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Czech Vietnamese community isolates itself despite integration, study shows

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Prague, Feb 3 (CTK) – The Vietnamese community in the Czech Republic continues to close in itself in spite of all attempts aimed at its integration, according to a research completed by the Ethnology Institute of the Czech Academy of Science and presented by ethnologist Stanislav Broucek.
He ascribed the trend to the Vietnamese people feeling as foreigners in the Czech Republic and to the community’s economic self-sufficiency.
This mainly applies to the first generation of Vietnamese vendors. The second generation, or young people mostly born in the Czech Republic, will probably weaken the community’s closure process in the future, Broucek said.
The level of integration is assessed according to criteria such as the language proficiency, knowledge of Czech society, culture and legislation, and economic self-sufficiency, he said.
The last criterion is the only one that the Vietnamese, individuals as well as the whole community, fully meet. This causes problems, however, Broucek said.
“In view of its considerable economic strength, the [Vietnamese] community has quickly stratified, which means it has its elite and middle class, which is the strongest in number, as well as groups on the margin,” Broucek said.
Broucek has been studying the Vietnamese community for two decades.
Recently, he published his research results in a book entitled The Visible and Invisible Vietnamese in the Czech Republic.
With their business activities, the Vietnamese are becoming a state inside the state, Broucek said.
“Of course, a financial rise has been followed by rising prestige,” he said.
In July 2013, the Vietnamese were recognised as an official ethnic minority in the Czech Republic.
They are the largest foreign community in the country, after Ukrainians and Slovaks.
They estimated their own numbers in the 10-million Czech Republic at 100,000.
The Czechs take two types of an extreme approach to Vietnamese, either viewing them as very hard working and conflict-free people, or suspecting them of drug dealing and production.
“They are mostly viewed as conflict-free in poor Czech regions, where they have sold cheap goods from Asia and helped some low-income Czechs,” Broucek said.
His book refers to communist Czechoslovakia’s aid to Vietnam (1958-89) and to ethnic Vietnamese’s adaptation to Czech conditions after the 1989 fall of the communist regime.
It also describes the community’s economic prosperity in the regions also the border with German and the process of its recognition as an ethnic minority.

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