Vietnamese runners target Olympics qualification 

Truong Thanh Hang (L) and Vu Thi Huong are training hard to qualify for the 2012 Olympics in London.

Sprint queen Vu Thi Huong and middle distance runner (800m, 1,500m) Truong Thanh Hang are training hard to qualify for the 2012 Olympics in London.

Local experts say the athletes should concentrate on the Olympics rather than the Southeast Asian Games in Indonesia in November where they should be defending their titles easily because as are no strong rivals in the region.

Huong and Hang both participated in the 2008 Olympics in China but they did so with wild card entries, not after qualifying. This time, they want to qualify.

Nguyen Manh Hung, deputy general Secretary of Vietnam Athletics Federation (VAF), said, “There are strong grounds for our ambition because Hang and Huong are at their peak.

“With a double budget of US$160,000 this year, we can make big track and field investments. For the first time, Huong, Hang and Le Ngoc Phuong will train in Germany at an expense of $44,000. We will also put VND150-170 million ($7,200-8,100) into cash prize funds.”

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) is yet to announce an official requirement for qualification for the 2012 Olympics, but it is likely to be below 11.30 seconds for the 100m race, the benchmark for the 2008 Olympics.

“My personal best was at the Southeast Asian Games in 2009 where I did the 100m in 11.34 seconds. That is 0.4 seconds more than the Olympic qualification requirement. At the Asian Games in China in 2010, I won the bronze medal but I covered the 100m in 11.43 seconds. That’s why I must train hard now. I’m leaving for Germany on April 18 for a training course and I hope the 3-week training in Cologne and Frankfurt will improve my performance,” Huong told Thanh Nien.

Coach Nguyen Dinh Minh said, “It will be extremely hard to improve Huong’s performance, but we are determined to make it better. The main tests will be the Asian Track and Field Championships in Kobe (Japan, July 7-10), the World Track and Field Championships in Daegu (South Korea, August 27 till September 4) and the 26th Southeast Asian Games in Indonesia in November.”

Thanh Hang’s coach Ho Thi Tu Tam said, “Hang will train in China from May 1-28 before going to Germany for more training.”

German expert Uwe Freimuth, who is also training Hang, has said that Hang, who finished second in the women’s 800m and 1,500m races at the Asian Games in China in 2010, can qualify for the London Olympics.

A VFA website report said, “Uwe has suggested making Asian Games runner-up Hang one of the world’s top 10 in her category, which no Vietnamese expert has ever thought of before. However, Hang’s performances at the 16th Asian Games in China in 2010 have made VAF believe in Uwe Freimuth’s suggestion."

Hang herself said, “To be in the world top 10 is a dream for any athlete; but I know I must do more, especially in nutrition and technical skills.”

Vietnam asks China to stop sovereignty violations 


Vietnam has undisputable sovereignty over the Truong Sa (Spratly) and Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelagoes, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Nguyen Phuong Nga said Friday.

“Vietnam requests China to stop and not to repeat activities violating Vietnam’s sovereignty,” Nga said at a press briefing in Hanoi.

She made the statement in response to a question on recent information released by the Xinhua news agency.

The Chinese news agency on April 3 said China’s Hainan province defined Cay Island, which belongs to Vietnam’s Hoang Sa archipelago, as one of the islands under its preservation, upgrading and construction project in 2011.

Nga said all foreign activities on the two archipelagoes without Vietnam’s permission are violations of the country’s sovereignty.

Vietnam opposes China’s military exercise on archipelago 


Officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs met with Chinese embassy staff on Thursday to protest the nation’s latest military exercise around the Truong Sa (Spratly) Islands, according to the ministry.


The exercise violate Vietnam’s sovereignty over the islands as well as the terms of the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) signed between China and ASEAN countries in 2002, the ministry said.


China needs to cease complicating established sovereignty, comply with existing treaties, and contribute to the East Sea’s peace, a spokesperson from the Vietnamese ministry said.


According to Chinese Xinhua Agency, China dispatched naval forces to the islands in an anti-piracy exercise on February 24.

Japan logs first trade deficit in almost two years 

A freight ship docks alongside a container wharf in Tokyo port.

Japan posted its first trade deficit in almost two years last month, officials said Wednesday, amid rising commodity prices and weak demand for its exports ahead of China’s Lunar New Year holiday.

The finance ministry said exports, a key driver of Japan’s economy, rose just 1.4 percent in January — the 14th consecutive month of growth, but a well off the 13 percent on-year surge in December.

That came as instability in the Middle East and North Africa pushed the price of oil and other commodities up amid concerns supplies could be cut, sending resource-poor Japan’s import bill up 12.4 percent.

And analysts warned that with commodity prices looking set rise further Japan could see its cost of imports continue to grow.

The trade deficit for export-dependent Japan, which is struggling to revive its sagging economy, stood at 471.42 billion yen ($5.7 billion), compared with forecasts for a 49.6 billion yen surplus.

“Exports to China grew by only one percent in January, compared with 20.1 percent in December,” said a finance ministry official.

“Overall exports, mainly to China and other parts of Asia where people celebrate the Lunar New Year holiday, slowed because of shipping adjustments,” he said of the lead-up to the holiday in early February.

The economy, hit hard by the global downturn, is however broadly gathering steam as wider overseas demand remains strong, and officials predict the trade balance will swing back to black soon.

“The global economy has been recovering since late last year while a relatively lower yen is also helping Japanese exporters,” said Hiroshi Watanabe, economist at Daiwa Institute of Research.

Japan’s economy has been buffeted in recent months by a strong yen, which made exports more expensive and eroded companies’ repatriated profits.

However, it has eased off its 15-year high of 80.21 against the dollar struck in November and is currently sitting around the high 82 yen mark.

Japan reported last month its trade surplus more than doubled in 2010 and exports to key trade partner China had hit a record high, as robust overseas demand indicated gathering momentum for its recovery.

December’s 13 percent growth in exports, the second consecutive monthly acceleration, also showed the economy, highly reliant on auto, electronics and machinery exports, was starting to bounce back.

But Watanabe said the trade balance could be squeezed further in the coming months because of higher commodity prices, especially crude from the Middle East where Japan sources 90 percent of its oil.

“There are three main factors behind the surging commodity prices,” he said. “Emerging economies are expanding further. Speculative capital is also hiking prices due to monetary easing policies of the world’s major economies.

“Finally, the instability in the Middle East is pushing prices of oil and other resources higher.”

Prime Minister Naoto Kan Tuesday summoned his key ministers for an emergency meeting as oil soared to two-year highs amid escalating violence in Libya and instability elsewhere in North Africa and the Middle East.

Wednesday’s trade data showed Japan’s January imports at 5.44 trillion yen as the country was forced to pay more for iron ore and petroleum products as well as oil.

Exports were 4.97 trillion yen, modestly higher than a year earlier, thanks partly to demand for steel and construction machinery.

The Bank of Japan this week upgraded its view of the economy for the first time in nine months on accelerating global growth but kept its easy monetary policy in place due to persistent deflation.

Japan’s real gross domestic product slipped an annualised 1.1 percent in the December quarter as expiring auto subsidies hit car sales, a new tobacco tax sapped cigarette demand and a strong yen hurt exports.

But the contraction was smaller than expected, and there are hopes the economy will pick up this quarter on improving demand from key partners such as China, which overtook Japan in 2010 as the world’s second economy.

Vietnam air travel set to grow 10.2 pct annually: industry group 


The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said Vietnam will see some of the world’s most significant industry growth in the coming years.

The association expects Vietnam’s airline industry will grow 10.2 percent annually by 2014 in terms of international passengers, making it the third fastest growing market after China and the United Arab Emirates.

Vietnam will also rank second in terms of growth in domestic passengers, after China, IATA said in a statement Monday.

The association expects the global airline industry to see 3.3 billion passengers by 2014, up 800 million from 2009. Asia will account for 45 percent of the increase, the association said.

“Despite some regional differences, the forecast indicates that the world will continue to become more mobile. This creates enormous opportunities but also presents some challenges,” said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s Director General and CEO. “To realize the economic growth potential that this will bring, we will need even more efficient air traffic management, airport facilities and security programs.”

In terms of air cargo, IATA expects international freight volumes to surge to 38 million tons in 2014, compared to 26 million tons in 2009.

The top three fastest growing international freight markets over the period will be Hong Kong, China and Vietnam, the association expects.

US will respond to Chinese military advances: Gates 

In this Friday Jan. 7, 2011, photo, a prototype of the Chinese J-20 stealth plane is seen during a runway test in Chengdu, southwest China.

The United States will enhance its own capabilities in response to China’s growing military muscle, Defense chief Robert Gates said on Saturday, as he to flew to Beijing for talks with China’s political and military leaders.

As its economy booms, China has significantly increased investment in its military, and its faster-than-expected advances in its ballistic missile, combat aircraft and other strategic programs have raised eyebrows in the United States.

Gates acknowledge that some of China’s advances, if confirmed, could eventually undermine traditional US military capabilities in the Pacific region.

“They clearly have the potential to put some of our capabilities at risk and we have to pay attention to them. We have to respond appropriately with our own programs,” Gates told reporters.

“My hope is that through the strategic dialogue that I’m talking about, that maybe the need for some of these capabilities is reduced.”

Gates cited a five-year budget outline that he unveiled on Thursday as an example of how the US military would maintain its edge. It included funding for a new generation of long-range nuclear bombers, new electronic jammers and radar, and new satellite launch technology.

But critics in Congress seized upon the budget outline’s $78 billion in overall defense spending cuts as a sign that key US military capabilities would be under-funded.

US officials have taken note of disclosures in recent weeks of advances in China’s capabilities, including in its anti-ship ballistic missile program, which could challenge US aircraft carriers in the Pacific.

“I’ve been concerned about the development of the anti-ship cruise and ballistic missiles ever since I took this job,” Gates said. He added China appeared “fairly far along” with its anti-ship ballistic missile but he said he did not know if it was operational yet.

China may also be ready to launch its first aircraft carrier in 2011, faster than some estimates, and new photos indicate it has a prototype of a stealth fighter jet.

Still, Gates appeared to play down the Chinese program. Asked about its prototype, he said: “I think there is some question about just how stealthy” it is.

No dramatic breakthroughs

The stated goal of Gates’ Jan 9-12 trip to China is to improve relations with China’s military.

US and Chinese military ties were suspended through most of 2010, as Beijing protested President Barack Obama’s proposed arms sale to Taiwan. His trip to China is the most visible demonstration that relations have normalized.

Gates said he did not expect any dramatic breakthrough in relations with China’s military during the visit, saying an improvement in ties was more likely to be gradual.

“I think this is evolutionary, particularly the military to military side,” Gates said.

“So rather than something dramatic, some kind of dramatic breakthrough, I think just getting some things started would be a positive outcome,” he added, after having spoken at length about ways the US and China could improve dialogue.

Analysts warn that as China’s military expands its reach, the risks of potentially dangerous misunderstandings between the US and Chinese militaries will increase.

That bolsters US arguments about the need for sustained US-China contacts that can endure friction over issues like Taiwan, as opposed to on-again, off-again contacts that have characterized the relationship for years.

Gates’ visit comes a week before Chinese President Hu Jintao’s state visit to Washington, creating diplomatic momentum that US officials hope will allow Gates to make headway on sticky security issues.

“I think the Chinese’ clear desire that I come first, come to China before President Hu goes to Washington, was an indication of their interest in strengthening this part of the relationship,” Gates said.

He also praised China’s efforts to reduce tensions on the Korean peninsula. As North Korea’s main diplomatic and economic backer, China has been under pressure to rein in Pyongyang after the north was accused of sinking a South Korean warship and shelling a South Korean island last year.

“We recognize that China played a constructive role in lessening tensions on the peninsula in the latter part of last year,” he said.

US sees no ‘game-changer’ in China’s emissions goal 

Environmental activists from Bolivia march toward the Pitaya Cancun Messe, where climate talks are taking place in Cancun, December 7, 2010.

China’s most recent stance on bringing its emissions-reduction goals into a United Nations deal marks “business as usual” and doesn’t advance fractured climate negotiations in Mexico, US envoy Todd Stern said.

China’s delegation chief Xie Zhenhua said Monday he’s prepared to include in an official United Nations document a “voluntary” pledge to rein in emissions, a response to demands from the US and the European Union that current promises be anchored within the negotiating process.

“I’ve seen quotes from some people saying this can be a game-changer,” Stern, the lead US envoy at the UN talks in Cancun, Mexico, said at a briefing Tuesday. “I’d love it to be a game-changer, but as far as I’m concerned, this is business as usual.”

China’s comment, as leaders from 35 nations arrived for the final four days of the discussions, came as delegates work able to bridge differences between rich and poor nations blocking an agreement.

Presidents Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, Evo Morales of Bolivia and Rafael Correa of Ecuador are among the leaders arriving for the final four days of the conference. US President Barack Obama, who attended last year in Copenhagen, is not coming this time. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon told the delegates they were “not rising to the challenge” of making an agreement.

“We need results now,” he said. “Our efforts so far have been insufficient. We need to make progress in these negotiations. The longer we delay the more we will have to pay.

Glaciers retreat

A UN report on Tuesday said glaciers in Chile and Alaska retreating the quickest in the world. Those in Europe, which were building mass during the 1970s, now are shrinking. A text for this week’s talks suggests keeping temperature increases since the 1700s to “below 2 degrees Celsius.”

Carbon dioxide emissions have risen 40 percent from 1990 to 2008, double the level that would produce a 3.5 degrees Celsius increase in global temperatures, the International Energy Agency said Monday.

“The environmental stakes are high,” said Christiana Figueres, the UN diplomat leading the talks. “We are quickly running out of time to safeguard our future. Sooner or later island nations will have to seek refuge in higher-lying countries. There will be worse impacts.”

Pollution limits

Current emissions goals from the world’s biggest polluters are enshrined in the Copenhagen Accord, a non-binding document that envoys to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change don’t formally recognize.

Zhenhua said Monday that developing countries, including China, “could choose to make voluntary action utilizing their own resources under the UNFCCC framework.”

Chinese remarks show “there’s a move toward the middle ground,” European Commission envoy Artur Runge-Metzger said in an interview Tuesday in Cancun.

“It looks like things are coalescing,” Andrew Deutz, head of international government relations at the Nature Conservancy, an environmental advocacy group in Arlington, Virginia, said in an interview today in Cancun. “There are two big road blocks in the way and one is MRV. I think that roadblock should be removable.”

The other big source of disagreement is how to ensure greenhouse gas emissions are reduced after 2012, when limits for rich nations set out in the 1997 Kyoto Protocol expire. Japan, Canada and Russia are refusing to sign up for a second period of commitments. China, India and Brazil say those further reductions are essential.

‘Hard pounding’

“It’s hard pounding,” said Chris Huhne, Britain’s energy secretary, who along with his Brazilian counterpart was tapped by the UN to work out a compromise on the Kyoto issue. “We’re getting there. I’m a half-glass full man.”

Envoys are working on measures including a $100-billion-a- year climate aid fund, rules that would protect forests and the system of monitoring, reporting and verifying emissions cuts, known as MRV in UN jargon. Two draft documents released today on the MRV issue were filled with brackets, an indication the wording has yet to be agreed.

“There’s been quite some progress on MRV,” Runge-Metzger said. “It’s kind of a skeleton now, and what we need to do now is to put flesh onto the bones.”

Under the text, developed countries were urged to adopt more ambitious, legally-binding targets.

Country’s concerns

Developing country’s mitigation actions would be subject to MRV procedures when supported by aid, and when not supported, they would conduct their own monitoring and then submit the report to international analysis, according to the text.

The MRV package was one of the key tensions between the US and China that prevented a global warming agreement at last year’s talks in Copenhagen.

Stern said China hasn’t gone far enough in giving transparency to its efforts limiting greenhouse gases, adding to doubt about the prospects for an agreement this week.

“The transparency issue is lagging way behind,” said Stern of the US. “There is a lot of support in the conference and among developing countries for the proposal the Indians have put forward,” he said, referring to an attempt by Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh to unlock the process.

India has proposed guidelines that would differentiate between rich and poor nations and also put rapidly emerging developing countries like China into a separate category than the poorest nations.

Developing nations have been voicing concerns about the verification program, which they viewed as encroaching on their sovereignty.

“If MRV issues are resolve and targets are resolved, then everything can be resolved,” Quamrul Chowdhury, Bangladeshi envoy, said today in an interview. “But those are the crux issues where there hasn’t been much progress.”

Zhenua said Monday that China, India, Brazil and South Africa had reached agreement in principle on the transparency issue.

Vietnam, China complete historic border demarcation

Vietnam and China on Wednesday marked a historically significant milestone in their bilateral relations completing demarcation of their land border as well as the planting of markers.

This was announced in a joint statement issued by the chief negotiators of Vietnam and China after four days of talks in Hanoi.

Deputy Foreign Minister Vu Dung, head of the Vietnamese governmental delegation on border and territory negotiations, and his Chinese counterpart, Wu Dawei, were signatories to the statement.

It said the negotiations took place in a friendly and frank atmosphere, taking into account mutual concerns and trying to mitigate negative impacts on the lives and work-output of residents living along the common border.

Based on the Vietnam-China land border delineation treaty signed in 1999 as well as the basic interests of the people of both countries, the two sides reached mutually agreeable solutions on all remaining issues, thus completing the border demarcation and marker planting along the entire land border line between the two countries, as agreed by senior leaders.

The joint statement attributed the achievement to the attention and close guidance of senior leaders of Vietnam and China, as well as unceasing efforts by the two delegations, experts and representatives from relevant agencies and border provinces of the two countries.

Vietnam and China have for the first time defined a clear land boundary with a system of markers, opening up new opportunities for the development in each country, especially creating favorable conditions for their border localities to expand cooperation, economic development and friendship exchanges.

The successful settlement of the boundary issue is expected to form a firm foundation for Vietnam and China to build their shared border into an area of long-lasting peace, friendship and stability, as evidence of the Vietnam-China comprehensive strategic partnership, the statement said.

The two sides have pledged to complete and sign early a protocol on border delineation and marker planting, an agreement on land border management regulations and other related documents.

They have also agreed to continue close coordination and cooperation to maintain peace, stability and mutual development in their border areas.

Source: VNA

PM to visit China

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung will pay an official visit to China from October 20-23, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement Wednesday.

The visit will be at the invitation of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.

Following the visit, PM Dung will attend the seventh Asia Europe Meeting in Beijing from October 24-25, the statement said.

Source: VNA