World View: China Evacuates 3,000 Citizens from Vietnam, Fearing More Violence

World View: China Evacuates 3,000 Citizens from Vietnam, Fearing More Violence

This morning’s key headlines from

  • China evacuates 3,000 citizens from Vietnam, fearing more violence
  • Taiwanese businesses bear the brunt of Vietnam’s riots
  • Generational History of Vietnam

China evacuates 3,000 citizens from Vietnam, fearing more violence

Taiwan-owned furniture factory torched last week by rioters (AFP)
Taiwan-owned furniture factory torched last week by rioters (AFP)

China has evacuated more than 3,000 Chinese nations from Vietnam as ofSaturday afternoon. The evacuations were by chartered plane andships, according to Chinese media. The evacuations follow a weekwhere thousands of anti-Chinese protesters in Vietnam, furious overChina’s installation of an oil rig in waters in the South China Seahistorically claimed by Vietnam, turned violent and torched a numberof factories in a southern Vietnam industrial park, killing two andinjuring hundreds. Following that, a mob of a thousand Vietnameseprotesters stormed a Taiwanese steel mill in Vietnam, hunted downChinese workers, killing one, and torched the complex.

China is demanding that Vietnam take tougher measures to punishrioters. According to a Chinese official, “We are stronglydissatisfied by the Vietnamese side failure to respond effectively tocurb an escalation.”

Vietnamese officials normally don’t permit anti-Chinesedemonstrations, for fear of antagonizing the Chinese. It’s believedthat last week’s demonstrations were approved by the government, toshow displeasure at China’s actions in the South China Sea. Chineseofficials are now saying that “illegal acts” would be stopped, as theycould damage national stability. However, anti-Chinese dissidentgroups have urged new demonstrations on Sunday. Xinhua andBBC

Taiwanese businesses bear the brunt of Vietnam’s riots

More than 100 Taiwanese companies operating in Vietnam wereaffected by last week’s riots. At least 11 buildings were seton fire. Hundreds of family members of Taiwanese employees havebeen evacuated, while about 70 Taiwanese staffers remain inVietnam to oversee the situation.

Many Vietnamese workers in Taiwan are becoming concerned that theanti-China riots in Vietnam are going to affect them. One Vietnameseworker in Taiwan said that she feels sorry for the Taiwanese who havesuffered losses in Vietnam. “I feel terrible and very sad becauseTaiwanese people are all very friendly and nice.” There are currentlyover 489,000 foreign workers in Taiwan, 25.6% of whom are fromVietnam, the second-largest source of migrant workers in Taiwan.

The actions by China to install an oil rig in waters that are inVietnam’s exclusive economic zone is what triggered last week’s riots,but the anti-Chinese feelings in Vietnam go far deeper than that.According to one analyst:

“Riots can easily start over minor issues that thenget conflated with others. These are factory workers, notpolitical science or history scholars. They have ‘Chinese’overseers, they feel that these people are not nice to them andnow they – or someone like them – is invading thecountry.”

In other words, the riots may have been triggered by bad workingconditions in Chinese businesses as well as bad working conditions inVietnamese businesses. This would be an embarrassment to theVietnamese government. Focus Taiwan andFocus Taiwan and BBC

Generational History of Vietnam

I posted this generational history of Vietnam several years ago, andwith Vietnam in the news again, now would be a good time to look at itagain.

Vietnam’s last generational crisis war was the civil war of the 1960sand 1970s. The war was not fought against the Americans, though theAmericans were there, supporting the South Vietnamese. It was foughtbetween the North and the South, and the Americans were irrelevant.

In fact, generational crisis wars between North and South Vietnam haveoccurred regularly, every 70-90 years, since North and South Vietnamhave had different ethnic origins. North Vietnam (Vietnamese Kingdom)was originally populated by ethnic Chinese, while South Vietnam(Champa Kingdom) was populated by Polynesian settlers from Indonesiaand Malaysia. These ethnic differences resulted in one crisis warafter another over the centuries, whether the Americans were there ornot.

Generational crisis wars in 1471 and 1545 finally ended the ChampaKingdom in the south, and also drove out the Chinese Army from thenorth. However, the country remained partitioned until the Tay-Sonrebellion, 1771-1790, the most celebrated military event in Vietnamesehistory. In its explosive climax in 1789, the Vietnamese troopsrepelled a much larger Chinese army in a brilliant battle that unitedthe country for the first time.

The generational awakening era that followed the Tay-Son rebellionchanged the country enormously. The 1800s were the high point ofliterary culture in Vietnamese history, and, thanks to the French,Christianity bloomed, with hundreds of thousands of Catholicconversions from Confucianism and Buddhism. That lasted until thenext crisis war, the French conquest of Indochina in 1865-1885.

Under the French, the Catholic Church flourished, opening missions, schools and hospitalsall over the country.

Vietnam’s next Awakening era featured riots and demonstrationsdirected at the French colonialists, and the rise of Ho Chi Minh. Hotook part in the founding of the French Communist Party in 1920, andformed the Revolutionary Youth League in Vietnam in 1925. Ho lednumerous anti-colonial uprisings in the following decades, and duringWW II, Ho formed the Viet Minh political / relief organization, forpeople starving to death thanks to confiscation of goods by theoccupying Japanese.

After WW II, Ho Chi Minh led the effort to drive the French fromVietnam, and succeeded with human wave assaults against a largeFrench encampment at Dien Bien Phu in 1954.

With the French gone, Vietnam was once again partitioned into Northand South. Ho controlled the North, with support from the SovietUnion and China, and over half a million Catholics migrated from theNorth to the South. America feared that South Vietnam would also fallunder Communist control.

This was the time when America had fought two world wars, and wasdesperately fearful of a third one on the horizon, this time with theCommunists. It was considered essential to stop Communism before itcould become too threatening, and so America endeavored to stopCommunism from spreading from North to South Vietnam. America beganproviding advisors in the 1950s, growing to full-scale armedintervention in the 1960s. The North-South crisis civil war finallyended in 1974, with Hanoi’s victory, followed by Hanoi’s reign ofterror.

Today, Vietnam is well into one more generational awakening era. WhenPresident Bush visited Vietnam in 2006, the young people of Saigon(they don’t like to call it Ho Chi Minh city) lined the streets andcheered wildy, expressing admiration for America, and also hostilitytowards their Hanoi masters.

Today, even Hanoi wants to be friends with America, to counter threatsfrom China in the South China Sea.

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, China, Vietnam, South China Sea,Taiwan, Vietnamese Kingdom, Champa Kingdom, Tay-Son rebellion
Permanent web link to this article
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail