Background Briefing:Vietnam: Censorship of theInternetCarlyle A. ThayerJuly 15, 2012
[client name deleted]We would like your assessment of censorship in Vietnam.Q1. Firstly, reportedly there wassomething of a loosening of restrictions in the mid-80s to early90s. Authors such as Duong ThuHuong started to speak out. However,this was later quashed. Do you thinkcensorship is cyclical in Vietnam? In2006 there seemed to be a looseningalso, promptly followed in 2007/08with a tightening of restrictions(PMU18 etc).ANSWER: There was a generalrelaxation from 1986, when
was introduced, to 1989, whensocialism collapsed in Eastern Europe.As time passed Vietnamese learnedhow to evade censorship to a limitedextent. One writer who was banned inHanoi, for example, won a prize in oneof the provinces for his short stories.There was a relaxation in 2006because Vietnam was hosting theAPEC Summit and did not want anydisruptions. Bloc 8406 rained on
Q2. It seems as though despitenewspapers becoming more tabloid instyle and pop star-obsessed a numbersingers/models/others face 'fines' andrestrictions for skimpy outfits andother things "not suitable withtraditional culture". There's a longhistory of this, even sanctions ontrousers. Have you noticed itbecoming more pronounced of late?ANSWER: Not really. In the past therewas a campaign against negativephenomena that was carried out inthe urban areas. But is was short-lived.Q3. Conversely the blogger who wrotethe history of blogging which wasposted on VOH [Vietnam Old Hacks]stated that she believes thegovernment actually gets celebrities to"do something stupid" around thetime of sensitive events as a way of distracting attention from them. Is thissomething any of your sources haveever mentioned to you?ANSWER: No.Q4. Do you credit any weight to thevast and still growing commercialpublishing industry, especially of overseas mastheads (Cosmo, Elle, OK!)etc?ANSWER: I give the commercialpublishing industry credit for becomepopular among the young. But I amnot sure what this has to do withcensorship. It is a kind of opium forthe masses. It then attracts the wrathof ultra conservatives who see this asan assault on Vietnamese identity andculture.
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