News & Articles

Việt Nam Notes – Compiled by Chuck Searcy (Sunday, 12 July 2020)

News, opinions, essays, and criticisms from Viet Nam and elsewhere.

Preparations continue for Vietnamese workers to return home

With the Coronavirus situation in some countries worsening, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and the National Steering Committee on COVID-19 continue to take steps to protect Vietnamese citizens at home, and to arrange for Vietnamese still in other countries to return home safely.  Nearly 14,000 Vietnamese have returned home on more than 55 flights.  Border protections have been tightened.  The PM stated his determination not to permit new infections in the community, and emphasized that border management and isolation are “not subjective” – meaning that there is no leeway, there is no other option than enforcing tight controls.  Acting Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long said, “The risk of epidemic infiltration from abroad into Vietnam is still high, especially the situation of border crossing and illegal entry.”  [MORE]

Virus-free U.K. pilot, symbol of Vietnam’s pandemic success, departed for home Saturday night

Vietnam’s most seriously ill COVID-19 patient, a British pilot who at one point seemed close to death, left the hospital on Saturday on his way home after a dramatic recovery that attracted national attention.  The case of Stephen Cameron, a pilot for national carrier Vietnam Airlines, became a sensation in Vietnam where a combination of targeted testing and an aggressive quarantine program has kept its coronavirus tally to an impressively low 370 cases, and zero deaths.  “The odds say that I shouldn’t be here, so I can only thank everybody here for what they’ve done,” Cameron said, leaving the hospital in a wheelchair and flanked by doctors holding flowers.  Last night at 23:00, his flight took off from Noi Bai international airport bound for England. After 115 days of treatment at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Ho Chi Minh City and Cho Ray Hospital, Cameron was healthy enough to return to his homeland on the same type of plane he piloted for Vietnam Airlines. [MORE, WITH PHOTOS]

The invincible country

Viet Nam at first was not acknowledged for the amazing success a low-middle income country, with a less advanced health system than other countries in the region, managed to achieve against the Coronavirus.  However, the global news services have started to catch up and now they point to Viet Nam’s very impressive management of the crisis.  If you have had enough of the laudatory analyses, you can skip this item.  But for those who want more detail about Viet Nam’s handling of the pandemic, avoiding even a single coronavirus-related death despite the long border with China and millions of Chinese visitors each year, this summary tells the story.  [MORE]

Viet Nam media commemorate 25-year anniversary of normalized diplomatic relations between Viet Nam and U.S.

A number of Vietnamese publications have published articles and photographs celebrating 25 years of normalized relations between Viet Nam and the U.S., a quarter century in which the two countries have developed a strong partnership based on new understanding, mutual respect, and cooperation in many fields of endeavor.

The first article, from VNExpress, focuses on Project RENEW’s work in Quang Tri Province, dealing with the legacies of war including explosive ordnance (EO) and Agent Orange.  I have been involved with Project RENEW since its inception in 2001 as a partnership between the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF) and the provincial government in Quang Tri Province.  VVMF withdrew in 2011 and now our main partner is Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA), one of the finest mine action organizations in the world.  [ARTICLE] [PHOTOS]

Vietnam, U.S. overcome differences for mutual benefit

An article in VietnamNet Global notes that Viet Nam and the U.S. have experienced ups and downs but the two countries have overcome a tumultuous past and moved towards a future of cooperation for the sake of both countries.  The relationship has evolved into a comprehensive partnership covering a wide range of spheres, from politics-diplomacy to economy, education, science-technology, and national defence and security.  Vietnamese and U.S. leaders have exchanged visits and are committed to respecting each other’s independence, national sovereignty and integrity, and political institutions. [ARTICLE AND PHOTOS]

Looking back on 25 years of Vietnam-U.S. relations and the key role of United States Senators

The Vietnamese have always appreciated the important role of key U.S. Senators in supporting Pres. Bill Clinton’s decision to normalize diplomatic relations, and in guiding the relationship in the tentative early years of cooperation, seeking common ground and endeavors that would benefit both countries.  This Việt Nam News article by Nguyen Tuong Van, Secretary-General of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA), focuses on the contributions of Sen. John Kerry and Sen. John McCain in a long process by both sides to overcome major obstacles that resulted from years of warfare.

The article features is an old photograph of John McCain with the Vietnamese man who rescued the badly injured McCain from drowning in the Trúc Bạch Lake in 1967, when McCain’s A-4E Skyhawk was shot down over Ha Noi.   Mr. Ổn was my neighbor in 1995.  He approached me and another veteran and asked us to deliver a letter to John McCain, in which Mr. Ôn expressed his hope that McCain would one day be President of the U.S.  I delivered the letter to McCain when I was in Washington later than year, and McCain said he’d like to meet the old man next time he was in Ha Noi.  It happened in 1996 at the reunion shown in the photograph, with me grinning in the background.  [ARTICLE AND PHOTO]

Project RENEW, NPA gather all 250 staff members together to commemorate 25 years of U.S.-VN bilateral relations

This week Quang Tri Province celebrated 25 years of the peaceful and productive partnership between the U.S. and Viet Nam, inaugurated in July 1995 when Pres. Bill Clinton normalized relations between the two countries.  The event brought together RENEW/NPA management and staff, provincial government and military officials and veterans, U.S. Embassy officials, and guests.  Speaking on behalf of the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi, Defense Attaché Col. Thomas Stevenson praised the leadership of Quang Tri Province in addressing war legacies and he recognized demining staff who have devoted their lives to the critically important, often dangerous work of UXO clearance. Col. Stevenson noted the fact that during the past three years, there has not been a single UXO accident in Quang Tri Province. “Because these achievements are the fruit of your de-mining work and the tangible benefit of the reconciliation process,” said Col. Stevenson, “Quang Tri will also play a critical role in Vietnam’s progress to an ever more prosperous future.”

NPA Vietnam Country Director Mr. Jan Erik Støa spoke about the successful partnership between NPA and provincial authorities in developing capacity of Project RENEW to sustainably address the problem of UXO toward achieving the goal of making Quảng Tri impact-free from UXO.

The event was concluded with a presentation by Quang Tri Department of Foreign Affairs, Deputy Director Mr. Nguyen Duc Quang, who reviewed 25 years of US-funded mine action work in Quang Tri, and provincial strategic objectives to 2025.  [ARTICLE AND PHOTOS]

Honest look at truth permits Vietnam, US to heal war wounds

Tuoi Tre News asked me to share some observations on how mine action and neutralization of war issues have brought Viet Nam and the U.S. closer together.  In this article I noted that Clinton’s announcement opened new opportunities for understanding, accommodation, and reconciliation.  Though, to be sure, many issues were far from settled, especially the war legacies of explosive ordnance (EO) and Agent Orange.  But normalization permitted people of goodwill in both countries – veterans, scholars, peace advocates, and government officials – to move forward in a spirit of forgiveness, harmony, and mutual respect to create real progress on these thorny issues. [MORE WITH PHOTOS]

Vietnam War veteran mends post-war wounds, one bomb at a time

Finally, there’s this piece by Hoang Tao of VNExpress who interviewed me last week in Quang Tri Province.  Coming during the days when events and activities focused on the 25th anniversary of normalization of relations, local media reps were obligated, I suppose, to “round up the usual suspects” and conduct interviews.  I’m not reluctant to speak with print and broadcast (and internet) media because the message still needs to be conveyed that the problem of war legacies remains, and children and adults need to be alert, to protect themselves from stray bombs and mines that still litter the countryside.  This interview centers on me, but my Vietnamese colleagues at Project RENEW and NPA deserve all the credit for the tremendous progress they have achieved in making Viet Nam safe.  [ARTICLE WITH PHOTOS]

Stimson Center in Washington invites participation in online conference on Vietnam – U.S. relations on Wednesday, 15 July

The Stimson Center, a US-based nonpartisan policy research center, has scheduled an online conference titled “The U.S. – Vietnam Relationship and War Legacies: 25 Years into Normalization” on July 15.  The discussion will provide an insight on the bilateral relationship between the two nations, their progress made on war legacy issues in the last 25 years, and the role such legacies will play in their future relationship.  Vietnamese Ambassador to the U.S. Ha Kim Ngoc and U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy, representing Vermont, will deliver opening remarks. Panelists will be Mike Cerre, Special Correspondent for PBS News Hour and Globe TV Reporter, and Tim Rieser, Senior Foreign Policy Aid for Senator Leahy and Democratic Clerk of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee.  [MORE] 

Selected news items, documents, and points of view on a range of topics shared here do not necessarily indicate agreement with the observations and positions expressed.  Contrary opinions and analyses may be valid and worthy of consideration.  Newly learned facts and points of view may help us understand things more clearly.  If you do not wish to receive such items, let me know and I will take you off this list.  For Vietnamese-English translations, unless otherwise noted, Google translations is recommended as a reasonably reliable and free service.

Note:  “I’m trying to find a more flexible and suitable e-mail format for multiple mailings, since many messages have been rejected by Google for exceeding their G-mail limits.  So pardon the experimentation and the skeletal format of this message.  The absence of photos I hope will be remedied.  In this message they are linked (if the links work.)  Sorry, I’m not very skilled at this.”

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