue immediately rises to a top global concern."
IRC goes on to note that "[n]ear-famine, which is affecting 20 million people in Africa and the Middle East, is likely the least reported but most important major issue of our time," implying that the media is at fault for not keeping such a crucial issue at the center of public discussion.
The survey also found that most Americans favor providing more humanitarian aid, not less, as President Donald Trump has proposed:
Americans want not just more aid, but better aid. At least two-thirds of Americans believe the rules of engagement for the U.S. government on this issue should focus less on 'obligation,' and more on the fact that the U.S. and NGOs such as the IRC can lead the way in humanitarian aid reform and evidence-based outcomes. 68% of registered voters agree that foreign aid from wealthy nations like the U.S. is needed now more than ever, especially since it is proven to help prevent disasters that would end up costing more if neglected—like Ebola.
Millennials, the poll found, are particularly concerned about addressing what has been deemed by the United Nations the worst humanitarian crisis since the Second World War.
"Millennials see humanitarian aid as a defining issue for their generation (78% concerned), and the United States," IRC's report notes. "On nearly every measure tested in the poll, millennials are more concerned than other generations, believe it is a moral obligation for the U.S. to provide assistance, and are most willing to engage."
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IRC's report comes in the midst of strong indications from the White House that President Donald Trump intends defy public opinion by attempting to slash rather than bolster humanitarian aid. As the New York Times has reported, the administration is pushing "military might over humanitarian aid."
Trump's proposed cuts to food and development programs have deeply alarmed charitable organizations, activists, aid workers, who argue that famines are in large part political crises—and are therefore solvable if the world's wealthiest nations are willing to commit resources.
"The world's most powerful leaders must now act to prevent a catastrophe happening on their watch," Oxfam executive director Winnie Byanyima recently said.
Bernice Romero, senior director for policy and humanitarian response for Save the Children, told the Los Angeles Times that the White House's move to cut rather than strengthen humanitarian aid in the face of widespread starvation is "unconscionable and could really have devastating consequences."
Care USA president Michelle Nunn agreed, concluding: "If enacted, these cuts would result in the wholesale dismantling of America's humanitarian and development work, increase suffering and make the world a more dangerous place."
This article was first published by Common Dreams - The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Information Clearing House.

Sealing the Mahathir-Anwar Alliance: Will They Unseat Najib?

RSIS Commentary is a platform to provide timely and, where appropriate, policy-relevant commentary and analysis of topical issues and contemporary developments. The views of the authors are their own and do not represent the official position of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, NTU. These commentaries may be reproduced electronically or in print with prior permission from RSIS and due recognition to the author(s) and RSIS. Please email: for feedback to the Editor RSIS Commentary, Yang Razali Kassim. 

No. 135/2017 dated 17 July 2017
Sealing the Mahathir-Anwar Alliance:
Will They Unseat Najib?
By Yang Razali Kassim


One-time allies who parted ways acrimoniously, Mahathir Mohamad and Anwar Ibrahim have finally sealed the revival of their once effective political partnership. Their common goal of removing PM Najib Razak through the ballot box looks increasingly within reach.


ERSTWHILE FOES Mahathir Mohamad and Anwar Ibrahim formally buried the hatchet for a common cause by sealing their revived alliance with a new compact to end the rule of Prime Minister Najib Razak at the ballot box. Their decision formed the bedrock of a restructured four-party opposition coalition, Pakatan Harapan, which Mahathir, Anwar and Anwar’s wife jointly lead. It promises a formidable line-up to challenge the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) led by Najib’s UMNO in the coming general election to be called after September but before June next year.
Taking a significant step towards the grand alliance, Harapan called a joint press conference in the early hours of 14 July 2017 to announce a new leadership lineup, complete with a common logo. It was a sensitively arranged “functional leadership” of compromise and mutual accommodation by the component parties – Anwar’s PKR, Mahathir’s Bersatu, Lim Kit Siang’s DAP and Mohamad Sabu’s Amanah. Most significantly, it sealed the reconciliation between Mahathir and Anwar after their 18-year estrangement.

Harapan’s New Line-up: Anwar Ibrahim is Ketua Umum or General Chairman and “de facto leader”, Mahathir Mohamad is Chairman and Wan Azizah President. Anwar is to be the eighth prime minister should the Opposition win the upcoming general election. Who is the seventh? - Malaysiakini photoAC

Anwar was declared Ketua Umum or General Chairman and “de facto leader” of Harapan, Mahathir as Chairman and Anwar’s wife Wan Azizah as President. The posts of deputy president and vice-president were also allocated to the component parties to reflect a partnership of equals. The three deputy presidents are Bersatu’s president Muhyiddin Yassin, DAP’s secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, and Amanah’s president Mohamad Sabu.

Significantly Mahathir also announced that Anwar will be the eighth PM after a royal pardon for him is sought by the new government to be formed after the next general election, should the Opposition win. No less attention-grabbing is that the interim seventh PM may well be Mahathir, who chaired the joint press conference flanked by Wan Azizah and the other party leaders.

Earlier Mahathir had caused a stir when he reportedly told the Guardian newspaper that he supported the jailed Anwar as prime minister, once he received a royal pardon and contested the elections. “If the Opposition win, the interim seventh prime minister will have to work to release him and seek his pardon as soon as the new government is formed.”

How Anwar could be PM

The official rebirth of the Mahathir-Anwar alliance that was once so effective in the 1990s and triggered major political changes, will see Anwar eventually lead, should the grand plan work. There could be a few routes to the premiership that was once his for the taking.

Anwar could stand in a by-election in a seat to be vacated by Wan Azizah, or he could be appointed a senator on his release as a step to taking office, initially as Deputy PM. Then he would stand for election as an MP so as to qualify to be PM.

Should this eventuate, it will bring to a full circle the roller-coaster relationship between mentor and protégé. Mahathir will go down in history as making up with his heir apparent whom he sacked over controversial allegations of immorality and abuse of power – without having to apologise publicly but nevertheless taking significant steps towards reconciliation.

Game Changer?

The internal tussles over the top positions, interim or otherwise, and factional rumblings have been destabilising the Opposition coalition ahead of the general election. Closing ranks in the name of a higher objective – unseating Prime Minister Najib – has become critical. The prospect of dethroning him is no longer a distant one, given the political crisis threatening Najib’s position triggered by the 1MDB scandal.

Mahathir has demonstrated once again that he remains shrewd and strategic in his moves despite his advancing age. He is single-minded and has been generating much buzz as he makes game-changing steps to achieve his ultimate goal of a regime change since the outbreak of the 1MDB crisis. He said in a recent blog post that he has made a U-turn on UMNO because he has a mission to “destroy the demon” and in so doing, “found common ground with Anwar Ibrahim”.

It all began three days after 3 September 2016 – the symbolically significant 18th anniversary of Anwar’s sacking as deputy premier – when Mahathir turned up in court to show support for Anwar in a case against the Najib government. It was a ground-breaking move that was never thought possible; it ended nearly two decades of bitterness that split the Malay electorate and led to a series of power shifts.    

A highlight has been Mahathir joining the Anwar-led Opposition, in yet another head-turning step. Suspicion of Mahathir, however, remained deep; Najib has exploited this distrust by running down the Mahathir-Anwar reconciliation as doomed to fail from the start.    

Mahathir’s reluctance to express either open apology or unequivocal support for Anwar as the ultimate leader that a divided Malaysia needs has not helped. This all is about to change as Mahathir and Anwar finally sealed their revived alliance in a new power-sharing partnership that reflects their statesmanly decision to rise above party politics. The big question now is: How will Najib counter-react?

Yang Razali Kassim is Senior Fellow with the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. An earlier version appeared in the Straits Times.

South China Sea: CSIS 7th International Conference

Background Briefing:
South China Sea: CSIS 7th
International Conference - 1
Carlyle A. Thayer
July 13, 2017
(Updated July 14, 2017)
Email interview with Ha Giang Vu, Nguoi Viet Daily News:
Q1. Why do you think that you were not invited to the event [7th international
conference on the South China Sea hosted by the Center for Strategic and
Internationsl Studies, Washington, D.C.]?
ANSWER: I was told by one of the CSIS organizers in April, “I just want to give you a
heads up that we are hosting our annual SCS conference on July 18. We are being
urged by our funders not to include speakers who spoke last year, and as a result we
will not be extending an invitation to you this year.” In a later email the CSIS informed
me that the DAV did not mention my name specifically but wanted diversity and said
the speakers from the previous year would not be invited. CSIS apparently accepted
this. I am a bit disappointed because I felt I was virtually unique among the presenters
as I had spoken on a variety of topics both for CSIS and the DAV (see attachment). The
main funder for the CSIS annual South China Sea conference is the Diplomatic
Academy of Vietnam (DAV) and the Foundation for East Sea Studies, a “NGO”
registered in Vietnam. A year earlier (2016) I was not invited to the eighth annual
South China Sea conference hosted by the DAV. I enquired why and it was only when
I met the organizer face to face was I told that when the series began the DAV
promised not to keep inviting the same people back year after year. I had spoken to
the first seven conferences.
Some friends in the Foreign Ministry were upset and took up my case. I received
conflicting explanations. One was a vague that no Australians were to be invited or I
wasn’t to be invited as an Australian. Another explanation was that I had upset
someone in the hierarchy for unspecified reasons. I assumed it may have been my
address to the annual congress of the Vietnamese Community in Australia where I
spoke at their invitation on the South China Sea and Human Rights in Vietnam. I linked
these issues to the Obama Administration’s policies.
There is, of course, a fourth explanation, I was widely critical of China and therefore
“in Vietnam’s pocket” so the DAV could turn to some other scholar to join their circle.
Q2. What do you think about the fact that Ha Noi pays for these events as explained
by the Greg Rushford report published on July 11, 2017?
Thayer Consultancy
ABN # 65 648 097 123
ANSWER: Vietnam, like most other countries, promotes its interests by trying to shape
the agenda in a way that is favorable to its interests. The piper pays the tune. China
has certainly funded conferences on the South China Sea to do so. The issue Greg
Rushford raises is why CSIS is so coy about not revealing the financial details of what
the DAV contributes and how this might affect the selection of speakers. It is widely
known that the DAV protested last year when CSIS initially included the Chinese
Ambassador to Washington. The Ambassador was removed from the formal program
but spoke immediately after the conference ended. Rushford also raises the question
of the affiliation of CSIS staff to consultancies operating in Vietnam, such as the Bower
Group. This raises a possible conflict of interest between pecuniary gain and going
silent on human rights issues.
Q3. I attended one of the South China Sea Conferences, I think four years ago, and
thought you had a very valuable presentation. What can be gained from not inviting
you to the conference this year, from Ha Noi's perspectives
ANSWER: As you can see from the attachments of my conference papers delivered
since 2010 and my publications on the South China Sea that I have been broadly
engaged on a variety of fronts on many topics. I have obliged the DAV by undertaking
new research to address side topics (see table attached). I have very good access to
ASEAN and other government sources. I am up to date on developments such as
General Fan Changlong’s abrupt departure from Hanoi and cancellation of the fourth
friendly border defense activities with Vietnam in late May. The CSIS program does
contain a number of new speakers that perhaps the DAV hopes to influence. From
another perspective, the DAV has the door wide open to select speakers and topics to
suit Vietnam’s interests. I don’t know what Vietnam gains but I have lost confidence
in both the CSIS ( a view I have already expressed to them when I was first dropped
from their program) and DAV
All is not lost, this year I have addressed international conferences related to the South
China Sea in Sydney and Manila. I will be speaking later this year in Russia, Austria and
the Czech Republic.
Follow up email with additional question:
Q4. Do you happen to recall the remarks about human rights in Vietnam during your
speech referenced below?
10. “South China Sea Issues and Human Rights in Vietnam,” Presentation to the 23rd
Conference of the Vietnamese Community in Australia, Dapto Ribbonwood Centre,
Dapto, New South Wales, June 11, 2016.
If so, would you please send me the main points?
ANSWER: Immediately after I send you this email I will send my presentation to the
VCA (Vietnamese Community in Australia). It is a Power Point presentation at 9 MB. If
you do not receive this let me know and I will extract the slides in part 2 on human
Some more background: Once I learned that I wasn’t invited to the DAV’s 2016
conference on the South China Sea I accepted an invitation to speak to a conference
at Columbia University in New York on US-China relations. I spoke on Vietnam-USChina
[Sensitive information deleted about interventions on my behalf] The DAV
eventually responded by inviting me to chair a session. I declined saying I wasn’t going
to travel all the way to Vietnam just to chair a session. Then the DAV got back inviting
me to speak to the last session of the conference. As this session included high ranking
military officers (retired) and was focused on technical issues at sea I declined.
Because I had already accepted the invitation to Columbia University I would have had
to fly from New York to Vietnam to attend the DAV conference. This would have meant
rewriting my air ticket and pay for the cost.
My point being there was obviously some division of views in Hanoi about my
attendance at the DAV conference. That fact that there was a later follow up only
indicates that the DAV responded [to these pressures].
[I then dispatched the Power Point slides used in my presentation to the VCA and I
also sent just the slides related to human rights in Vietnam]
Some more background: Once I learned that I wasn’t invited to the DAV’s 2016
conference on the South China Sea I accepted an invitation to speak to a conference
at Columbia University in New York on U.S.-China relations. I spoke on Vietnam-USChina
As a result of queries by colleagues to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as to why I was
not invited, the DAV eventually responded by inviting me to chair a session. Because I
had already accepted the invitation to Columbia University I would have had to fly
directly from New York to Vietnam to chair the session on the first day of the
conference. This would have meant rewriting my air ticket (and extra cost)..
Then the DAV got back inviting me to speak to the last session of the conference. As
this session included high ranking military officers (retired) and was focused on
technical issues at sea I declined.
My point being there was obviously some division of views in Hanoi about my
attendance at the DAV conference. That fact that there was a later follow up only
indicates that the DAV responded to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, their boss.
Carlyle A. Thayer
Papers presented to South China Sea Conferences organized by the
Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam (DAV) and the
Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Washington,
# Year Title of Papers Presented to the Diplomatic Academy of
1 2009 Recent Developments in the South China Sea – Implications for
Peace, Stability and Cooperation in the Region
2 2010 Recent Developments in the South China Sea: Implications for
Regional Peace and Prosperity
3 2011 Will the Guidelines to Implement the DOC Lessen Tensions in the
South China Sea? An Assessment of Developments Before and
After Their Adoption
4 2012 China’s Naval Modernization and U.S. Strategic Rebalancing:
Implications for Stability in the South China Sea
5 2013 South China Sea Developments in 2013: ASEAN Unity Restored,
Sino-Philippine Tensions and ASEAN-China Consultations on a
Code of Conduct
6 2014 Fishing Fleets and Other Maritime Commercial and Scientific
7 2015 The Code of Conduct in the South China Sea and Beyond: Foolish
Consistency or Holy Grail?”
8 2016 Not invited
# Year Title of Papers Presented to the Center for Strategic and
International Studies
1 2011 China’s New Wave of Aggressive Assertiveness in the South China
2 2012 From Aggressive Assertiveness to All Quiet on the East Sea Front:
The South China Sea as an Issue in China-Vietnam Relations
3 2013 South China Sea in Regional Politics: Indonesia’s Efforts to Forge
ASEAN Unity on a Code of Conduct
4 2014 Vietnam’s Maritime Forces
5 2015 Not invited
6 2016 Military Modernization and Capacity Building in the Philippines
and Vietnam
7 2017 Not invited
Thayer không được CSIS mời diễn
July 13, 2017
GS Carl Thayer trong một Hội Nghị Biển Đông do CSIS tổ chức ở
Hoa Thịnh Đốn. (Hình: FB Carl Thayer).
Hà Giang/Người Việt
Với những ai quan tâm đến tranh chấp Biển Đông, Hội Nghị Biển
Đông được Trung Tâm Nghiên Cứu Chiến Lược và Quốc Tế (Center
for Strategic and International Studies – CSIS) tổ chức hàng năm
tại Hoa Thịnh Đốn là một sự kiện quan trọng.
Một tuần trước ngày khai mạc Hội Nghị Biển Đông của CSIS năm
nay, được tổ chức vào ngày 18 tháng Bảy, giáo sư Carl Thayer, một
diễn giả thường xuyên có mặt tại hội nghị, post lên trang Facebook
của mình tấm hình chụp ở hội nghị năm 2016. Đi kèm hình là dòng
chú thích thoáng chút ngậm ngùi:
“Hình này chụp lúc tôi nói chuyện tại buổi Hội Thảo Biển Đông ở
CSIS tại Hoa Thịnh Đốn. Tôi không được mời năm nay bởi Học Viện
Ngoại Giao Việt Nam, nhà tài trợ của họ, không muốn mời những
diễn giả từng nói chuyện ở các hội nghị trước đây vì cần phải có sự
‘đa dạng’. Năm ngoái tôi cũng không được mời đến cuộc hội nghị
Biển Đông ở Nha Trang do Học Viện Ngoại Giao Việt Nam tổ chức
với lý do ‘viện dẫn’ là vì nhu cầu tương tự. Sở dĩ tôi dùng chữ “viện
dẫn” là vì đã có những lý do trái ngược nhau để giải thích việc tôi
không được mời.”
Không được mời diễn thuyết
Trả lời phỏng vấn của nhật báo Người Việt, giáo sư Carl Thayer
(chuyên gia nghiên cứu về Châu Á và Biển Đông, từ năm 2010 đến
nay đã có hơn 85 bài diễn thuyết khắp nơi trên thế giới về đề tài
tranh chấp Biển Đông), cho biết một số thân hữu của ông tại Bộ
Ngoại Giao Việt Nam không hài lòng về việc ông không được mời
tham dự hội nghị, đã đặt vấn đề, và được cung cấp “những lời giải
thích khác nhau”. Ông kể:
“Họ đưa ra một lý do mơ hồ là năm nay không mời người Úc nào cả,
hay tôi sẽ không được mời với tư cách một người Úc [GS Carl
Thayer là người Mỹ sinh sống ở Úc – NV]. Cũng có giải thích là tôi
đã làm phật lòng một giới chức cao cấp vì một lý do nào không rõ.
Tôi đoán có lẽ là vì bài diễn văn của tôi về ‘Vấn Đề Biển Đông và
Nhân Quyền tại Việt Nam’ trong buổi hội thảo của Cộng Đồng Người
Việt tại Úc, vào tháng Sáu năm 2016. Dĩ nhiên cũng có thêm lý do
nữa là vì tôi phê phán Trung Quốc rất nặng nề, và như thế, được
xem như là phe nhà của Việt Nam rồi, nên họ muốn dành tiền để
mời thêm những học giả khác vào quỹ đạo của họ.”
Giả thuyết của giáo sư Carl Thayer là ông không được Hà Nội (phe
nắm hầu bao ban tổ chức Hội Nghị Biển Đông của CSIS) mời diễn
thuyết về đề tài mà ông rất am tường, chỉ vì đã đụng chạm đến vấn
đề nhân quyền của Việt Nam, có lý chút nào không?
Có ít nhất là một người đồng ý với suy nghĩ này của ông, rằng nhà
cầm quyền Hà Nội không thích vấn đề vi phạm nhân quyền của họ
bị nhắc đến.
Bàn tay dấu kín của Hà Nội
Ký giả Greg Rushford, một phóng viên điều tra kỳ cựu ở vùng Hoa
Thịnh Đốn, trong bản tường trình “How Hanoi’s Hidden Hand Helps
Shape a Think Tank’s Agenda in Washington” (Bàn tay dấu kín của
Hà Nội ảnh hưởng đến nghị trình của một viên nghiên cứu ở Hoa
Thịnh Đốn như thế nào?), phổ biến ngày 11 tháng Bảy, 2016, đưa
ra nhận xét của ông về sự thiếu minh bạch của CSIS về nguồn tài
trợ của tổ chức cũng như sự xung đột quyền lợi đến từ nguồn tài
Mở đầu bản tường trình, ký giả Rushford viết: “Thứ Ba ngày 18
tháng Bảy tới đây là một ngày trọng đại của Trung Tâm Nghiên Cứu
Chiến Lược và Quốc Tế (Center for Strategic and International
Studies – CSIS), một trong những viện nghiên cứu uy tín hàng đầu
của Hoa Thịnh Đốn trong hơn nửa thế kỷ qua. Hội nghị hàng năm
lần thứ bảy về Biển Đông của CSIS, như lần đầu tiên năm 2011, sẽ
lại một lần nữa lưu ý dư luận về thái độ hung hăng của Trung Quốc
ở Biển Đông.”
“Các diễn giả từng được cơ quan an ninh quốc gia của Hoa Kỳ chứng
nhận là lý lịch ‘ổn’, sẽ được vời đến từ Singapore, Việt Nam,
Philippines và các nơi khác ở Châu Á. Họ sẽ sát cánh với các chuyên
gia hàng đầu của Hoa Kỳ, từ những tổ chức uy tín như Trường Cao
Đẳng Hải Quân Hoa Kỳ và Trung Tâm Nghiên Cứu Chiến Tranh Hải
Quân. Thượng nghị sĩ Cory Gardner, một đảng viên đảng Cộng Hòa
từ Colorado, người điều phối nhóm thảo luận về Châu Á của Ủy ban
Đối ngoại, sẽ khai mạc hội nghị bằng bài diễn văn về ‘Tiếp nối vai
trò lãnh đạo của Hoa Kỳ ở Châu Á – Thái Bình Dương'”.
Ông nêu vấn đề: “Vậy ai đã là người rộng rãi tài trợ cho các cuộc
hội nghị nhằm khuyến khích tầm quan trọng của việc tiếp tục vai
trò lãnh đạo của Mỹ ở Á châu?”
Và ông tiết lộ: “Chủ tịch kiêm tổng giám đốc của CSIS, ông John
Hamre, đã tránh né câu hỏi này trong suốt sáu năm qua. Chẳng
hạn, vào tháng Bảy năm ngoái, CSIS công bố rằng Hội Thảo Biển
Đông kỳ thứ Sáu đã’được thực hiện với sự hỗ trợ chung cho CSIS’.
Công bố này không chỉ quá mơ hồ chẳng nói rõ được điều gì, mà
còn là một sự ‘bóp méo sự thật’ một cách trắng trợn, theo một
nguồn tin muốn được giữ kín. Để chứng minh điều mình nói, nguồn
tin này đã cung cấp cho tôi [Greg Rushford – NV] tài liệu mật của
nội bộ CSIS, cho biết chính xác tiền đến từ đâu.”
Ký giả Greg Rushford khẳng định: “Những bản ghi nhớ, email và
nhiều tài liệu khác cho thấy tổng giám đốc CSIS, ông John Hamre
đã có một ‘thiên thần’ bí mật ở Hà Nội. Và ‘thiên thần’ này có tiếng
nói quan trọng trong việc ai được mời và ai không được mời đến
tham dự các hội nghị hàng hải hàng năm của CSIS. Nhà hảo tâm bí
mật của CSIS là một đơn vị của Bộ Ngoại Giao Việt Nam. Theo
trang web chính thức, đơn vị này có tên là Học Viện Ngoại Giao Việt
Nam, làm việc trực tiếp với Bộ Trưởng Ngoại Giao Phạm Bình Minh
và Đảng Cộng Sản Việt Nam. Phạm Bình Minh, hiện là Phó thủ
tướng Việt Nam, là thành viên cao cấp của Đảng, nắm chức bộ
trưởng ngoại giao từ năm 2011.”
Ký giả Greg Rushford cho biết “Kể từ năm 2012, chính phủ Việt
Nam đã tặng cho CSIS hơn $450,000 Mỹ kim để tổ chức các hội
nghị Biển Đông hàng năm. Tổng Giám Đốc John Hamre nhất quyết
từ chối trả lời những câu hỏi liên quan đến việc này, được liên tục
gửi đến.”
Không những vị lãnh đạo cao cấp nhất của CSIS không trả lời báo
chí, trong đó có tờ New York Times, về nguồn tài trợ, mà website
của CSIS, vẫn theo ông Greg Rushford, cũng rất mơ hồ về điểm
này. Đâu đó trên website của CSIS ghi rằng Học Viện Ngoại Giao
Việt Nam (the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam – DAV) có tặng cho
CSIS “trên $5,000 nhưng dưới $99,000 đô la”, nhưng không hề giải
thích Học Viện Ngoại Giao Việt Nam chính là một đơn vị của Bộ
Ngoại Giao Việt Nam, mà cũng không giải thích là món tiền được
tặng sẽ được dùng vào việc gì.
Ngoài việc CSIS không nói rõ nguồn tiền tài trợ, phóng sự điều tra
của Greg Rushford còn vạch ra là có một số xung đột quyền lợi khi
ông Murray Hiebert, một cố vấn tối cao của CSIS từng làm ăn ở Việt
Xung đột quyền lợi hay sai lầm đạo đức?
Đơn cử một thí dụ về xung đột quyền lợi, phóng viên Greg Rushford
viết: “Vào năm 2015, ông Murray Hiebert từng bị chỉ trích vì ông
nhất định từ chối không đưa ra những phân tích có tính cách chỉ
trích việc đàn áp nhân quyền của Việt Nam. Ông Hiebert cũng từng
ra lệnh cho nhân viên an ninh lôi một nhà đấu tranh đòi nhân quyền
cho Việt Nam người Mỹ gốc Việt ra khỏi khuôn viên của CSIS, sau
khi bị giới chức của Hà Nội áp lực phải làm như thế.
Trong phần cuối phóng sự điều tra khá dài, ký giả Greg Rushford
viết: “Độc giả sẽ tự rút ra kết luận về những gì Hà Nội đã đạt được
khi tài trợ cho CSIS. Trong những năm được đề cập trong bài viết
này, chương trình nghị sự về Việt Nam ở Hoa Thịnh Đốn có những
phần chính. Hà Nội muốn tạo ra một bầu không khí trao đổi ý kiến
để thúc đẩy quan hệ ngoại giao và an ninh chặt chẽ hơn với Hoa Kỳ.
Các nhà phân tích của CSIS cũng muốn điều đó. Hà Nội muốn Tổng
thống Barack Obama tới thăm Việt Nam, để giúp quan hệ đôi bên
thắt chặt thêm, CSIS cũng ủng hộ chuyến đi đó. Hà Nội muốn
Washington dỡ bỏ lệnh cấm bán vũ khí nguy hiểm cho chế độ cộng
sản. Các nhà phân tích của CSIS cũng chia sẻ quan điểm ấy. Và Việt
Nam muốn có sự hỗ trợ của Mỹ đối với hợp đồng thương mại Quan
hệ đối tác xuyên Thái Bình Dương. CSIS cũng cổ vũ điều đó. Dĩ
nhiên lãnh đạo của CSIS có thể lập luận rằng việc thúc đẩy một
quan hệ chặt chẽ hơn giữa Mỹ và Việt Nam cũng là điều hợp lý.”
Vấn đề nằm ở chỗ, Greg Rushford vạch ra: “Nhưng trên tất cả mọi
thứ khác, nhà cầm quyền Việt Nam muốn giới trí thức ưu tú có thể
ảnh hưởng đến chính sách đối ngoại ở Hoa Thịnh Đốn ngoảnh mặt lờ
đi các vụ vi phạm nhân quyền ở Hà Nội. Đảng Cộng Sản hiểu rằng
sự sống còn của nó phụ thuộc vào việc tiếp tục đàn áp những người
bất đồng chính kiến ôn hòa. Và như tôi đã tường trình trước đây về
cách Hà Nội mua ảnh hưởng và chuyến đi Việt Nam lịch sử của Tổng
Thống Obama, những lãnh đạo của CSIS đã cẩn thận để không làm
phật lòng giới chức cao cấp Hà Nội, khi có những câu hỏi về tình
hình tù nhân chính trị tại Việt Nam.”
“Từ chối không lên tiếng trước việc những công dân can đảm Việt
Nam bị bắt giam chỉ vì thực hiện quyền tự do ngôn luận, một quyền
tự do phổ quát của con người, chắc chắn là một sai lầm đạo đức,”
ông Rushford kết luận.
Trước tình trạng CSIS, viện nghiên cứu uy tín hàng đầu nước Mỹ bị
vạch ra là đã nhận tiền để làm ngơ về vấn đề vi phạm nhân quyền
tại Việt Nam, mà giáo sư Carl Thayer lại ngang nhiên diễn thuyết về
điều này, thì giả thuyết vì thế mà ông không được mời diễn thuyết
năm nay là điều có thể tin được.
Trả lời câu hỏi cảm tưởng của mình trước việc không được mời đến
tham dự hội nghị về một đề tài ông rất am tường, Giáo Sư Carl
Thayer phát biểu: “Tôi không rõ Việt Nam sẽ được gì, nhưng tôi thì
đã mất niềm tin vào cả CSIS lẫn Học Viện Ngoại Giao Việt Nam.”
Tiền bạc rõ ràng đã mua được nhiều thứ. Trong trường hợp này, nó
mua được sư im lặng trước những điều mà con người bình thường
nào cũng thấy bất nhẫn.
Liên lạc tác giả:
Suggested citation: Carlyle A. Thayer, “South China Sea: CSIS 7th International
Conference - 1,” Thayer Consultancy Background Brief, July 13, 2017. All background
briefs are posted on (search for Thayer). To remove yourself from the
mailing list type, UNSUBSCRIBE in the Subject heading and hit the Reply key.
Thayer Consultancy provides political analysis of current regional security issues and
other research support to selected clients. Thayer Consultancy was officially
registered as a small business in Australia in 2002.

Background Briefing:
South China Sea: 7th CSIS
Conference on the South China
Sea - 2
Carlyle A. Thayer
July 14, 2017
[client name deleted]
We have just finished reading Greg Rushford’s, “How Hanoi’s Hidden Hand Helps
Shape a Think Tank’s Agenda in Washington.” We are preparing an investigative
report about Hanoi's "hidden hand" in trying to shape the CSIS [Center for Strategic
and International Studies] South China Sea Conference agenda.
Would like to have your assessment on Rushford’s report.
Q1. What do you think about the possibilities of Hanoi's buying influence to promote
its foreign policy agenda in Washington?
ANSWER: Quite obviously the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam (DAV) is under the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and serves the Ministry’s objectives. The Foundation for
East Sea Studies claims it is a non-governmental organization; but NGOs in Vietnam
do not have the same legal status as they do in liberal democracies. They are always
under some government approved body; in other words that are not autonomous or
independent. Vietnamese NGOs solicit funds from donor states and other friendly
organizations both overseas and domestically. In sum, the DAV funds South China Sea
conferences to put their view in the public domain to compete with China’s
propaganda and information efforts. The Vietnamese want foreign scholars to
“educate” Chinese scholars who are present, a subtle and indirect way of exerting
The central issue that Greg Rushford raises is that the CSIS has been coy about the
details of who is sponsoring their South China Sea conference series, how much
funding has been provided, and what requirements the sponsor has imposed. The
most obvious case took place in 2016 when the CSIS at first put the Chinese
Ambassador to the U..S on the program but later removed him after an intervention
by the DAV. I have viewed copies of written exchanges on this matter.
Vietnam also has engaged the services of a U.S. public relations firm to advance
Vietnam’s interests. This is separate from DAV funding to the CSIS.
Q2. Rushford said Hanoi is using money to "shut people's mouth from speaking out on
human rights." What do you think about this?
ANSWER: Human rights in Vietnam has never been on the formal agenda for any of
the DAV/CSIS conferences I have attended. I recall several years ago that an American
Thayer Consultancy
ABN # 65 648 097 123
Vietnam specialist, Dr. Jonathan London, raised human rights in his oral presentation
at a conference in Da Nang. Reportedly, the Ministry of Public Security later physically
prevented him from attending a later and unrelated academic event in Vietnam.
The DAV is motivated to attract scholars who are critical of China because of Beijing’s
behavior in the South China Sea and wanton disregard for international law. I think
the DAV is motivated to present Vietnam’s case and a critique of China’s actions. But
the DAV can be influenced by the Ministry of Public Security. Several years ago I was
told by a DAV official that the Ministry of Public Security opposed my invitation to the
first conference on the South China Sea in 2009. I was invited nonetheless and I did
Rushford raised the issue of human rights with respect to the staff at the CSIS who are
Vietnam (or more generally Southeast Asia) specialists. Rushford reported that they
are also on the payroll of consultancies, such as the Bower Group, that do business in
Vietnam. These individuals obviously have an interest not to bite the hand that feeds
them. In Rushford’s view, this is a conflict of interest. One only has to look at the CSIS
Vietnam specialists and ask if they have spoken out on human rights in Vietnam or if
they have included consistent coverage on human rights in their electronic newsletter.
If not why not? This is a public policy issue in the United States.
I recognize that this puts Vietnam specialists, myself included, in a very difficult
position. I have adopted the policy of addressing human rights in Vietnam only to
audiences in Australia and other countries but not in Vietnam. For many years now I
have given the political overview to the annual Vietnam Update Conference
sponsored by The Australian National University. I always include what I feel is a
balanced discussion on human rights and religious freedom in Vietnam. Once I
received some gentle negative criticism from a Vietnamese official. I responded with
‘noi/ngoai’ - I don’t speak about human rights in Vietnam but I speak about human
rights outside Vietnam.
I have spoken to Vietnam Government officials, including the Religious Affairs
Committee members, on human rights and religious freedom in private meetings.
Q3. As I know from your Face Book post, you were not invited to the CSIS' South Chian
Sea conference to be held next week. What do you think are the real reasons you
weren’t invited? Are they related to what the Rushford Report argued?
ANSWER: On April 12 this year, I received the following email from one of the
organizers for the 7th CSIS conference on the South China Sea:
I just want to give you a heads up that we are hosting our annual SCS conference
on July 18. We are being urged by our funders not to include speakers who spoke
last year, and as a result we will not be extending an invitation to you this year.
Sorry about that. I just thought I’d let you know, so you didn’t wonder what’s going
on. Any chance any other event will bring you to Washington this year?
On July 11, I posted the following on my Distribution List:
Dear colleagues,
I attach a Rushford Report on DAV funding for CSIS conferences on the South
China Sea.
As you know last year the DAV declined to invite me to their annual SCS conference
for the first time. I was given very mixed messages for the reason why I wasn’t
invited. And I was dropped from the speakers list at this year’s CSIS SCS conference
at the request of its sponsors.
I immediately heard back from the CSIS organizer:
Carl, about your note below: the sponsors NEVER raised your name with regard
to this year's SCS conference at CSIS. All they said at the outset was that they
requested we not invite any speakers from last year's conference to allow more
diversity of views.
In other words, I was not officialiy invited because I spoke last year and the DAV
wanted to allow for more diversity of views.
In early 2016, I became aware that the DAV had sent out invitations to their 8th
conference on the South China Sea. Since I did not receive one I concluded that I was
not invited. On September 26, 2016, I had a face-to-face meeting with the DAV
organizer who was visiting Canberra. I asked directly why I wasn’t invited. He replied
that when the DAV first began its conference series on the South China Sea its
sponsors stipulated that the same speakers should not be invited year after year and
consequently I had been dropped. In fact, I had attended all seven previous
When friends in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs heard that I was not invited they
questioned this decision. I was then given differing explanations. One explanation was
that no Australians were being included or that I specifically was excluded as an
Australian. Another explanation was that “someone” in a position of authority
requested that I not be invited but no specific reason was given. When I raised this
with the DAV organizers they appeared embarrassed and repeated their original
There are two related factors that caused me to surmise that I was not being given the
true story. One relates to a diplomatic incident between Vietnam and Australia at that
time that has been kept under wraps. The other was that on June 11, 2016 I spoke to
the23rd annual congress of the Vietnamese Community in Australia (VCA) at their
invitation on the topic “The South China Sea and Human Rights in Vietnam”
No DAV or other Vietnamese official linked my address to the VCA to my being
dropped from the DAV South China Sea conference. But given the timeline, vagueness
and differing explanations I concluded on the balance of probabilities that this was the
case. It may have been purely coincidental that a year later the DAV used the same
reason – diversity of views – to drop presenters who spoke at the 2016 CSIS
conference on the South China Sea.
The CSIS appears to have rolled over and accepted the DAV view that no speakers
from the previous year be invited. The record will show that I have obliged both the
DAV and CSIS by speaking on a variety of topics at their conferences and offered them
a diversity of topics (See:
Academy-of-Vietnam-and-the-Center-for-Strategic-and-International-Stu). In the end,
it is their prerogative to invite or not to invite speakers to the conferences that they
Suggested citation: Carlyle A. Thayer, “South China Sea: 7th CSIS Conference on the
South China Sea - 2,” Thayer Consultancy Background Brief, July 14, 2017. All
background briefs are posted on (search for Thayer). To remove yourself
from the mailing list type, UNSUBSCRIBE in the Subject heading and hit the Reply key.
Thayer Consultancy provides political analysis of current regional security issues and
other research support to selected clients. Thayer Consultancy was officially
registered as a small business in Australia in 2002.

Background Brief
CSIS 7th International
Conference on the South China
Sea - 3
Carlyle A. Thayer
July 18, 2017
[client name deleted]
We came across this article (in Vietnamese):
It says that CSIS and DAV have not invited you to their conferences for a year or two
with excuses that seem feeble is if disingenuous, and it suggested that the real reason
is probably that you have talked about human rights in Vietnam.
It also says that you said you have lost faith in CSIS and DAV.
Do you mind if we ask if the article is accurate in what it says you said?
ANSWER: In 2016 the DAV told me, only after I asked, that I was not being invited to
their 2016 South China Sea conference because their agreement with the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs was to have a diversity of speakers. As I had spoken to all the
conferences up to 2016, I was not invited.
This year CSIS informed me in April that I was not being invited because their
funders/sponsors (DAV) wanted a diversity of speakers and therefore anyone who
spoke last year would not be invited. I spoke at all CSIS SCS conferences except 2015
and 2017.
My concerns are based on information received in 2016 about the reasons why I was
not invited by the DAV. These came from Vietnamese officials who took up my case.
Depending on who I spoke to the reasons varied. My experience suggested to me that
factors other than the explanation given to me by DAV might have played a role.
It appears to me that CSIS rolled over this year.
For the record, I accept that it is the prerogative of the DAV and CSIS to invite
whomever they want. In the case of CSIS it appears that the DAV has the dominant
The best account in Vietnamese is my interview with Nguoi Viet.
Suggested citation: Carlyle A. Thayer, “CSIS 7th International Conference on the South
China Sea - 3,” Thayer Consultancy Media Release, July 18, 2017. All background briefs
Thayer Consultancy
ABN # 65 648 097 123
are posted on (search for Thayer). To remove yourself from the mailing list
type, UNSUBSCRIBE in the Subject heading and hit the Reply key.
Thayer Consultancy provides political analysis of current regional security issues and
other research support to selected clients. Thayer Consultancy was officially
registered as a small business in Australia in 2002.

Conference on the South China Sea: Twenty Questions

Background Briefing:
CSIS 7th International
Conference on the South China
Sea: Twenty Questions
Carlyle A. Thayer
July 18, 2017
[client name deleted]
We know you were not invited to the 7th international conference on the South China
Sea hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies and sponsored by the
Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam and the Foundation for East Sea Studies. What
questions do you think the speakers should address?
QUESTION 1: To what extent is Philippines economic development dependent on
securing hydrocarbon energy resources from Recto Bank? Is Philippine economic
development being held hostage by Chinese blandishments not to drill and exploit oil
and gas within the Philippines Exclusive Economic Zone?
QUESTION 2: What is the legal basis for Chinese warnings to foreign military aircraft
and ships as they transit the Spratly islands in South China Sea? China has not
promulgated any baselines that are required for a territorial sea. What is the basis in
international law for Chinese alerts that foreign aircraft are entering a “military alert
QUESTION 3: In May this year it was reported, “Norinco CS/AR-1 55mm anti-frogman
rocket launcher defense systems with the capability to discover, identify and attack
enemy combat divers had been installed on Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratly Islands.”
What activities by “enemy combat divers” provoked this response? Is the
emplacement of rockets on Fiery Cross a violation of the self-restraint clause in the
2002 Declaration on Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea?
QUESTION 4: When the Arbitral Tribunal issued its Award on July 12, 2016 Vietnam’s
Foreign Ministry said it would issue a statement on the Award. Has any such statement
been issued? If not, why not?
QUESTION 5: What precisely are Vietnam’s claims to the Spratly Islands? In particular
does Vietnam claim all of the land features (artificial islands) occupied by China? If not,
which ones does Vietnam claim? Does Vietnam claim any land features also claimed
by the Philippines? If so, which ones?
QUESTION 6: Last year it was reported that Vietnam deployed launchers for the Israelimanufactured
Extended Range Artillery rockets (EXTRA), on several land features in
the Spratlys. Are these reports accurate and do you consider this a violation of the
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self-restraint clause in the 2002 Declaration on Conduct of Parties in the South China
QUESTION 7: What were the activities of Vietnamese special forces (so-called enemy
combat divers by China) that led China to emplace a defensive rocket system on Fiery
Cross Reef?
QUESTION 8: What has prompted Chinese assertiveness in opposing oil exploration by
the Philippines in Recto Bank and Vietnamese oil and gas activities in Block 118 and
Block 136-03 off its coast?
QUESTION 9: Is the Arbitral Tribunal Award “dead in the water” as a result China’s
refusal to comply and the decision by President Duterte to set it aside? Doesn’t this
undermine a rules-based regional order?
QUESTION 10: Chinese legal specialists and academics must have been taken aback by
the unanimous decision of the Arbitral Tribunal. What re-evaluation if any has taken
place in China? Is China gradually advancing a new legal basis for its claims in the South
China Sea?
QUESTION 11: China was roundly condemned by the Arbitral Tribunal for massive
damage to the coral reef system and for failure to protect the marine environment.
What are the consequences of continued neglect and inaction on this issue?
QUESTION 12: Why haven’t China and ASEAN member states commenced
cooperation in the five areas mentioned in the 2002 DOC? Does China still insist that
the effective implementation of the DOC is a prerequisite for a Code of Conduct?
QUESTION 13: It appears that there are at least two major impediments to an ASEANChina
Code of Conduct in the South China Sea – geographic scope and legally binding
nature. What geographic area should the COC cover? And should national legislatures
ratify the COC and deposit copies with the United Nations?
QUESTION 14: Is the naval balance of power in the South China Sea shifting in China’s
favor? If so, aren’t China’s seven artificial island bases a fait accompli?
QUESTION 15: In order for the United States to exert the effective influence of sea
power on developments in the South China Sea, how important is access – rotational
or otherwise – to bases and facilities in the Philippines?
QUESTION 16: When President Barack Obama lifted the International Trafficking in
Arms Regulations (ITAR or arms embargo) against Vietnam he said, “As will all our
defense partners, sales will need to still meet strict requirements, including those
related to human rights.” Does this policy still apply under President Donald Trump?
QUESTION 17: Are the actions by the Trump Administration in the South China Sea
such as conducting freedom of navigation patrols, overflights by bombers and
maritime patrol aircraft, and joint exercises with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense
Force a lot of “sound and fury signifying nothing”?
QUESTION 18: Can the Trump Administration assemble a coalition of the willing or
likeminded states to push back against China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea.
If so, who would be part of this coalition and how specifically should they push back?
QUESTION 19: China argues that as the United States has not ratified UNCLOS it really
has no standing in South China Sea maritime disputes. For example, if China interfered
with U.S. freedom of navigation patrols the Spratly islands, the U.S. would not be able
to avail itself of dispute settlement mechanisms in UNCLOS. Shouldn’t the U.S.
conduct freedom of navigation patrols with states like Australia and Japan who have
ratified UNCLOS. Would the threat of legal action deter Chinese assertiveness?
QUESTION 20: What is the status of the U.S. National Security Strategy mandated by
the U.S. Congress? What should this strategy include? As a follow on, what should be
the essential components of the new U.S. Maritime Strategy?
Suggested citation: Carlyle A. Thayer, “CSIS 7th International Conference on the South
China Sea: Twenty Questions,” Thayer Consultancy Background Brief, July 18, 2017. All
background briefs are posted on (search for Thayer). To remove yourself
from the mailing list type, UNSUBSCRIBE in the Subject heading and hit the Reply key.
Thayer Consultancy provides political analysis of current regional security issues and
other research support to selected clients. Thayer Consultancy was officially
registered as a small business in Australia in 2002.