Vietnam’s China Backlash?
Image Credit: Petr & Bara Ruzicka

Vietnam’s China Backlash?


Many foreigners in Vietnam worried about the new, stricter laws governing work permits and visas don’t realize it’s not about them—it’s about the Chinese. That said, the fact that only some will end up collateral damage in what analysts see as a push against migrant workers isn’t likely to be very much comfort.

Decree 47 came into effect on July 1, and the reworked law gives the authorities here the power to deport foreigners who have been living in Vietnam for over three months without a valid work permit. Previously, the law only had provisions for granting permits. But applicants must now, among other things, demonstrate they are qualified to hold positions that locals cannot. This obviously excludes migrant labourers.

Many foreigners living in Vietnam don’t have work permits—the paperwork is complicated, original copies of degree certificates must be notarised in the applicant’s home country and again in Vietnam, and those who have been living in one location in Vietnam for longer than six months can have a police check carried out by local police. In addition, many Vietnamese employers simply aren’t willing to go to the considerable effort needed to issue foreign staff with permits, despite fines having increased ten-fold to 15 to 20 million VND.

And previously no permit was no problem. Vietnam has often been lax in enforcing its rules, a point underscored by an article in a local newspaper last year that quoted Minister for Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan as saying, ‘The rules are quite strict, but we don’t implement them.’ (MoLISA is the government body overseeing the issue).

Previously, many expats have gotten by on the B3, a six-month multiple entry visa easily renewed by any travel agency. But last year, the visa laws were changed without warning, making only three-month extensions available within Vietnam (and they’ve also become significantly more expensive, with some people paying more than US$200 for extensions).

‘The government didn’t inform us why the law changed,’ says Trinh Tien Trung, a former travel executive. ‘Now you have to get out of the country then come back and get a visa on arrival.’ Currently, some travel agencies in other countries and embassies can grant six month visas, but the situation changes regularly.

Newspapers haven’t been unsympathetic to the problems some expats are facing. Thanh Nien News, based in Ho Chi Minh City, noted that thanks to the confusing mass of red tape, ‘Vietnam will lose good people.’

American Jay Ellis runs one of Hanoi’s longest-running bars, the R and R Tavern. Ellis has been in Vietnam since 1993, two years before the US embargo was lifted, and says that in his experience, attitudes to most foreigners have always been positive.

Joanne Bee
August 8, 2012 at 22:51

This is not what I see in terms of sweatshops- there are plenty of Chinese who are willing to assert themselves. Vietnamese work bloody hard- watch any construction site. 

September 27, 2010 at 01:20

Michael (Is that really your name) we do know why the Chinese workers were ordered to work in Vietnam, and elsewhere, without complaining. Refusal equals imprisonment. Discuss it with their children who are left behind in China and hardly know who their fathers are.

August 16, 2010 at 11:37

Ksou is just stating what is true. It is well documented that China is known for not hiring among local workers in the country they do business. Also, Chinese companies bring unskilled workers that are violent. Now as far as Chinese not complaining, what the recent strikes at Foxconn? Did Chinese stage protest for higher wages? Is that not considering complaining? Before you fire back, please provide evidence for your claims.
Here is one source for the :
1)Chinese people complaining about their working conditions-Foxconn:
2)Chinese companies not hiring local citizens:

Now ar

ralph schwer
August 11, 2010 at 18:29

Three reasons appear to have prompted the Vietnamese government’s crack down on visas and working in Vietnam. Firstly, the large number of Chinese workers, as covered in this article. Secondly, the growing numbers of Africans, some of who are overstayed and some of whom are using local women to carry drugs for them. Several Vietnamese women have already been charged, both here and in China, for this offence. One case is reported at length in Pháp Luật Cuốc Sống, No.22, August 2010. Thirdly, most foreigners working in Vietnam are not paying income tax and the government wants to ensure they do, at least as a reason for having a crackdown on ALL foreigners living long term in Vietnam, whether they work or not.

I have no problem getting a visa to live in Vietnam as my wife is Vietnamese and so I am here visiting my family. Other retired friends, who have lived in VN for some years and who are not married, now have to go to Cambodia every six months and get a new visa, something they did not have to do before.

July 25, 2010 at 14:58

Or maybe it’s because the Chinese are super hardworking willing to labour long hours and brave any weather condition without complaining!

July 9, 2010 at 09:11

“In recent years, China has become known for importing its own workers over hiring locally, causing resentment among those who had expected an uptick in job opportunities for locals.”
China does that with Africa too. Maybe its just a culture thing, have your workers speak the same language…

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