Consumer Barometer with Google in Viet Nam

This is a useful resource that reveals the following information, most of it fairly up-to-date, about Vietnamese online habits. The relevant data graphics are displayed after four (4) key questions.

Keep in mind that Viet Nam currently ranks 7th in the world for Facebook users with about 64 million accounts, a 40% increase (!) this year alone. This in a population of about 96 million. (That’s 3% of the global total.) It’s clear that those are not unique accounts and that many people have more than one, which also applies to mobile phones. Ho Chi Minh City ranks among the top 10 cities globally for having the most Facebookers with 14 million users.

How do Vietnamese connect to the Internet?

overview1

Do they use the Internet for personal purposes?

internet use for personal purposes

How often do Vietnamese go online (for personal Internet usage)?

frequency of internet usage

What online activities do they do on their smartphones at least weekly?

weekly smartphone online activities

How digitally savvy are Vietnamese netizens?

digitally savvy

MAA

 

 

 

Vietnam climbs to seventh worldwide for number of Facebook users: report

top 10 countries FB

This is the latest top 10 ranking for Viet Nam and it’s extraordinary like the country itself, in many respects.  It was not that many years ago when Vietnamese Facebook accounts numbered in the hundreds of thousands.  What is especially striking is the 40% increase in only six months. 

In a population of about 96 million, rounded up, suffice it to say that Facebook is about to plateau, if it hasn’t already.  Yes, Facebook is the #1 website in Viet Nam, according to SimilarWeb and Facebook Messenger is the #1 chat app in a very crowded and competitive marketplace of chat apps.

Viet Nam is one of the reasons why Facebook earned $8.03 billion in revenue and $1.04 actual EPS in the first quarter of this year with nearly 2 billion users.

In its latest quarterly report, Facebook beat analyst expectations on profitability and on revenue for the ninth straight quarter.  Viet Nam is one of the reasons why total revenues were $9.32 billion, a 45% increase over last year’s second quarter.  The greatest contributing factor was mobile advertising.  (For better and for worse, just over 2 billion people, an estimated 27% of the entire human race, are on Facebook.)

If you want to advertise any product or service in Viet Nam, especially for young people but , increasingly, for their parents, too, you have to use Facebook.  This is one reason why Mark Zuckerberg’s net worth, which currently stands at $72.7 billion, making him the planet’s 5th-wealthiest person, will continue to increase.

MAA

“Why is Vietnam still poor?”

quoraBelow are a question asked by someone on Quora and an answer provided on 1 September 2016 by a young man who describes himself as born in Hanoi, now living in Sai Gon.  Quora is a self-described “question-and-answer site where questions are asked, answered, edited and organized by its community of users.”  Its slogan is The best answer to any question. Unfortunately, like most corporate slogans, it’s more of an ideal than a reality.  The fact is anyone who is a member can answer, and some answers are better than others, to put it mildly.

As with Facebook, the only reason I choose to continue receiving their updates is because of the occasional nugget of gold in the midst of what is mostly ore.  Some of the questions and answers are the journalistic equivalent of click bait, e.g., Can humans crossbreed with other primates?, Would you kill someone if it wasn’t illegal? or Did you play “show me yours, I’ll show you mine” as a kid?  You get the idea.

Keep in mind that the assumption is Viet Nam is poor.

Why is Vietnam still poor?

Let’s start with corruption. Vietnam’s government is one of the most corrupted government in the world. The Vietnamese government was ranked at 112/168 (2015) in the CPI (Corruption Perceptions Index) [source]. All the money spent towards infrastructure building, social insurance, etc. flows into private pockets. Furthermore, brain drain (or human capital flight) is a huge problem in Vietnam. So you want to get a job in the government, does your father know “someone”? Do you have the money to “buy the position”? All the high quality workforce, if they don’t work oversea, they work for non-government entities. The low quality workforce somehow got into government jobs, and can you imagine what they can do to the countries?

The common Vietnamese people were educated to not having their own opinions, even if they do have opinions, they’ll be suppressed before saying it. Not to mention every problems in society are handled by “the Party” (Communist Party of Vietnam). Even the Vietnamese Constitution states that “the Party” is the only and rightful leading party of Vietnam.

But things are changing towards better. The young generations are now having their own opinions, their standard of living is raising, they have more concerns about politics than ever.

My Answer

Yes, there’s corruption in Viet Nam but there’s also corruption in the US, which is considered to be an “advanced country” but certainly a cautionary tale in this and other respects.  For example, 20 US Americans own as much wealth as 50% of the population, a clear indication of extreme wealth inequality and all of its attendant problems. 20 People Now Own As Much Wealth as Half of All Americans  (See Study: US is an oligarchy, not a democracy, based on a study Princeton University and Northwestern University)

Let’s give credit where credit’s due. Here are just a few examples:

1) Viet Nam is among the world’s leaders in converting wealth into national well-being. Vietnam is the 4th best country in converting wealth into well-being – VnExpress International

2) “Vietnam has achieved the fastest reduction in child malnutrition in the region with an average annual decline of 1.5 percent, according to the World Health Organisation and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).” Vietnam leads drop in child malnutrition

3) “Việt Nam is ranked fifth in the list of the world’s most optimistic countries on economic prosperity in 2017, according to a survey by WIN/Gallup, the world’s leading association in market research and polling.” VN among the world’s most optimistic countries on economic prosperity

4)  Viet Nam ranks 47th out of 127 countries in the Global Innovation Index 2017 (GII) and 9th in Asia, leading the group of middle- and lower-income economies.

As with any country, it’s important to be objective and well-informed when assessing its achievements and its shortcomings. For example, it’s patently false to assert that “All the money spent towards infrastructure building, social insurance, etc. flows into private pockets.” The world is not black and white but rather like a rainbow.

This statement is an oversimplification of a complex phenomenon: “Furthermore, brain drain (or human capital flight) is a huge problem in Vietnam.” A more accurate term is “brain recirculation.” Growing numbers of overseas-educated Vietnamese are coming home to start new businesses or join existing ones, not to mention overseas Vietnamese who have moved (back) to Viet Nam to work and live for the long term, if not for the rest of their lives.

And, yes, Viet Nam’s past continues to haunt its present, including war legacies and the fact that 3.8 million Vietnamese, over half of whom were civilians, were killed during the American War. As others have mentioned, the devastating US-led economic embargo, which was imposed in 1965 on the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (“North Vietnam”), was only lifted in 1994 (!). These are tragic realities not excuses.

In short, Mr. Đức’s one-sided answer reflects a lack of knowledge and perspective. He lacks an appreciation for just how far his country has come in a very short period of time. He does, however, end on an optimistic note: “But things are changing towards better. The young generations are now having their own opinions, their standard of living is raising, they have more concerns about politics than ever.” That’s called development. Why is the standard of living rising?  In large part because of key government policies that date to the Renovation (Đổi Mới) reforms of 1986.

In spite of its problems, many of which I consider to be the “growing pains” of a rapidly developing economy, Viet Nam is widely considered to be one of the great success stories of the developing world.  Isn’t that something Vietnamese and others who have Viet Nam’s best interests at heart can be rightfully be proud of?

MAA

 

 

 

Fall 2017 EducationUSA Community College Fairs

EdUSA CC fair 2017.png

This fall, EducationUSA, i.e., US Mission-Viet Nam through its Embassy in Hanoi and Consulate in HCMC, is organizing a community college fair series in three cities in southern and central Viet Nam.  According to the official description,

The series will offer opportunities to meet students in three major cities where demand for this sector of U.S. higher education is growing. Vietnam is now the 2nd leading country of origin for students at community colleges in the United States and the 6th leading country of origin for international students overall. Registration is open now to all accredited U.S. community colleges.

(As of June 2017, Viet Nam ranks 5th among all sending countries, having displaced Canada in March.  Read this 25 June 2017 VNExpress International article and this 7 July 2017 University World News article for up-to-date information.)

The cities and dates are as follows:

  • HCMC on 3 October
  • Can Tho on 4 October
  • Hue on 6 October

While it has been decreasing in recent years, demand for community colleges (CC) as a pathway to four-year institutions and a Bachelor’s degree remains strong among Vietnamese parents and students, especially in these regions of the country.  According to the latest (June 2017) SEVIS by the Numbers update, 30% of all Vietnamese students in the US are enrolled in a CC while 29.7% are studying at a four-year college or university.  (In 2009/10, 90% of all Vietnamese undergrads started out at a CC.)

may 2017 ed level breakdown VN
June 2017 SEVIS by the Numbers Update

Clearly, the most promising location among the three is HCMC, which is where the majority of CC students are coming from.  There are far fewer students coming from the other two cities because of less ability to pay and a higher visa denial rate.  This fair series is an example of a probable mismatch between US State Department and US community college goals.  The former are focused on outreach as a manifestation of the exercise of soft power while the latter are here to recruit students for their institutions.

MAA 

 

 

Trump is not deterring Vietnamese from studying in US

Here are the introduction and conclusion to my latest (7.7.17) University World News article about the possible impact of political changes in the US, in particular, on young Vietnamese studying overseas.  It includes links to recent articles.  If these excerpts whet your appetite for more, follow this link to read the article in its entirety. 

MAA

INTRODUCTION

photo_4856Vietnam remains a hot country for United States colleges, universities, boarding and day schools interested in international student recruitment. Just as its economy has managed to weather the global storm of the past few years, Vietnamese young people continue to study abroad in large numbers, undeterred by Brexit, the 2016 US presidential election and other cataclysmic, potentially game-changing socio-political events.

In fact, the US is the world’s second-leading host of Vietnamese students – after Japan – with over 30,000 at all levels, mainly in higher education, according to the latest (June 2017) SEVIS by the Numbers quarterly update. However, Japan and the US are an apples and oranges comparison since the latter offers mostly short-term, vocational programmes.

Vietnam displaced Canada as the fifth-leading sending country to the US in March 2017, a position it continues to hold in the latest update.

CONCLUDING THOUGHTS

Vietnam is defying the odds, as it has in so many respects in the recent past and throughout its long, tumultuous and inspirational history.

The articles above show why US institutions should make Vietnam a priority country for international student recruitment and why they should develop or fine-tune an ethical recruitment strategy in what has become a fiercely competitive market, not only among US institutions but with those coming from countries that have recently discovered Vietnam as a potentially promising recruitment market.

While the recruiting wave will eventually break because of demographic and development-related factors, such as aging of the population and an improvement in the quality of the domestic higher education system for example, demand for overseas study will continue to gain momentum for now, barring unforeseen political and economic factors.

Myanmar: a new frontier for international student recruitment

Since political and economic liberalization, the advent of a multiparty democratic system, and the lifting of economic sanctions, the country has been opening up to the world in grand fashion.

Flag_of_Myanmar_svgThe above quote is from a 7.7.17 PIE News blog post that I co-authored with Deepak Neopane, the founder of City College Yangon and managing director of Academics International, an educational consulting company based in Yangon.

Follow this link to read the post in its entirety.

MAA

Foreigner attacked after traffic incident

anh-tay-bi-danh-2-1498318774213

The video of this incident, which occurred on 23 June in Hanoi, went viral with 2 million views.  Below is a summary from DanTri International.  (Here’s a better version of the video that is linked in the article.)

Some witnesses said that the fight on Tran Khat Chan Street started when the man drove his car over the foreigner’s foot. The foreigner told the driver to stop the car so that he could take his shoe, but the driver did not do. So, the foreigner hit the car mirror. 

The driver then got out of his car and attacked the foreigner.

The two Vietnamese men and the foreigner went to the local police station where police made them apologise to each other. 

Only minor injuries, a heavy dose of adrenaline, and wounded male egos.  All’s well that ends well? 

This is an object lesson in what not to do in this situation.  Here are the dynamics of the scenario in question, which helped to fuel the fires of aggression and violence.  It involved a foreigner and the foreigner’s girlfriend was Vietnamese, who did her level best to keep him out of the fray.  (There is a lot to say about the cultural dynamics of this situation, including masculine identity and perceptions of foreigners, but it transcends the scope of one blog post.  Suffice it to say that a video of two Vietnamese men fighting would probably not have gone viral.)

Here’s the bottom line:  There are no rules to street fights and, chances are, you are not going to win, if you define winning as teaching the other guy a lesson by giving him a good “whupping”, and walking away unscathed.  Chances are good, in fact, that you could end up in the hospital or worse. And while it’s happening, chances are no one is going to help you because they’re afraid, among other reasons.

This incident started with one man, the driver of the car, and the foreigner on the motorbike.  The former started to throw punches.  He was joined by a friend, which means it quickly became two against one.  It could have been a posse against one.  The driver, in addition to throwing punches, including one that landed on the woman’s face, later picked up a brick, after trying to hit the foreigner with his helmet.  It could have been a knife.  No rules, no “fighting fair,” just unrelenting attempts to dominate one’s opponent. 

Fortunately, the police were on hand to ensure a peaceful resolution.  Without their involvement you can let your imagination run wild as to what might have happened.

Advice to foreigners, i.e., foreign men:  Avoid conflict, or if conflicts finds you, walk away.  Be the better man.  Take the high road.  Go home in one piece.  

A US colleague recently asked me whether Viet Nam was a safe country.  The answer, of course, is a resounding yes.  There is very little violent crime.  Most are crimes are those against property, e.g., petty theft that includes drive-by purse and bag snatchings, especially in HCMC.  (Injury can occur but it’s incidental.)

PostscriptVietnamese men arrested for attacking American in Hanoi (27.6.17, VNExpress International)  The plot thickens.  The police obviously had a change of heart.

MAA