Thursday, 10 October 2013

Time for Vietnam

A busy few weeks for me around the excellent UK trade mission to Vietnam. I’m also close to opening the first Sincerity offices too.

Also interesting meetings on the next Surin Schools.

Why Vietnam? 90M people and an incredible culture. And after the China debacle of the UK failing to develop the greatest economic growth ever, now an increasing focus for the UK on ASEAN prior to the AEC launch in 2015 and especially Vietnam with the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations activity this year now concluded, and the preparation underway for the key Vietnam anniversaries in 2015, of April 1975 and September 1945.

And unfortunately one of the less positive and almost unknown aspects of the UK policy of the time with Operation Masterdom in 1945 when British troops landed to work with the Japanese troops(!) to pave the way for the reinstatement of the French colonial power despite the Vietnamese declaring independence (even citing the US Declaration of independence).

And so began almost 40 years of death and destruction involving France, America, Cambodia and China.

Not Britain’s finest hour although when you’re in London you’ll see the links to Ho Cho Minh living and working there eg the blue plaque on Regent St.

But that was then.

The sad death of General Giap this week is the last main link to that time – Vietnam is a modern nation facing at least a rapid 5% growth and a generation that has no recollection of the horrors of the past, and the potential for greater growth from the current APEC Summit.

And hopefully in the Age of Climate Change avoiding the mistakes of China and the West with excessive tarmac and pollution, and focusing on helath and education.

Despite massive smoking rates, appalling road traffic accidents, the sabre-rattling of the Spratlys and the UK trafficking/drug incidents highlighted in recent months Vietnam’s problems are few in comparison than previous decades.

Corruption and pollution are low compared to Infratil and Thor in Kent despite incidents such as Nicotex or Thanh Tanh commune, with a vibrant and comparatively open media, and a greater emphasis in the UNMDG2 from the UN sessions.

While the potential for Vietnamese tourism with only 6M visitors compared to 20M for Thailand or Malaysia, the ASEAN integration and expanded UK trade links and public sector exchange visits, and activity in the UK are keystones of the future.

Kent’s links with the Vietnam Trade Minister, the Pfizer/Discovery Park strategic vaccine facility for TB and flu (you can tell it’s Autumn in Britain because the leaves change and the flu vaccine runs out) and Kent tourism and language courses have massive potential for the future. As do the film studio and festival links.

The time is now for Vietnam. Whether Kent or Britain can grasp that fact or follow through on it is another matter.

Time for Change

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