National Assembly Chairman to Visit China; Court Reduces Media Influencer’s Sentence

National Assembly Chairman to Visit China; Court Reduces Media Influencer’s Sentence
Graphic: The Vietnamese Magazine.

Legislature Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue to Visit China

Last Thursday, the Foreign Affairs Committee of Vietnam’s National Assembly announced that legislature chairman Vuong Dinh Hue will lead a high-ranking delegation to visit China between April 7 and 12 at the invitation of Zhao Leji, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress. This would become Hue’s first visit to Beijing as the National Assembly chairperson.

According to state media, bilateral relations between Vietnam and China have progressed positively recently, and Vuong Dinh Hue’s scheduled visit reflects the willingness of the leaders of the two Communist parties to strengthen political trust and open new opportunities for cooperation.

On April 4, Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son also held talks with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, as part of his recent Chinese visit. State media reported that both foreign ministers affirmed the importance of bilateral relations in each country's foreign policy and emphasized the need to promote further coordination, organize high-level diplomatic activities, and reach other crucial agreements.

Last December, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Vietnam, marking his third visit to the country as head of the Chinese party and state. During Xi’s trip, both countries issued a joint statement on elevating the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and promoting the building of a “Community of Common Destiny,” a phrase devised by Beijing to describe cooperation.

​​China established diplomatic relations with Vietnam on Jan. 18, 1950, and Vietnam also has remained its largest trading partner in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Vatican Secretary of State Announces Visit to Vietnam in April

According to the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Vietnam and state media, Vatican Secretary of State Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher announced his coming trip to Vietnam from April 9 to 14. The expected trip will be the first visit of the Vatican secretary of state to Vietnam since the civil war concluded in 1975.

The announcement said that Archbishop Gallagher is scheduled to meet with Vietnamese Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son on April 9, with Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh and officials of the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Committee for Religious Affairs on April 10.

In addition, Archbishop Gallagher will visit the National Children's Hospital in Hanoi and celebrate masses at cathedrals in Hanoi, Hue, and Ho Chi Minh City. Gallagher has held the secretary of state position since 2014.

Late last year, Pope Francis appointed Archbishop Marek Zalewski as Vietnam's first permanent papal representative. In December 2023, then-Vietnamese President Vo Van Thuong officially invited the Pope for a state visit. It remains unclear whether or not Thuong's resignation last month will affect Pope Francis’ expected trip.

Read more: One Hundred Years of Vietnam - Vatican Relations: Three Issues Challenging the Diplomatic Process

Appeals Court Reduces Sentence for Media Influencer Nguyen Phuong Hang

A Ho Chi Minh City appeals court has approved a three-month sentence reduction for Vietnamese media influencer Nguyen Phuong Hang, reducing her previous three-year sentence to two years and nine months. However, the public wondered why this court decision was made, as Hang did not file an appeal. Hang was convicted last September on a charge of “abusing democratic freedoms” for her alleged defamation of several individuals.

The judges, on April 4, also commuted six months of each sentence of the other four defendants in the case, including Dang Anh Quan, Huynh Cong Tan, Nguyen Thi Mai Nhi, and Le Thi Thu Ha, who were accused of assisting Phuong Hang in hosting “defamatory” live streams on social media, which reportedly affected “social order and security.”

However, the appellate court has rejected the appeal of two individuals,  Dang Thi Han Ni, a journalist, and defendant Dinh Thi Lan, who claimed they became targets of Phuong Hang’s online defamation campaign but were eventually charged with “defaming individuals.”

The court convicted Han Ni of violating the 2018 Cybersecurity Law and sentenced her to one and a half years in prison. The evidence was a video published on her social media titled “Could Ms. Hang have the right to sit above the law?” which was said to contain information that “infringes on Nguyen Phuong Hang’s privacy.”

Read more: Restricted Cyberspace: Vietnam Uses Cybersecurity Laws to Muzzle Online Speech

Tiktoker Fined Under Cybersecurity Decree for Saying Ho Chi Minh City Full of Criminals

Nguyen Nhat Hai, a Vietnamese TikTok influencer with 900,000 followers who is known as Nhat Hai Biet Tuot, has received a 7.5 million dong fine ($300) for posting a video on March 14 claiming that Ho Chi Minh City, formerly named Saigon, is “a haven for criminals.” 

The authorities in Ho Chi Minh City and Bac Giang Province, where Hai lives, declared that the TikToker had violated Clause 1 of Article 101 in Decree 15/2020/ND-CP, which contains punishment for the defamation of government agencies and dissemination of false information. Hai has removed the video from his TikTok channel.

This social media influencer is popularly known for his criticisms of celebrities and praise for Vietnamese leaders. In August 2023, YouTuber and comedian Dua Leo said he would sue Hai for slander because he said Dua Leo previously received a fine because he incited public protests. When Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh visited Australia and upgraded their relationship with Canberra to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, Hai published a video saying, “I am so proud of our leaders.”

Vietnam Backs Human Rights Council’s Resolution on the Protection of Intersex People

Vietnam is among 24 members of the United Nations Human Rights Council that voted in favor of a resolution on Combatting Discrimination, Violence, and Harmful Practices against Intersex Persons. The resolution, spearheaded by Finland, South Africa, Chile, and Australia, was adopted with 24 in favor, none against, and 23 abstentions.

According to Reuters, the UN has cited experts as saying that 1.7% of babies are born intersex, defined as having sex characteristics that do not fit binary notions of male or female. The resolution also calls on states to "combat discrimination, violence and harmful practices against persons with innate variations in sex characteristics and address their root causes," as well as help intersex people "realize the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health."

The statement has declared that the Human Rights Council decided to convene a panel discussion on this topic at its sixtieth session and made it open to the participation of other states, the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee, relevant treaty bodies, and the special procedures of the Human Rights Council, as well as other United Nations agencies and civil society, including organizations representing intersex persons, and other relevant stakeholders.

Read more: Outed, Shamed, and Unfairly Treated: Harassment of LGBTQ+ is Driving Them Away from Vietnam's Public Office

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