Archive for Nguyen Dynasty

Major Anti-China Protest Planned for Sunday

Posted in Politics, Society with tags , , , , on June 28, 2012 by Ian Pham

Word has been spreading that the people in Vietnam are ready to stage a major demonstration this Sunday to protest China’s latest act of aggression in the Southeast Asia Sea.  The People’s Republic of China has recently offered bids to foreign oil companies to start operating in areas deep within Vietnam’s Exclusive Economic Zone.  The Vietnamese government has declared these actions illegal, and in strict violation of Vietnam’s law and sovereignty.  Beijing responded by claiming that what they are doing is “normal business activity” and warned Vietnam not to further escalate the situation.

Hanoi cites UNCLOS as evidence against China’s “indisputable” claims of control over the entire Southeast Asia Sea, which Vietnam calls the East Sea.  According to Vietnam, the nine offshore oil blocks that China plans to open to foreign firms is well within Vietnam’s EEZ, violating both international law and Vietnamese law.  This dispute comes as part of a long standing tension building in the Southeast Asia Sea.

After much silence and hesitation on this issue, Hanoi has finally raised its voice, prompting the country’s National Assembly to pass a law claiming official ownership of the Paracel and Spratly islands.  These islands are prominently situated in the Southeast Asia Sea, and have been under Vietnam’s control since the Nguyen Dynasty in the 19th century.  China disregards both Vietnam’s historical claims and its claims based on international law.  The Asian giant continues to assert its claims over the sea in its entirety, putting the country into conflicts with its many neighbors.

The people of Vietnam came out to protest Red China in the summer of 2011.  The weekly demonstrations were permitted by the Vietnamese government for a while, but were formally and forcefully suppressed on the 11th week.

In reaction to the assertions of Red China, the people of Vietnam have come together in preparation for the large demonstration slated for this Sunday.  Protests are set to kick off in two of Vietnam’s major cities, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh (Saigon).  This is reminiscent of protests in Vietnam last summer, which were permitted by the government for a time before being forcibly subdued by Communist police.  Though it is difficult to predict what the protests will yield, it will become clear on Sunday morning.

For those of us who are outside of Vietnam, there is really not much we can physically do.  However, it is important to let the Vietnamese within know that we support them, and that we are behind them in their efforts.  Regardless of what country we are originally from or currently live in, Vietnamese everywhere are fighting for the same cause.  To all the courageous Vietnamese coming out on Sunday, just know that we all support you.  God bless.

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Finally, the Vietnamese Government Lay Claims to Paracel and Spratly

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , on December 2, 2011 by Ian Pham

After months of beating around the bush, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has finally released an official claim to the Paracal and Spratly Islands.  Vietnam was the formal the occupier of the Paracel and Spratly Islands since the 18th and 19th centuries, until the Chinese invaded Paracel in 1974, and Spratly in 1988.  The Nguyen Dynasty of Vietnam was the first country to explore and occupy these islands, becoming the sole patron of both Spratly and Paracel for nearly two centuries.  In the 1950’s onward, the Republic of Vietnam held the islands.

Nguyen Tan Dung has formally declared that Paracel and Spratly belong to Vietnam, and has stated that he is willing to use military force to defend the islands from China.  According to Bloomberg News, the Prime Minister is also looking to establish talks regarding the Chinese occupation of Paracel which, as mentioned above, once belonged to Vietnam, and, in legal terms, still belongs to Vietnam.  The Chinese acquisition of Paracel and the current pieces of Spratly are illegal, and still does not constitute as Chinese territory under international law.  Though the PRC holds the islands formally, their rule is illegitimate, and is contestable by Vietnam with historical evidence (and with some help from the military).

The Vietnamese government has announced that they will support the patriotism of the Vietnamese people, so long as that is all the people project.  In other words, the people of Vietnam are free to demonstrate against China, but if their is ever a hint of calls for democratization, the government will shut it down by force.  The official announcement by PM Nguyen Tan Dung on Paracel and Spratly is definitely positive for the country, though it has been long overdue.  There is so much more that the Vietnamese people need, and if the government wants to know what that is, they might want to take a look at Burma.

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.

Gia Long Nguyễn Ánh: Mediocre Emperor of a Mediocre Dynasty

Posted in Dynastic History, Modern History with tags , , on August 29, 2010 by Ian Pham

The Nguyễn Dynasty (1802-1945/French Occupation)

The Fall of the Tây Sơn

After the death of Emperor Quang Trung in 1792, his son Canh Thinh Quang Toan stepped up to succeed his throne.  He was a smart kid who reflected the qualities of his late father.  The problem however, is that the boy was only ten years old, not yet ready to run an entire country.  For this reason, the Tây Sơn Dynasty was unable to sustain itself.  Without the guidance of a strong leader, the dynasty become highly vulnerable.

The defeated Nguyễn lords, who took refuge in the south, recognized the sudden weakness of the Tây Sơn Dynasty and saw the chance to strike back.  During the rise and reign of Emperor Nguyễn Huệ Quang Trung, the Nguyễn lords have been continuously obliterated by his Tây Sơn Army.  Now that he was gone, the opportunity came for another attempt by the Nguyễn faction to seize power.

The Last Nguyễn Lord

After more than a decade of living in hiding, the Nguyễn faction were ready to come out and fight.  Under the leadership of Nguyễn Ánh, the last royal survivor of the vanquished family, the Nguyễn ignited another war against the politically fragmented Tây Sơn Dynasty.  Sadly, the Tây Sơn would lose this time.

With the help of the French colonists, Nguyễn Ánh defeated Canh Thinh, the teenage son of the late emperor Nguyễn Huệ Quang Trung, and consolidated his power in 1802.  He then took the name of Emperor Gia Long and proclaimed the establishment of the Nguyễn Dynasty.

Gia Long and the Nguyễn Dynasty

After his inauguration, Gia Long would undo all of the progress that Nguyen Hue had made in the previous decade.  As the new ruler, Gia Long repealed the new education system created by Quang Trung, putting back the centuries-old Confucianist examination system of the Chinese.  In the economic realm, Gia Long would cut off the ties that Nguyễn Huệ had established with the west, turning inward and looking to China for primary support.

When Nguyễn Huệ Quang Trung was still alive, the Qing Dynasty did not dare to invade Vietnam.  The Tây Sơn Emperor wielded the confidence and power to sway the Chinese.  Not only did Quang Trung not pay tribute to the Qing Empire, he even convinced them to cede the provinces of Guangdong and Guangxi to Vietnam.  Gia Long Nguyễn Ánh did not have these capabilities.  Under Gia Long’s Nguyen Dynasty, Vietnam became a tributary state to China and did not receive the provinces that were promised to Nguyễn Huệ.

The Great Leap “Backwards”

Gia Long’s reactionary ways shifted the Vietnamese nation in another direction, away from the path of modernization led by the Tây Sơn Dynasty.  From Quang Trung, the Nguyễn Dynasty inherited an aspiring state with an improved economy, a powerful army, and a developing navy.  The foundation was there, Vietnam was rising.  Unfortunately, Emperor Gia Long could not utilize the resources of his great predecessor and lacked the intelligence and mental capacity to capitalize on the numerous opportunities presented to him.

Instead of using the myriad of talented people under Quang Trung’s administration, Gia Long decided to take revenge on them.  As an act of vengeance for his numerous humiliations at the hands of Nguyễn Huệ and the Tây Sơn army, Gia Long purged all of Quang Trung’s men and erased all the progress that the Tây Sơn Dynasty had done in the past 12 years.

After revoking the reforms, the Nguyễn Emperor re-instituted the Confucian governmental model and mimicked the Chinese form of government, piece by piece.  The “Nguyễn Code,” which are the laws of the nation, were copied almost directly from the “Qing Code” of China.  When fortresses and temples were built in Vietnam, they were modeled after the Chinese buildings as well.  In Quang Trung’s time, western ideas were respected and debated, but under Gia Long, they were dismissed and casted aside, replaced by teachings obsolete for centuries.

Isolationism and the West

Gia Long modeled everything after the Qing Dynasty, turning Vietnam into a mere copy of the Chinese Kingdom.  Through countless uninspired and slave-like policies, Emperor Gia Long Nguyễn Ánh had miraculously stunted the rise of the Vietnamese Empire and became a tributary state to the Kingdom of Qing.  Because of these actions, the Vietnamese nation would remain stagnant for the next hundred years, falling prey to the imperialism of the western colonists.

Gia Long’s predecessor, Nguyễn Huệ Quang Trung, had a great vision.  He wanted a strong navy, backed up by a powerful army, to deter and withstand the influence of the west.  At the same time, Quang Trung wanted his people to learn from the west, using their modern ideas to move the country forward.  Gia Long did not have this vision, or even a plan, to make the country powerful.  All he had in mind was the power of the crown, and the approval the Chinese Empire.

The backward thinking of Gia Long and his successors would become detrimental to the nation of Vietnam, opening the doors for western exploitation and the conquest of the French.  For more than half of the Nguyễn Dynasty’s reign, from 1859 all the way to 1945, the country was colonized and ruled by the invaders from France.  It was only until the end of World War II that the country became temporarily free, and finally 1954 when the Viet Minh defeated the French, once and for all, at the Battle of Dien Binh Phu.