On Visiting Vietnam…

Jan 23, 2019

On Visiting Vietnam…

Nothing is better than visiting the place to directly experience the culture.
As a Chinese, I was intrigued by the mixed views on the turbulent relationship between
Vietnam and China.
Everyone points a blaming finger at a particular someone.

I was told by a Vietnamese Chinese that the place, or what was historically known as Vietnam was a part of or affiliated with the Imperial China for centuries, until the country became colonized by the French. Some explicit changes can be seen, such as the vocabulary has been evolving from Han/Chinese to Latin alphabet.

The Vietnamese Chinese blamed the intensified relationship between Vietnam and China was due to racial discrimination. Other Chinese noted Vietnam’s betrayal of China after China’s long-standing support of the country.

I went to read the history of Vietnam, and found a painful history as Vietnam entered war with China since its military conflict with Cambodia (which befriended China at the time) and affiliate with the then Soviet Union, which led to a month of bloody war in northern Vietnam. From Vietnam’s perspective, China’s support has always been a suspicious act with its questionable underlying intention.

Who is right and who is wrong?
What is history and what are facts?
It is hard to find a universal truth.
Each country may hold its perspective which benefit its own national interests.
Even other countries which have not been directly involved in the conflicts do not hold
an unbiased view, rather
a side of story given by another party.

I learn to attend to history by not attending to the biased Chinese view simply
because I am a Chinese.
There is a need I attend to both sides to get a richer picture of the lived experiences in Vietnam.

History is a point to unfold the past,
but should not be the determining point of the truth. We should communicate not just with our own group, but also the different and even opposite sides.
Communication is required for differences, conflicts and the unjust to be addressed, explored and resolved.
After all what we look for is to move on from the past, to the present and the future.

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