Well said. I was beginning to think it was just me. I’ve bemoaned this a few times and on occasions been shouted down. My take on it is that it’s the lunar calendar, China, to date, doesn’t own the moon.
See also this greeting from Dave who arguably gets it most wrong:
“I want to send my very best wishes to everyone celebrating the Chinese New Year – in Britain, in China and all around the world.”
I can’t help but think this is a hangover from less cosmopolitan times when anyone with South East Asian features was generically regarded as Chinese in the UK. A couple of years ago at the British Council, London sent round best wishes for the Chinese New Year which ended up on Vietnamese desks.
In China it’s the New Year, everywhere else it’s the Lunar New Year. In Vietnam it’s Tet. No?
Working with colleagues from China, Hong Kong, Vietnam and the UK this week, I’ve stuck to saying Happy New Year of the Snake.
I’ve become fascinated by the role of the eldest son in Vietnam. Not just what is expected of him but also how it colours all family life.
Because the eldest son will one day keep the parents – so, from a very early age, the parents are a little scared of their own boy. Above all else the parents cannot afford to upset the eldest son and the son surely understands this.
In arguments with siblings the eldest son is most likely to backed. Request for possessions or preferential treatment are investments parents expect to see a return on.
You cannot afford to risk your relationship with your son.
A daughter will leave – perhaps marrying an eldest son herself. Then she will be part of the payback of another parental investment – expected not just to cook and clean for her husband and parents but also, frequently, any yet-to-leave sisters too. In this instance, it’s the mother-in-law that’s frequently the enforcer – safeguarding the payback while keeping her son onside by controlling his wife.
The question is: how do you begin to gain equality for women when parents can’t afford not to put their sons first?
And when and how will this change?
The film Local Hero is one I keep coming back to.
It was one of the first films I watched with my wife and, in the middle of a hot, airless Hanoi summer, there’s something even more appealing about a barren, windswept Scottish beach.
My wife made her big entrance on our wedding day to Wild Theme from the soundtrack. On our first summer holiday together in the UK we visited Pennan where the movie was shot. Even phoning from the iconic red box outside the pub.
Today I just watched You’ve Been Trumped. The story of how Donald Trump essentially hoodwinks the Scottish authorities into believing his exaggerated offers of investing billions and creating thousands of jobs in return for a stretch of dunes of special scientific interest. The heartbreaking film details how the local residents were bullied by police and the filmmaker violently arrested. The similarities to Local Hero are endless and snippets of the movie are spread throughout the film. Sadly unlike Local Hero there is no happy ending with the dunes bulldozed in readiness for a hotel and golf courses.
Here in Vietnam I have been keeping up with Animal Asia’s campaign to save the Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre in nearby Tam Dao. Suffice to say that it’s very difficult to believe that there are any defence issues stopping the centre continuing as it is. Beyond that you can do your own Googling and joining the dots.
Reminders then, both here and in Scotland that when the rich and powerful want something they tend to get it. It’s hard to know whether it’s more upsetting back in the UK where our “developed” nation has proved to be not so developed after all or here where it’s so easy to feel powerless.
However, doing nothing doesn’t seem like an option. To bring Billy Bragg up to date: “changing your avatar is not enough on days like these”.
I am sure that of the people who read this there will be a cross section of expat business people, NGO workers, embassy staff and general investors in Vietnam. We are guests here but we can still be respectful in getting our message across. After all, it would impossible to argue that a positive outcome for the bear park wouldn’t be good for Vietnam.
We must make sure we are heard. This isn’t just happening in Vietnam but that’s where we are. We need to do something. If you’ve channels to people with power or influence then you must use them – if not then get in touch with Animals Asia and ask how you can help.