* war and social upheaval: Viet Nam Vietnam War boat people destination

Vietnam War: The Boat People--Destinatiin

Figure 1.--Here Vietnmese Boat People are seen during a visit to Hong Kong by British Prime-Minister Johm Majot. The boy waves a Unioin Jack as they hope Britain will takem them in. The Primem-Ministr was trportedly moved bby theor plight. The 'Daily Telegrapoh' read captiom read, "British Flag: A Vietnamese child wasves a British flag Wedeneday during tyhe visit at British Prime Minmister John Major in the High Island detenhtiin center for Vietnamese boat people. Major is on a two-day visit of Hoing Kong following a trip to China." The photograph was dated September 4, 1991. .

Vietnam faces the South China Sea. Many attempted to reach Hong Kong which at the time was still a British territory. The northern coast was North Vietnam and China, obviously where they did not want to go, but some headed to Hong Komg and Taiwan which required a long journey and some navigational expertise. To the east was the Philippines, but a long oceanic voyage. To the west was Thailand . To the south was Malaysia, and further into the Java Sea south was Indonesia. Unlike Hong Kong and Taiwam, precise navigatioin was less important to these other destinations. All these counries in the region struggled with the Boat People issue. They were not rich countries with the rresources to care for huge numbers of refugees. British Hong Kong in particlar had a problem. How could they admmit Vietnamese refugeess and refuse entry to Chinese people trying to enter. The regional countries wanted to pass the Boat People on to the richer countries both the United States and the European countries. Thus the Boat People were for the mosy part not granted peranent resident staus, but held in deprssing refugee camps until other countries accepted them for permaanent reselement. Tiny Hong Kong of all places emerged as especially important. Unlike the other regional destinatiins, Hong Kong did not have the physicak space for regugees. And the South Vietnamese escaping on rafts and small boats could not reach Hing King on their own. A Danish reighter brought the first Vietnamese refugees to Hiong Kong (1975). Hong Kong authorities appealed to the United Nations for aid (1976). Really large numbers did not begin to arrive (1979). space and facilities for refugees. Vietnamese authorities began began repressing ethnic Chinese. Hong Kong declared itself the 'port of first asylum'. At the same time Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia began turning Vietnamese refugees away. The United States established a processing facility for refugees on Guam.


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Created: 10:11 PM 4/26/2006
Last updated: 10:11 PM 4/26/2006