• People Talk and My Ear Bleeds


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    Tuesday, August 09, 2005

    Crazy Life

    I blog from a gateway laptop, but I wish I had this.

    So I haven't written much in the last week. I am insanely busy. Sorry to all those who drop by The Bleeding Ear for my absence. Lately, the "wee beasties" as my old Irish Microbiolgy professor used to call them, have been giving me the fits. I am trying to grow up a new strain of HaCat epithelial cells for use in my synthetic skin models, but they are acting as onery as the two-year-olds I watch every Sunday in my church's nursery.

    When I'm not putting 50-60 hours of work into the lab, I've been working on my secondary applications to medical school. Just sent off Washington University today. I'm sure you can all understand the importance of applying in a timely manner and excuse my absence from blogging.

    That said, I wish to pontificate a little about Phan Văn Khải, the illustrious prime minister of Việt Nam.

    About a month ago, monsieur Phan Văn Khải visited the United States and toured the country. He is the first leader of Vietnam to visit the USA since 1975. While here, PM Khai met President Bush and discussed how the U.S.A can help Việt Nam join the WTO. That was his ultimate goal. Vietnam's economy has skyrocketed since the United States reduced embargoes on Vietnamese goods in the late 1990s. Now, exports to America account for 30% total Vietnamese exports. This is seen very poignantly by myself and my wife. Returning back to Vietnam, she was amazed at the inflation that had occured over the last five years. A bowl of phở that was once 3000 VND is now 10000VND. More people than ever are driving cars on the crowded Saigon streets, and affluence, while not mainstream, is healthy enough to support a market for $500 USD cell phones.

    Granted, the economic growth comes with problems. See the above link to the article in The Economist. But it also primed the pump for PM Khải's desire to join the WTO. What's holding them back? Human Rights. This isn't new either. Anyone who followed Khải's visit to America has seen the demonstrators heckle him over violations. President Bush privately admonished Khải to do more.

    So what do the Vietnamese think of Khải's visit to America?? Well, the omniscient state-run news had very favorable things to say, but they always do. What good would a state-run agency be, if it didn't stroke the ego of the state? The word on the streets of Saigon, however, seems to be different. I hear from my friends in Saigon that some people question the success of the move, because PM Phan Văn Khải turned immediately to China after his American trip. Within a week he was visiting the provinces directly above Vietnam under the cover of inspecting them for commerce, however, much talk between him and the Chinese focused on similar things to his wants in America: 1) how can China help Vietnam get into the WTO when America doesn't, and 2) how can Vietnam have a neutered internet like China. For all his talk on great strides towards freedom, these actions don't seem to say the same things.

    I seem to think the same way as my friends in Saigon. Although the press says the mission to the USA went well, his actions seem to belay an underlying fear that the USA will not support Vietnam (possibly an 11th hour defection?) entering the WTO because it has not cleaned up its human right's act well enough and cannot do so in time.

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