In the Media

LIV in Foreign Policy: Vietnam Wants Western Politicians, Not Western Politics

In: In the Media

LIV's Co-Director Tran Quynh-Vi is quoted by Bill Hayton in Foreign Policy magazine.


"According to Tran Vi, the editor in chief of the dissident online magazine the Vietnamese, the foundation was unable to agree on a replacement with the Communist authorities. By law, all Vietnamese organizations—from local sports clubs to national churches—have to be registered with either a government or Communist Party supervisory organization. The Phan Chau Trinh Culture Foundation was under the supervision of the Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Associations which is, in turn, supervised by the Ministry of Science and Technology. The science union has a record of allowing more outspoken organizations to shelter under its umbrella. However, in this case its umbrella does not seem to have been strong enough to resist the storm from above.

The energy behind the Phan Chau Trinh Culture Foundation comes from a well-known writer, Nguyen Ngoc. In October 2018, in a rare and surprising move, Ngoc announced that he had resigned from the Communist Party because of its treatment of another leading intellectual, Chu Hao. Chu Hao had also resigned from the party after being disciplined for allowing his Knowledge Publishing House to issue books the party said were “politically and ideologically wrong.” Among the titles the Central Inspection Commission objected to were several standard European works of political philosophy including books by John Stuart Mill, John Locke, Alexis de Tocqueville, and Friedrich Hayek.

According to the Vietnamese’s Tran Vi, Nguyen Ngoc and Chu Hao were the two leading candidates to replace Binh as the Phan Chau Trinh Culture Foundation’s president. However, “given what happened last year, regarding them leaving the party, it is almost impossible for the government to approve either one to be the new leader, leading to the closure.” Although Ngoc and Hao were members of the Communist Party, they were also critics of many of its policies. In December 2012 they, along with hundreds of others, signed “A Call for Human Rights,” asking the National Assembly to abolish Article 88 of the Penal Code that punishes “crimes of propaganda against the State” and strike down a government decree invoked to prevent demonstrations. The two men have been prominent critics of China’s behavior toward Vietnam, particularly in the South China Sea."

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