Hard, really, to be entirely warm with your brothers from the North...
...when you think they’ve invaded your territory.
I doubt that Ho Chi Minh, the Communist leader of North Vietnam, was terribly pleased when Chairman Mao’s China took control of the Paracel Islands near South Vietnam, to support his flank during the Vietnam War.
He’d had to tread carefully when the Nationalist Chinese leader Chiang Kai-Shek liberated the North from Japan during the Second World War.
And deeply engraved in all Vietnamese are folk memories of being governed by China for more than a thousand years.
So, what to do to combat China’s claim over the South China Sea?
Here is one of the answers.
In a former capital of Vietnam - in its royal palace and administrative centre - in Hue…
…it’s a map. A pretty old one. Showing how Vietnamese fishermen and traders knew and navigated around the area.
And if it seems pitiful, it’s not only for the reasons I’ve stated above, but because there isn’t an awful lot of evidence otherwise. Anyway, battles have been fought over bits of paper before.
Built history is a lot less commonplace than you’d think in South East Asia. Even the glories of Angkor Wat, Borobudur, Prambanan, have ‘only’ been around for the last thousand years…
…I speak as a Brit who feels a bit humble that the Egyptians had been building pyramids for a thousand years before Stonehenge was begun, around 3000 BC.
Wooden buildings were the norm. These decayed and disappeared in the tropical climate. Others were destroyed in war, or simply forgotten as a result of local climate change or a change in economic flows.
And who’s going to build very much on a South China Sea island, anyway? Until now.
So the miraculous survival of a map is a thing to be celebrated...
...and is, in many tourist sites. And not just in Vietnam.