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25/08/2017 - 08:20

Vietnam Sea and Islands Exhibition in the Czech Republic

Thanks to the support of the Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and the Vietnamese Association in the Czech Republic, especially with the support of the authorities of district Prague 1, the photo exhibition was opened in the Republic Square, “the heart of Prague ", on the morning of 12/7/2017.

After 4 years (2013 - 2017) of 86 exhibitions on "Paracel and Spratly archipelagos of Vietnam. Historical data and legal evidence" in 57 provinces, 11 islands and island districts, and 17 military units, by mid-July, 1977, the Ministry of Information and Communications launched an exhibition on Vietnamese islands sovereignty abroad. Prague, capital of the Czech Republic, is the first place abroad selected by the Ministry of Information and Communications for the exhibition "Vietnam: Country and People – A look from the sea and the islands".


Prague residents and international visitors visiting the exhibition

Previously, in May 2017, the delegation of the Ministry of Information and Communications arrived in Prague and worked with the Czech Ministry of Culture, Town Hall in district Prague 1, the Embassy of Vietnam and representatives of the community of Vietnamese people in the Czech Republic to discuss the plan to coordinate the exhibition. The Czech Republic enthusiastically supported Vietnam to organize an exhibition to introduce to the Czech people, the Vietnamese community in the Czech Republic and visitors to Prague about the landscape and marine environment in Vietnam and beyond, about the exploitation, the establishment, the implementation and the protection the sovereignty of Vietnamese sea and islands in history. Prague authorities allowed the Ministry of Information and Communications of Vietnam to hold an exhibition in the Republic Square in the district of Prague 1. It is home to many special architectural works, commercial centers, interesting historical and cultural places, attracting a large number of international tourists to visit and enjoy. The opening date of the exhibition was set on 18/7/2017.

However, after the delegation returned to Vietnam, the Ministry of Information and Communications received information that the Chinese Embassy in the Czech Republic will also hold an exhibition on China, right at the Republic Square, on the occasion of Vietnam exhibition. As a result, the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) decided to make the exhibition one week earlier than expected.

Thanks to the support of the Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and the Vietnamese Association in the Czech Republic, especially the support of the authorities of Prague 1, the photo exhibition was solemnly opened in the Republic Square, “the heart of Prague ", on the morning of 12/7/2017.

The content of the exhibition consists of 3 themes: [1] Sea island - Living space of the Vietnamese community, introducing images of sea space in Vietnam, introducing island resources and potential exploitation of this resource for economic development and island tourism, introducing marine culture and livelihoods of people associated with sea islands in 28 provinces and cities of Vietnam; [2] Vietnam's sovereignty over the Paracel and Spratly archipelagos, introducing documents, maps, images, materials, etc. which are valuable and are firm historical and legal documentary evidences on Vietnam's sovereignty over the sea and islands and the two Paracel and Spratly archipelagos; [3] World Heritage Sites in Vietnam, introducing cultural heritages, natural heritages and intangible cultural heritages of Vietnam honored by UNESCO as heritages of humanity.

In the afternoon before the opening of the exhibition, the cultural counselor of the Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in the Czech Republic said that 19 embassies in Prague had accepted the invitation and would send diplomats to attend the opening of the exhibition, including Chinese ambassador in the Czech Republic.

From this information, I was entrusted by the exhibition organizers with the task of preparing the contents needed to "respond" to the representatives of China in case they visit the exhibition and give their opinions.

On the morning of July 12, from 8 am, many visitors, especially Czech-Vietnamese, came to visit the exhibition and took photos, although the official opening ceremony had not yet taken place. Many Vietnamese and tourists were very interested in the documents, maps and images proving Vietnam's sovereignty over the Paracel and Spratly archipelagos displayed at the exhibition. They eagerly have their photos taken next to the model of Vietnam's landmark on the Trường Sa Lớn (Large Spratly) island of the Spratly archipelago.

Deputy Minister of Information and Communications Hoang Vinh Bao, Vietnamese Ambassador to the Czech Republic Ho Minh Tuan, Deputy Minister of Culture Czech Republic Anna Matoušková and Head of District Prague 1 Oldrich Lomecky, inaugurated the opening speech. With the representatives of the Vietnamese Association in the Czech Republic, the Vietnamese Union in Europe, the Vietnamese American Association cut the ribbon at the opening of the exhibition at 10 a.m. Thirteen ambassadors and diplomatic representatives in Prague, together with international friends, expatriates and Vietnamese living, working and studying in the Czech Republic, attended the ceremony opening and visited the exhibition.

However, a few minutes before the opening, the Chinese embassy informed, "due to unexpected work”, the Chinese ambassador to the Czech Republic could not attend the opening ceremony. There were also no diplomats from the Embassy of China participating in the exhibition, except some Chinese visitors who watched the symbol of Vietnam's sovereignty over the Spratly Island and the documents, written in Han script, on sovereignty of Vietnam for the Paracel and Spratly archipelagos displayed at the exhibition.

At 6 p.m. on 12/7, at a meeting hosted by the Ministry of Information and Communications at the Sapa Trade Center in the suburbs of Prague to thank the Czech Republic authorities, the Embassy of Vietnam and the Vietnamese community representatives in the Czech Republic, who were enthusiastic supporters for the successful exhibition. A spokesman for the district government of  Prague 1 said that the Chinese embassy had officially informed that China would cancel the exhibit they had planned to hold in the Republic Square in the autumn. All participants in the meeting were happy to raise their glasses to celebrate the exhibition that had resonated and attracted the attention of the people of Prague, international visitors and overseas Vietnamese in the Czech Republic.

To me, this was an unexpected success in Vietnam's first ever exhibition of Vietnamese sovereignty over the sea and islands to the international community.

Story and photo: Tran Duc Anh Son

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