( Trích từ: Orange County Register)
A sign in the median on Brookhurst Street between Hazard and Westminster Avenues in Garden Grove welcomes visitors to the Little Saigon Vietnamese business district. (Register file photo)
By LILLY NGUYEN | email@example.com |
PUBLISHED: June 15, 2018 at 3:47 pm | UPDATED: June 15, 2018 at 6:03 pm
Vietnamese American activists in Little Saigon are watching closely as government officials in Vietnam plan new special economic zones, which opponents fear would “sell the country” to Chinese investors – who already account for almost 30 percent of exports from the Southeast Asian country.
Demonstrations were held throughout Little Saigon on Sunday, June 10, timed to coincide with protests in Vietnam opposing the Vietnamese National Assembly plan.
Phan Kỳ Nhơn, of Riverside, chairman of the Liên Ủy Ban Chống Cộng Sản và Tay Sai (“Joint Committee Against Communists and Their Allies”), who organized the Little Saigon protest, said it was one of the largest gatherings of the Vietnamese American community he has seen.
In Vietnam, thousands more spoke out against the draft law that could allow foreign investors to lease land for up to 99 years. They are also opposing a proposed cybersecurity law that would have service providers remove content at the discretion of the Ministry of Information and Communications.
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“Vietnam’s in the same position with other emerging economies,” said Consul Minh Nguyễn of the Vietnamese Consulate in San Francisco. “We have to find new ways on how to push the economy going forward in a sustainable way, and a fast way, to meet the demands of the people and meet the goals set by the government.”
William Nguyễn, an American graduate student from Los Angeles who was studying abroad in neighboring Singapore, was among the 102 protesters arrested by Vietnamese officials during protests scattered throughout in Ho Chi Minh City on June 9. Congressmen Lou Correa, Alan Lowenthal and Jimmy Gomez have called for his release, referencing the recent release of Nguyễn Văn Đài, a Vietnamese human rights activist who had been arrested in 2015 under charges of inciting propaganda against the state.
In a tweet, William Nguyễn wrote, “I can’t stress how enormous of an achievement this is for the #Vietnamese people. The communist government is allowing people to assemble peacefully and the people are exercising their civic duty to protest injustice.” He is reported to be in “good spirits” and recovering from physical injuries he received during his arrest, said a press release from Correa’s office.
Special economic zones often come with less regulation and are monitored differently than the rest of the country. The zones proposed by the National Assembly will be established in Vân Đồn, in northern Vietnam; the centrally located North Vân Phong; and Phú Quốc, in the south.
Deputy Prime Minister Trương Hòa Bình said in a 2017 press release the policies will reflect current laws, but citizens remain skeptical on the potential for Chinese foreign investments and how the leases may open the country to Chinese recolonization.
“This is a move that is three generations in the making,” Phan said in Vietnamese. “They will let the Chinese in and they will take these three areas, then they will take more and more until the Vietnamese are the minority and we lose Vietnam forever.”
The new economic zones are proposed along the coast, but Vân Đồn is near the country’s shared border with China. The Vietnamese government plans to commit $10 billion to $15 billion to developing the Vân Đồn special economic zone, which activists have said could be an early sign of preferential treatment for Chinese investors.
Anti-Chinese sentiments are strong in the Vietnamese community, in part because of their long, tumultuous history with China. In a Pew Research Center poll taken last year, 88 percent of Vietnamese nationals saw China “unfavorably.” The Vietnamese and Chinese had a border war in 1979 and, more recently, were in conflict over the 2016 contamination of Vietnam’s coast by the Taiwanese company Formosa Plastics, which harmed the country’s fishing industry.
“Some of the Vietnamese and the Vietnamese Americans think that the Chinese will take. They’re afraid of that. They’re aware of the ill will of some of the Chinese. That’s good. But in designing the policy of a country, if you try to make someone your enemy? They are your enemy,” said Consul Nguyễn. “We must be open and must be fair to everyone and treat everyone like our potential friends, not as our potential enemies.”
Consul Nguyễn said he wants to assure activists their arguments do not fall on deaf ears, adding that activists and the parliament share a singular goal – to protect and help their country grow.
The Joint Committee Against Communists and Their Allies is planning demonstrations twice weekly in Orange County in protest of the special economic zones, with the next on Sunday. Phan said the organization will do “whatever necessary” to show solidarity with the Vietnamese still in the country.
“Even though we are here, we hold our hearts in Vietnam,” Phan said.
He referenced a statue on Bolsa Avenue of Trần Hưng Đạo, an imperial prince and military commander of the Trần dynasty: “We put this statue here to remind people about our country, so that people won’t forget. We struggle, but we will continue anyways.”
The parliament is expected to consider the special economic zones during its next session later this year.