Thousands of Vietnamese gathered last week to protest against the new Cyber-Security-Act and the government‘s plan to expand the Special Economic Zones.
The Vietnamese Government plans to tighten the world-wide-web censorship with the new Cyber-Security-Act. Anyone who endangers „social order“ or „national security“ in social media will be punished. According to government officials, „the unbridled use of the Internet would plunge the country into chaos, as seen in the case of Ukraine oder Libya“, so it is necessary to settle here.
Another reason for the nationwide protests, was the government‘s plan to extend the lease period of the Special Economic Zones to 99 years. Special Economic Zones are spatially delineated geographical areas for which legal and administrative relief for investors exists. This relief usually concerns customs and taxation rights. But the „reliefs“ in environmental, labor and social rights are particularly widespread.
The aim of Special Economic Zones is to increase domestic and foreign direct investment. The Vietnamese government wants to promote the private sector and stimulate production and trade. With special economic zones, governments hope for employment effects, growth impulses for the domestic economy and access to technologies. For this they provide free infrastructure and exemption. In particular, trade union rights are specifically restricted, violated or suspended in return.
With these zones, the providing governments hope foreign direct investment and thus increased foreign exchange earnings. Currency holdings are a status symbol for the economic strength of a state and also a means of payment for the repayment of government debt to foreign creditors.
As of 2017, China is number one in foreign exchange reserves. China has declared the entire coastline form the Korean to the Vietnamese border to be such a zone.
With the expansion of the Special Economic Zone, the population fears a „sell-out of national rights especially to Chinese investors“ and control of Vietnam by China. The establishment of Special Economic Zones increases the dependency on other countries and is mainly borne by the workers. The attitude is understandable, because for years Vietnam was a colony of China. Already in 2014, there were major anti-China protests because the Chinese government was gaining unrestricted access to Vietnamese waters to drill for oil.
On 10 June, over 10.000 demonstrators gathered in different parts of the country. So also in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. The demonstrators threw stones, set fire to vehicles and occupied the headquarter in Binh Tuan.
The police quickly tried to suppress the protests, erected barricades and used tear gas and water cannons against the demonstrating masses.
Many were dined access to protest sites. More than 100 demonstrators were arrested and many injured.
Rebellion is justified!