Asian Diary by Jack Clontz

Some reflections on current events.

Jack Clontz is an Asian Language and Culture specialist. His observations of current events may be of interest to PA readers with a special interest in Asia. Comments on his observations are welcomed since some of his opinions are controversial and will no doubt


be contested by some readers. We are publishing his reflections to stimulate thinking and hopefully discussion.


Asian Diary


Re: the TPP agreement. At least Thailand did not become involved as originally envisaged.  The pharma agreements will bring about hundreds of thousands of deaths.


 Did you notice the Chinese recipient (out of three) of the Nobel Prize in medicine and physiology?  That was one case in which Chinese traditional medicine made an extremely significant contribution to world medicine instead of killing huge numbers of people and other animals. It was also a unique contribution to science from the darkest days of Mao's lunatic policies in which millions died in his full knowledge. 


 Even towards the end of the Vietnam war, this medicine's efficacy was known.  The Vietnamese people, especially those fighting, desperately needed protection against malaria.  Because of ideological opposition, Vietnam was denied the medicine and the PRC continued to deny it to the Vietnamese people for many years, especially in the wake of Deng's criminal war against Vietnam in which the PRC was actually defeated with the concomitant loss of tens of thousands on both sides and great destruction along both sides of the border. 


Just this week in the Russian euphoria over the bombing campaign in Syria, the Russian Federations's defense minister chortled that the USSR was responsible for the defeat of the USA in Vietnam through air power. What he was actually referring to was the shooting down of huge numbers of US planes (though amateur civilian crews shot down most of the jets fighter bombers like McCain's), especially the Nixon-Kissinger criminal "Arc-Light" heavy bombers during the Christmas madness just before the USA threw in the towel. We know now that most of the missile crews were Soviets, or at least commanded by Soviets, just as in Cuba during the Cuban missile crisis (the sole American plane shot down with the pilot  dying during the crisis was shot down by a Soviet crew--the Cuban missiles did not have the altitude range to hit the American reconnaissance aircraft).  A contribution was also made by the use of Soviet "trawlers" just off the coast of Guam spotting the take off of the Arc Light bombers, where all of them originated at Anderson Air Base (there is a memorial to them at the entrance to the base), Guam and radioed this message to the Vietnamese. We also now know that North Korean jet fighter pilots engaged in aerial combat with the American planes with, as you know, the North Koreans following the Soviet line in spite of all that had happened.


I resent the Russian claims about Vietnam, since I think they are exaggerated and take credit from the Vietnamese people for their incredible achievement in defeating French, American and Chinese imperialism while greatly hampering Japanese imperialism at one point and forestalling Thai imperialism.  


On the other hand, the PRC was incensed by the very cruel treatment of the Vietnamese Chinese by the Vietnamese.  A very large proportion of the many thousands of Vietnamese boat people, many of whom died and all of whom greatly suffered, were ethnic Chinese.  Surprisingly, the PRC has countenanced Vietnamese imperialism in Laos and Cambodia, though both have been sycophantic followers and supporters, especially Cambodia, of the PRC internationally, especially in ASEAN. 


The Chinese anti-malaria drug is artemisinin


Notice that the Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation has saved many thousands of lives through its support of work involving this drug and is engaged in fundamental research (artemisinin is not now often used as a monotherapeutic medicine) in malaria.  A handful of French, American and Thai medical scientists are at work on these questions at Mahidol University in Bangkok.  They are desperately working to stave off the spread of malaria with parasites carried by three or four species of mosquitoes serving as vectors, which weirdly originate only in one area in northern Cambodia near the Thai border.  The mosquitoes have now spread to the area of the refugee camps in Burma along the Thai border.  The medical scientists are desperately afraid this drug-resistant form of malaria will spread through Burma with its horrible (though improved in some areas) conditions and thence to Bangladesh and the Indian subcontinent with millions of death certain under the conditions obtaining in India, Bangladesh and parts of Pakistan.  Capitalism saves the world?


 By far the best hospital in northern Thailand is the McCormick Hospital run by American medical missionaries.  Decades ago they forswore proselytizing in recognition of the fact that the vast majority of Thai Buddhists (about 97 percent of the population, it seems) would never become Christians because to do so would be tantamount to becoming non-Thai.  The inroads made by evangelical Christian missionaries, often from Australia, have been amongst the northern hill tribes, who are badly treated and are not allowed to become Thai citizens.  There are Roman Catholic converts, mostly educated Thais, in Bangkok and sometimes elsewhere, but they are few in numbers. Most Roman Catholics in Thailand have Vietnamese or ancestral Portuguese connections. 


Incidentally, Vietnamese students in universities in Thailand are outstanding and make Thai students look very bad in comparison. They are disciplined and learn quickly.  Many are already very proficient in English before they come and learn Thai quickly.  I have talked to their university teachers in some cases.  They are often invidiously compared with foreign students from Burma and such places as Nepal or Sikkim.  


Did you know a Thai foreign minister, a Muslim from the northern part of southern Thailand (not a Muslim majority area), in the coup-government involved in throwing over Thaksin Shinawatra in 2006 apologized to the Vietnamese for Thai participation in the Vietnam War? Quite amazing, actually, but nothing really came of it.



Submitted by Thomas Riggins

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