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Vietnam’s Progress Beckons Chinese Impetus

China Today, June 20, 2017 Adjust font size:

Integration with the Local Community

“Our association frequently organizes trips for Chinese companies to Vietnam’s outer regions to donate supplies and so help with poverty alleviation. We have given children schoolbags and other school stationery. Some companies like ICBC (Industrial and Commercial Bank of China) and Midea have organized cultural activities in Hanoi University, like Chinese language and calligraphy competitions,” Wang Duo, who is also head of member enterprises of the Business Association of China in Vietnam (BACV), told China Today.

“Last year we donated about VND 3 billion to a local community to build a bridge,” Sun Dezhi said. “Our Chinese and Vietnamese employees get along well with each other. Last year, our Vietnamese chef’s child caught Dengue fever and was hospitalized, but more than VND 100 million was needed for his treatment. The next day we had a whip-around and all the Chinese employees chipped in. We raised more than VND 70 million which we took to the hospital that evening. Whenever a local employee of ours runs into difficulty, our company does what it can to help.”

The Chinese company also attaches importance to training local employees and technology transfers. According to Sun, since the project started construction in July 2015, the China Railway Sixth Group has successively trained about 7,000 Vietnamese employees. “When it came to building precast beams, we invited two skilled Chinese workers to join the project and train local workers with a hands-on approach. Local workers finally mastered the technique after a month of training,” Sun said.

The Vinh Tan 1 power plant project has hired Vietnam’s PECC2 (Power Engineering Consulting Joint Stock Company 2) as the engineering supervision company, and given employment priority to local technicians and workers. As of April, 2017, the project had directly employed nearly 3,000 Vietnamese workers. Meanwhile, local companies have also been approached for the procurement or lease of large construction machinery, appliances and auxiliary materials. This project has also created jobs in local communities in the catering, accommodation and other service sectors.

“The Vinh Tan 1 project is China’s first BOT (build-operate-transfer) power project in Vietnam. After its completion, the Chinese side will operate it for 25 years and then transfer it to the Vietnamese government. During the process, we will consolidate our training of local employees. Apart from concentrated training to acquire professional knowledge, we also send trainees to Chinese power plants to gain onsite skills,” Xu Jinglun told China Today.

Nguyen Van Thuong is a welder on the Vinh Tan 1 project. “I’m very happy to be working here, and receive pretty good pay, enough to support my family. The Chinese company sets great store on safety measures during construction. Since starting work here my skills have really improved thanks to my Chinese colleagues’ help,” Nguyen told China Today.

Meanwhile, the Vinh Tan 1 project has paid close attention to environmental protection, and tried to avoid any negative impact of construction on local residents. “The project is located in Tuy Phong County of Bình Thuan Province, which has a three-month-long windy season. To prevent dust pollution, we regularly sprinkle water over the construction site, and dust reticulation has been used to cover all exposed earth surfaces. During the season it’s windy almost all day long, and sometimes even escalates to a grade-11 gale. Our project noted this local climatic feature from the very beginning. We have taken all possible measures to prevent any environmental pollution,” Xu said. In contrast, inadequate precautions taken by a nearby local power plant project have reportedly caused dust flows to spread to the local community. This has seriously affected local people’s health. Protest demonstrations by irate local residents blocked the local transport artery Road AH1.

Closely Bonded Brotherhood

Geographic proximity and cultural affinities have contributed to even closer bilateral exchanges. There are in Vietnam 1,500 registered Chinese companies. China-produced groceries and daily necessities abound on Vietnam’s supermarket shelves.

Nha Trang, a coastal city in central Vietnam, is becoming a popular holiday destination for Chinese tourists. A manager of the Havana Hotel in Nha Trang, who requested anonymity, told China Today, “Around 70 percent of guests in the hotel are from China.” All signs in the hotel are in Chinese and English, as well as Vietnamese. Many of the hotel workers speak Chinese. Nearby markets heave with Chinese tourists, who can use Renminbi to buy almost anything. Many local vendors can even talk to you in Chinese.

“Before starting their jobs, our Vietnamese employees usually take a three-month course in Chinese. They can then carry on basic communication in Chinese,” said Xu Jinglun. Their rapid mastery of Chinese might be ascribed to similarities between the Chinese and Vietnamese languages. This harks back to former predominance of Chinese in Vietnam.

“As a supervisory company, we frequently experience cultural conflicts when supervising the investment projects of other foreign countries. However, this has not been the case in the Vinh Tan 1 project,” Nguyen Nhan Bao told China Today.

“Currently there is a Chinese language learning craze in Vietnam. The numbers of people learning Chinese in Vietnam are second only to those learning English,” Nguyen Thu Hang said. It was through learning Chinese that she met her Chinese husband. “Owing to the cultural similarity of the two countries, we’ve encountered neither communication barriers nor cultural conflicts.”

Vu Van Chinh is a translator and interpreter in a Chinese company in Hanoi. “My decision to learn Chinese was influenced by my family, but also prompted by personal interest. My grandpa could speak several languages, including Chinese, and excelled at Chinese calligraphy. My father also has a personal affection for China, as he worked with many Chinese experts, so they hoped I might choose to learn Chinese. I really wanted to learn more about Chinese culture, because as a kid I read the Chinese classical novel the Romance of the Three Kingdoms,” Vu told China Today. “Fluency in Chinese also increases job opportunities,” he added.

Although many ordinary Vietnamese people still have no comprehensive understanding of the Belt and Road Initiative, all those interviewed expressed confidence in the further enhancement of bilateral cooperation. “China-Vietnam relations are already close. As the two countries have reached consensus on further advancing their cooperation, I believe bilateral relations will continue to improve, and that more cooperation projects may be expected,” Nguyen Thu Hang said.

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