Nguyen Qui Duc: Vietnam Youth Organizing with Social Media

A dispute over the Spratly Islands spurs anti-Chinese protests in Viet Nam. Nguyen Qui Duc reports on video.

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Truth is, I haven’t even watched this clip. A friend shared it with me and said it’s related to the two latest peace demonstrations/walks for peace/protests against China’s hostile activities in the South China Sea (on June 5 and 12, 2011). It features a diaCRITICS major contributor, Nguyen Qui Duc. I have 7 minutes left before I have to go filming, but I will definitely write a follow-up to the former one when I have more time between filming and theater, since I was there (and was quoted in Oanh Ha’s report on Bloomberg). For peace, of course. And nothing but world peace. You know what I mean.

Peace and love,
Hien Nga

Anti-Chinese protestor
Protestors at anti-China demonstration

[photos from]

 full-time free soul, dreamer, bohemian, hippie, free-lover, transcendentalist; an artistic activist for feminism, gay rights, pro-choice, and freedom of speech; an absurd poet and a poetic absurdist, Hiền Nga believes in self-enlightenment, bicycles, rainbows, flowers, and hummingbirds.


  1. Dan Duffy, this is for you:
    If only everyone could read Vietnamese, the above blog, Dân Làm Báo, People As Journalists, is a personal story from one of the protesters against China encroachment, who illustrates amply the cat-and-mouse game the Công An, Security Police, is playing with protesters. Their job is to use every means possible to dissuade citizens from protesting, including arrests, but first of all, the Công An would use these psychological warfare of words (soft power) to play with one’s mind, sending her/him home. When that fails, then the club and paddy wagon.

  2. “But in these photos, obviously, the Party has mobilized the youth to confront China.”

    Hi Dan,
    I would respectfully disagree with your statement above. For many Vietnamese and Vietnamese watchers, the authorities only acquiesced to these demonstrations (organized by bloggers and private citizens which Duc has pointed out in the video) for two reasons:
    1) China has gone too far in its naked aggression/bullying tactics in the East Sea(*), which would totally confirm VN Party leaders as weak ‘lackeys’ of China, unworthy as leaders of a sovereign VN.

    2) to provide the angry populace with a just-in-time occasion to let off steam for their seething discontent of the authorities for their spineless response to Chian and their repressive treatment of bloggers and human rights activists.

    (*) the South China Sea is a Western appellation, a troublesome misnomer of a Sea which has been called the South Sea by China (Nam Hải) and Biển Đông (East Sea) by Vietnamese for eons of years.

    By walking a tight rope between China the U.S. VN is risking a war in the East Sea (or for the sake of ASEAN unity should be called Southeast Asian Sea) There is saying in VN which explains this vacillation: “Go with the U.S. ̣(becoming more democratic) the Party would lose its rule; Go with China the Party would lose VN.”
    Of late, VN seesawing action has sent its vice foreign minister to Beijing, agreeing to work bilaterally with China to resolve the Spratly issues in the East Sea dispute, which is a tired old ruse that China use to pit one ASEAN country against another instead of letting them work collectively against China hegemony.

    Thai Nguyen-Khoa

  3. Fascinating. Thanks! The Spratlies and the Paracels always have the potential to become a site of self-determination within Viet Nam. They represent national interest to all Vietnamese who care about such things.

    Anti-communists have taken the issue as an opportunity to criticize the Party on its own terms, freedom and independence, since at least 1954. The line is that the VCP are slavish robots of Beijing, betraying the country to China.

    But in these photos, obviously, the Party has mobilized the youth to confront China. The old-time Kremlin-watching take on such activity would have been that it shows struggle by the Stalinists against the Maoists.

    What does it mean now? What are the differing national interests of Stalinists and Maoists today? The mainstream SE Asia Studies reply would be that is a dialectic between the necessity to resist China and the impossibility of defying it, and would be the same no matter who is in charge.

    I think the new twist here lies in the English-language signs. They had those even in the demonstrations after Nhat Linh’s suicide in 1963, but now there really is a world public which factions of the Party and the people it may mobilize can appeal to.

    Sorry not to have anything original to say, but those are the standard points I can think of.


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