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Behind the Headlines: APA News Blog

Academic Version: Applying my personal experiences and academic research as a professor of Sociology and Asian American Studies to provide a more complete understanding of political, economic, and cultural issues and current events related to American race relations, and Asia/Asian America in particular.

Plain English: Trying to put my Ph.D. to good use.

May 21, 2008

Written by C.N.

Vietnamese American High Tech Startups in Viet Nam

Previously I’ve written about two particular trends among Vietnamese and Vietnamese Americans — the first is how many Vietnamese Americans are increasingly relocating back to Viet Nam in order to open businesses and get a piece of Viet Nam’s fast-growing economy. The second trend is the burgeoning high-tech industry in Viet Nam, as it tries to catch up with its “Asian tiger” neighbors such as Taiwan, South Korea, and of course, China.

As luck would have it, the San Jose Mercury Times has a story that combines both of these trends — growing numbers of Vietnamese Americans in the Silicon Valley area returning to Viet Nam to open high-tech business ventures:

For decades, the Vietnamese who settled in Silicon Valley, which has one of the largest Vietnamese populations outside the Southeast Asian country, and the leaders of Vietnam eyed each other with suspicion, if not hostility.

Now Hanoi is luring them back as the country embraces a pro-business path similar to its neighbor, China. In April, government officials held the latest in a series of seminars in Ho Chi Minh City focused on encouraging even more Viet Kieu (overseas Vietnamese) to return.

Particularly the younger generation are responding by taking the 15-hour flight across the Pacific to launch start-ups and head up operations for multinational companies. They all want a piece of Vietnam’s hot economy.

Most software outsourcing companies here were founded by Viet Kieu. Overseas Vietnamese hold high-level positions with companies like Intel and venture capital firms. The government reports Viet Kieu entrepreneurs invested about $90 million last year. . .

While Vietnamese enjoy greater personal freedoms, returning Viet Kieu are mindful that they must stay clear of local politics. The government prohibits any debate about its one-party system. . . . These days, Viet Kieu are as likely to be wined and dined by Communist Party officials as to be spied on. . . .

For the most part in Vietnam, pragmatism has replaced anger. Officials know Viet Kieu have critical business experience, technical know-how and vital overseas connections, all of which are desperately needed in this emerging economy.

The article does note however, that there is still some emotional tension among Vietnamese Americans — especially concerning the older generation — about doing business with the communist government.

As I’ve also written about before, many first generation Vietnamese immigrants vividly remember the brutalities and suffering inflicted on them and their family members by the communists and as such, are likely to react angrily to anything seen as “cooperation” with the communist authorities.

Nonetheless, this economic and cultural trend is inevitably going to increase in the years and decades to come, even if Viet Nam continues to be controlled by the communists.

This trend is also another example of the globalized nature of the evolving Asian American identity these days. That is, as we move forward into the 21st century, these kinds of transnational economic and cultural ties and networks are only going to become more prominent and significant among many Asian Americans.

Just as important however, is that in facilitating these kinds of transnational, global ties, Asian Americans are not turning their backs on their American identities. In fact, they are strengthening them by leading American society and its economy forward into the globalized marketplace.

In other words, for good and for bad, the U.S. needs to adapt to globalization. As this story shows, Vietnamese Americans are leading the way — for the benefit of both Viet Nam and the U.S.


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Copyright © 2001- by C.N. Le. Some rights reserved. Creative Commons License

Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Vietnamese American High Tech Startups in Viet Nam" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2008/05/vietnamese-american-high-tech-startups-in-viet-nam/> ().

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