Vietnamese Structures at the Service of Mobilizing Vietnamese from Abroad State Committee, DiplomaticRepresentations and Pro-government Associations Overseas

This text comes from chapter 9 of my doctoral thesis. It has been modified and shortened.It deals with the renewal of the structures of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in charge of Vietnamese people from abroad (Việt Kiều).
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  Vietnamese Structures at the Service of Mobilizing Vietnamesefrom Abroad  State Committee, DiplomaticRepresentations and Pro-government AssociationsOverseas 1 For thirty years, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV) 2  has successfully attempted toassociate Vietnamese from abroad [ Việt Kiều ] to its war efforts. Beginning in April 1975, the massexodus following the fall of the Republic of Vietnam 3  made the diaspora a hotbed of opposition tothe communist regime. The bridges with Việt Kiều  have been cut, being considered a threat to thesovereignty of the country. It’s only since the 1990s that Vietnam returned to its diaspora and took several steps to normalize its presence there. Nevertheless it’s only since 2004 and the promulgationof Directive NQ / TW 36 of the Politburo 4  that these measures begin to materialize.Through this Directive, the Politburo, the highest authority of the country, asserts withfirmness and determination its willingness to give a new impetus to the policy concerningVietnamese from abroad. The Socialist Republic of Vietnam (SRV) decides to override his secuityfears and to intervene within the diaspora 5 . The promotion of Vietnamese culture is one of the main pillars of this interventionist policy. It is expressed by the creation of various media (TV channels,Radio, newspapers, Website) and the dissemination of a national union speech exalting culturalreferences common to all Vietnamese. The Vietnamese authorities have also developed a legalframework (visa waiver and tolerance of dual nationality) to create a legal link with Việt Kiều . 1 This text comes from chapter 9 of my doctoral thesis. It has been modified and shortened. 2 Created in 1945, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV) becomes the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (SRV)following the reunification of Vietnam in 1976. 3 Created in 1955, following the Geneva Agreements and the division of Vietnam, the Republic of Vietnam is basedsouth of the 17th parallel. Supported by the United States, she is strongly anti-communist and faces the DRV in afratricidal war (1955-1975). Despite his downfall, his former representative continues, even today, to claim theRepublic of Vietnam. Its symbols are still very present in communities of political exiles, especially in the UnitedStates. 4 Đảng Cộng Sản Việt Nam, « Nghị quyết số 36/NQ-TW ngày 26/03/2004 của bộ chính trị về công tác đối với ngườiViệt Nam ở nước ngoài »[Resolution No 36/NQ-TW, March 26, 2004, by the Politburo, on the Vietnamese abroadAffairs]. 5 In 2005, the Vietnamese authorities estimated the number of Vietnamese living abroad at around 3 million. Consultthe map in Appendix for more details.  The new transnational perspectives of the SRV have also led to in depth reform of its stateapparatus. It has granted new functions to the Committees of Vietnamese from abroad as well as toits diplomatic representations abroad. These structures helped to support the creation of variousassociations (inside and outside the country) giving rise to commercial, family and culturalnetworks linking Vietnam to its diaspora. The SRV thus intends to associate the Việt Kiều throughits economic development and integration into globalization . In addition, these structures give theSVR the opportunity to surveil, guide and control Việt Kiều  in their economic and scientificactivities.This paper will first discuss the changes that have taken place in the State Committee of Vietnamese Abroad. Led from the highest levels of the Communist Party, this structure has gainedmore and more authority and responsibilities since 1994. It has recently become the cornerstone inthe coordination and implementation of policies towards the Vietnamese abroad. As a result, thisCommittee works closely with Vietnamese embassies and consulates. Second, it will analyze therole of diplomatic representations in the mobilization of Việt Kiều.  It was under their impetus that pro-government associations managed to establish themselves in several Vietnamese communitiesoverseas. The third and final part will present the different activities of these associations whosemain purpose is to create a cultural link between the Việt Kiều  and their country of srcin.  A. From the Central Committee of Việt Kiều  to the State Committee of Vietnamese Abroad In November 1959, following Prime Minister Phạm Văn Đồng's Order 416-TTG, the CentralCommittee of the Việt Kiều (CCVK) [Ban Việt Kiều Trung Ương] takes its place within the stateapparatus of Vietnam 6 . Its primary mission is to ensure the repatriation of the Việt Kiều  of Thailandand the French Pacific islands (New Caledonia and Vanuatu), ensuring their proper integration 7 .Subsequently, the CCVK’s role boils down to encouraging Vietnamese abroad to support theVietnamese Democratic Republic's war effort through political agitation and the sending of money.After the return of peace in 1975, the Committee is supposed to create favorable conditions for theVietnamese from abroad to participate in the reconstruction of the country. Nevertheless, theideological and security reluctance towards political exiles prevents the achievement of this goal.Closely controlled by the Communist Party, the CCVK can not take any initiative and suffers frominertia.It was only in 1994, after the enactment of Government Decree 74-CP 8 , that the Committee began to reform. It is placed under the supervision of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the deputyminister automatically occupies his presidency. Nevertheless, he still has no power and has troublefinding his place in the in the institutions of the RSV. In fact, it is only in 2004 that real changes aretaking place. For example, the Political Bureau's Directive No. 36-NQ / TW states that the CentralCommittee of the Việt Kiều  must play a greater role in mobilizing Vietnamese from abroad. It isstated that this Committee must establish himself as the prime mediator for policies towardsVietnamese from abroad. As a result, it is responsible for researching Vietnamese communities 6 « Bốn mươi năm từ Ban Việt kiều trung ương đến Ủy ban về người Việt Nam ở nước ngòai  »  [Forty years of theCentral Committee of the Việt kiều to the Committee of Vietnamese Abroad], T.C    Quê Hương  , december 1999, p.21-2 2. 7 French colonization spawned the spontaneous departure of 40,000 Vietnamese in Thailand. In addition, the colonialauthorities organized the migration of about 7,000 workers in its Pacific islands. Following the independence ofVietnam (1945), this exiled population wished to return to their country of srcin. Nevertheless, these rapatrimentsonly took place in the early 1960s. 8  Nghị Định của chính phủ số 74-CP ngày 30/7/1994 về nhiệm vụ, quyền hạn và tổ chức bộ máy của Ủy ban vềngười Việt Nam ở nước ngoài   [Government Decree No. 74-CP dated 30/7/1994 on the Mission, Power andOrganization of the Committee of Vietnamese Residents Abroad].  overseas and proposing bills with a view to mobilizing Việt Kiều . The committee must also organizevarious cultural events aimed at associate them with the Vietnamese nation. It is also in charge of the publication of the magazine The Native Country [ Tập Chí Quê Hươn g] and the Support Fundfor the Mobilization of Vietnamese Abroad.In 2008, the central role of the Committee is further affirmed and it adopts the name "StateCommittee of Vietnamese Abroad 9 " [ Ủy Ban Nhà Nước Người Việt Nam ở Nước Ngòai ]. It    becomesthe councilor of the Party and the State. It is then encouraged to strengthen the action of the four departments that comprise it: Department of Coordination, Department of Information and Culture,Department of Economic Relations and Department of Science and Technology. The actionsimplemented by the Committee are more numerous and more concrete. For example, it organizesannual summer camps in Vietnam [ Trại Hè Việt Nam ] for the second and third generations of Vietnamese from abroad. These summer camps aim to make Vietnamese history, language andculture better known to young Việt Kiều  who were born and raised abroad. They thus aspire tosolidarize them to the Vietnamese nation and its interests. The Committee also organizes meetingswith the elites of the Vietnamese community to create economic and scientific networks involved inthe development of Vietnam. Finally, it also has a diplomatic role. On certain occasions, its members meet the authorities of thecities or regions where many Việt Kiều  live 10 . To do this, it cooperates with embassies andconsulates that are increasingly involved in the mobilization of Vietnamese from abroad. 9   See the photos of this Committee in Appendix. 10 See about it : Mai Chi, « Đoàn đại biểu nghị viện bang California thăm và làm việc với Ủy ban về người Việt Namở nước ngoài » [State of California Parliamentary Delegation Visits and Cooperates with Committee of VietnameseAbroad], T.C Quê Hường,  november 2005, p.24.  B. The Vietnamese diplomatic representations After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the normalization of Vietnam's internationalrelations was accompanied by the opening of several Vietnamese diplomatic representations aroundthe world. The inauguration of the Vietnamese Embassy in Norway, in June 2010, brought their number to 89. ZoneNumber of diplomatic representations (2010) 11 Asia-Pacific 35 Europe 27 America 12 Africa 8 Middle-East 7 Total89 The diplomatic representations of the RSVN are responsible for fulfilling various administrativetasks related to the new legislative measures (visa exemption and tolerance of dual nationality)concerning Vietnamese from abroad. In addition to their official role, they have informal powers toidentify and control political opponents of communities. It is also very likely that espionage andsabotage operations will be carried out within anti-communist movements. At least that is whatsome articles 12  of activists opposed to the Vietnamese government suggest.In the last twenty years, embassies and consulates have been assigned an increasingly precisemission to Vietnamese citizens from abroad and people of Vietnamese srcin. A turning point camein 2004, following the promulgation of Directive No 36-NQ/TW of the Politburo. The latter assignsVietnamese diplomats seconded abroad to "take action with Vietnamese abroad as a political 11 Official website of the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs ( Accessed, march 2012). 12 See especially Nguyễn Trọng Việt, "Attempt to Take Control of the Media by Hanoi to Divide the VietnameseOverseas Community," Vietnam Democracy , February 2000, on the Alliance Vietnam Freedom website (http://www.lmvntd. org / avl /, accessed March 20, 2010].
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