Vietnamese scholars mull ways to boost media influence in fight against China

By Truong Son, Thanh Nien News

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Local scholars discussed ways to better inform the world about Vietnam’s efforts to protect its sovereignty from China during a workshop in Hanoi on Monday.
Hoang Hai, the editor-in-chief of Mat Tran (Front) Magazine, one of the workshop's organizers, said it was held in the context of China’s illegal deployment of the giant Haiyang Shiyou-981 oil rig into Vietnamese waters.
Dam Duc Vuong, former spokesman of the Central Theoretical Council, a Communist Party think-tank, told the workshop that China has invaded Vietnam 23 times since the reign of Qin Shi Huang (221 – 216 BC).
Vuong called the deployment of the Haiyang Shiyou-981 in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and 200-nautical mile continental shelf the latest “invasion."
“China has for thousands of years pursued the policy of “Befriend a distant state while attacking a neighbor”.
“There were times that China maintained good relations with Vietnam, but it was just a short-term tactic. It's long-term strategy has never deviated from a plan to invade Vietnam and turn it into one of its provinces. It is China’s nature.”
Vuong stressed that Vietnam should never ignore China’s invasive nature and avoid ambiguity in its propaganda campaign to assert its sovereignty over its seas and islands.
China invaded and violently occupied Vietnam’s Hoang Sa (Paracel) Islands in 1974 and deployed the Haiyang Shiyou-981 oil rig in Vietnam’s EEZ and continental shelf this year, Vuong said.
The large northern neighbor has repeatedly distorted information and condemned Vietnam of disturbing China’s oil exploration activities and attacked its vessels more than 1,400 times.
The deployment of the Haiyang Shiyou-981 oil rig in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf is the latest invasion of China" -- Dam Duc Vuong, former spokesman of the Central Theoretical Council
Nguyen Anh Dung, a journalist with Nhan Dan (People) newspaper, said China and Vietnam once agreed not to write about “sensitive” bilateral issues in their official newspapers such as Nhan Dan and China’s People’s Daily newspaper.
But China broke the promise at the Global Times – a daily Chinese tabloid under the auspices of the People's Daily that focuses on international issues. The Global Times has taken an aggressive viewpoint by repeatedly condemning Vietnam and declaring that China will “teach Vietnam a lesson,” Dung said.
“If we [Vietnam] cannot bring troubled issues with China to official forums, we must do it through unofficial forums,” he said. 
Pham Bich San, vice secretary-general of the Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Associations, said the Vietnamese media has not done a good job of informing Vietnamese people of its struggle for sovereignty over seas and islands in recent years, leading to the fact that many Vietnamese people remain unaware of China’s historical invasions.
“If we look back in our history, we see that it is not really shocking that China deployed an oil rig into Vietnamese waters, but many Vietnamese people are surprised by the oil rig because mainstream newspapers have written so much about Vietnam's great relationship with China,” San explained.
"Vietnam should not rely solely on mainstream newspapers to disseminate its propaganda campaign to preserve its seas and islands," San said.
If we look back in our history, we see that it is not really shocking that China deployed an oil rig into Vietnamese waters, but many Vietnamese people are surprised by the oil rig because mainstream newspapers have written so much about Vietnam's great relationship with China" -- Pham Bich San, vice secretary-general of the Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Associations
Ho Hai Long, the editor-in-chief of Thuong Gia & Thi Truong (Businesspeople and Market) magazine, agreed with San, saying Vietnam should use blogs and social media networks such as Facebook, along with mainstream newspapers, to inform the world of its ongoing struggle against China.
“Each Vietnamese citizen can also inform the international community and friends, especially Chinese friends, of China’s illegal action through their blogs and Facebook pages,” he said.
San added that Vietnam should make the best use of international media channels, especially since the international press tends to condemn China for its provocative actions and supports the observance of international law.
She said Vietnamese media should use various methods to diversify its reporting on developments in the East Sea (aka South China Sea) to attract the attention of readers and viewers.
She noted that Vietnamese media should also help Vietnamese people learn more about China, its strength and also weaknesses, so that they won't worry about its overwhelming power.

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