Influential Facebook User Reportedly Summoned by Police for Criticizing Vingroup Conglomerate Human rights lawyer Dang Dinh Manh on Feb. 20
Vietnam Surpasses China as Largest Exporter of Goods Made with Forced Uyghur Labor
U.S. Customs Declare Vietnam the Largest Exporter of Goods Made With Uyghur Forced Labor, Overtaking China
U.S. Customs and Border Protection declared that Vietnam overtook China in 2023 as the leading exporter to the United States of products violating the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, making it the first country to surpass China since the law's enactment in 2021, VOA News reported.
The act prohibits the import of goods manufactured using forced labor from Uyghur and other Muslim minority groups into the United States. The act is in response to reports of widespread human rights abuses in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. U.S. Customs and Border Protection data released on Jan. 26 revealed that Vietnam’s exports, followed by Malaysia, accounted for the most significant value of products denied entry to the United States following the enforcement of that legislation.
Vietnam is the largest exporter of clothing, including cotton. Data released by U.S. Customs showed that in 2023, Southeast Asia accounted for the highest shipment value for the apparel, footwear, and textiles sector at $19.14 million, in which $10.22 million worth of goods were denied. China followed Vietnam with $17.70 million, of which $1.29 million was rejected. Vietnam’s Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not respond to a request for comment on the report.
Rushan Abbas, founder and executive director of the Virginia-based Campaign for Uyghurs, told VOA Vietnamese via email that China has increased exports from East Turkistan, the Uyghur name for China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, to neighboring countries, including Vietnam, and used this tactic to obfuscate the natural origins of its products.
Vu Duc Khanh, a part-time law professor at the University of Ottawa,, told VOA News that the ban resulted from many businesses in Vietnam buying raw materials from China and then adding cheap Vietnamese labor to produce goods for export to the U.S. market. Vu said that it is essential that Vietnamese small- and medium-sized textile enterprises diversify their cotton supply chain away from Chinese sources by using more imports from the United States, Australia, and India.
Human Rights Groups Call on Vietnam to Release Religious Activist and Missionary Nay Y Blang
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) and the Human Rights Fund (HRF) have expressed concern about the conviction of indigenous religious activist Nay Y Blang, 48, a resident of Phu Yen Province. The two advocacy groups called on the Vietnamese government to release the Christian activist immediately. Blang received a four-and-a-half-year sentence on allegations of “abusing democratic freedoms” for hosting unauthorized religious sessions at his private home.
Mervyn Thomas, founder of the London-based CSW, said on Feb. 1 that they are “deeply concerned at the lack of due process in the court hearings” of Blang and other 100 Montagnards who received various prison terms in a separate trial regarding “terrorism” in Dak Lak last month. “The Vietnamese government views the simple act of prayer as a direct threat to their power and legitimacy,” Thomas said. “No person should fear jail for exercising their right to freedom of religion or belief.”
The founder of CSW emphasized that he believed the sentencing of Blang and other Montagnards “is part of a wider pattern of the targeting of religious and ethnic minorities across Vietnam that is often more severe in rural areas.” He urged the Vietnamese authorities to “cease all harassment of religious and minority ethnic groups across the country.”
Meanwhile, New York-based HRF on Jan. 31 wrote on X, formerly Twitter, that Blang was sentenced because he was affiliated with the Central Highlands Evangelical Church of Christ, a religious group not recognized by the state. “HRF strongly urges the Vietnamese government to respect the freedom of religion that all individuals are entitled to and calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Nay Y Blang,” according to the statement.
Vietnamese Model Ngoc Trinh Receives Suspended Sentence for Posting Motorbike Stunt Video
The Ho Chi Minh City People’s Court on Feb. 2 sentenced Vietnamese model Tran Thi Ngoc Trinh, 35, to a one-year suspended sentence on accusations of “disturbing public order.” Her motorbike instructor, Tran Xuan Dong, 37, received a one-year sentence for “disturbing public order” and “using fake documents from agencies and organizations.” Trinh was freed after the trial concluded.
The indictment stated that on Oct. 6, Trinh, who did not possess the required driving license, performed stunts with Dong on a large motorbike and flouted traffic regulations. The Vietnamese model was accused of engaging in dangerous stunts without protective gear and performing offensive postures, including standing on one side of the vehicle and driving hands-free.
The video clips that Trinh published online were deemed inappropriate by the police, who claimed that they could have a bad influence on society.
However, as the trial concluded, the prosecutors declared Trinh and Dong were charged with “disturbing public order,” which was not based on posting stunt clips online but rather due to the possible consequences of that posting. According to state media, Trinh allegedly recorded her stunts and posted five videos on several social media platforms, including TikTok and Facebook. The videos received over 163 million likes and comments in less than one month.
In her last statement, Ngoc Trinh said that she did not intentionally break the law, and her actions were done in a “spontaneous” moment without her knowing about it. State media reported that Trinh asked for a reduced sentence and admitted that the incident was “a big lesson” for her.
Detained Blogger Thai Van Duong Sees His Mother For The First Time Following Alleged Abduction in Thailand
Vietnamese dissident blogger Duong Van Thai, who disappeared from Thailand last year, finally met with his mother after being held in police custody for nine months. This is the first time Thai’s family has seen him since Vietnam’s state security allegedly kidnaped him in April 2023.
Thai's mother, Duong Thi Lu, told RFA that she received an unexpected call from the police on Jan. 30, allowing her to visit her son at the Hanoi Police Department's detention center. The next day, Lu visited the detention center and talked to her son through a thick glass partition for about half an hour. She said the police had warned her not to talk about sensitive issues at the window.
Lu said she last saw her son in person when she visited Thai in Bangkok one year ago around the Tet holiday - Vietnam’s Lunar New Year. She told RFA that Thai’s complexion was lighter but that he appeared healthy and hadn’t lost much weight. He also told her he was treated well and had adequate food in prison.
Lu also said the police provided no further information regarding the investigation into her son’s alleged “distributing of anti-state propaganda.” A detention center guard assured Lu that Thai would be home soon and that they would send her a confirmation about his status by Feb. 20. Lu told RFA that she wasn’t sure if Thai wanted to hire defense lawyers, adding that she was too old to know how to prepare for the legal proceedings.
Vietnam Insight: Learn more about Vietnam
South China Morning Post/ Maria Siow/ Feb. 2
“In the case of this week’s cooperation between the Philippines and Vietnam, it is clear the two Southeast Asian countries do not share similar values or ideology, but they have the common desire of protecting themselves in the South China Sea against Beijing.
Both are also traditionally reliant on China for trade, investments, and supply chains, particularly in the case of Vietnam, where its manufactured goods are highly dependent on imported Chinese components.
In other words, these two countries have little to no incentive to provoke or anger China, at risk of retaliation from their bigger neighbour.”