4/20/2009

越南人对中国“入侵”产生新恐惧

In Vietnam, New Fears of a Chinese 'Invasion'

From TIME

By Martha Ann Overland / Hanoi

Thursday, Apr. 16, 2009

Thirty years ago, Vietnamese soldiers waged a final, furious battle in the hills of Lang Son near the country's northern border to push back enemy troops. Both sides suffered horrific losses, but Vietnam eventually proclaimed victory. Decades later, diplomatic relations have been restored and the two nations, at least in public, call each other friend. Vietnam's former foe is a major investor in the country, bilateral trade is at an all-time high, and tourists, not troops, are pouring in.

No, not Americans. Chinese. As part of an aggressive effort to expand its commercial and political influence in Southeast Asia, China is investing heavily in Vietnam. Chinese companies are now involved in myriad road projects, mining operations and power plants. Yet, despite the fact that cooperation between the two communist countries is being encouraged by Vietnam's leaders, this friendly invasion does not sit well among a people who have been fighting off Chinese advances for more than a thousand years, most recently in 1979. Many in Vietnam worry that China is being handed the keys not just to their country's natural resources but also to sensitive strategic areas, threatening the nation's security. "The danger is that China has won most of the bids building electricity, cement and chemical plants," warns Nguyen Van Thu, the chairman of Vietnam's Association of Mechanical Industries. "They eat up everything and leave nothing." (See pictures of the border war between China and Vietnam.)

Thu says he suspects some Chinese companies have won construction contracts by submitting lowball bids, which could mean they are cutting corners, threatening quality and safety. But Thu's biggest concern is the influx of large numbers of Chinese workers, including cooks and cleaning staff, that are taking jobs from Vietnamese and threatening the country's social stability. "Chinese contractors bring everything here, even the toilet seats!" declares Thu. "These are materials Vietnam can produce, and work that Vietnamese can do."

The latest lightning rod for anti-Chinese sentiment is Hanoi's plan to allow subsidiaries of the Aluminum Corporation of China (Chinalco) to mine bauxite ore in Vietnam's Central Highlands. Bauxite is a key ingredient in aluminum, which China needs to fuel its construction industry. Vietnam has an estimated eight billion tons of high-quality bauxite, the third-largest reserves in the world. The environmental cost of extracting the mineral, however, can be high. Strip mining is efficient, but scars the land and bauxite processing releases a toxic red sludge that can seep into water supplies if not adequately contained. Several senior Vietnamese scientists as well as Vietnam's burgeoning green movement have questioned the wisdom of giving mining rights to China, whose own mines were shut down because of the massive damage they caused to the environment.

But the real opposition appears to have less to do with the environment and more to do with Vietnam's fear of its neighbor on the country's northern border. Nationalist groups accuse Hanoi of caving in to pressure from commodities-hungry China by allowing the mining project to go forward. Bloggers are whipping up fears that the influx of Chinese workers is part of Beijing's long-term strategy to occupy their country. Banned pro-democracy groups, which are happy for any opportunity to criticize the authoritarian government, call the mining venture an "ill-begotten scheme." Earlier this month, a dissident Buddhist monk, Thich Quang Do, said that strip mining will destroy the way of life of the region's ethnic minorities. He added that the project created "an illustration of Vietnam's dependence on China." There has been no such outcry against U.S. aluminum giant Alcoa's plans to mine two sites in Dak Nong province in the Central Highlands.

Perhaps the most unexpected criticism has come from General Vo Nguyen Giap, a revered Vietnamese military leader who helped defeat the French and later the Americans. In a letter to Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, the 97-year-old war hero voiced concern over the presence of large numbers of Chinese in the Central Highlands, which is a strategic gateway to Vietnam, one where battles have been won and lost.

Other countries in the region are made uneasy by China's thirst for resources. Last month, the Australian government rejected a $1.8 billion bid by Chinese mining company Minmetals to acquire debt-ridden OZ Minerals, the world's second-biggest zinc miner, due to national security concerns. OZ Minerals has operations near Australia's Woomera weapons testing site.

The Hanoi government says it is listening to concerns but it appears to be unmoved. Dung recently declared bauxite mining a "major policy of the party and the state." Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai reaffirmed the government's support, and several local provincial officials were on hand at a recent mining conference to defend the project, arguing that despite the presence of the Chinese workers, development will benefit the impoverished ethnic minorities who live in the region.

The pressure on Vietnam to proceed as planned is enormous, says Carl A. Thayer, a Vietnam expert who teaches at the University of New South Wales' Australian Defense Force Academy. Vietnam needs to trade with China, the world's third-largest economy, to survive. Thayer acknowledges that no Chinese company operates independently of the government. "If you go up far enough you will find a military or a security connection," he says. "But Chinese occupation? I don't believe that."

Some of the problems are of Vietnam's own making, observes Thayer. The country has become increasingly dependent on foreign direct investment to buoy its economy. Last year, overseas investors sunk a record $11.5 billion into Vietnam. China last year had 73 investment projects worth $334 million in the country. But in the wake of the global recession, foreign direct investment plummeted 70% in the first quarter of 2009 compared to the same time period last year.

Hanoi has been calling for increased investment, and is even more desperate for external cash infusions now that its economy has flatlined. Vietnam has also racked up a massive trade deficit with China. As more Chinese companies venture across the border and sink millions into new investment projects, Hanoi can't dictate all the terms. Nor can they just close the spigot. "The Vietnamese have to be careful of what they wish for," says Thayer.

Related Photos

China-Vietnam Border War, 30 Years Later


4月18日《参考消息》摘译(题:越南人对中国投资项目存疑虑):

【美国《时代》周刊网站4月16日文章】题:越南人对“中国入侵”产生新恐惧(作者 玛莎·奥弗兰)

中国在东南亚雄心勃勃地努力扩张商业和政治影响力。作为扩张计划的一部分,中国在越南投下了大量资金。中国公司参与了数不清的公路修建、矿产开发以及发电项目。尽管两个共产党国家间的合作受到越南领导人的鼓励,但是这种友好的渗透却让一千多年来和中国扩张做斗争的越南人坐立不安。

很多越南人现在担心中国不仅掌握了越南的天然资源,而且掌握了敏感的战略地区,进而对越南的国家安全构成威胁。越南机械上业协会主席阮文秋(音)说:“威胁在于中国赢得了大多数电站、化工厂和水泥厂的招标合同。他们吃光了所有东西,什么也留不下。”

阮文秋说,他怀疑一些中周公司通过虚报低价赢得建筑合同,这意味着中国公司要弄虚作假,危及建筑的质量和安全。但是他最大的担心是蜂拥而来的中国工人夺取了越南人的工作机会,而且威胁到越南的社会稳定。

河内最近计划允许中国铝业公司开采越南中部的铝矿,这引发了新一轮反华情绪。几位知名科学家以及环保组织对结予中国采矿权提出了质疑,认为中国因环境遭到严重污染而关闭大量境内的铝矿。

不过真正的反对派显然是对庞大的北方邻国更有戒心,而不是对环境。民族主义组织指责河内政府屈从中国的压力,让采矿计划得以进行。在很多越南人的博客上都能看到类似中国工人的拥入是中国占领越南的长期战略的一部分的忧心言论。

但是当美国铝业巨头美铝公司计划开采越南中部的两处铝矿时,却没有听到这样的反对声音。也许最出乎意料的批评是来自武元甲将军。这位98岁的老将军在给越南总理阮晋勇的信中对越南中部山区存在大量的中国人表示担心,因为中部山区是越南的战略门户。

河内政府称注意到人们的担心,但是显然不为所动。阮晋勇最近宣布,铝矿开采是“党和国家的主要政策”。几位地方官员在最近的一次矿产工作会议上表示,尽管中国工人大量拥入,但是开发对于改善当地贫穷的少数民族生活有很大帮助。

学者卡尔·塞耶指出,越南受到的变革压力是巨大的。越南需要与中国的贸易才能生存。他说:“如果你深入调查,你会发现中国公司多少都有些背景,但是中国占领越南?我不相信这点。”

塞耶说,还有一些问题是越南自身的。现在越南越来越依靠外国直接投资来支撑国家的经济。随着越来越多的中国公司进入越南,把上亿的资金投入新项目,河内无法在所有的问题上说了算。塞耶说:“越南人必须对他们希望得到的东西加倍小心。”

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