Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Britain encourages Vietnamese lawmakers to engage online

While America has been warning the Vietnamese government that continuing human rights abuses may harm trade ties, British diplomats prefer a more subtle approach to democratisation.

The British embassy in Hanoi, led by blogging ambassador Mark Kent, has provided £30,000 of funding to launch a new website designed to allow Vietnamese constituents to quiz their deputies to the National Assembly.

The site is all in Vietnamese so it'll take me a dictionary and some time to work out whether the initiative is succeeding in promoting "engagement" between Communist party delegates and their people. Alternatively, I may just ask a Vietnamese friend to give me an opinion.

In the video below, Mark says the project is aimed at promoting "transparency and accountability" within the one-party Vietnamese system - a system, lest we forget, that has detained and/or jailed nearly 20 bloggers and journalists over the last year or so.

It's easy to scoff at this softly, softly approach. But it's evident that the Vietnamese government does not respond positively to threats or overt criticism of the recent US variety.

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