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 The Mekong River

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lynk2510
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Join date : 2011-01-31

PostSubject: The Mekong River   Thu Apr 28, 2011 2:03 am

In the quarter-century since communist Vietnam began to turn away from a planned economy to embrace the free market, Vietnam has enjoyed economic growth that has been the envy of many other Asian nations. But excessive bureaucracy remains a top complaint for foreign investors, along with corruption, a shortage of skilled workers and an under-developed infrastructure including roads, electricity and ports. The ruling Communists have pledged to carry out reforms long sought by foreign businesses, but the wheels of central government grind slowly and other parts of Vietnam are seen as lagging behind Danang in key infrastructure.



The city of about 900,000 people has progressed since 1997 when it broke away from a neighbouring province and Thanh, a native of the city, took on top leadership roles. In contrast to the staid image of a communist cadre, foreign business sources described Thanh as "a character" and a "benevolent dictator", while one said "he's right off the set of 'The Sopranos'." "He is known as the King of Danang", a longtime Vietnam-watcher said. "He is also quite megalomaniacal, saying he will transform Danang into a new Singapore. And when you know the two cities, there is quite a long way to go."



Thanh's supporters strongly reject the dictator label and say there is no proof to back up the corruption allegations. Benoit de Treglode, director of the Research Institute on Contemporary Southeast Asia in Bangkok, said Thanh had benefited from close ties with Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung as well as the military, whose lands have been obtained for development. Although the centre of Vietnam has lost some political clout in recent years, "as a compensation Danang has become the prime minister's top priority for investments," de Treglode said. The city aims to reinforce its position as the hub of central Vietnam, focusing on high-tech industry while taking advantage of its natural beauty to boost tourism and services.



Vietnam has relied on natural resources and unskilled labour to achieve rapid growth but the country's leaders now want a more advanced system of production based on technology and "high-quality human resources". Le Dang Doanh, a former government adviser, said Danang has already succeeded in becoming Vietnam's third economic pole and is "very much" competing with Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. But the city still needs to show it can attract enough investors to fill its industrial parks and infrastructure, said a source who has done development work in the area and asked not to be named. "If Danang is going to be the success story that everybody hopes it's going to be, then that's got to start happening," he said.





Decision Looms for Laos Dam

By Thomas Guller, The New York Times, 17 April 2011



The Mekong River is so brown with silt as it passes this impoverished village, it could be called liquid dirt. For millions of people downstream this is the color of life: the Mekong, teeming with hundreds of species of fish and rich in minerals, has for centuries been the lifeline of villages and towns stretching from the rocky rapids of Tibet to the lazy meanderings of the river in theVietnam delta.

On Tuesday the four countries that share the lower reaches of the Mekong River will announce whether they agree to the construction of a controversial dam, a decision that could forever alter the character and natural diversity of one of the world’s longest and most bountiful river
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