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Truong Sa Archipelago: a symbol of sovereignty in the hearts of expatriate Vietnamese

Truong Sa Archipelago: a symbol of sovereignty in the hearts of expatriate Vietnamese

Since 2012, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’s State Committee for Overseas Vietnamese Affairs has cooperated with the Naval High Command in organising trips to Truong Sa (Spratly) island district and DK1 marine platform for Vietnamese expatriates living over the world.

In the last days of May, more than 40 overseas Vietnamese (OV) representing the 5.3 million-strong OV community visited 10 islands covering over 1,000 nautical miles to Truong Sa Island.

Visiting Truong Sa is considered a patriotic act that affirms Vietnam's sovereignty over the sea and islands in this region. Setting foot on Truong Sa’s soil, Vietnamese expats experience the sacred islands and listen to touching stories there. In taking part in the tour, one begins to understand what it means to be Vietnamese and to be posted for a tour of duty on this island.

The nearly 1,000-nautical mile-long journey to Truong Sa and DK1 platform has had a huge impact on the over 40 expats returning from 17 countries around the world. The trip to Truong Sa archipelago and the continental shelf is a meaningful learning experience for all who take part. It is also an opportunity for OVs to meet and exchange with Vietnamese from around the world in Vietnam, which contributes to strengthen national unity.

A journey toward national unity

On this occasion, Ambassador Ngo Huong Nam, deputy head of the State Committee for Overseas Vietnamese Affairs was interviewed by Vietnam News Agency reporters on the outcome of the trip, as well as the 10-year anniversary of the event.
From 2012 to 2019, eight delegations of nearly 600 OVs visited Truong Sa. Not surprisingly, this activity was suspended in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Therefore, 2022 is a significant year as the tours resumed. This year’s visit is even more important in the context of the implementation of the Politburo's Conclusion 12-KL/TW dated August 12, 2021 on overseas Vietnamese affairs in the modern context. This document emphasises the task of "promoting national unity, encouraging and creating conditions for overseas Vietnamese to make active contributions to building the Fatherland and safeguarding the national cause". It also contributes to more clearly revealing the sentiments and responsibility of the Party and State in lending a hand to the OV community.

Ambassador Nam affirmed that Vietnamese people, wherever they are, continue the traditions of the nation. They promote the spirit of solidarity, mutual affection, always look towards the homeland, and actively contribute to the cause of national construction and development.

Respecting soldiers, people working at sea, safeguarding islands

Sovereignty is the glue that binds the community of more than 5.3 million overseas Vietnamese with their home country. This notion creates a spirit of national unity and encourages them to work together to recognize the sea and islands as the unquestionable territorial rights of the Fatherland.

Spending time with officers, soldiers and local citizens, OVs come to understand the love for the sea, islands, and the Fatherland.
Sharing his pride in representing over 450,000 Vietnamese people living in Japan to visit Truong Sa and DK1 rig, Dinh Hung Cuong said that all of the 41 expats that returned brought with them their heartfelt sentiments for the soldiers and people in Truong Sa Island district and DK1 rig.

Right after setting foot on Song Tu Tay Island, which is the first leg of their trip –Cuong visited and presented gifts to teachers and pupils at Song Tu Tay commune’s primary school. He sees the region as in the hands of the next generation, and the children who grow up here will understand the island, and love and preserve it better than anyone else.

“In the past few days, we have all felt the youthful enthusiasm in each officer and soldier who are on duty day and night to guard the sea and islands. Images of soldiers have inspired the love for the sea, islands, and the homeland among all expatriates - those returning from places as far away as America, Africa, and Europe to countries close to the motherland like Laos, Cambodia and Thailand,” said Cuong.

Recalling the honour of welcoming the first overseas Vietnamese delegation to Truong Sa and DK1 rig in 2012, Lieutenant Colonel Luong Xuan Giap, Political Commissar of Brigade 146, Naval Region 4, said that during the past 10 years, overseas Vietnamese understand more about the life of the army and people on Truong Sa archipelago. This is the basis for creating trust with Vietnamese people abroad, spreading the love of the sea and islands to the OV community. The affection and attachment of the expatriates are also a huge source of encouragement for Truong Sa soldiers and people.

The Unpaid Ambassador

Journalist and painter Etcetera Nguyen has visited Truong Sa and DK1 platform five times. Each trip brings new emotions, and a new faith that inspires him to volunteer as an "unpaid ambassador". He is a bridge connecting the OV community around the world and the homeland.

Etcetera Nguyen, or Nguyen Quang Truong, moved to the US in 1991. Working as a journalist, he has returned to Vietnam many times over the years.

Recalling the first trip of overseas Vietnamese to Truong Sa exactly 10 years ago, Etcereta said before his trip, he had a little doubt or hesitation in taking part. In his mind, Truong Sa was a remote, desolate and deserted place. However, when he arrived there, he was surprised to see pagodas, churches, schools, playing yards and lighthouses.

On islands, he sketched portraits of local people and soldiers with the desire to bring a little joy to those he met.

Returning to the US after his trip in 2012, Etcetera organised a small exhibition at his editorial office with 200 select pictures. He brought together overseas Vietnamese to visit and exchange views on related issues.

Spreading the love for the homeland, the sea, and the islands through Vietnamese language classes

The task of preserving and promoting the national cultural identity for the overseas Vietnamese community has always received special attention by the Party and State. Teaching the Vietnamese language is a key component of Vietnam’s cultural identity. Along with improving the quality of teaching and learning, overseas Vietnamese communities also understand the importance of educating students on the nation's patriotic traditions. This is especially so for the sovereignty over the homeland’s territorial waters, that includes the sea and islands.

Le Xuan Lam is a Vietnamese expatriate from Poland, who is the Editor-in-Chief of Que Viet Newspaper, and Chairman of the Council of Lac Long Quan Vietnamese Language School. He shared his intentions to strengthen the love for the homeland sea and islands for the school’s students after returning from the trip to Truong Sa and DK1 platform.

Sharing the same passion with younger generations, Trinh Cong Tan is Vice President of the Overseas Vietnamese Association in the Czech Republic and President of the association in Ostrava. He said that with the support of the Vietnamese Government, the Foreign Ministry, the State Committee for Overseas Vietnamese Affairs, since 2002, the OV Association in the Czech Republic began to teach Vietnamese language for the second and third generations born there.

Teaching and learning the Vietnamese language has proved effective in improving communication skills in daily life. It helps children understand more about their history, traditions, and the cultural identity of Vietnam. Even in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, classes continued online to keep the warm messages of love and unity flowing to the coming generations of overseas Vietnamese./.