Trump calls for firm response to North Korea, targets Seoul on trade

U.S. President Donald Trump called for a determined response to North Korea after talks with South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in on Friday where he stressed the importance of their alliance but took aim at Seoul over trade and sharing the cost of defense.

Trump said the United States was renegotiating what he characterized as a “rough” trade deal with South Korea agreed to five years ago by his predecessor, Barack Obama, and reiterated that an era of “strategic patience” over North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs had ended.

“Together we are facing the threat of the reckless and brutal regime in North Korea,” Trump said as he stood alongside Moon in the White House Rose Garden. “The nuclear and ballistic missile programs of that regime require a determined response.”

Despite the tough rhetoric, it remains unclear how Trump will find a way forward on North Korea, which is working to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the United States.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has warned the consequences of any military solution would be “tragic on an unbelievable scale.” Trump had pinned his hopes on persuading China, North Korea’s neighbor and main trading partner, to do more to rein in Pyongyang, although he has lately grown frustrated that Beijing has not taken stronger action.

Trump called on regional powers to implement sanctions and demand North Korea “choose a better path and do it quickly.”

Moon, who warned of a “stern response” to any provocations, urged Pyongyang to return promptly to talks.

“Our two leaders will employ both sanctions and dialogue in a phased and comprehensive approach,” Moon said of South Korea and the United States.

Trump and Moon have said they are open to renewed dialogue with North Korea but only under circumstances that would lead to Pyongyang giving up its weapons programs.

Moon told an event at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank that moves by North Korea that could create conditions for dialogue could include a freeze on its nuclear and missile tests, or the release of three Americans it is holding in the country.

To be successful, talks would have to involve North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and have as their ultimate aim the complete dismantling of North Korea’s nuclear program, he added.

Trump sought to woo China since a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping in April but the honeymoon period appears to be over. On Thursday, the United States targeted a Chinese bank and sanctioned Chinese individuals and a firm for dealing with North Korea and approved a $1.42 billion arms deal with Taiwan – decisions that angered Beijing.

Steel and autos

South Korea is a long-standing American ally but Trump has spoken harshly about U.S. trade imbalances and threatened to tear up the bilateral trade pact.

“We will do more to remove barriers to reciprocal trade and market access,” Trump said, adding that the two leaders had talked about the thorny trade areas of steel and autos.

Trump said he was encouraged by Moon’s assurances that he would seek a level playing field for American workers and businesses, particularly automakers.

A joint statement said the two sides had agreed to work together to reduce over supply of basic materials such as steel and non-tariff barriers. It also said Trump had accepted an invitation from Moon to visit South Korea this year.

Bonnie Glaser, senior adviser for Asia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank, said it was unwise for Trump to air the trade issue so publicly.

“Public complaints by Trump about unfair trade and inadequate defense spending provide opportunities for China and North Korea to drive a wedge between the allies,” she said.

Trump also emphasized the need to ensure equitable sharing of costs for defense, returning to a theme he raised during his campaign and brought up with other allies, including NATO countries and Japan.

A senior U.S. official said in a briefing before the president’s meeting with Moon that South Korea was in many respects a “model ally,” given its spending of 2.7 percent of GDP on defense and Moon’s plan to grow capabilities.

“We shouldn’t view South Korea as somehow laggard on that front,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

The U.S. goods trade deficit with South Korea has more than doubled since the U.S.-Korea free trade pact known as KORUS took effect in 2012. The agreement was forecast to boost U.S. exports by $10 billion a year, but in 2016 they were $3 billion lower than in 2011.

At the start of Friday’s talks, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the largest component of the deficit was automotive trade and many non-tariff barriers to U.S. auto exports to South Korea remained.

“I think the way to address it is to deal product by product with what we can do to change the export side and what we can do to reduce the bad imports side,” he said.

Ross said later on Friday that some progress had been made in the talks.

The current pact was agreed to despite protests by supporters of Moon, who was then in opposition. But analysts have suggested that given the need to preserve a unified front in the face of a hostile North Korea, there could be compromise on both sides to resolve issues.



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SEO capital divestment still slow

As many as 19 State-owned enterprises (SOEs) were approved for equitisation as of the middle of June, lower than the same period last year. Dang Quyet Tien, Deputy Director of the Corporate Finance Department under the Ministry of Finance, made the statement during a meeting in Ha Noi Thursday. — VNS Photo

As many as 19 State-owned enterprises (SOEs) were approved for equitisation as of the middle of June, lower than the same period last year.

Dang Quyet Tien, Deputy Director of the Corporate Finance Department under the Ministry of Finance, made the statement during a meeting in Ha Noi Thursday.

Tien said the reduction in the number of firms approved for equitisation shows continued sluggish progress of divestment and equitisation in Viet Nam.

He gave some examples of SOEs that need to accelerate the equitisation process, such as the Viet Nam Southern Food Corporation, The Electricity of Viet Nam Group and the Viet Nam Rubber Group.

He attributed the slow process at SOEs to the firms’ leaders’ hesitation and lack of assertiveness, adding that the economy’s capital absorption capacity of businesses remains weak.

According to Tien, the larger the scale of a business, the more difficult it is to conduct equitisation. The process requires that each firm clarifies the responsibilities of leaders through various periods, partly affecting their credibility and thus leading to avoidance and delay.

Regarding State capital divestment process, the Ministry of Finance reports that in the first five months of 2017, State units divested VND3.4 trillion (US$150 million) and collected VND14.8 trillion through the divestment. However, a large part of the collection came from the sale of stake the Viet Nam Dairy Products Joint-Stock Company (Vinamilk) late last year, reaching more than VND11 trillion.

At the meeting, Tien also mentioned some contents of the draft decree amending and supplementing some articles of Government’s Decree No 91/2015/ND-CP dated October 13, 2015 on investment of state capital in enterprises and management and use of capital and assets at enterprises, adding that Decree No 91 shows some particular limitations.

Tien said the draft amended the determination of the starting price of state capital when conducting State capital transfer, indicating that the determination of the starting price is made through an organisation competent enough to conduct price evaluation. The firm must ensure that land use rights at the time of state capital transfer are valued correctly.

The draft also stipulates the method of transfer of state capital invested in joint stock companies, adding that the transfer method is different due to two separate cases.

The first case is transferring state capital invested in joint stock companies which have been listed on the stock market or registered for transactions on the Upcom. The second one is transferring state capital invested in joint stock companies which have not been listed or registered for transactions on the Upcom. — VNS



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Chinese president swears in new Hong Kong leader amid protests

Chinese President Xi Jinping swore in Hong Kong’s new leader, Carrie Lam, on Saturday as the former British colony marked the 20th anniversary of its handover to Chinese rule amid scattered protests.

Security was tight at the same harbor-front venue where two decades earlier, the last colonial governor, Chris Patten, tearfully handed back Hong Kong to Chinese rule at a rain-soaked ceremony.

Minor scuffles broke out under a blue sky as pro-democracy activists, some with banners bearing the words “Democracy. Self determination”, and pro-Beijing groups taunted each other, with hundreds of police deployed on a traditional day of protest in Hong Kong.

Scores of democracy protesters were taken away by police, while several pro-China groups remained, cheering loudly and waving flags as though in victory.

“Long live China,” they shouted in unison. “We support the police’s law enforcement actions.”

Britain returned Hong Kong to Chinese rule on July 1, 1997, under a “one country, two systems” formula which guarantees wide-ranging autonomy and judicial independence not seen in mainland China.

Beijing-backed civil servant Lam was chosen to be Hong Kong’s next leader in March by a 1,200-person “election committee” stacked with pro-China and pro-establishment loyalists.

Xi’s visit comes amid heightened tension between China and Hong Kong. Hong Kong’s pro-democracy activists have been protesting against what they say is China’s growing encroachment on the city’s freedoms in a breach of the “one country, two systems” arrangement.

chinese-president-swears-in-new-hong-kong-leader-amid-protests

Hong Kong Chief Executive-elect Carrie Lam waves as she arrives for a flag raising ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of the city’s handover from British to Chinese rule, in Hong Kong, China July 1, 2017. Photo by Reuters/Damir Sagolj

Beijing’s refusal to grant universal suffrage to Hong Kong triggered nearly three months of street protests in 2014 and growing calls for independence for the city, in what many observers see as the most tumultuous post-handover period seen in Hong Kong .

Xi conceded on Friday the “one country, two systems” formula faces “new challenges” but that it shouldn’t be handled with an “emotional attitude”.

Upwards of 100,000 thousand protesters are expected to take to the streets for an annual march in the afternoon to mark the 20th anniversary of the handover.



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CIEM suggests restructuring committee

A national steering committee for economic restructuring should be founded to accelerate the efficiency of the economic overhaul process, the Central Institute for Economic Management (CIEM) proposed at a workshop held on Friday in Ha Noi.

The steering committee would focus on speeding up restructuring and improving economic productivity, CIEM said.

Dinh Trong Thang, Head of CIEM’s Investment Policy Department, said that the State now manages assets worth about US$600 billion, half of which are controlled by State-owned enterprises (SOEs) while the rest is land, transport infrastructure and minerals, each estimated at $100 billion.

Thang said that during 2016-20, economic management policies should focus on increasing productivity towards prosperity and improving social welfares.

The Government needs more measures to improve competitiveness, capacity, transport infrastructure and human resources while cutting costs through simplifying administrative procedures and land fees as well as gradually cutting interest rates, said Thang.

Thang stressed that a steering committee to guide comprehensive restructuring was necessary.

All ministries and State management agencies must be accountable for their restructuring efforts and results to the steering committee.

Economic expert Bui Trinh said that the economic structure of Viet Nam had issues in all sectors, which required a comprehensive and synchronous overhaul.

Trinh added that economic restructuring must prioritise protecting the environment for sustainable development.

The Government’s restructuring plan for 2016-20 set goals to renovate the growth model, improving growth quality, productivity and competitiveness.

Restructuring priorities were given to developing the private economy, restructuring SOEs, public investment, State budget and public services, restructuring the financial market, restructuring major markets (land, labour and science and technology) and modernising economic zones. — VNS



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Geographical Indication products set to go nationwide by 2017

geographical indication products set to go nationwide by 2017 hinh 0

The premier added that GI registration also provides a kind of intellectual property protection. Currently, Thailand is home to 75 GI products spread across 70 provinces. 

The GI products at present include various types of rice, cuisine, fruit, handicrafts, and industrial items. The government is at present highlighting oranges from Bang Mod and lychees from Bang Khun Thien in Bangkok for GI registration. 

To foster GI products nationwide, the government is setting up “GI Corners” in two popular department stores, with plans to expand to up to 100 by year’s end. 

The government will also be working with GI product developers to help them meet the needs of their selected target markets.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, or FAO, Geographical Indication protection supports a comprehensive policy guaranteeing the quality and origin of not only agricultural and agro-food products, but also handicrafts that receive the designation. 

Moreover, FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific revealed that it was first developed in France more than a century ago and was later adopted by the European Union, before reaching the shores of Southeast Asia just two decades ago.

Today, the ASEAN region is now one of the most active regions in the world when it comes to GI registration, accounting for more than 100 official National GIs. 

Thailand leads the region with 75 GIs registered, having gained protection in early 2013 for its first GI registration in the European Union for Thung Kula Rong-Hai Hom Mali rice and later for some handicrafts, such as Lamphun brocade Thai silk.



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Bắc Ninh urged to build closed value chain in livestock sector

The northern province of Bac Ninh must establish a closed value chain from food processing, animal husbandry to slaughtering, processing and marketing to develop its livestock sector, said Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung.— Photo baobacninh.vn

The northern province of Bac Ninh must establish a closed value chain from food processing, animal husbandry to slaughtering, processing and marketing to develop its livestock sector, said Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung.

Speaking at a working session with provincial authorities to discuss its livestock sector on Thursday, Dung hailed the province’s efforts in socio-economic development and in agriculture in particular.

He said the livestock sector’s difficulties in the past few months were partly due to oversupply and low quality products which could not enter demanding markets. In addition, livestock costs have increased, especially animal food. Food safety is still limited in processing and preserving, contributing to the recent difficulties.

“To tackle these difficulties, the sector has to reduce costs while increasing the value of livestock products. It should review planning, including the network of animal breeding processing units and slaughterhouses and link them to market demand. Spontaneous production in the livestock sector should be stopped,” he added.

The deputy PM noted that the province should enhance role of businesses and co-operatives in breeding and processing. In addition, the sector should invest in modern and focused slaughterhouses while expanding markets.

The Government will continue to complete legal frameworks to encourage investment in the livestock sector.

He also assigned the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) to review planning of slaughterhouses and processing units. The ministry should work with the Ministry of Industry and Trade to better manage food safety and hygiene in breeding, processing and exports.

Statistics from the provincial People’s Committee showed that its livestock sector has developed in productivity and quality. Many new technologies have been used in production and breeding to benefit farm businesses, from small-scale breeding households to concentrated farms.

The province has about 300 breeding farms and 13 breeding firms. Breeding farms account for 39 per cent of total production value, 14 per cent more than in the 2006-10 period.

Bac Ninh has 42 concentrated breeding farms using hi-tech in production. Six of these enterprises were granted licences for applying hi-tech from MARD, with the aim of building large-scale slaughterhouses with modern technology to meet export standards.

DABACO Viet Nam Group in the province introduced their plans to build a large-scale slaughterhouse with total investment of VND700 billion (US$31.4 million). The group will invest 80 per cent of the total with the remainder coming from loans.

The plant is expected to have a capacity of 250 animals an hour or 2,000 animals a day. Its frozen meat storage system will be able to accommodate 5,000 tonnes a day.

MARD’s minister Nguyen Xuan Cuong lauded Bac Ninh Province’s solutions in promoting livestock sector development.

Cuong said the province has big potential in materials, breeding experience and markets.

He said the province should plan synchronous investment in plants, slaughterhouses and processing lines to diversify products from breeding.

It should have solutions to ensure stable material areas for large-scale slaughterhouses, he said, adding that the ministry will give support in terms of science, technology and promotion.

The Deputy PM encouraged DABACO Group to invest into slaughterhouses. He asked the group to carefully research the market to diversify their products, thus increasing competitiveness. It should also expand investment to create a closed value chain from animal breeding to slaughtering, processing and preserving. — VNS



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Coteccons to expand foreign ownership

Coteccons Construction Corporation (Coteccons) (CTD) plans to raise its foreign ownership ratio cap from 49 per cent to 60 per cent, CTD leaders announced during its 2017 annual shareholders’ meeting held on Thursday in HCM City.

The board of directors will select the time of implementation as well as procedures related to the expansion. CTD’s foreign ownership ratio now accounts for just 3.63 per cent and CTD’s stock is currently most preferred by foreign investors. Therefore, the expansion plan is expected to increase liquidity and attract money inflowing into CTD, said Nguyen Ba Duong, CTD Chairman of the Board of Directors.

In 2017, CTD aims at a growth of 30 per cent in revenue, amounting to VND27 trillion (US$1.18 billion). Post-tax profits are estimated to reach VND1.7 trillion.

With strong business results in 2016, CTD decided to pay a cash dividend of 50 per cent in 2016. The company will retain 60 per cent of post-tax profits to supplement the development investment fund scheduled for the investment to the value chain of the construction sector to increase the CTD’s profit and maintain its sustainable development.

Regarding corporate governance, Duong said that by the end of June next year, CTD will have officially renewed corporate governance in accordance with the law and international practices.

CTD’s total number of employees has reached over 2,000, and the firm therefore needs to reorganise its apparatus in line with international practices to meet development requirements, Duong said.

Accordingly, Coteccons will remove the old supervision board and replace it with a new internal supervision sub-commission, which has been applied this year by the Viet Nam Dairy Products Joint-Stock Company (Vinamilk). Duong was previously elected as a member of Vinamilk’s board of directors at the company’s 2017 annual shareholders’ meeting.

The company has also established internal boards of economic, investment, financial supervisory and auditing, he added.

Duong said that CTD focuses firmly on human-centred developmen and continues to boost policies that balance benefits between employees and shareholders.

The company has been implementing a shares issuance programme under the employee stock ownership plan (ESOP), he said. Recently, CTD has issued a decision to revoke ESOP shares from employees who have quit their jobs.

At the same time, the company has generated policy encouraging key staff who contributed largely to the development of the company in 2016. The incentive value offered for employees was more than VND209 billion, equivalent to the number of ESOP shares of 2.5 million shares, representing 3.36 per cent of total shares circulating in the company.

However, in order to ensure the balance of interests between staff and shareholders, the Board members agreed to adjust the number of ESOP shares to limit the dilution of shares.

Accordingly, instead of issuing 2.5 million of ESOP shares, the company would issue only half of those shares, equivalent to nearly 1.3 million shares at the price of VND40,000 per share. This amount of stock is limited in transfer for two years from the date of issuance, Duong said.

Half of the incentive share amount will be paid in cash, he added. — VNS



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Export value of fruit and vegetables increases

The export value of vegetables and fruits is estimated at US$1.7 billion in the first half of this year, marking a year-on-year increase of 45 per cent.— Photo baodautu.vn

The export value of vegetables and fruits is estimated at US$1.7 billion in the first half of this year, marking a year-on-year increase of 45 per cent.

A report from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) revealed that vegetables and fruits witnessed the highest growth in the export value of agricultural products, indicating their potential to increase value as well as brand name in the world market.

The country’s vegetables and fruits were exported to some 60 countries and territories and have become key export products of Viet Nam. Their export value is expected to increase to $3 billion this year.

China, the United States, Japan and South Korea are the four leading import markets of Vietnamese vegetables and fruits, accounting for 85 per cent of the total export value. During the period, impressive growth was witnessed in imports, including by Russia (67 per cent), Japan (56 per cent), China (50 per cent) and the United States (23 per cent), as well as South Korea (15 per cent) and Thailand (12 per cent).

Viet Nam’s vegetables and fruits not only maintained their growth rate in export, but also expanded their market.

According to the MARD’s Plant Protection Department, the first batch of large green mangoes grown in the northern mountain province of Son La will be exported to Australia this month.

The giant-sized fruit, priced at VND22,000 (90 cents) per kilogramme, will be exported by Agricare Viet Nam Co., Ltd.

The department said the fruit was grown as per the Vietnamese Good Agriculture Practice (VietGap). The department cooperated with the Hanoi Irradiation Centre to irradiate 3.5 tonnes of Son La mangoes before shipping them to Australia on Wednesday.

“We sent the mango samples to our Australian partners, who appreciated the high quality, sweetness and unique flavour of the fruit,” a department representative said.

The export of Son La mangoes to Australia not only marks growth of the Vietnamese fruit in this market, but also opens opportunities for locals to develop agricultural production, especially orchards in northern mountain provinces such as Son La, where almost the entire population consists of ethnic minorities.

Director of Agricare Viet Nam Dam Quang Thang said the company was not competing in the ripe mango segment, which already had many foreign exporters. Meanwhile, Australia did not have many green mango products, therefore the company decided to invest in and develop this particular product.

“Son La is a northern mountainous area well-known for its mangoes and suitable for the growth of the giant mango variety on a large scale to export to Australia,” Thang said.

Deputy chairman of Son La People’s Committee Lo Minh Hung said the province had prepared plans to develop orchards, especially to grow mangoes, in recent years. The province currently had some 4,000ha of mangos, with productivity of more than 3,000 tonnes per year.

“The province will continue to support farmers to invest in the growth and production of mangoes according to market demand. If the market accepts the product, growers will expand production while businesses will be encouraged to join in exports,” Hung said.

Agricare Viet Nam plans to ship some five tonnes of mango to Australia per week. This amount is not big, but with Australia “opening the door,” other markets could follow suit.

Head of MARD’s Plant Quarantine Division Le Son Ha said farmers previously were in the habit of growing and producing what they required, but now they would have to change their mindset, and focus on growing, treatment and packaging according to international standards and market demand.

“If Vietnamese fruit meets requirements to export to Australia and the United States, we believe our fruit can meet the demand of almost all world markets,” Ha said.

The province has set its key task, which is to develop orchards to replace short-term crops on hills to ensure sustainable living for local farmers. It expects to develop 100,000 ha of orchards by 2030, of which 50,000ha are for mango and the rest are for longan and avocado.

Ha said his department was working on procedures to ship lychee to Japan. At present, the country is already exporting longan to the United States, but it needed more time to further negotiate and complete procedures to export longan to Australia and New Zealand.

“Specifically, we will complete the process to export red-flesh and white-flesh dragon fruit to Australia this year,” Ha said.

The growth in export of agricultural products and seafood accelerated after the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Area (AANZFTA) came into effect in 2010, which eliminated import duties.

The MARD, in collaboration with the Ministry of Industry and Trade, is working on ways to overcome technical barriers and open the Australian market to new fruits and types of shrimp. — VNS



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SOE capital divestment still slow

As many as 19 State-owned enterprises (SOEs) were approved for equitisation as of the middle of June, lower than the same period last year.

As many as 19 State-owned enterprises (SOEs) were approved for equitisation as of the middle of June, lower than the same period last year. Dang Quyet Tien, Deputy Director of the Corporate Finance Department under the Ministry of Finance, made the statement during a meeting in Ha Noi Thursday. – VNS Photo

Dang Quyet Tien, Deputy Director of the Corporate Finance Department under the Ministry of Finance, made the statement during a meeting in Ha Noi Thursday.

Tien said the reduction in the number of firms approved for equitisation shows continued sluggish progress of divestment and equitisation in Viet Nam.

He gave some examples of SOEs that need to accelerate the equitisation process, such as the Viet Nam Southern Food Corporation, The Electricity of Viet Nam Group and the Viet Nam Rubber Group.

He attributed the slow process at SOEs to the firms’ leaders’ hesitation and lack of assertiveness, adding that the economy’s capital absorption capacity of businesses remains weak.

According to Tien, the larger the scale of a business, the more difficult it is to conduct equitisation. The process requires that each firm clarifies the responsibilities of leaders through various periods, partly affecting their credibility and thus leading to avoidance and delay.

Regarding State capital divestment process, the Ministry of Finance reports that in the first five months of 2017, State units divested VND3.4 trillion (US$150 million) and collected VND14.8 trillion through the divestment. However, a large part of the collection came from the sale of stake the Viet Nam Dairy Products Joint-Stock Company (Vinamilk) late last year, reaching more than VND11 trillion.

At the meeting, Tien also mentioned some contents of the draft decree amending and supplementing some articles of Government’s Decree No 91/2015/ND-CP dated October 13, 2015 on investment of state capital in enterprises and management and use of capital and assets at enterprises, adding that Decree No 91 shows some particular limitations.

Tien said the draft amended the determination of the starting price of state capital when conducting State capital transfer, indicating that the determination of the starting price is made through an organisation competent enough to conduct price evaluation. The firm must ensure that land use rights at the time of state capital transfer are valued correctly.

The draft also stipulates the method of transfer of state capital invested in joint stock companies, adding that the transfer method is different due to two separate cases.

The first case is transferring state capital invested in joint stock companies which have been listed on the stock market or registered for transactions on the Upcom. The second one is transferring state capital invested in joint stock companies which have not been listed or registered for transactions on the Upcom.

Source VNA



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Must-visit temples in Vietnam

VietNamNet Bridge – Temples are among Vietnam’s most popular attractions, where travelers can marvel at intricate carvings and well-preserved architecture as well as experience the local culture during their holiday. 

A predominantly Buddhist country, there are thousands of pagodas and shrines dedicated to the revered icon. Here are the most well-known temples in the country.

Tran Quoc Pagoda 


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Opening Hours: Daily 07:30 – 18:00

Location: Thanh Nien Road, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi

Tran Quoc Pagoda is the oldest of its kind in Hanoi, dating back to the 6th century during the reign of Emperor Ly Nam De Dynasty (544 – 548). 

The Buddhist shrine has undergone several changes throughout the years, particularly its renaming from An Quoc to Tran Quoc (protecting the country) by Emperor Le Huy Tong in the 17th century.

Although it’s now set on an islet within West Lake, the pagoda was originally located on banks of Red River before it’s relocated in 1615 due to the river’s encroachment. 

Surrounded by lush greenery, Tran Quoc Pagoda was a favorite amongst the kings and royal families for festivals, full moons, and Tet Festival.

Standing at 15 metres, the main pagoda is made up of eleven levels, while its surrounding buildings include an incense burning house and a museum housing historic relics. 

You can also see intricately carved statues dating to 1639, each of which bear unique facial features.

Cao Dai Temple 


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Location: Long Hoa Village, Tay Ninh Province

The Cao Dai Temple, about 100 km northeast of HCM City, is a technicoloured religious site that was constructed in the 1930s. 

Cao Daists believe that all religions are ultimately the same, combining Hinduism, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Christianity and Islam into a monotheistic religion. 

Open to the public, there are daily worshipping ceremonies held every six hours where you can photograph devotees in action, with long flowing robes of white for lay followers and yellow, blue or red for priests, while bishops have the Divine Eye embroidered on their headpieces.

There are nine hierarchies of worship including a pope, cardinals and archbishop with festivals, rituals and prayer all practiced regularly. 

The temple is similar in design to a Christian Cathedral featuring side aisles and an altar, as well as a long central nave, all positioned as they would be in a Christian Church. And there is even a high dome decorated with clouds and saints. 

The main focal point is a Divine Eye symbolising God which has the Ying and Yang icon in its pupil. 

Ceremonies take place daily with two services accompanied by musicians and a choir singing in English to traditional Vietnamese music.

Worshippers at the Cao Dai Temple strive for world peace and harmony with beliefs steeped in a number of world religions. 

Followers must obey the five virtues of Confucianism – humanity, obligation, civility, knowledge and reliability — and have belief in the Buddhist principles of rebirth and karma. 

Watching Caodiasts pray is one of the major highlights when visiting the temple as they dress in long flowing robes of white for lay followers, yellow, blue or red for priests whilst bishops have the Divine Eye embroidered on their headpieces. 

During worship men are seated on the right and women on the left with all devotees seated in orderly rows. 

The building is a combination of Neo-Gothic, Baroque and Oriental design and is very ornately decorated including dragon wrapped pillars, seven-headed cobras and ceilings of sky blue.

Worship takes place every six hours and starts at midnight with chanting at 06:00 and 18:00 daily. 

Visitors are permitted to watch from the galleries and may take photographs; knees must be covered and shoes removed before entering. 

Silence is requested when a service is taking place. This is one of 1,000 Cao Dai Temples located in Vietnam.

Bai Dinh Pagoda 


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Location: Gia Sinh Commune, Gia Vien District, Ninh Binh Province

Bai Dinh Pagoda is situated to the west of the ancient city of Hoa Lu, which belongs to the Gia Sinh commune in Ninh Binh, about 95km from Hanoi. 

Bai Dinh Pagoda covers an area of 539 hectares which includes 27 hectares of the ancient segment of the pagoda, and 80 hectares of the new Bai Dinh Pagoda.

During the ancient times of Ninh Binh more than a thousand years ago, there were three ruling dynasties namely, Ly, Dinh, Tien Le. All three dynasties believed in Buddhism which they deemed as the state religion. 

The strong belief in Buddhism spawned a plethora of pagodas all over Vietnam, which included the renowned Bai Dinh Pagoda in Mount Dinh.

Bai Dinh Pagoda consists of the old and new sections. The newer section is a representation of Vietnam’s past, its traditional cultural identity, and majestic architecture. 

Because of these designs and fragments of the past, the pagoda is a main attraction for tourists. 

The new section of Bai Dinh Pagoda is recognized as the biggest pagoda in Southeast Asia.

Ancieny Bai Dinh Pagoda is a distant 800 meters from Tam The Temple along Mount Dinh. 

This well-known pagoda is situated near the top of the forest, which also includes the God Cao Son Temple, Nguyen Temple, and Buddhist Cave. 

The many architectural designs and antiques inside the pagoda depicted the former reign of the Ly Dynasty, and have made it an important historical and cultural relic of the country.

The large cubes were one of the distinct architectural designs of the ancient Vietnamese. 

The main difference between the design of the Bai Dinh Pagoda and other pagodas in China is the dark color of the phoenix-like structure. 

The details in the structure also represented the traditional handicraft villages found in Vietnam.

Bai Dinh Pagoda has earned distinction as a well-known temple throughout Asia. The records of the temple include:

Asia’s biggest gilt-bronze statue: 100 ton statue in the French Colonial District.

Biggest bronze replica of Buddha in Southeast Asia: 100 ton statue just outside the actual temple.

The biggest bell in Vietnam: The Great Bell weighs an astonishing 36 tons inside the Bell Tower.

The biggest pagoda in Vietnam: The pagoda complex covers 539 hectares.

The Pagoda’s Horn Corridor is the longest in Asia: Horn Corridor measures around 3km.

The complex has numerous statues: 500 blue stone statues that measure 2m high.

The biggest Boddhi temple in Vietnam: 100 statues are taken from Bodhi, India.

The Temple of Literature


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Opening Hours: Tuesday – Sunday 8:30 – 11:30 & 13:30 – 16:30

Location: 58 Quoc Tu Giam Street, Dong Da District, Hanoi

The Temple of Literature is often cited as one of Hanoi’s most picturesque tourist attractions. 

Originally built as a university in 1070 dedicated to Confucius, scholars and sages, the building is extremely well preserved and is a superb example of traditional-style Vietnamese architecture.

This ancient site offers a lake of literature, the Well of Heavenly Clarity, turtle steles, pavilions, courtyards and passageways that were once used by royalty. 

Visiting the Temple of Literature you will discover historic buildings from the Ly and Tran dynasties in a revered place that has seen thousands of doctoral graduates in what has now become a memorial to education and literature.

Originally the university only accepted aristocrats, the elite and royal family members as students before eventually opening its doors to brighter ‘commoners’. 

Successful graduates had their names engraved on a stone stele which can be found on top of the stone turtles.

The Temple of Literature is a place of study rather than a religious landmark. 

There are five courtyards at the temple, two brimming with landscaped gardens. The third is home to a large pond known as the Well of Heavenly Clarity; the fourth courtyard is called the Sage Courtyard and features a statue of Confucius and a house of ceremonies; and the last courtyard is Thai Hoc in which stands a large drum and bell tower. 

This historic site is ranked as one of Hanoi’s most important cultural places and is steeped in Vietnamese history.

The layout of the temple is based upon the birthplace of Confucius with a magnificent main entrance and a path, once reserved solely for the king, running through the centre. 

The immaculate gardens are rich in ancient trees and are considered a serene place in which students can relax. 

There are stone statues and inscriptions dotted throughout the temple which has retained many of its original features as the most renowned landmarks of academia in Vietnam.

Thien Mu Pagoda


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Opening Hours: Daily 07:00 – 17:00

Address: Kim Long Road, Huong Long Ward, Hue

Thien Mu Pagoda is set atop a hill just outside Hue City Centre, offering breathtaking views of Perfume River and Hue Imperial City. 

One of its standout features is a 21-metre-tall octagonal tower called Thap Phuoc Duyen, which was built in 1844 under the reign of Emperor Thieu Tri. 

Meanwhile, the main sanctuary houses wooden sculptures of temple guardians, gold-plated Buddha statues and a two-tonne bell cast in 1710. 

Thien Mu Pagoda was also the home monastery of Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc, who famously self-immolated in 1963 in protest against the persecution of Buddhists by the South government.

Van Thuy Tu Temple


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Opening Hours: Daily 07:00 – 17:00

Address: 54 Ngu Ong Street, Phan Thiet City

Van Thuy Tu Temple is the largest and oldest whale temple in Phan Thiet, displaying skeletal remains of whales as well as fishing boats, conical hats and authentic artefacts from the Nguyen Dynasty. 

Built in 1762 to commemorate Ca Ong (Lord Whale), locals believe that whales are benevolent creatures that protect fisherman from bad weather and dangers at sea. 

Today, this small temple houses the skeletal remains of more than 500 whales that are over 100 years old, including a 22-metre-long skeleton that’s believed to have been the biggest in Southeast Asia. 

Numerous artefacts from the Nguyen Dynasty are also displayed within the main hall of the temple, such as written decrees by 24 former kings, terracotta statues, incense table, lacquered boards, and an antique bronze bell.

Religious ceremonies such as Spring Festival, Whale Worshipping Festival, and Peace Prayer Ceremony are held at the temple every year, where locals gather and pray for smooth sailing, good weather and fishing harvest. 

Visitors can also expect an array of activities such as solemn rites, folk singing, and boat racing during these events.

Jade Emperor Pagoda 


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Opening Hours: 08:00 – 17:00

Location: 73 Mai Thi Luu Street, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City 

Emperor Jade Pagoda, also known as Tortoise Pagoda, is one of the five most important shrines in Ho Chi Minh City. 

Built at the turn of the 20th century by a community of Cantonese who migrated from Guangzhou province in Southwest China, this pagoda is a fine representation of the Mahayanist branch of Buddhism that is practiced widely in Vietnam. 

Open daily, the temple can get busy with locals who come here to prayer or make votive offerings of flowers, as well as lighting candles and joss sticks, offering an atmospheric feel to the place.

In the main hall, the Emperor Jade Chua Ngoc Hoang or the ‘God of the Heavens’ reigns supreme. Aided by two assistants, the Emperor decides who can enter this higher realm. Those who don’t pass this gate will meet with the formidable ‘God of Hell’, on the left, who will send sinners to one of the 10 levels of hell. 

Life in purgatory is magnificently if somewhat gruesomely represented by the intricate carvings on the temple wall, depicting different kinds of punishments that await transgressors.

In a different hall, the goddess of fertility Kim Hua, surrounded by figures of women and small children, blesses childless couples who pray for an offspring here. 

The goddess of mercy Kuan Yin, who forms a very important part of any Taoist temple, has an altar in a room on the top floor.

Emperor Jade Pagoda is a living and working shrine very much in use by the locals who come here to pray or make votive offerings of flowers, and light candles and joss sticks. 

With worshippers coming and going, the temple can get busy and feel a little cramped. Its dimly lit, the narrow passageways filled with smoke lend an atmospheric feel to the place, adding to its charm.

There is an overcrowded tortoise pond in front of the temple grounds and feeding the animals is considered part of the merit-making, temple-going rituals.

Perfume Pagoda – Hanoi


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The Perfume Pagoda is a dramatic temple complex believed to have been first built in the 15th century. This series of Buddhist temples are built into a mountain range in a maze of alleyways carved into the rock, with rich forests and flowing streams all around. 

Located around 60 km south of Hanoi, in the Son Mountains, the journey here is an experience in itself: first you must take a two-hour journey by car or bus before travelling by boat to the foot of the mountains.

The Perfume Pagoda, known locally as Chua Huong or ‘inner temple’, is at the centre of a very revered and sacred site featuring a maze of mainly Buddhist temples built into the limestone cliffs of Huong Tich. At the heart of this complex lies the Perfume Temple or Perfume Pagoda in the Huong Tich Cave.

It is believed that the first temple was built here in the 15th century, although legend declares that the site was actually discovered over 2,000 years ago by a Buddhist monk who was meditating nearby. 

The mountain foothills are an area of great natural and spiritual beauty filled with streams, tropical plants and temples.

There are many pagodas to visit, each offering a different shrine, most of which are Buddhist although one or two are animist. 

The Perfume Pagoda attracts pilgrims and tourists seeking good luck from the stalagmites and stalactites inside the cave which have been named according to the individual blessing they can bestow. 

Dun Tien offers prosperity and Nui Co offers the chance of giving birth to a girl whilst Dun Gao translates as a ‘rice stack’ to those hoping for a bountiful harvest.

The entrance to the vast and mysterious Perfume Pagoda and Huong Tich Cave resembles that of an open dragon’s mouth and is decorated in ancient Chinese letters which translate to ‘first grade cave of the South World’. This writing dates back to 1770.

Inside the cave are many statues carved from green stone which decorate an intricate shrine, including one of Lord Buddha and another of the Buddhist goddess Quan Am. 

Smooth stalactites and stalagmites also fill the cave which are constantly touched by pilgrims believing them to deliver miracles and good luck. 

You will find the temple very cool inside and also very busy especially during the Chua Huong festival which lasts from January to April.

It’s well worth taking time to stop and enjoy the view enroute to the temple as the scenery is very interesting, dotted with fruit trees including apricots and medicinal herbs grown by local farmers. 

Other temples to see within the complex include the Vong Temple, Thuyet Kinh Cave and Thien Son Pagoda.

The journey to the Perfume Pagoda is itself an interesting experience. Located about 60km southwest of Hanoi in the Huong Son Mountain range you will need to take a car for around two hours before boarding a wooden or iron boat to reach the temple complex.

The boat journeys down a narrow flowing steam fringed by rice fields, temples and grass and you will have the option to stop and visit some of these temples. 

However, if you are short of time its best to head straight to Huong Tich Cave. 

It’s an uphill walk to the Perfume Pagoda which will take around one hour and things can get slippery, so remember to bring walking shoes or boots.

The Mieu Temple


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Opening Hours: Daily 07:00 – 17:00

Address: Le Huan, Thuan Thanh, Hue City

The Mieu Temple, part of the UNESCO-protected Complex of Hue Monuments, was constructed by Emperor Minh Mang in 1821 in commemoration of former emperors of the Nguyen Dynasty. 

One of the most well-preserved structures in the complex, this ancestral temple houses an ornate three-tiered pavilion, various personal items and portraits of its 10 emperors, as well as nine dynastic urns that were cast between 1835 and 1836. 

While travellers are free to explore the temple site, guided tours are available for those looking to know more about the history of Hue.

Giac Lam Pagoda


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Opening Hours: Daily 05:00 – 12:00 & 14:00 – 20:00

Address: 118 Lac Long Quan, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City

Giac Lam Pagoda, built in 1744, is the oldest Buddhist temple in Ho Chi Minh City and, as such, was listed as an important historical site by the Vietnamese Department of Culture in 1988. 

Situated in Binh Than District, the pagoda is surrounded by spacious walled gardens and fronted by statues of mythical dragons while its ceremonial hall is dominated by a large statue of Amitabha Buddha, who is surrounded by five smaller carvings. 

Outside, a 32-metre-tall stupa dominates the temple grounds, which contain a Buddha relic housed on the top floor. Read More…

VNguide/VietNamNet



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Life insurance industry sees increasing M&A activity

As an attractive industry in Vietnam, the life insurance market is luring a wide range of international investors.

Life insurance industry sees increasing M&A activity
The Vietnamese insurance market is awaiting sizeable M&A transactions

Recently, Mirae Asset Life Insurance, an insurer from South Korea, has signed an agreement to purchase 50 per cent of Prevoir Vietnam. Detailed information of the deal, such as the deal value, and the reasons why Prevoir Vietnam chose this partner, has not been revealed yet. However, it seems that the deal will open a new page for the French insurer, which now holds about 1 per cent of the market share in Vietnam.

Prevoir Vietnam was established in 2005 and it started to sell its first insurance products in Vietnam in 2006. It is a subsidiary of Groupe Prevoir, a French insurance firm, which now holds 91.55 per cent stake in Prevoir Vietnam, while the rest is held by Scor Global Vie.

Vietnam Post and the banking system are the two main distribution channels of the French insurer. However, after ending the exclusive cooperation with Vietnam Post, Prevoir Vietnam stopped selling insurance products through this channel, leaving the banking system its only distribution channel. Afterwards, Dai-ichi Vietnam, another insurer in the Vietnamese market, signed an exclusive contract with Vietnam Post.

Prevoir Vietnam used to develop its own agents, but failed. Currently, bancassurance (insurance distribution through banking system) is still its main distribution channel, as Prevoir Vietnam has teamed up with nearly ten banks. Many of them signed long-term exclusive contracts with Prevoir Vietnam.

Mirae Asset Life Insurance is a newbie on the Vietnamese insurance market, but in South Korea, it is a giant, ranking among the top five insurers by assets after it purchased PCA Life Insurance Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of London-based multinational life insurance and financial services company Prudential Plc.

This deal came as little surprise as the Vietnamese insurance market keeps luring in big financial corporations from around the world.

“M&A is the fastest way for this Asian investor to join the Vietnamese market,” an industry insider said.

Recently, M&A in the Vietnamese life insurance market has become quite popular. In April 2017, Aviva Group, a multinational insurance company headquartered in London, completed the purchase of a 50 per cent stake in VietinBank Aviva (Aviva Vietnam) from Vietnam Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Industry and Trade (VietinBank).

At the end of August last year, Sun Life Assurance Company from Canada purchased the entirety of the stakes of PetroVietnam Insurance Corporation (PVI) in their affiliate PVI Sun Life Co., Ltd., renaming it Sun Life Vietnam Co., Ltd., with 100 per cent of foreign capital.

One of the reasons for the attractiveness of the Vietnamese life insurance market is its annual growth rate of about 20 per cent.

By the end of the first quarter of 2017, Bao Viet Insurance held 21.81 per cent of the market share. Next, Prudential’s market share was 19.68 per cent, Manulife 13.91 per cent, Dai-ichi Life Vietnam 13.44 per cent, AIA Vietnam 10.64 per cent, Generali Vietnam 7.33 per cent, Chubb Life 4 per cent, Hanwha Vietnam 2.98 per cent, BIDV MetLife 1.47 per cent, and Sunlife 1.09 per cent. Other small insurers held less than 1 per cent of the market in terms of revenue from first-time premium collection.

By Ngoc Lan



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Miss ASEAN Friendship 2017: A monumental stage for the moment of truth

The finale of Miss ASEAN Friendship 2017 Phu Yen will be held within hours. One of the major factors in the success of the finale is the stage. An imposing, modern stage was made available for the contestants who stand ready to dazzle.

The Miss ASEAN Friendship 2017 finale stage in Phu Yen province

Based on the unique cultural symbols of each country within the ASEAN community, the stage design team has set up a perfect common background highlighting the significance of each nation on a large LED screen.

The modern equipment, colours, and animations that will be constantly running on the LED screens are arranged in accordance with each national symbol and each dress, making it a truly memorable night for the contestants, the audience, and people who are participating in Miss ASEAN Friendship 2017 in the central province of Phu Yen.

For the people of Phu Yen, Sao Mai Theatre has 3,700 seats for watching live. Organisers also arranged a big LED screen at April 1 Square for those outside the theatre. The audience across the country can also watch the impressive performances of Miss ASEAN 2017 finale live at the VTV6 channel tonight.

On the eve of the Miss ASEAN Friendship 2017 finale, Tran Quoc Tri, chairman of the judging panel, had a brief discussion about the issues that will be raised with the contestants and the basic judgment criteria.

Miss ASEAN 2017: A monumental stage before G hour

What do you think about the Miss ASEAN 2017 contest held in Phu Yen?

It has been a long time since Vietnam hosted an international competition such as Miss ASEAN Friendship 2017. Especially, the ASEAN competition takes places in Vietnam for the first time. Basically, the organising board has made great efforts in promoting the contest so that it garnered wide attention across not only Vietnam but the ASEAN countries and the world at large. A competition like this carries the valuable message that the ASEAN is moving towards becoming a region of peace, prosperity, and development.

As you say, the competition relies on its strong regional and international features, making it a challenge for the jury to introduce a complete, high-standard, yet general set of criteria fitting to the particulars of each country. How has the jury agreed on the criteria for assessing candidates?

Every beauty pageant has common criteria. The first standard is a beautiful face, body balance. The second is the style of the contestants’ traditional costumes, then the ability to communicate. However, the candidate’s behaviour counts for a lot, particularly the knowledge of the ASEAN.

What key formulas will the jury use to evaluate the general knowledge of the ASEAN to select the winner?

Prospective Miss ASEAN must understand the reason why she entered the competition. At the same time, they must have a basic knowledge of the ASEAN, including cultural issues, country-specific issues, humanitarian issues, and issues facing the whole of the ASEAN.

There will also be questions related to the protection of the marine environment and the countries’ relation to the sea. Or, for example, contestants will have to present their feelings about people, culture, and nature in Phu Yen, Vietnam. Miss ASEAN Friendship carry bring this message across the region.

Has the jury trained candidates in fundamental knowledge and basic skills?

The jury has compiled 30 sets of bilingual questions in English and Vietnamese. We have provided lectures to candidates and gave them documents to understand content related to the ASEAN. The jury thinks that the questions are not too difficult, but are not easy, either, and require candidates to actually understand the message of the ASEAN. The jury gave candidates a common basis of knowledge, but what to make of it and how to utilise it is up to them.

Here are some pictures of the Miss ASEAN Friendship 2017 finale stage:

By Ta Hang



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