Archive for October, 2010

The Meeting of Defense Ministers in Hanoi

Posted in Politics with tags , , on October 16, 2010 by Ian Pham

Last sunday, October 10, 2010, the meeting of the defense ministers took place in Hanoi.  In attendance were Vietnam, China, the U.S., and the rest of the members of ASEAN.

The highlights of these meetings were the further improvements between Vietnam-U.S. relations.  It has been 15 years since diplomatic relations have been normalized and today it is stronger than ever.

However, both sides are still somewhat weary of each other.  Vietnam is aware that U.S. involvement is part of a larger American national interest, something that will shift, as national interests often do.  The U.S. are still concerned over Vietnam’s dictatorial regime, and human rights is still a big issue.

Also taking place in Hanoi was America’s offer of reconciliation to China.  U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates had a personal meeting with his Chinese counterpart to discuss fixing military ties.

Finally, one may be delighted to hear that China has finally released the Vietnamese fishermen captured earlier last month.  The Chinese still want a fine, but the Vietnamese are not paying for it, firmly stating the innocence of the civilians.

That’s the summary of what took place in Vietnam last week.  Maybe in time they might finally get around to talking about human rights and freedom of speech.  I know it’s a stretch, but anything is possible.

U.S. Secretary of Defence, Robert Gates, at the meeting in Hanoi last sunday, October 10, 2010.

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South Korea’s Syngman Rhee: A Descendent of the Ly Dynasty

Posted in Did You Know?, Dynastic History, Modern History, Politics with tags , , , , on October 12, 2010 by Ian Pham

Depending on your knowledge of this particular subject, this may or may not come as a shock to you.  Personally, I was quite surprised when I heard about this.  Syngman Rhee, the first president of the Republic of Korea, is actually a Vietnamese descendent.  Rhee himself declared that he was of Vietnamese ancestry, tracing his origins all the way back to the royal Ly family.

How did the Ly land in Korea anyway?  In the 13th century, princess Ly Chieu Hoang abdicated the throne in favor of her husband, Tran Canh, marking the end of the Ly and the rise of the Tran Dynasty.  Many members of the Ly royal family disapproved, deeply resenting the Tran’s actions afterword.  Tran Thu Do, the man behind the Ly’s toppling, feared of rebellion.  Therefore, he decided to purge the entire Ly family. 

As a result, thousands of Vietnamese people were put to death.  Anyone bearing the name of Ly was hunted down and executed by the Tran.  In order to save his people, prince Ly Long Tuong gathered the remaining  members of the Ly and fled to Korea.  This courageous act salvaged the lives of several thousand Vietnamese people, who would later become proud members of the Korean nation.  One of these proud individuals would be none other than Syngman Rhee, the First President of South Korea.

In the 1950-60’s, Syngman Rhee contacted President Ngo Dinh Diem of South Vietnam, seeking help in finding the origins of his ancestors.  President Diem accepted, assigning one of his ministers to assist President Rhee on his search for spiritual truth.  Unfortunately, since the tombs of the Ly family were located in North Vietnam, the proof of President Rhee’s ancestry could only be verified later on, after the death of Diem.

The fact is clear now: thousands of Korean citizens are actually of Vietnamese origin, the descendents of the Ly family.  Many Koreans, like Rhee Syngman, are very proud of their Vietnamese ancestry.  Every year, Vietnam enjoys visits by many Korean tourists, there to visit the shrine of their Vietnamese ancestors.  These people are the proud citizens of Korea, but they have never forgotten their Vietnamese beginnings.

The City of the Soaring Dragon: 1000 Years of Hanoi

Posted in Dynastic History, Modern History, Politics, Society with tags , , , , , , , on October 10, 2010 by Ian Pham

Today marks the 1000 year birthday of the city of Hanoi.  For the past week, the people of Vietnam have been celebrating the long life of this important historical setting.  Through various dynasties over the course of Vietnam’s history, Hanoi has most often been the capital of the country.  After a thousand years, through numerous wars and reconstructions, the city of Hanoi remains strong.  It is a symbol of resilience and strength, reminding us of the long and revering history of the Vietnamese people.

During imperial times, the city of Hanoi was named Thang Long, meaning “Soaring Dragon.”  The origin of Thang Long came from Emperor Ly Cong Uan.  As leader of the new independent nation of Dai Viet, Ly Cong Uan decided to move his capital to the city of Dai La.  In a dream, the emperor saw a golden dragon, soaring majestically in the sky.  When he awoke, the emperor took the dream as a heavenly sign, and therefore decided to bestow upon his city the name of Thang Long, the “City of the Soaring Dragon.”

The name “Hanoi” came in modern times, under the rule of the Nguyen Dynasty.  Emperor Minh Mang, arguably the only capable ruler of the Nguyen Dynasty, changed the name from Thang Long to Hanoi.  That leads us to the city we have today, where a celebration is currently taking place.  Red flags, pictures of Ho Chi Minh, the hammer and sickle, all integrated into the festivities in Vietnam.  Many people in Vietnam see little reason to be excited, having resentment for the Communists for their poor leadership and shameful representation of the people.

Even so, let’s just look past the embarrassment of the Communists and celebrate the history of our proud people.  Though the government has shamed our nation in so many different ways, the people of Vietnam have so much to be proud about.  The tradition of Viet has been under fire for thousands of years, in spite of that, we continue to stay strong.  The current situation will not last forever.  One day, Vietnam will become free.  Communism is dead, even the Communists know that.

Vietnam Raises Issue Over Chinese Piracy

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , on October 8, 2010 by Ian Pham

On September 11, 2010, the Chinese navy captured several more Vietnamese fishermen in the Southeast Asia Sea.  The civilians are currently detained by the Beijing government, possibly awaiting ransom from Hanoi.  The incident took place in close proximity to the Paracel Islands (Hoang Sa) where the Chinese claim to control.

Days ago, October 6, 2010, Hanoi published statements demanding the release of the fishermen from Chinese custody.  The Chinese accuse the fishermen of carrying explosives on their boat and refuse to release them until a fine is paid (remember the “ransom” that I previously mentioned).  Hanoi, however, states that there were no explosives, no law has been broken and that the fishermen are not at fault.  The fishermen are still in Chinese custody and are yet to be released.

For the first time, the Vietnamese government has taken a less-than-shameful stance on behalf of their citizens.  A regional security meeting is to take place in Hanoi next week.  High-ranking Chinese officials will be there, U.S. Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, will also be attending.  What this means for Vietnam-China relations is still yet to be determined.  The situation has been quiet in Vietnam lately, hopefully something good will come in the near future.

The Rebirth of Viet Culture

Posted in Ancient History, IV. Columns with tags , , , , on October 6, 2010 by Ian Pham

It’s pretty amazing how much progress has been made over the past decade regarding the world’s understanding of the Vietnamese people.  Thanks to archeology, state of the art technology, DNA, and intricate research, numerous discoveries have been made about Vietnam’s past that have never been considered before.  Who would have thought that the teachings of Confucius actually originated form the Bach Viet people?  Who could have known that the chief architect of the Forbidden City was Vietnamese?  Furthermore, who would ever have thought that the ancient writings of Viet-Nom preceded the writings of the Han?

For centuries, all the way up to the 1990’s, the world knew very little about the origin of Vietnam.  Over 90% of all the history books have claimed that Vietnam was just a derivative of the Chinese empire, unaware of how misleading these claims are.  Even the history books in Vietnam, with very few exceptions, had accepted the idea that Vietnamese culture came from China.  Some past theorists, such as Kim Dinh, have made suggestions about Vietnam’s antiquity, challenging conventional belief that Vietnam was just a mere copy of the Chinese.  He was ridiculed by his colleagues in the past, discredited and labeled as a fanatic and ideologue.

Today however, the story has become quite different.  New generations of researchers have looked past the obscurity and outright lies of the older generations, disproving many old claims and making a few findings of their own.  They are contemporaries of Kim Dinh, following up on his ideas, now regarding him as a pioneer and trailblazer of modern Viet studies.  It is now verified that the teachings of Confucius came from Vietnam, and that the ancient Vietnamese (Bach Viet) people lived as farmers in the southern half of China long before the establishment of the Chinese state.  Cultivation of rice, another important aspect of East Asian culture, was part of Vietnamese culture before reaching China in the far north.

These new discoveries have only scratched the surface of Vietnamese culture, but have already defied the accepted beliefs of the old generation.  It is no longer valid to suggest that the civilization of Vietnam branched off from the Chinese empire.  Also false is the old claim that the Chinese taught Vietnam how to farm and cultivate.  The Chinese historical accounts of Tich Quang and Nham Dien, coming from China and teaching us about culture, has been proven false.  Also false is the national background of Shen Nong, a historical figure of China.  New evidence now suggests that Shen Nong was a Vietnamese person as a opposed to a Chinese person, as stated in the, now dated, history books.

With the help of archeology, DNA, and critical analysis of today’s current research, the world will better understand the origin of Vietnamese culture. In time, the findings will change the way people look at Vietnam.   Fragments of Viet culture, such as Viet-Nho (aka Confucianism) will eventually re-emerge.  Past accomplishments of Vietnamese individuals, like Nguyen An and the Forbidden City, will finally be recognized.  Most important of all, the lost history, burned by the likes of the Qin, Han, and Ming dynasties, will be restored to its rightful place.

Interesting Ho Chi Minh Quotes: The Art of Deception

Posted in Modern History, Politics with tags , , , , on October 2, 2010 by Ian Pham

In the spirit of our new “Quotes” section, here are some interesting quotes by the infamous Ho Chi Minh.  You’ll be surprised at what the main message in his words are.  Just so you know, it’s not Communism.

“The Vietnamese people deeply love independence, freedom, and peace. But in the face of United States aggression, they have risen up, united as one man.”

“Love other human beings as you would love yourself.”

“Nothing is more precious than independence and liberty.”

“It was patriotism, not Communism, that inspired me.”

“I only follow one party: the Vietnamese Party.”

Surprised?  Ho Chi Minh was a political genius, tricking everyone into believing his lies.  Using patriotism, nationalism, and the pretext of fighting for freedom, Ho Chi Minh demonized the Americans and defeated them in the war.  It is true, Ho Chi Minh was an inspiring man.  He was a charismatic individual who was able to gain support from many people inside and outside of Vietnam.  However, actions speak louder than words.  The crimes he committed against humanity have clearly been proven.  He was a criminal, not a patriot.  Thanks to him, Vietnam is now going through a phase of decline and self-destruction.  He is not the hero that we all thought he was.  However, I will acknowledge his title as the master of deception.  He’s a tricky one.