Vietnamese Diaspora is a very diverse group of different backgrounds as it has emigrated to other countries for different reasons and at different periods of time. Overseas Vietnamese can be generally divided into five distinct categories that rarely interact with each other.
The first category consists of people who have been living in territories outside of Vietnam prior to 1975; they usually reside in neighboring countries, such as Cambodia, Laos, and China. During French colonialism, some Vietnamese also migrated to France and some French-speaking areas, such as Québec.
The second category, consisting of the vast majority of overseas Vietnamese, are former South Vietnamese those who fled Vietnam as refugees, after the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, along with their descendants. They usually reside in industrialized countries such as those in North America, the European Union, Hong Kong, China, Guangdong, Fujian and Australia.
The third category consists of Vietnamese working and studying in the former Soviet bloc who opted to stay there after the Soviet collapse. This group is found mainly in the European Union and the Russian Federation.
The fourth category consists of recent economic migrants who work temporarily as guest workers in regional Asian countries such as Taiwan and Japan. They also include Vietnamese brides who married men from Taiwan and South Korea through marriage agencies. These brides usually follow their husbands to live in those countries. In Taiwan, Vietnamese economic migrants count about half of overseas Vietnamese there, and the brides cover the rest.
The fifth category is an emerging group of Vietnamese, who go to college abroad as international students, usually referred as “du học sinh”; they stay in those countries and work and live as permanent residents.
Therefore, it is hard to assess accurately the real power or strength of Vietnamese diaspora, which has spread all over the globe. According to information from the State Committee for Overseas Vietnamese Affairs (COVA) in 2012, 4.5 million overseas Vietnamese are living and working in 104 countries and territories around the world.
However, the diaspora represents definitively strengths and assets to Vietnam as country and an equal integral partner of Vietnamese nation despite its small number, i.e., 4.5 million people versus 90 million citizens in Vietnam. Furthermore, Vietnamese diaspora represents important grey matter and soft-power assets that Vietnam is currently lagging behind.
The annual overseas remittance has kept growing despite the world’s economic downturn, $ 9.5 billion was remitted in 2012, which represents about 7% of the country’s GDP. More than half-million overseas Vietnamese visit the country and their investment in different projects, Vietnam actually receives yearly about $20 billion from overseas Vietnamese, i.e., 14% of national GDP.
According to thhe 2010 census, Vietnamese community earns an annual average slightly lower ($59,000). Extrapolating the number with the 1.8 million Vietnamese Americans according to the 2010 census, Vietnamese American community produces yearly $106.2 billion of GDP.
About 1.2 million of refuge backgrounds live in democratic and industrialized countries. It is safe to assume that GDP is also as much as close to the Vietnamese American community,i.e., $ 70 billion GDP per year.
About 760,000 Vietnamese living in Cambodia, Laos and Thailand, can generate about $ 1 annual GDP according to their host countries’ GDP. About 230,000 Vietnamese living in the old Soviet Bloc countries, their potential GDP may be around $3 billion of GDP. Another 0.5 million Vietnamese work temporarily as guest laborers at low wages. Despite their weaker income, the guest laborers have been remitting $1.8-2 billion per year for the past 7 years. It is safe to assume that their remittances are all of their savings earned in the host countries, i.e., their potential GDP is about $3 billion.
In total, the potential GDP produced by the overseas Vietnamese diaspora can be estimated to be around $ 183.2 billion, which is higher than Vietnam’s GDP of $137.6 in 2012.
It should be emphasized that the economic success and power of a small number of overseas Vietnamese in less than 2 generations are achieved thanks to the opportunity environments provided by their adoptive countries. Overseas Vietnamese are not smarter or did not have easy because they had to overcome the language barriers and were financially empty. However, thanks to the rule of law, democracy, and basic human rights respects of the societies they live in, overseas Vietnamese have enjoyed the freedoom to pursue their liberty and happiness.
In contrast, Vietnamese communists broke Paris Peace Accord, which just marks its 40th anniversary, and used force to overthrow the South Vietnam regime in 1975. However, Vietnam was finally reunified after 30 years of war.
Instead of being the generous victors and promoting national reconciliation, Vietnamese communists practiced policies of vengence against the civilians and military personnels of the old regime by sending them to re-education camps or rather labor camps in an effort of killing them off slowly. Vietnamese communists practiced discriminatory policy against the people without the revolutionary pedigree.
These harsh and oppressive policies forced million people to attempt to escape the country. Hundred thousands of people perished in East Sea or South China Sea in their small fishing boat. Hundred thousands of people were caught and sent to labor camps.
The communists’ economic policies were a complete failure from 1975 to 1986, rice and food were rationed in peacetime. Following suit the Perestroika introduced by General Secretary Gorbachev, Vietnamese communists introduced Đổi Mới reforms and tweeked further after the Chinese model of “Socialist-oriented market economy” after the collapse of the Soviet Bloc in 1990.
The econmic reforms have bore fruits with some economic achievements. However, the potential of growing into a tiger or dragon economy has been blunted sharply with the ongoing decline of GDP growth.
Despite the infusions of $10 billion of overseas remittance, $10 billion from FDI and $6-7 billion of ODA, Vietnam’s GDP growth is the worst in the region with 5% compared to the regional average of 7% in 2012. This decline in the GDP growth is due to the failed policies of economic model, socialist-oriented market economy, which has allowed the ruling class of Communist Party Of Vietnam (CPV) to collude with their capitalist cronies dominate and control the economy. With this influx of capital, Vietnam’s GPD growth should be above the regional average or even better than China’s. With competent management, GDP growth should be between 8-9% per year.
Vietnamese communists have made so many economic blunders over the past 50 years in the North and 37 years in the whole nation. Instead of taking responsibility or being held accountable, the CPV leaders offered excuses with some crocodile tears (by Secretary General Nguyen Phu Trong) to the Vietnamese public for their shortcomings.
Time has come for Vietnam to take real steps for real national reconciliation after 37 years as the nation is facing the growing threat of China’s invasion of East Sea, i.e., invading Truong Sa (Spratly) and the massive investment in the illegally occupied Hoang Sa (Paracel). Hoang Sa will be lost forever. Vietnamese nation needs to be united now more than ever.
Instead, communists have increased their crackdown on peaceful human rights and democracy activists over the past week with harsh jail-terms for 14 young activists and arrests of other dissidents. The communists have launched the so called referendum or collection of public opinions on the amendments to the constitution of Vietnam. The request of abolishing the clause 4 of the constitution, which grants the absolute leadership of the State and Society to the CPV has been ignored.
CPV claims it has the historical legitimacy to represent the interests of workers and peasants. CPV actually seized power by force and waging 2 wars, which cost 4 million lives. The communist concocted constitutions of Vietnam in 1946, in 1959, in 1980, and 1992 and amended in 2001 were never submitted to the Vietnamese people through referendum for approval. The lack of popular referendum on the constitution clearly shows the lack of the democratic character and thus the lack of legitimacy of the regime itself.
Communist Party of Vietnam is 3.6 million member strong and has become the ruling class instead, which has consistently put its interest above the national interests. CPV has kowtowed to Communist Party of China (CPC) and copy-cat all CPC’s policies in order to hang onto their power despite China’s increased escalation against Vietnamese fishermen and interests in East Sea.
The question needs to be asked whether CPV members are integral members of Vietnamese Nation?
Vietnamese diaspora is inherently an integral part of the Vietnamese Nation. Based on the international legal standards, most countries of the world follow the principle of jus sanguinis rather than jus soli. Therefore, any descendent of Vietnamese origins is automatically a member of Vietnamese Nation. Vietnamese diaspora has forgiven the atrocities they had endured under the CPV and some have engaged with the Vietnamese authorities with capital investments, remittances, and grey matter transfer.
The construction of a Vietnamese Nation requires the full participation of its members or categories: The CPV, Vietnamese Diaspora and Vietnamese citizens. Only a real national reconciliation, Vietnam has the chance to reach its full potential with the support of the diaspora. If Vietnames Nation was united entity or country, its current GDP would be $320,8 billions. The current national defense budget can triple over night in order to defend the territorial integrity.
Do CPV members want be parts of the Vietnamese Nation?