Vietnamese in Germany speak out against China | Asia | An in-depth look at news from across the continent | DW | 21.06.2011

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Vietnamese in Germany speak out against China

As Vietnamese people have been strongly protesting the Chinese government over a maritime dispute in the South China Sea, Vietnamese in Germany are ready to do anything they can to protect their motherland’s sovereignty.

A large jade Buddha after being unveiled outside the Chinese Gardens, Darling Harbor in Sydney, Australia.

The Jade Buddha Statue is on world tour

On a summer day in mid June, people from across Germany flocked to Buddha Weg or Phat Dao Pagoda in Siedelbrunns, about 100 km from Frankfurt am Main, to witness the Jade Buddha with their own eyes. They came here to pray. It is believed that the Jade Buddha Statue, which is currently on a tour around the world, can illuminate the world, bring inconceivable peace and happiness and help prevent the war and destruction that is happening around the world. The top story among people attending the festival was about the ongoing maritime dispute between Vietnam and China. Many are calling it a Chinese invasion.

Huynh Quoc Thanh Tung has been living in Germany for 28 years and is now working for Helaba, the biggest banking group in the German state of Hessen. Tung, who is also a member of the Vietnamese People Association in Odenwald, believes Vietnamese people should speak out in opposition to this invasion from China. "If we don't say anything, it means we accept the invasion. One or two voices can be ignored but I believe that voices of 86 million people are loud enough to catch international attention and support to protect our country’s interests," says Tung.

'Pag-asa', one of Spratlys' group of islands in the South China Sea.

'Pag-asa', one of Spratlys' group of islands in the South China Sea

Vietnam and China are at loggerheads over sovereignty of the potentially oil-rich Paracel and Spratly archipelagos and surrounding waters. Tensions are now at their highest level in years after Hanoi late last month accused Chinese marine surveillance vessels of cutting the exploration cables of an oil survey ship inside its exclusive economic zone.

Another pilgrim to Phat Dao pagoda, Truong Thi Kim Lan, shares her view. "When I found out about the issue, I was very sad and worried. When I asked German friends of mine about the two archipelagos, many of them said that according to what they have read in books and newspapers, these islands belong to China. From that moment on, I have tried my best to create a campaign of my own to explain the situation to every German I meet."

Another festival goer, Truong Hai, who has lived in Germany for 30 years, calls on Vietnamese people to unite against the Chinese invasion. "I closely follow every development in the East Sea on TV, radio and even internet. China has violated the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention. I call on 86 million Vietnamese in Vietnam and 3 millions of overseas Vietnamese to unite to prevent the possible risks of invasion from China."

Vietnamese have protested in front of the Chinese embassy in Hanoi, Vietnam

Vietnamese have protested in front of the Chinese embassy in Hanoi, Vietnam

Not as so sure as older Vietnamese people about the country’s sovereignty over the archipelagos, the young overseas Vietnamese born and raised in Germany also have a strong point of view on the issue. 20-year old Duc Anh, or Duggi, Nguyen just graduated from Fredrick Dessauer Gymnasyum. He says he read about this issue in newspapers and on the internet but he is still "not so sure about the sovereignty of the two islands." "According to what I know, China, Vietnam and the Philippines all claim that the islands belong to them. My parents also told me about Vietnam’s history and its sovereignty over the islands and if it’s true, as a Vietnamese, I would also join in the demonstrations against the Chinese government."

Temperatures have also risen this year between China and the Philippines, another claimant to the Spratly islands, where Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also say they have a stake.

Author: Andy Pham
Editor: Sarah Berning

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