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Love for homeland prompts overseas Vietnamese to return: former German vice chancellor

Love for homeland prompts overseas Vietnamese to return: former German vice chancellor

Saturday, April 29, 2023, 17:39 GMT+7
Love for homeland prompts overseas Vietnamese to return: former German vice chancellor
Former German Vice Chancellor Philipp Rösler during a talk with Tuoi Tre News on April 26, 2023. Photo: Huu Hanh / Tuoi Tre

On the occasion of returning to Vietnam to work and attend the Tuoi Tre Start-Up Award presentation ceremony early this week, Vietnamese-born former German Vice Chancellor Philipp Rösler had a talk with Tuoi Tre News over issues in attracting investment, starting a business and especially, the love and remembrance for homeland.

“I think the love for family is a strong emotion. If you're growing up in a different culture, you don't care about it as a child. But as soon as you get older, maybe when you have your own children, you will ask yourself numerous questions about your motherland and your cultural roots. All these things explain why so many overseas Vietnamese are coming back to Vietnam,” Philipp Rösler said.

A survey conducted in the overseas Vietnamese community shows that 63 percent of them will return home to get married and to take care of their parents. Almost half (49 percent) seek to explore a connection, a culture and about 41 percent want to contribute to the development of Vietnam. What do you think about the results?

The government earlier conducted a survey in Germany on different groups of immigrants in the country and it turned out that Vietnamese were the best integrated group there. Why? I think the reason is that they focus on two very important things: education and family.

Both factors are now bringing the overseas Vietnamese back to their homeland. And as you mentioned, as they return for marriage and family bonds, they really want to reconnect with the homeland and the cultural roots. And that is quite important.

Secondly, when they are here, they want to contribute to the economic growth in Vietnam and  create more jobs for people. “I can start my business somewhere in Europe or the U.S., but I would like to contribute to a business in my country of origin.” I think this is the main motivation for those overseas Vietnamese who are coming back and starting their business in recent years.

In that repatriation flow, do you see the growing trend of more and more overseas Vietnamese returning for startup projects? 

Overseas Vietnamese are coming back and building a fresh business landscape in Vietnam. And now the current generation of startups is even better. They were born in Vietnam, grew up in Vietnam and they are now doing business in Vietnam with a dream of going global. Their business models are very innovative. Logivan is an example as the founder has chosen Vietnam to run a business.

I think Vietnam is on the global economic map now. So many overseas Vietnamese are considering a return because they never forget their origins. They are coming back and will help develop the business community in Vietnam. So their start-up projects, their business and their entrepreneurial ideas are all benefiting in Vietnam. 

“I want to build a connecting bridge”

In recent years, you have been traveling a lot between Vietnam and other places. What is the meaning of those trips? 

It's not only traveling. The idea behind is building a bridge. My idea is bridging Vietnam to the rest of the world because as we have seen today at the Tuoi Tre Start-Up Award, we have so many exciting startups but only we and our viewers today know that. No one outside Vietnam has learnt about them. And I think they can be brave and proud enough to say “Hey, we’re as creative and dynamic as all the other startups around the world. Maybe, we are even better. So let's check it out!”

On the other hand, we should invite investors to Vietnam because they may invest in Vietnamese startups.

So what should Vietnam do to attract more overseas Vietnamese?

I would say Vietnam is very supportive. There's even a department under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Vietnam which is responsible for overseas Vietnamese. They often launch exciting and meaningful activities around Tet [traditional Lunar New Year holiday], when there are trips for overseas Vietnamese to come back. Starting from Hanoi, people have chances to learn about the culture, politics, and society, and then they travel around and end the journey in Ho Chi Minh City.

In my opinion, the Vietnamese government is very open to all Vietnamese overseas who would like to come back. 

Last year, I was invited to return to Vietnam for Tet celebration. And it was a great honor to be here, to meet and to share opinions with other overseas Vietnamese. Many of them still have family members in Vietnam. For them, going back to the fatherland means reuniting with their own relatives.

Even in crisis, Vietnam still has a chance

What does the role of Honorary Consul of Vietnam to Switzerland mean to you?

For me, I don't have any relatives living in Vietnam, but it's still quite exciting to come here, to discover the culture, and to measure Vietnamese characteristics within myself. But in the end, it's quite interesting to see the differences between the two countries. Considering Switzerland and Germany, certainly I'm way more German in this case but it's good to have something from both nations.  

As a Honorary Consul of Vietnam, my job is to facilitate business relationships between Switzerland and Vietnam. I'm working with businesspeople to make sure it's convenient for enterprises from outside to come to Vietnam.

They are interested in achieving success but at the same time, they will help Vietnam to develop, such as helping the government streamline legal frameworks or build contents of free trade agreements.

In the long term, Vietnam should have plans with visions in five, 10 or 15 years while looking at  regional countries like Singapore, Malaysia or China. Perhaps, we are now standing at their positions a couple years ago, and we may learn from their role models and experiences.

To become a highly modernized country, Vietnam should focus on the main drivers of the global economy, which are digitalization and sustainability.

What are opportunities for Vietnam to develop even faster?

The next five to 10 years will be really bright for Vietnam. I think there is always an opportunity for Vietnam, even in a crisis. Even in 2023, foreign investment flows will still target Vietnam while the Russia-Ukraine conflict is causing significant changes in investment tendency. Vietnam should seize this opportunity because we don't know how long the fluctuations will last. One important thing is that when investors have come and established business here, they will always want to do long-term business.

To attract more investment, Vietnam has to cut down more red tape, which will be good for both domestic and foreign companies. Vietnam should focus on science and technology, identify the sectors and industries that do need foreign investment like energy or infrastructure and stay open to new technologies and solutions like blockchain and e-commerce.

Again, Vietnam is very attractive for foreign investors with a market of 100 million people, mostly very skilled, highly educated, and fully digitalized. You can see everyone has a smartphone or at least a feature phone. At the same time, we are super entrepreneurial. I think these are the right ingredients for great economic successes.

There are many turning points in your life, and what do you think about them? What is the most necessary quality to overcome difficulties?

Everyone has their ups and downs in life. And if you ask them, they will surely answer that they learn the most from those “downs” rather than from their successes. Of course, don't let the failures happen too often, but if they come for any reason, we have to find a way to cope with those difficulties.

This is a story of mindset. Look at a boxer, sometimes the athlete gets hit and falls. But it’s good for him to stand up again. If that fighter learns from that punch and gets up, he won't be defeated  in that way again.

It is important to have a solution and we have to find it ourselves. This issue is especially important in business. An entrepreneur can fail, even go bankrupt, but if they avoid mistakes, they will come back stronger. The reality shows that many people fail at first but then succeed.

Is this the lesson you taught your kids?

My two daughters are 14 years old and they are also very excited about jobs and business projects in Vietnam, although it is a bit early to think about it now. We and Don Lam, the founder of VinaCapital, have a startup project for young people with an entrepreneurial spirit.

Vietnamese people already have the qualities of an entrepreneur and on that journey, the most important thing is to never give up, to learn from failure and always know how to get up after each failure.

I believe that hard work and high performance is not a threat but is the foundation for happiness and prosperity of myself, my family and my contribution to the country. So if we work hard together, it will be a good thing. The history of Vietnam over thousands of years has also proven that only hard work can bring about successes and we can still work hard and effectively in our own way.

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Nhu Binh / Tuoi Tre News


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