The US has criticised a new internet decree in Vietnam that would restrict online users from discussing current affairs. The law, announced last week and due to come into force in September, says social media should only be used for "[exchanging] personal information". The US embassy in Hanoi said it was "deeply concerned" by the decree.

Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang's trip to Washington this week to meet with President Barack Obama at the White House is being closely watched by observers of the bilateral relationship, both in Vietnam and abroad. There is a general sense among some observers that there is a historic opportunity to upgrade the current relationship to a strategic partnership.

At a Thursday meeting in Hanoi with Masayuki Yamauchi, chair of a government panel on cultural exchange promotion with other Asian countries, Dung also asked for cooperation from Japan for the preservation of historical heritage and cultural assets in Vietnam, a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

The Lo’Jo, a community of global citizens who play a special music of their own, will give performances in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi to mark 40 years of diplomatic ties between Vietnam and France.

The Vietnam- Republic of Korea (RoK) cultural exchange centre officially debuted on June 17 in the southern province of Binh Duong. This is the province’s first international exchange centre, aiming to promote friendship and cooperation between Vietnam and the RoK, particularly between Binh Duong province and Daejeon City in the RoK.

A Japanese contemporary art exhibition themed ‘Yayoi Kusama- Obsessions’ will be held at the Japan Foundation Center for Cultural Exchange in Hanoi from May 25-July 28 to mark Japan-Vietnam Friendship Year 2013.

Prof. Wilfried Lulei, a German researcher of Vietnam Studies, highlighted the significance of the event, saying it will help strengthen the bilateral friendship and mutual understanding about the cultural traditions and customs of each country.

As an indication of how online media are becoming ever more dominant in our world, consider two newspaper front pages (the ink-on-paper versions) on Wednesday, April 24.