Spratly Islands live in Vietnamese hearts

The administration and residents of Ho Chi Minh City have put a lot of efforts to support the soldiers living on the Spratly Islands both materially and spiritually, having a profound understanding of their difficult life. 

(File) Former Ho Chi Minh City People’s Council chief Ms. Pham Phuong Thao (2nd, L) receives a big fish from soldiers on Alison Reef

Colonel Bien Xuan Khuong, who has experience of the Spratly Islands for 19 years, says today the Islands receive much more attention and support from the entire country than during the early days of its sovereignty. 

Earlier, living conditions on the islands were tough and lacked basic amenities but now there is better communication with the mainland and telephones made it easier to speak to family members and others anywhere in the world.

He adds that the government and people in HCMC are most sympathetic towards Spratly Islands.

These sentiments are endorsed in every letter written by HCMC students and Youth Union members. Regular visits by city leaders and people and the facilities offered by organizations and enterprises to improve living conditions and develop the economy of the islands is a clear testimony of the feelings of the people.

So far eight business trips have been made by the HCMC government and residents to visit the soldiers on Spratly Islands. Each returned completely enamored from their experience of the Islands. 

With limited time at hand, every visit to a sinking or floating island or oil-rig house only lasts one or two hours but it is enough to fill delegates with strong feelings of admirations.

Despite their strenuous life under such harsh and hostile conditions, the officers and soldiers from the Spratly Islands to Alison Reef always found time to offer warm hospitality to delegates and express their deep appreciation.

City Party chief Le Thanh Hai says that in 2006, delegates witnessed firsthand the hardships and affections of the soldiers camped on the islands.

Such trips from the mainland have helped narrow the distance to Spratly Islands. After their visit to the islands, people in HCMC have felt a sense of responsibility towards the soldiers on Spratly Islands. HCMC has carried out many major projects on the islands and even in the oil-rig houses DK1, to show their support for their fellow citizens living there. Many of these projects are estimated to cost a huge amount of money.

Besides material support, HCMC organizations like the Communist Youth Union held programs, namely “For beloved Spratly Islands” (Vì Trường Sa thân yêu) and “Letters to the islands” (Cánh thư hải đảo) to make the younger generation be more aware and express their sympathy and encouragement towards the soldiers.

The HCMC administration also expects companies to donate generously towards the cause of the soldiers at sea.  

Together with other cities and provinces in the country, HCMC always tries to contribute towards the development of Spratly Islands. As Vice Admiral Tran Thanh Huyen emphasized, their actions are symbolic of solidarity towards these remote islands.

The sentiments of the mainland do not include slogans or mottos but have become part of a permanent consciousness of the Vietnamese people. Spratly Islands do not seem far as they live in Vietnamese hearts.

By Thach Thao and Mai Huong - Translated by Huu Duy

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