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date: 10-02-2017 14:40:39

Vietnamese expatriate artists performing in their homeland are legally treated less than strangers



The article written by our Lawyer Le Quang Vy and Lawyer Le Trong Them of Phuoc & Partners, titled: "Vietnamese expatriate artists performing in their homeland are legally treated less than strangers"

For more information about Lawyer Vy, please click here

For more information about Ms. Them, please click here


Every year the expatriate artist community makes regular contributions to their homeland not only in the culture and art area but also in such other areas as commercial investment, financial provision, charity and so forth.

Arguably, the resources mobilized from the Vietnamese community abroad consist of a significant contribution by expatriate artists. However, it is quite a sad reality in the area of art performance when the current Vietnamese law contains irregularities in respect of Vietnamese expatriate artists, while they are still considered as Vietnamese citizens under the Law on Nationality.

Being treated like strangers

Vietnamese expatriate artists are treated not just unlike domestic artists but also less than foreign artists who are invited to perform in Vietnam. Specifically:

First, Vietnamese expatriate artists are only allowed to perform upon being granted the license for artists as Vietnamese expatriates to return to their homeland for performance with the maximum period of 6 months
[1]. The license must be granted by the highest level state management authority in the area of art performance, which is the Department of Performing Arts - Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism while domestic artists do not have to apply for this type of license.

In addition, also in accordance with this regulation, all events with the participation of expatriate artists must obtain the license for organizing art or fashion performances from the Department of Performing Arts - Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism (i.e. central competent authority), regardless of whether the geographic scope of performance is organized in one or more provinces/cities. Meanwhile, the art performing events featured by domestic or foreign artists and organized within one province/city only need to obtain the art performance license from the Department of Culture, Sport and Tourism or the Department of Culture and Sport (i.e. local competent authorities.)

Second, Vietnamese expatriate artists must have a “good moral profile” shown in the comments by the local Vietnamese diplomatic agency. This can be viewed as a sub-license which forces Vietnamese expatriate artists to satisfy both inland and overseas state authorities. And what is the standard for a Vietnamese expatriate artist to be eligible for obtaining a certificate of “good moral profile” from the Vietnamese diplomatic agency(?!). In practice, such regulation has triggered Vietnamese diplomatic agencies many difficulties in conducting the procedures for checking and verifying before giving comments. From the perspective of any expatriate artist, this letter for comments hurts his self-respect.

Third, expatriate artists are identified as Vietnamese expatriates. According to the Law on Nationality, Vietnamese expatriates are conceptually explained as Vietnamese citizens and Vietnamese natives residing and living abroad for the long term. This concept divides Vietnamese expatriates into two groups. The first group is Vietnamese citizens who are holding Vietnamese nationality and the second group is Vietnamese natives (who have ever held Vietnamese nationality and whose nationality is determined at birth in the principle of blood line.) Both groups stay in a state of residing and living abroad for the long term. Meanwhile, the current Vietnamese law only explains the concept of residence, and not any legal document is enacted to quantify "long term" and help you understand what it is like to "live abroad for the long term".

Thus, determining a particular expatriate artist who is holding Vietnam nationality or being a Vietnamese citizen viewed as Vietnamese expatriates for the purpose of applying the procedures for issuing the art performance license will be based solely on the subjective will and standpoint of the state manager. This is often seen as a lack of transparency in the legislative work.

From the perspective of a Vietnamese expatriate artist, he must feel offended in comparing his Vietnamese citizenship with the citizenship of a local artist. This can lead the expatriate artist in this story to wonder whether he should hold Vietnamese citizenship or not.

It is thought that, if only for the reason of preventing some Vietnamese expatriate artists whose political attitude is inconsistent with the State of Vietnam, the licensing solution for Vietnamese expatriate artists seems not to achieve high efficiency. Because if a particular artist ideologically "opposes" the State of Vietnam, he/she can still take action over the internet without needing entry into Vietnam to perform.

In order to warm the hearts of the artists in exile

We would cite Article 18 of the Constitution of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam: " Vietnamese expatriates are an inseparable part of the community of Vietnamese ethnicity and so forth. The State will encourage and create favorable conditions for Vietnamese expatriates to preserve and promote the cultural identity of the Vietnamese people, maintain close ties with their family and homeland, contribute to building their homeland and country.". Despite such constitutional principle, the Government maintains complying with the current state management over performing arts with regard to Vietnamese expatriate artists. This left us afraid of when to put Article 18 of the Constitution into practice.

Legal amendments for Vietnamese citizens as expatriate artists not to be discriminated right in their homeland are not just a constitutional job but also the Vietnamese mother’s sacred feelings for returning expatriate sons.

[1] Article 10.2.(c) of Decree 79/2012/NĐ-CP as amended and supplemented by Decree 15/2016/NĐ-CP



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