Night Watch

Vietnam: Update. At least 21 people were killed and 100 injured in yesterday's anti-China riots in central and southern Vietnam. A mob of some 1,000 Vietnamese attacked a Taiwan-owned steel mill in central Vietnam, killing 5 Vietnamese and 16 Chinese workers.

News services reported that hundreds of Chinese nationals have begun fleeing to Cambodia or are seeking flights from Ho Chi Minh City to destinations outside Vietnam.

Comment: China has lived with anti-Chinese sentiment in Southeast Asian states for centuries. Chinese Chief of General Staff General Feng made it clear in his statements at the Pentagon today that China will make no concessions on issues of sovereignty, regardless of regional costs and hostility.

Thailand: Unidentified, probably pro-government, militants attacked an anti-government protest camp in Bangkok today. The attack left three people killed and at last 20 injured.

The attack prompted General Prayuth, the Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Thai Army, to issue a statement in which he warned the protestors that the army would intervene unless the violence stopped.

Comment: Prayuth is considered a strong supporter of the monarchy and a political foe of ex-prime ministers Yingluck and Thaksin Shinawatra. A military takeover of the government is not likely, but population controls are, if the violence continues. They would include curfews, restrictions on public assembly and raids to destroy militant hideouts and seize weapons caches.

The democratic political system is adrift because the elected prime minister has been removed under the Constitutional Court's orders and the opposition is pressing for an unelected government to be appointed.

The public confrontations are manifestations of the deeper struggle for Thailand's political identity. This pits traditional power holders in Bangkok, including the monarchy, against wealthy newcomers with populist programs and who are supported by rural farmers. There will be more tests of political strength before a path towards compromise emerges.

India: Update. During this Watch,vote counting began and preliminary results were announced. At midnight EDT, in the 220 seats that have posted results, the Hindu-nationalist BJP is ahead in 112 and Congress is ahead in 35.

Night Watch

NightWatch is an internationally acclaimed nightly newsletter that tracks and assesses threats to US national security. It has an edgy, executive style unlike any other summary of its kind.

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