November 20, 2006

THINK THE BRITS WILL PREFER THE EU TO THE PAN-PACIFIC?

In City Symbolizing U.S. Defeat in Vietnam, Bush Stresses the Prosperous Present (DAVID E. SANGER and HELENE COOPER, 11/20/06, NY Times)

President Bush ventured into this booming, wildly capitalist commercial center of an ostensibly Communist Vietnam on Monday morning, speeding off to the stock exchange to talk with local business leaders before preparing for a quick visit to Indonesia. [...]

[H]e made an unannounced stop for dinner with Prime Minister John Howard of Australia at a trendy restaurant in a neighborhood that symbolizes the new Saigon — the name local people insist on using for a city that was renamed immediately after the Communist victory.

After dinner, Mr. Bush mounted the running board of his waiting limousine and waved to a crowd of curious, mostly younger Vietnamese who jammed the streets as news of his arrival spread. There were muted cheers.

In a trip that has focused relentlessly on the future, Mr. Bush urged China’s leader, Hu Jintao, to create “a nation of consumers and not savers, which will inure to the benefit of our manufacturers, both large and small, and our farmers, as well.” It was an echo of what Mr. Bush’s father used to urge in his visits to Japan, in hopes of closing the trade gap.

At the meetings of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Hanoi over the weekend, Mr. Bush talked about exploring new free trade arrangements for Asia — a long-sought but still distant goal — and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice used the case of Vietnam as an instructive example of economic reform.

In a speech in Hanoi, she said that “20 years ago the leaders of Vietnam took a hard look at their isolated economy, and they made a strategic choice to begin reforms.” In fact, they have turned to serious reforms only in recent years.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 20, 2006 7:21 AM
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