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Commercial Asylum in Vietnam

Vietnam Map

by Corey

Signs of migration are slightly more hidden amidst the Vietnamese landscape, at least in the sense that we have thus far explored.  The absence of corporate migration may be more noteworthy in many respects, particularly in regards to the American monster McDonald’s.  Personal narratives of strict government control exemplify the attitude of the government and are indicative of a time and place in Vietnamese history.

McDonalds is not present in the Ho Chi Minh horizon; golden arches do not riddle the landscape.  The average income simply will not allow for the McDonalds to secure a foothold in this region of South East Asia, but rumors state that the corporation is on its way.  KFC does make a brief appearance in some corners of Ho Chi Minh, but other iconic corporate staples do not dominate the commercial countryside. 

However, the images branded amidst mimic products have crossed many boundaries, ranging from the presence of Puma, Polo, Diesel, LV, Channel, etc.  Mimic products bypass intellectual property laws under the self motivated justification that they simply mimic the quality of thepolo original and thus, are worth less.  In a nation built on the backs of motorbikes, a wide range of migration occurs in the omnipresent infiltration of both Japanese and Chinese motorcycles.  Japanese bikes were rumored to cost between 1 and 6 thousand US dollars while Chinese bikes may cost a mere 300 dollars.  Chinese DVD’s flood the tourist nooks, as bootleg Hollywood films bring American cinema stars across oceans, exemplifying the easing of trade barriers and the invasion of foreign ideals and images.

A personal experience regarding migration includes the life history narrative of one tour guide in particular.  This guide had attempted to leave Communist Vietnam, was caught, and went on to spend 10 months in a reeducation facility in the North.  If he had managed to flee the country, he would have joined the ranks of over 305,500 Vietnamese refugees seeking asylum outside the country, according to the World Vietnam PassportRefugee Survey 2006.  The survey continues with a wide range of statistical data, ranking refugee status around the world and noting that over 15,000 Vietnamese are still seeking asylum inside Vietnam today.  Our guide’s father was a relatively important figure who had already immigrated to the United States.  By not allowing the next generation to leave the country, our tour guide’s case exemplifies a lack of migration associated with a controlling regime.

Rigid government control is a key theme of Vietnamese history.  War and conflict has forced the country to tighten its grip on its citizens while limiting foreign activity within its borders.  The signs of migration that are now infiltrating the country are linked to a loosening in policy, allowing external players access to Vietnamese markets.  And with this inflow of brand names and mopeds, an outflow has emerged allowing citizens to leave the country.  I have heard from many Asian specialists on the ship that Vietnam will be a key contributor to the international community in the next 10 years.  With major infrastructural funding from the Japanese, as seen in Vietnam’s airport improvements and construction, outside assistance is finally making its way past the political borders.  Commercial asylum still holds true, but McDonalds is on its way, leaving the future of capitalism in Vietnam open to the imagination.

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