Carriers of the National Maritime Heritage

Members of Hoang Sa - Truong Sa clubs across Europe have demonstrated their profound pride, affection, and sense of duty to the seas and islands of their home country.

Message-Bearers of The Motherland Sea
Hoang Sa-Truong Sa club in Poland.

Overseas Vietnamese (OVs) from European countries who had visited Truong Sa and the DK1 platform held a gathering in Paris on June 11 to reminisce about the memories of their visits to Vietnam’s seas and islands.

The event, initiated by the Liaison Department for Vietnamese in Europe “For the sea and islands of Vietnam”, was part of the activities toward Truong Sa (Spratly) following the success of a scientific workshop on the East Sea and Vietnam’s sovereignty issues.

Cao Hong Vinh, head of the department, said the activities in Truong Sa during this period include workshops, exhibitions, and exchanges among OVs who visited Truong Sa. The purpose is to give the Vietnamese community in Europe and international friends a better understanding and a clearer view of the lives and courageous spirit of the soldiers working at the forefront to protect every inch of Vietnam’s sacred land.

Mai Phan Dung, Deputy Chairman of the State Committee for Overseas Vietnamese Affairs, said the committee has organized about 10 trips to Truong Sa and the DK1 platform, with the participation of over 500 OVs from 40 countries.

He said the OVs have made significant contributions to the construction of facilities on the islands over the past years, helping improve the lives of soldiers and residents at the forefront. These contributions have amounted to billions of dong, adding that more similar trips will be held to foster bonds between people at home and OVs and between OVs and their love for the homeland.

The very first trip

Recalling the milestone of the first trip that brought Vietnamese expats to Truong Sa in 2012, Former Deputy Foreign Minister, Ambassador Nguyen Thanh Son, who is also the former head of the State Committee for OVs Affairs, said this was an unprecedented initiative.

Many OVs expressed their aspiration to visit Truong Sa and see with their own eyes the sovereignty landmarks on the sea, which are being steadfastly protected by the soldiers of the Vietnamese People’s Navy, Son said.

In response to this rightful aspiration, the State Committee for OVs Affairs under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs raised recommendations to the Government and relevant agencies on the plan to organize visits to Truong Sa for OVs.

Those who joined the 2012 trip were amazed by the greenery of the islands, and deeply moved by the bravery and sacrifices by officials and soldiers on duty in Truong Sa, Son stressed.

Message-Bearers of The Motherland Sea
A meeting of the members of the Truong Sa Club in Germany.

Some people, upon setting foot on the islands and holding a handful of homeland sand, burst into tears. They cried because they never imagined they would have the opportunity to come to this place and because Hoang Sa and Truong Sa have always been an inseparable part of the homeland, Son went on.

Five years later, Truong Sa Club in Germany was officially established in April 2017. Initially, it was a volunteer organization grouping those who took part in visits to Truong Sa Archipelago. However, recognizing the warm sentiments that OVs have given to the homeland’s sea and islands, the club was expanded to accept those who have not had a chance to visit Truong Sa.

From 11 members at first, the Truong Sa Club’s membership has expanded to nearly 40.

So far, regular visits have been organized for overseas Vietnamese to visit islands and seas in the homeland. The visits have helped raised the expats’ awareness and understanding of the national sovereignty over the sea and islands as well as their responsibility in the field.

Recently, the club held an exchange program with the participation of many Vietnamese associations in Germany. Within the framework of the program, the club organized an exhibition of images, artifacts with documents on Vietnam’s sovereignty over the Truong Sa archipelago in order to raise awareness and responsibility of the Vietnamese people to contribute to the protection of the country’s sovereignty over the sea and islands.

The members also donated EUR 6,030, which was presented by the overseas Vietnamese delegation in Germany visiting Truong Sa in 2023 to the officers and soldiers of the island district.

In Poland, the Hoang Sa-Truong Sa club was established on July 26, 2019 and officially launched on December 1, 2019.

President of the Hoang Sa, Truong Sa club Cao Hong Vinh said that the club’s activities connected Truong Sa soldiers in Poland, Vietnam and throughout Europe; participated in the program Truong Sa Calendar, Journey of the Heart.

Like the spirit of the Vietnamese in Germany and Poland, the Hoang Sa – Truong Sa Club in the Czech Republic was born in Prague in 2022.

Its President Nguyen Ngoc Binh said that he was honored to represent the Vietnamese community to visit Truong Sa and witness the life of the people on the island with his own eyes. When he returned to the mainland, he and his members decided to establish Hoang Sa – Truong Sa Club to raise money and call for support to contribute to preserving the homeland’s sea and islands, and to disseminate knowledge about the sea and islands.

Right at the founding ceremony, responding to the call for financial support to build a “sovereign boat” for the Truong Sa island district and the DK1 rig of the Navy Command, the Hoang Sa – Truong Sa Club in the Czech Republic launched and raised more than Korun 137,500 (nearly VND 140 million) to join hands with OVs around the world.

Spread love with the sea and islands

A club named “Love Vietnam’s seas and islands” was launched on March 19 in Paris following the movement “All for Vietnam’s seas and islands” that is spreading across Europe.

Tran Thu Dung, a founder of the club, said the club aims to connect the community and French friends who love Vietnam in general and the country’s seas and islands in particular.

The club is also expected to promote Vietnamese people, nature, marine culture, and specialties to attract visitors to Vietnam.

Message-Bearers of The Motherland Sea
A meeting of the members of the Truong Sa Club in Germany.

Dung said that the club will also engage in fundraising to support students, teachers, schools, community houses, and libraries on Truong Sa islands, contributing to socio-economic development and protecting Vietnam’s sovereignty over the seas and islands.

This year, representatives of Vietnamese people in the Netherlands also joined the delegation of OVs on a visit to soldiers and residents on the island district of Truong Sa and DK1 platforms.

In the Netherlands, this year, Nguyen Thi Lan Huong, President of the Vietnamese Women’s Union in the Netherlands and Leu Thi Hien, Vice President of the Vietnamese Association in the Netherlands, were honored to represent OVs here to visit Truong Sa.

Returning from this meaningful visit, Huong said she was talking with the delegates from the previous visit to establish Truong Sa Club. She hopes that when the club is born, it will contribute to expanding knowledge about the sea and islands for future generations and contribute more voices to support in the struggle for sovereignty as well as join hands with the people in the country to build the country.

As Cao Hong Vinh, Head of the Liaison Committee for OVs in Europe’s “For Vietnam’s sea and islands” and the representative of Truong Sa – Hoang Sa Club in Poland, affirmed that the activities of the clubs for the homeland’s sea and islands are all aimed at sharing and introducing to the Vietnamese community and international friends about life, the resilience of the soldiers is at the head of the storm to protect every inch of the sacred land of the Fatherland.

Through this, each overseas Vietnamese really becomes a messenger-carrier about Vietnam’s seas and islands, helping generations of OVs communities better understand, have cohesion and support more for the cause of national construction.

Hannah Nguyen