It has been an interesting October in Vietnam. Both the blogger and Twitter spheres seem quite active. Vietnam720 replaced Chip and got the Tweetups in Saigon active again. They are now having month meetings. In the blogging world, there is a deep discussion about the so-called Vietnamese middle class. You can read more about it through Mel’s blog. This topic is interesting even though a real Vietnamese middle class probably does not exist in Vietnam.
Anyway, the English-speaking social spheres in Vietnam tend to focus less on the gossips and rumors going around in Vietnam. There are a lot going around lately and below I will mention a few.
General Vo Nguyen Giap Passed Away?
Yes, this tends to be a reoccurring rumor in Vietnam. The last one was about a year ago. In short, 2-3 weeks ago, rumors started spreading that the 99 year old General Giap passed away. Of course there are no official confirmations of his death. VOVNews even published an article about General Giap sending a telegram to the flood victims in Quang Binh on October 8th.
Yet nobody has seen General Giap in public for awhile. There was a picture of General Giap at the start of Hanoi’s 1000 Year Celebration but several Vietnamese said it was not a recent photo in online forums.
If General Giap did pass away, the Vietnamese government may be withholding this information from the public until way after the 1000 year celebrations in Hanoi which ended the previous weekend. Also, the ASEAN meeting Defense Ministers occurred right after Hanoi’s celebration. The announcements may come in a couple weeks. Ho Chi Minh’s death was withhold for 48 hours since the day of his death was on the anniversary of the founding of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. There is speculation that General Giap’s body may be similarly embalmed and placed in a mausoleum like Ho Chi Minh was followed by a month long, or longer, mourning period.
I guess we will just have to wait and see on this one…
US Military Presence in Vietnam?
Yes, I am hearing this rumor at least once a month now since the summer. In the past, I knew of a Viet Kieu from the Pentagon visiting Hanoi several years ago. Cam Ranh would make a great naval base for the US Navy and my fellow Marines. Prime Minister Putin also wants to restablish a Russian presence in Cam Ranh as well, a port they left back in 2002. It would be a hard fought out battle for the bases but if Vietnam follows the path of Kyrgyzstan, it could be hosting both the US and Russian military in the same country (In Kyrgyzstan, the US are stationed at Manas Airbase in Bishkek, Russians have a presence in Kant just outside of Bishkek).
The US military and Vietnam are on closer terms now, especially with a strong China nearby. China has been asserting itself in the region. Vietnam can use some US military hardware to balance China’s influence in the region. It no longer has the same military might that defeated the French, Americans and finally the Chinese in the 60s and 70s.
Is there a US military presence currently in Vietnam? It is hard to say. The only people that seem to be talking are the Haiphong mafia who will gain quite a bit if the US, and Russia, bring their soldiers and sailors back to Vietnam. They, the mafia, say the American troops are already here along the northern border with China.
And yes, the Vietnamese government keeps saying no to foreign bases in Vietnam but…again, like the previous rumor. we will just have to wait and see…
Heavily Influenced Stock Market?
It is amazing, right at the beginning of the 1000 year celebrations in Hanoi, both bourses in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Then the stock market unexpectedly recovered gaining about 20 points in the final 30 minutes during one session. Then it has stayed the same throughout the celebrations and the meeting with the ASEAN Defense Ministers (see the image on the left of the Vietnam Index).
Rumors have always said that two influential groups are controlling the stock market in Vietnam. It is not competitive. One of them stepped in to keep the stock market from declining. It would have hit around 360-380 if that had not happened. One thing is certain, the average Vietnamese will no longer invest in both stock markets. It is just not a safe bet anymore, it never was. How long can the bourses be kept artificially high, it is hard to tell. Many are still waiting for the real estate market to crash later this year.
Vietnam needs to better regulate the stock market and enforce higher standards.
Anyway, this has been the talk, gossip, and rumors from outside the Expat English speaking spheres. It will be interesting to see what “actually” transpires from the above. Remember, they are only rumors… 🙂