If one simply looks for Vietnamese news on Yahoo News or listens to Secretary Kerry’s remarks at the Vietnam War Symposium, one cannot help but believe Vietnam is an emerging, peaceful land perfect for investment. In reality, Vietnam is in turmoil. There is turmoil within the communist party and turmoil within the people.
Earlier this year, the Vietnamese communist party held “elections” to select new leadership. It’s the first time the party broke its own rules to allow individuals over the age of 70 to stay in power. Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, who was poised to take the position of Party’s Secretary, declined to stand as a candidate at the last minute because of investigations into his and his children’s activities. Dung is viewed as being pro-American, which is not acceptable to Beijing. As “election” day neared, one saw troops as well as armored vehicles mobilized to Ha Noi. It was rumored that Nguyen Tan Dung would launch a coup! The “election” was closely monitored by a Chinese communist party representative to ensure the ‘proper’ outcome—of course, the pro-Beijing gang won all the high posts. It was a selection, not an election.
One April morning, the fishermen of Ha Tinh province and many other towns along the coast woke up to a sea full of dead fish. Some 250km (160 miles) of the coast line was impacted by the massive school of dead fish. It was so massive it forced fishermen to stay on shore for 4 months. There are still reports of food poisoning from consuming seafood caught in the area. People suspected it has to do with dumping of toxins into the ocean by a nearby Formosa, a Taiwanese front but funded with red China’s capital, steel plant. For almost 4 months, nobody addressed the cause of the dead fish, let alone took any action to clean up or contain the environmental contamination. Anyone who dared to ask questions risked arrest. This inaction frustrated the people, who took to the streets to demand transparency. As expected, they were met with violence. The regime brought in the army to stop the peaceful protesters, as well as thugs to beat them up. Women, children, and young men, all were brutally beaten. The Vietnamese communist regime has changed its tactics in dealing with unrest. They don’t imprison as much, instead they resort to using thugs to beat up protesters.
At the end of June, Formosa admitted to dumping toxins into the ocean due to a “power outage” and agreed to pay $500 million in compensation to the regime. The Vietnamese communist regime accepted the compensation, and turned it into loans to fishermen. Many fishermen choose not to return to the sea, and have instead been urged to sign up for labor exportation!
Another recent event that rocked Vietnam was President Barack Obama’s visit. While the regime’s welcome was lukewarm for Obama (as compared to that of China’s Xi), the young Vietnamese showed an outpouring of love for Obama. There were no “No Xi” signs for Obama. They young Vietnamese find president Obama to be friendly and down to earth, something unseen among their communist leaders. Before his arrival, the President invited dissidents to meet with him. However, the night before, they were taken away to the countryside to prevent this. In their places were representatives of groups asking for financial aid from the US. Sadly, the president mentioned nothing of the human rights violations that are still so blatant in Vietnam.
The one thing I especially appreciate from president Obama’s visit was his message to the Vietnamese: If you want Vietnam to be free, take matters into your own hands. I hope the message resonates with young Vietnamese.
On another note, over the weekend, in awaiting for the official statement from The International Court of The Hague on the 9 dash line claiming sovereignty over 80% of the South China Sea (East Sea to the Vietnamese), the Vietnamese communists called for The Hague to be “fair” with China! Not sure what they meant by that when Vietnamese no longer has access to her own sea!
All in all, the anti-government sentiment is at all-time high in Vietnam. Imprisonment, arrests, and assaults don’t seem to deter people from protesting. There’s a strong sentiment of resentment toward to the Chinese communists, there’s a high level of mistrust between the people and the Vietnamese communist party, and there’s mistrust between party members themselves as well as that of the leaders. Once people are no longer afraid of persecutions, the days are numbered for Vietnam’s communists.