Vietnamese Americans and immigrants alike have joined Hong Kong protesters against Chinese extradition, fighting for widespread democracy across Asia.
Dozens of Vietnamese Americans gathered in front of the Los Angeles Chinese Consulate in November, carrying signs that said “Don’t Go Back” and shouting “no brutality, no tear gas!” Support for Hong Kong from people of Vietnamese descent has been ongoing, a phenomenon that stems from the two regions’ historical ties, according to the LA Times. Many South Vietnamese fled to Hong Kong during the communist takeover.
The current conflict between Hong Kong and China has raised concerns of democracy across Asia as well.
“If Hong Kong falls, there could be a domino effect in the region,” Alex Trinh, who joined the November march in front of the Chinese consulate, told the LA Times.
Taiwan is perceived to be China’s next target. The two regions have had opposing views on Taiwan’s independence since the 1940s, when the island became self-ruling after the Communist party won the civil war and Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek fled to Taiwan.
Although UC Irvine doctoral candidate Lev Nachman told the LA Times that Taiwan “is well prepared to fight back against a potential domino effect,” he also noted that the Vietnamese diaspora’s fear of China’s expansive reach is “valid and justified.”
“Today Hong Kong, tomorrow Vietnam,” states a lyric in Sea of Black, a song penned by Vietnamese American dissidents in solidarity with the Hong Kong protests. The song invokes a strong connection between the two states, which have both struggled under Communist rule, according to the South China Morning Post.
The Vietnamese Americans behind Sea of Black said they know exactly how Hong Kong people feel. The photos of police firing tear gas and rubber bullets into the Hong Kong crowds struck a chord with Truc Ho, one of the song’s writers.
“My people in Vietnam, every time they stand up to fight [the government], they get beaten by the police,” he told the South China Morning Post.
Truc Ho, who goes by a pseudonym, is the founder of Saigon Broadcasting Television Network, an entertainment and news channel in California that aims to give overseas Vietnamese in the U.S. and Canada a voice.
“It will be a very sad day for me if Hong Kong is not Hong Kong any more, it will be a sad day for people who love freedom and democracy,” he said.
Truc Ho said that his songhas garnered support from people in Vietnam, who have left many comments saying they were inspired by the song.
“When Hong Kong stands up, the world will follow. That’s why I wrote the lyrics, ‘today Hong Kong, tomorrow Vietnam,’” he told the South China Morning Post.