Vietnam Treads China’s Path
Image Credit: World Economic Forum

Vietnam Treads China’s Path


Campaigners in China aren’t the only ones feeling the heat from an overbearing communist regime. While global attention has been focused on the detention of Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei, dissidents in Vietnam have also been receiving heavy sentences for what the government terms ‘anti-state’ activities.

Last month, for example, saw an appeal by one of the most senior officials ever to be tried for dissent. Former Communist Party official Vi Duc Hoi, 54, was given a five-year jail sentence, with an additional three of house arrest. The sentence was, admittedly, a significant reduction compared with the eight years jail time and five years house arrest originally handed down. Still, Human Rights Watch wasn’t alone in describing the sentence as ‘very severe.’

And Hoi certainly isn’t alone.

Lawyer Cu Huy Ha Vu was sentenced to seven years jail and three years house arrest late last month, having been detained after allegedly being discovered in a hotel with a woman who wasn’t his wife. His laptop was seized, his house was searched and he was charged with anti-state activities.

The same month, Bui Chat, founder of Giay Vun Publishing, was also arrested after he returned from Buenos Aires where he travelled to collect the Freedom to Publish award from the International Publishers Association. He was later released, but is said to be facing ongoing surveillance. 

Last year, a blogger was arrested after she posted an entry describing a high-ranking official’s son as a womanizer. She was finally released last month, with authorities quoted in the local press saying she’d been sufficiently ‘cautioned.’

It’s often said that in all things security, Vietnam treads a similar path to China. Certainly, Beijing is in the midst of what many see as the most intense crackdown in years on dissidents over fears that the so-called Arab Spring could reach Asia’s shores. And for those looking for interesting parallels, Cu Huy Ha Vu’s case offers a particularly striking one.  

Cu Huy Ha Vu comes from first-rate communist stock—the son of a famed poet who was a close confidant of Ho Chi Minh.  This has an eerie parallel with China’s Ai—arrested in Beijing en route to Hong Kong—who himself is the son of a celebrated poet and who was previously thought by many to be untouchable.

Yet it would be wrong to try too hard to tie together events in Vietnam and China. For one, the intense ‘wider’ crackdown in Vietnam can actually be traced back to 2007.

‘It started after Hanoi got what it wanted—WTO accession—and has continued since,’ says Duy Hoang, spokesman for democracy organization Viet Tan, which is itself banned in Vietnam. ‘And the crackdown wasn’t a response to the 11th Party Congress, but to the regime’s growing nervousness over the growing democracy movement and blogosphere.’

Ngoa Long
May 29, 2011 at 02:48

Vietnam should abondon the China’s path as soon as possible because this path would surely bring her to self-destruct soon! Human rights are the universal rights for all peoples in this earthly world. Everybody has their rights to live as decent pepole, as human beings not as animals in the large cage! All of autocratic regimes especially communist ones(China, etc,) have never respected and honored human rights to live as decent people with all its sense! Vietnam should detache herself from communist China’s orbit, its sphere of influence as fast as possible to proctect her sovereignty and territorial integrity!Expedite her political and economic reforms in transitioning to a liberal democracy! In short, only democracy and liberty can save the Vietnamese people from the imminent nothern invasion menace !

Ella Truong
May 26, 2011 at 21:52

Dear Le,
Oh yeah, is making a comment here paid? Tell me where to claim then. =)). Is it paid too for taking a fake name after a leader of the communist regime?

Kidding. The point I wanted to make in my own life experience is that change should be made in Vietnam for the well-being of the people. But opportunists like Cu Vu must not in the lead if a change is to be successful. When I phoned my mom back home, she said the neighborhood was just happy that the arrogant, bully guy now in jail. They just don’t care about his political agenda.

The further point I wished to make is that if there are supports for democracy in Vietnam from abroad (both people and governments), they should not align themselves with opportunists who are unpopular in their own locality. Identify the former themselves with the latter (like what EU, US have been doing with the case of Cu Vu) just make a ridiculous sense to the local population, who should and must own the democratization process.

TT Nguyen
May 26, 2011 at 13:03

@Observer. Thanks for pointing that out (history). After the collapse of the USSR and the East Block, China has bullied the VN Communist Party in broad daylight. They must keep their heads down for their own survival. And the Vietnamese people is stuck with it.

NTD and associates are cowards, but the Vietnamese people is NOT. History has proven over and over again …

Hopefully you come back to your senses and respect other countries.

May 26, 2011 at 08:32

It should say “making fun of” in my previous post.

May 26, 2011 at 08:31

@ Chan – I was making of your commrade Frank about his stupid ignorant statement. You, him, and your elks are very similar in lack of history lessons.

Ly Tran Le Nguyen
May 25, 2011 at 23:54

Everybody knows about China and its past behavoir toward smaller nations, except for you…

Le Kha Phieu
May 25, 2011 at 23:53

And… how much did the party pay you for writing this comment?

According to your statement, then Mr. Vu is not that dangerous. Why then the party is so scared of his type? You are trying to divert the main issue which is the baseless sentencing of a citizen for willingly to speak against the party’s own agenda. The sentencing in the Kangaroo court is a shame and humiliation for all progressive thinking Vietnamese.

Ella Truong
May 24, 2011 at 20:19

I used to be in Cu Huy Ha Vu neighborhood for a couple of years, back to the time I was in Hanoi. For me, he may have won the award “World Worst Neighbor” if there is any. Cu encroached the common land nearby and also neighbor’s land and built ‘establishment’ on this. When the local authority came to deal with the case, he politicized it, making a fuzz over it on his blog. He is a PhD in Laws but has never got the certificate to run legal business in the country (unlike another well-known and also imprisoned lawyer dissident, Le Cong Dinh). Still, he opens a legal consulting office in his own house. It is like a scam for people who come this office. So the biggest item of ‘rule of law’ in his agenda is not well-pursuit by him in real life.
The second item in his political agenda, for which he has been sentenced for, is to challenge the legitimacy of the communist rule, bringing new narrative to the country’s history, calling for a regime change. Well, he did better with this, though. In familial terms, at least. He sued his own famous father and other relatives to win the mansion (which once co-owned by his father and his uncle, another famous figure) from where he would make encroachment latter on.

John Chan
May 23, 2011 at 06:57

@Observer, officially China is a socialist state run by a monopoly political party, which is a communist party. Unfortunately it is losing ground to the capitalism, it becomes an authoritarian capitalism country nowadays. Social justice and equality are giving way to the capitalist greed, which is eroding society’s moral fibre.

You should know China more before dishing out your anti-China lingo.

Lucky Bamboo
May 22, 2011 at 22:02

It’s called communism with ‘chinese flavour’ or ‘quality’ cummunism. It’s designed to absort shock, remember Tiananmen Square? 1.3 billlions people can’t be wrong.

Le Kha Phieu
May 22, 2011 at 14:07

Minh you: More than half of those people are killed by the North Vietnamese and their comrades in the South. Not to mention is the hundreds of thousands of South Vietnamese government and military personnel who died in the so-called “re-education camps”, and many more perished at sea in what was the biggest sea exodus in Vietnamese history.

May 22, 2011 at 01:48

The only 2 truly communist countries are N. Korea and Cuba. Both have been sniffing dust.

VietNam and China are communist ? I suggest you read books about Maxism or something. You have stock markets and you call yourself communist ? Only the political system is ! (monopoly).

NTD, his wallet is thick, full of USD. All his children were educated in western countries, one of them even is a green card holder. Why didn’t he send them to China or Cuba to study then ? I don’t blame him for that because we’re human being. But the issue here is you enjoy it so much but you deny the very same thing to other people.

The founder of the communism was Russia, they turned around since they realized it’s just hallucination. So did the East Block. The question is why all 3 Asian countries remain intact ?

May 21, 2011 at 12:21

And China is not a communist country? LOL. Pathetic.

May 21, 2011 at 09:35

What is interesting is that the West and India are strengthening their relations with Vietnam at the same time the West is criticizing China. This duality might work in Cold War realism but will it work today? If it does, India will be better off than the US is maintaining support for its Vietnamese security relationship.

Le Tuan Anh
May 21, 2011 at 01:49

13 millions tons of bomb by the US, 3 millions people killed and 2 millions other affected by Agent Orange isn’t enough? I am tired hearing those human rights stuff in Washington or elsewhere.

Anh it’s stupid to call Vietnam a communist state, and more stupid to identify it with China.

I wonder what it takes to make those human rights guys honest. They must blame somebody to collect money.

May 20, 2011 at 13:50

As long as Vietnam is a communist state, its future is doomed.

L Kenneth Hortin
May 20, 2011 at 13:21

Would the Vietnamese prefer to be a colonised people, with the French as their masters?

Rodger Nelson
May 20, 2011 at 04:24

When I read article such as this one, I am not sure whether I want to cry (out of anger) or laugh ( out of pity). What do the human rights groups expect of a communist goverment? Back in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s dear leader Ho had these kind of people killed while he consolidated his control of the resistance to the French. Thereafter he, just like Mao, became the Father of his country fighting for the “rights” of his people. I really can’t feel sorry for these dissenters. They knew what kind ot government they helped to put in control and support. They knew how this kind of government responds to rebellion and criticism.

Ly Tran Le Nguyen
May 19, 2011 at 23:40

The communists would stop at nothing, including destroying their own brethens, so to maintain the tight grip and control over the course of the nation. Hard to believe in this day and age, there are still many die-hards, who are still dreaming of the resurrection of the Soviet Union.

In Vietnam, the welfare of the communist party is utmost important and the government officials are the lackeys. They are always willing to do what’s best for the party, regarding whether their decisions could harm the rest of the country for several generations.

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