Re: The hosting of an ASEAN dictator by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, (CSIS)

Remarks by Vietnam Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh at CSIS during the US-ASEAN Summit on May 11, 2022

The Center for Strategic and International Studies, (CSIS), has invited Vietnam’s Prime minister Pham Minh Chinh to be its keynote speaker on May 11, 2022.

This is a shameful example of pro-business interests, American and foreign, promoting trade with dictators with CSIS in the lead, providing them the cover of respectability with utter disregard for the price paid by the victimized population, the environment and the workers, all for the sake of profits.

The CSIS should be called out for this shameful promotion of the top representative of an autocratic regime who does not deserve the honors, recognition or promotion that the CSIS is giving him.

The US State Department 2021 Report on Human Rights Practices in Vietnam (2), listed “significant human rights issues included credible reports of: unlawful or arbitrary killings by the government; torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and punishment by government agents; arbitrary arrest and detention; political prisoners; politically motivated reprisals against individuals in another country; serious problems with the independence of the judiciary; arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy; serious restrictions on free expression and media, including arbitrary arrest and prosecution of government critics, censorship, and criminal libel laws; serious restrictions on internet freedom; substantial interference with the freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association; restrictions on freedom of movement, including exit bans on activists; serious government corruption; trafficking in persons; significant restrictions on workers’ freedom of association; and use of compulsory child labor.”

Unfair business practices by government run- enterprises, corruption, lack of transparency, government-sponsored arbitrary property seizures, forcible land expropriations for “development” projects and profits obtained through human rights violations will taint any business venture and transactions that any reputable western firm may want to get involved in.

These are not the type of regimes and trading partners that the United States businesses should compromise their values for.

Considering Vietnam’s vote at the UN Human Rights Council siding with Russia against the US and the free and democratic world, the US should reconsider its trade relations with Vietnam, given its close political, economic and military ties with Russia. Vietnam has a bilateral trade agreement with Russia, relies heavily on Russia for its military armaments, which include two submarines and naval vessels, and shows no willingness to comply with US sanctions or embargoes against Russia. Vietnam’s membership in ASEAN’s defense program (2) gives it access to the West’s military technology meetings, training, intelligence exchanges, arms production, R&D, cyber security, cooperation and education, while keeping ties with Russia and China which participate in certain portions of that ASEAN defense program too.

This participation in ASEAN can provide Vietnam the cover and back-door it needs to circumvent US imposed sanctions and embargoes against Myanmar and Russia.

CSIS is a think tank that promotes trade and business for American and foreign corporations. CSIS was responsible for promoting the very unpopular Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement which was seen as costing US-job and manufacturing plants. The premise of that agreement was that, to contain China, this trade agreement would incorporate a Vietnamese government-run, owned and backed economic system, like China’s, into our liberal, free market system linking twelve countries from Asia and America bordering the Pacific.

The TPP not only disregarded the unfair competition that a government-backed economy brings and the human rights compliance necessary for Vietnam’s inclusion, but in the end, China would still be allowed to join the group. When the US backed out of that agreement in 2017, those same countries continued forming that trade agreement with a different name.

Eventually, given its corporate and foreign donors’ list and experts with ties to big businesses, the CSIS will try to re-promote the TPP under some other form. It is not by accident that the CSIS is the foreign corporations’ favorite venue for sponsoring events that will help influence US trade policies in their favor.

This article was submitted by Dr. Nicole Ung. She is a retired dentist in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Dr. Ung is a life-long activist who works to promote a wide range of social and political injustices in Cambodia. She can be reached at: