Archive for Vietnam-China Relations

Vietnam Strengthens Naval Capabilities, But It’s Still Not Enough

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , on September 5, 2011 by Ian Pham

It has been long overdue, but the Vietnamese government is finally looking to strengthen its own military capabilities.  According to Blog Critics Politics (August 31, 2011), Vietnam has recently acquired a new Gepard class frigate from Russia, with additional orders placed on six new Project 636 Varshavyanka kilo-class submarines. The newly acquired Gepard class warship will be the most capable of Vietnam’s fleet, leading the way for the new development and modernization of Vietnam’s naval forces.

Modernizing the military for the purpose of defending Vietnam’s sovereignty against foreign aggression is a respectable endeavour.  The new weapons purchased from Russia will surely add some much needed muscle to the Vietnamese military, but even so, it will be far from enough. Last year, the People’s Republic of China spent about $91.5 billion on their defence budget, investing heavily in their naval capabilities, using advanced nuclear weapons technology.  If Hanoi wanted to challenge Beijing, there is still much work that needs to be done.  Not only will Vietnam need to order weapons from Russia, but they must look to the United States for support as well.

Currently, the U.S. is prohibited from selling weapons to Vietnam, as part of an arms embargo put in place since 1984.  However, there are many in the U.S. who are considering on lifting the ban of selling weapons to Vietnam.  However, the Vietnamese government’s constant abuse of human rights and freedoms still provides an obstacle.  There are many in the United States who want to help Vietnam, the only thing standing in the way is their dictatorial style of governing.  If Vietnam were to take a stand on corruption and human rights, it is certain that the U.S. will support this change with open arms.  There is an easy way to push Beijing back, and it’s as easy as playing by the rules.

China Conducts “Routine” Military Exercise… At Vietnam’s Border

Posted in Politics with tags , , , on August 13, 2011 by Ian Pham

Just two days ago, the Chinese government underwent some military practices deep in the southern province of Guangxi, at the China-Vietnam border.  When questioned about their intentions, the Chinese claimed that it was only a routine military exercise, with no ulterior motives whatsoever.  Quite hard to believe, since China has been committing acts of intimidation against Vietnam, year after year, month after month, and day after day.  This is just another scare tactic that the People’s Republic of China is trying on Vietnam, anything beyond that goal is doubtful.

As you may know, a leadership transition took place in Vietnam several months ago, seeing several high profile positions transferred to some newer faces.  The positions of President and General Secretary have been appointed to Truong Tan Sang and Nguyen Phu Trong, respectively. Beijing has been keeping track of this leadership change, as they hope to extend control over these new individuals as they did with their predecessors.

This is not the first time that China has acted in such a threatening and belligerent manner.  Anyone following the current events in Asian politics can vouch that this is nothing new.  Every time a nation Chinese of interest goes through some sort of leadership succession, China feels the need to test this them and see how tough they are.  They tried it with the last leaders of Vietnam, they tried it with George W. Bush, and they’ve tried it with Barack Obama.  Compare the times that the Chinese leadership has threatened to use force with the times that they’ve actually followed through, one won’t find much reason to worry.  Rest assured, this is only a test.

The Communists’ Dilemma

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , on January 29, 2011 by Ian Pham

There is a problem that the VCP is facing today, one that has sparked much debate among the top members of the Communist leadership.  This problem has much to do with Vietnam’s relationship with the two juggernaut nations: The United States and the People’s Republic of China.  It is obvious that both of these countries play a major role in Vietnam’s economic operations, as both countries share interests in Vietnamese goods and services.  However, the relationship that Vietnam shares with these two countries is highly delicate.

Every action that Vietnam makes, it must do so in a manner that defends the country’s interests without alienating its partners.  This task is more difficult than it sounds however, as China and the U.S. have very different objectives.  In most cases, American interests tend to conflict with the Chinese, which usually means that any stance taken by the Vietnamese government will conflict with at least one side, if not the other.  Therefore, in order to maintain a good footing politically, the Vietnamese government will have to take strategic steps that will protect the country’s interests.

One of the major issues that prevents further cooperation between the U.S. and Vietnam is the VCP’s constant abuse of human rights.  The totalitarian dictatorship of the Vietnamese Communist Party raises many barriers for the United States in terms of establishing economic and military ties.  Some of the members in the VCP want to better relations with the U.S., they might even want to improve the human rights situation in the country.  Unfortunately, other factions in the Party are bent on maintaining power, even at the price of losing land to the Chinese.  Which brings me to the other side.

Vietnam’s relationship with the Peoples’ Republic of China can be characterized as less than equal.  On many occasions, China feels the necessity to flex its growing military and political power on the Vietnamese people, invading Paracel, Spratly, and harassing the fishermen in the Eastern Sea.  Even so, the Chinese still gain favor from the more conservative branch of the Party.  The “Conservatives,” otherwise known as the cowards, are the ones who put the Party before everything else.  They suppress the citizens, sell land to the Chinese, and will do anything, all for the sake of maintaining their power, and “the Party.”

It is possible to distinguish the Liberal strand of the Party from the Conservative branch, though the individuals responsible are still less than clear.  The Liberal camp can be characterized as those who want to develop closer ties with the United States and stand up to China on issues like Paracel and Spratly.  They are the ones who might take a second look at reforming the Party in order to move forward.  The Conservative side are the ones who want to maintain the Party rule, no matter what the cost.  These guys side with China in order to cling onto their power, disregarding everything else.  In other words, they are the puppets of China.

So what is the Communists’ Dilemma?  Well, let’s sum it up.  The Communists today are faced with a choice: either side with the U.S., make the necessary changes to the system and risk the complete disintegration of the one-party system, or side with China, continue to suppress the people, slowly let the land get taken away, but then carry on the rule of the Party.  The dilemma can be summed up by the following: “Side with the U.S., lose the Party.  Side with China, and lose the country.” To any rational thinker, the choice is obvious: reform the country, defend the country, and let the Party fade away!

Sadly, many in the VCP still regard the Party as the highest significance.  They can’t think in terms of right or wrong, but only what they can do to defend their own interests.  However, the circumstances have changed significantly since then.  Some members of the VCP finally realize that nothing good can come from siding with China.  They seem more interested in developing U.S.-Vietnam relations, maybe even to improve the country.  This is more than speculation, but still requires more substantial evidence for further examination.  What is apparent is that the Vietnamese Communist Party is no longer set on selling out to China.  At this time, the size of the resistance is difficult to measure, only time will tell if it is strong enough.

Political Cartoon: Don’t Say a Word

Posted in Art, Political Cartoons, Politics with tags , , , , on December 10, 2010 by Ian Pham

“Open lips make

the teeth turn cold…

Biting the lips…

will make them silent.”

This one is rather complicated.  It represents the relationship between Vietnam and China.  Apparently, China’s relationship with Vietnam are like tooth and lip.  China is in control and can keep Vietnam quiet at their will. Tooth and lip is a figure of speech in Vietnamese, quite perplexing if you ask me.

“Open lips make the teeth turn cold,” was a quote by Ho Chi Minh, comparing how Vietnam and China went hand in hand.  The second line, “Biting the lips… Will make them silent,” is a sarcastic ridicule by the author of the cartoon.  He mocks the stupidity of Ho Chi Minh, showing how his policies have eroded Vietnam’s sovereignty.

This is another cartoon about the Chinese invasion of the Paracel and Spratly islands.  It mostly demonstrates the coercive nature of the Peoples’ Republic of China, at the same time showing the weakness of the Vietnamese Communist Party.

The Communist Vietnamese are cowardly, staying silent while the Chinese government takes the islands away from the Vietnamese people.  They don’t resist, nor do they let the people of Vietnam resist.  Any stand made by the common folk are immediately crushed by the VCP, for fear of offending the invaders.  It’s shameful.

 

Political Cartoon: The Piranha

Posted in Art, Political Cartoons, Politics with tags , , , , on November 14, 2010 by Ian Pham

Here’s an easy one.  The piranha represents the predatory People’s Republic of China while the pieces of food in its mouth represent the Paracel and Spratly Islands.  Basically, China is swallowing up Vietnam’s islands.  Plain and Simple.

Political Cartoon: The Puppets of China

Posted in Art, Political Cartoons, Politics with tags , , , , , on October 26, 2010 by Ian Pham

The Hand:

Represents China holding on to the General Secretary, a symbol of how much control the Chinese have over the Vietnamese government.

The Protesters:

Their various signs say, “Protect Hoang Sa and Truong Sa (Paracel and Spratly),” “Spratly and Paracel of Vietnam,” and “China is invading.”

The Puppet General Secretary:

“Quit protesting so loudly.  You are embarrassing us in front of the Chinese!  This is not the peoples’ affairs, this is the governments’ affairs!”

Despite China’s Claims, the “Released” Fishermen Never Made it Home

Posted in Politics, Society with tags , , , , on October 21, 2010 by Ian Pham

The fishermen that China promised to release from custody last week never made it home.  The nine fishermen detained by China on September 11, 2010, were expected to reach Vietnam on Tuesday, Wednesday at the latest.  Their non-arrival was quite a shock, since the fishermen have been “released” by the Beijing government quite some time ago.

At the moment, there is no news of their whereabouts.  According to AsiaNews, the fishermen’s families have tried contacting their boats, but didn’t get a single response, even after numerous tries over the past few days.  The fishermen’s families, along with the officials in Vietnam, are questioning China’s efforts in ensuring the safety of the fishermen.

Many believe that it was never China’s intention to let the fishermen home safely.  The adequacy of the boat, along with the amount of fuel and communication devices provided by the Chinese have been put into question.  The situation is horrid for the families of these fishermen as they wait for their main supporters to return.  Our thoughts should go out to the families of these fishermen.  Let’s hope that somehow, they will make it back to Vietnam.

This is unacceptable on China’s end.  It is obvious that they only said they would release the fishermen to appear humanitarian for the meeting of the defense ministers last week.  It seems that they had ulterior motives, planning to let the fishermen get stranded at sea.  This is China’s way of retaliating for Vietnam’s objections against the crimes of the Chinese navy.  This just goes to how cruel, yet cowardly, the Beijing government really is.

Just two weeks ago, China was protesting Japan for detaining Chinese naval officers, only to turn around and murder the fishermen of Vietnam.  The difference is that the Vietnamese detainees are innocent civilians while the Chinese detainees are not.  Those who were arrested by the Japanese were members of China’s military, attempting to bully the civilians of Japan.  It is an understatement to call the Chinese’ actions ironic, killing innocent people of their neighboring countries, and then blatantly placing blame on those who are unafraid to bring them to justice.

They prey on the innocent, then play the victim when challenged and embarrassed by the individuals who are capable of fighting back.  It does not matter to me how strong their economy is, or how powerful their army and navy are.  If China does not respect international law, disregards the livelihood of weaker nations, and lies shamelessly in the face of the world community, why should we respect them?  They are truly pathetic, just like the Communists in Vietnam.

Another Invasion: China Takes Spratly, 1988

Posted in II. History, Modern History with tags , , , , , on September 5, 2010 by Ian Pham

When the Chinese invaded Hoang Sa in 1974, the Republic of Vietnam, under the leadership of President Nguyen Van Thieu, fought with all they had.  The attack ended in what is arguably a stalemate.  However, since the losses of the People’s Republic of China nearly doubled that of the Republic of Vietnam, it is fair to argue that the battle was won by  the South Vietnamese Navy.  The South did win the battle, but they would end up losing the islands in the end.  Since they used up all of their resources on the first confrontation, the Republic of Vietnam did not have enough firepower for a second.  For this reason, the Chinese would return on the following day with more naval power, and complete their invasion of the Paracel Islands (Hoang Sa).

Fast forward to 1988, where a group of unarmed Vietnamese soldiers, who put up their guns to become workers on the islands of Truong Sa, were ambushed by several Chinese warships.  With no fighting capabilities, the Vietnamese workers were massacred by the invading army of the PRC.  This attack would be known as the “Massacre on the Spratly Islands,” where a Chinese army ruthlessly slaughters a group of unarmed Vietnamese workers.  To this day, China denies these allegations, even though the proof of their crimes are well documented in books and all over the internet.

They justified the massacre by claiming that they were defending themselves against aggressive Vietnamese soldiers.  How could this be?  Vietnam did not have a warship present, they didn’t even have any artillery to fight back with.  Regardless, China keeps persisting that they were defending themselves, unwilling to acknowledge the damning evidence of their wrongdoings.  It should be interesting to note that the Chinese used the very same excuses to invade Hoang Sa in 1794, so it shouldn’t be that surprising to see them use it again.  It was this attack that made Spratly fall into the hands of the Chinese, along with Hoang Sa.

It was always on China’s agenda to take both of the islands, since they had the idea of controlling all of the Southeast Asia Sea for the longest time.  The big difference between the incidents in 1974 and 1988 is that the event in 1974 was a military clash, while 1988 is just a ruthless massacre of defenseless individuals.  The attack in 1974 was wrong enough, invading a piece of land that is clearly not under China’s jurisdiction.  However, the assault in 1988 was even worse.  This time, the victims didn’t even have anything to protect themselves with!  Both of the invasions were disgraceful, the latter was the most.  To this day, China is still in control of Hoang Sa, while also trying to take full control of Truong Sa.  It is true that the situation is bleak right now, but don’t worry.  In time, when the right leader arrives, we will take it all back.  With interest.

In the Face of Chinese Aggression

Posted in Opinions, Politics, Society with tags , , , , , , , on September 2, 2010 by Ian Pham

When looking at the condition that Vietnam is in today, it is a real understatement to say that the country is in trouble.  I’ve gone over these problems a thousand times, the constant crackdowns, suppression of free speech, stagnation of intellectual and economic development, etc.  These are all issues that we know very well.  However, there is another issue.  One that may seem like a distant possibility, but is actually very real.  As a matter of fact, it has already begun and is growing in severity everyday.  The problem I am talking about is the invasion of Vietnam by the People’s Republic of China.

Beijing has always claimed sovereignty over land that they do not rightfully own.  Even more disturbing than that, they have succeeded on many occasions in taking these lands.  An enormous chunk of China’s current land is not even ethnically Chinese.  Tibet and Xinjiang are primes examples.  The first group are the Tibetan people, who are obviously not ethnically Chinese.  The latter group are the Uighurs, a Turkish people that are fundamentally more Muslim than Chinese.  Regardless, the People’s Republic still claim sovereignty over the lives of these entire populations, crushing their resistance with an iron fist.

China’s territorial claims: this new map, drawn up in Chinese and translated to English, clearly indicates China’s intentions to occupy the waters of all the Southeast Asian countries.

Today they are after the control of the whole Southeast Asia Sea, located south of China, east of Vietnam, west of the Philippines, and north of Indonesia and Malaysia.  They conduct their invasions by military force on the islands of Hoang Sa and Truong Sa, as well as showing aggression on the waters of Southeast Asia.  The Communists even drew out a new map, showing lands that they claim to own.  This map displays the waters of Vietnam, the Philippines, and all the other Southeast Asian countries as part of China.  This, combined with their aggressive behavior in the waters and islands of the Southeast Asia Sea, is a big red light to all the idealists who keep hopelessly holding on to the illusion of the “peaceful” rise of China.

Aggression on the seas is a major issue, but now we must look at the condition back home, in the land known as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.  We all know the crimes committed by the VCP, but now we must put more focus on their relationship with the CCP.  The two claim to be comrades, brothers of the same struggle, fighters of the same cause.  They refer to the sixteen golden words of the Communist bloc, and the goods that these words bring.  These words, every single piece, is shit.  The Chinese Communists claim to be friends with the Vietnamese Communists, but they kill the fishermen of Vietnam in the Southeast Asia Sea.  They claim to be comrades, but they damage Vietnam’s economy with bauxite mining and illegal land-lease agreements, leaving thousands of Vietnamese people homeless and jobless.  They claim to be allies but send in Chinese workers to abuse the business owners of Vietnam and damage their property.

China has already began to invade Vietnam, through many different, yet subtle ways.  If you pay attention to what some of the Chinese media is suggesting in their articles, many which qualify as hate literature, you will recognize the inescapable fact that Vietnam is in serious danger.  For thousands of years, even before the dynasties, China has tried to eradicate the Vietnamese people.  This is not an accusation, it is an observation based on historical facts, evidence and thorough investigation.  In no way do I suggest that those of us who live here in the west, in harmony and trust, would have these thoughts towards one another.  What I do suggest, with great vigor, is that the intentions of the Beijing government is dangerous and malicious.  We live together, all of us, in this diverse world as human beings, with different values, opinions, customs, and cultures.  It is important to understand that I don’t associate the evils of the past generations as a generalization of any certain group of people.

That being said, we still cannot dismiss the dangerous motives of the People’s Republic of China today.  Attacking innocent people on a daily basis, illegally building sites on Vietnamese land, rewriting history, stealing valuable information from the United States, piracy in the Southeast Asia Sea, these are all crimes that cannot simply be ignored.  Vietnam is in big trouble, even worse than before.  As of this moment, China is extremely powerful, ready and able to launch an invasion on Vietnam.  If the Vietnamese Communists don’t smarten up, things can take a turn for the worst.  The dynasties Qin, Han, Tang, Song, Yuan, Ming, and Qing have all tried to take Vietnam in the past, and now the Communists are trying to do the same.

Am I worried?  Sure.  I am not going to lie, the strength of the Chinese today is staggering.  If Vietnam were to go to war with China, the results could be disastrous.  That being said, I still have no doubt that Vietnam will prevail in the face of Chinese aggression.  For thousands of years, from the farmers of Van Lang, to the prisoners of Giao Chau, to the warriors of Dai Viet, all the way to present day, Vietnam has been under fire from China.  Even so, we have always fought back.  Four thousand years ago, the Bach Viet farmers survived the relentless raids of the nomadic tribes.  Two thousand years ago, in the darkest chapter of Vietnamese history, the people of Nam-Viet had miraculously withstood the terror and destruction of the thousand years of Chinese occupation.  One thousand years ago, at the Battle of Bach Dang Bay, a new nation, Dai Viet, was born.

Within that period of time, numerous heroes have emerged to defend the country from the northern expansionists.  Ly Thuong Kiet destroyed the invaders from Song China, chasing them across the Chinese border and making sure they never return.  When the Mongols devastated Europe, overtook China, and launched an attack on Dai Viet, Tran Hung Dao confronted them with neither fear nor remorse.  In the brief period of Ming occupation, Le Loi and Nguyen Trai mobilized the peasants of the Vietnamese nation, expelling the Ming invaders and restoring the independence of our homeland.  Even when the country had traitors, such as the weak and cowardly Le Chieu Tong, who willfully handed the country over to the Manchu Qing, a fearless patriot, Nguyen Hue Quang Trung, rose from the ashes and expelled them from the nation.

Modern times, 1979, Deng Xiaoping sent the Chinese army into Vietnam, claiming that he will “teach us a lesson,” only to be humiliated by the secondary army of the Vietnamese.  The Communists Chinese attacked Vietnam, but suffered enormous casualties, with no progress whatsoever.  Vietnam had just liberated Cambodia from the genocidal massacres committed by Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, only to be attacked by the Chinese Communists in return.  This only proves that the countries have never been truly at peace with one another.  Vietnam won, back then, but that was because of the leadership.  I highly doubt that the three leading losers in the Vietnamese Communist Party today are anywhere near capable of mobilizing the Vietnamese people.

In every victory throughout the course of history, Vietnam was united.  In order for Vietnam to prevail today, the country must, again, be united.  Vietnam can defeat China, history has confirmed it.  If Tran Hung Dao can defeat 500,000 Mongols with only 200,000 soldiers, if Nguyen Hue Quang Trung could defeat the Qing with only 100,000 men, why can’t Vietnam confront China today?  Even with all the technological advancements in the Chinese military today, hardware can only go so far.  In the 60’s, the Americans bombed Hanoi ruthlessly, burning the city to the ground.  Even so, the North was resilient enough to keep on fighting, coming out victorious in the very end.  As I have said before, these soldiers didn’t fight for Communism, they fought for the independence of Vietnam.

Today, if China were to launch a full scale invasion into Vietnam, it is very possible that the Vietnamese people could come out victorious.  However, this can only be accomplished if Vietnam fought as one strong unitary force, undivided by ideology or governmental orientation.  To achieve this, the nation needs a leader who is strong, pure, and untainted by the lure of corruption.  They need to be smart, courageous, and always have the good of the nation first and foremost on his/her mind.  It does not matter if he/she is a Communist, a Liberal, or even an Ecologist, if he/she could unite the people of Vietnam, bring freedom and happiness to everyone, then he/she will have my support.