Vietnam has 98 million people. Hanoi is its capital, and Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) is its largest city. For 1,000 years until 939 CE, China ruled Vietnam. From that time, Vietnam had its own kingdoms. In the late 1800s, Indochina including Vietnam became colonised by France. Vietnam proclaimed their independence from France after World War Two in 1945, when Japan lost the war and left their occupation of Vietnam. War ensued between Vietnam and France which ended in 1954 when France lost at Dien Bien Phu, and left Indochina completely. In 1954, Vietnam was divided into two rival states – communist North and anti-communist South. USA supported South Vietnam whilst Russia (Soviets) and China supported North Vietnam in the Vietnam War (1959 to 1975). North Vietnam eventually won the war in 1975, and Vietnam became one nation. From 1986, the government made economic and political reforms and Vietnam enjoyed high economic growth, ranking amongst the fastest growing economies in the world. It is said that Vietnam’s greatest economic resource is its literate and energetic population. Food and beverage processing is the largest industrial activity in Vietnam. Seafood is processed for export, while coffee and tea are processed both for export and for domestic consumption. Vietnam is today part of the United Nations, ASEAN, APEC and the World Trade Organisation. Unfortunately, there is corruption in Vietnam, including rampant bribery. Anti-corruption drives are continuously implemented.

  1. In about 2,000 words, I will describe major events that affected Vietnam from 1900 to the present.
  2. 1930 (to 1931) – Nghe Tinh Revolt. Uprisings, strikes and demonstrations by Vietnamese peasants, workers, and intellectuals took place, against the colonial French regime and landlords. Demonstrations expressed the general anger against French colonial policies such as heavy taxation and state monopolies on certain goods, as well as the corruption and perceived unfairness of local notables and mandarins. Demonstrators, while violent, were armed with little more than basic farm weapons, and were brutally suppressed by the overwhelming military strength of the French. The revolt waned by the second half of 1931 due to famine and suppression
  3. 1930 – Ho Chi Minh founds the Indochinese Communist Party (ICP).
  4. 1941 – Indochinese Communist Party (ICP) organises a guerrilla force, Viet Minh, in response to invasion by Japan during World War Two.
  5. 1945 – August Revolution. Ho Chi Minh’s Viet Minh (League for the Independence of Vietnam) launched a revolution against French and Japanese colonial rule in Vietnam. Viet Minh seizes power and Ho Chi Minh announces Vietnam’s independence.
  6. 1945 – After the close of hostilities in World War Two, 200,000 Chinese troops under General Lu Han sent by Chiang Kai-shek entered northern Indochina north of the 16th parallel to accept the surrender of Japanese occupying forces, based on instructions by USA General Douglas MacArthur.
  7. 1946 – French forces attack Viet Minh in Haiphong, sparking the war of resistance against the colonial power.
  8. 1950 – China and the USSR recognise the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.
  9. 1954 – The Battle of Dien Bien Phu. Ho Chi Minh’s Viet Minh forces attack an isolated French military outpost in the town of Dien Bien Phu. The fight to take the outpost lasts two months, and the battle was decisive. The war ended with the 1954 Geneva Accords signed. France agreed to withdraw its forces from all its colonies in French Indochina. The Viet Minh captured 8,000 French and marched them 500 miles on foot to prison camps; fewer than half survived the march. The garrison constituted roughly one-tenth of the total French Union manpower in Indochina, and the defeat seriously weakened the position and prestige of the French; it produced psychological repercussions both in the armed forces and in the political structure in France. This was apparent with the previously planned negotiations over the future of Indochina, which had just begun. Militarily, there was no point in France fighting on, as the Viet Minh could repeat the strategy and tactics of the Dien Bien Phu campaign elsewhere, to which the French had no effective response. The fall of Dien Bien Phu was a disaster not just for France but also for USA who were by 1954 underwriting 80% of French expenditures in Indochina. At this time, USA intentionally avoided overt direct intervention. The last French forces withdrew from Vietnam in 1956.
  10. 1954 – The Geneva Accords split Vietnam into North and South at the 17th parallel.
  11. 1956 – South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem begins campaign against political dissidents.
  12. 1957 – Communist insurgency begins in South Vietnam.
  13. 1959 – Weapons and men from North Vietnam begin infiltrating South Vietnam.
  14. 1960 – Aid by USA to President Ngo Dinh Diem increases.
  15. 1962 – Number of US military advisers in South Vietnam rises to 12,000.
  16. 1963 – Viet Cong, the communist guerrillas operating in South Vietnam, defeat units of the ARVN, the South Vietnamese Army.
  17. 1963 – President Ngo Dinh Diem is overthrown and then killed in a USA-backed military coup.
  18. 1964 – Gulf of Tonkin incident. USA says North Vietnamese patrol boats fired on two USA Navy destroyers. USA Congress approves Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, authorising military action in the region.
  19. 1965 – 200,000 USA combat troops arrive in South Vietnam.
  20. 1966 – USA troop numbers in Vietnam rise to 400,000, then to 500,000 the following year.
  21. 1968 – Tet Offensive. A combined assault by Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese army on USA positions begins. More than 500 civilians die in the USA massacre at My Lai. Thousands are killed by communist forces during their occupation of the city of Hue.
  22. 1969 – Ho Chi Minh dies. USA President Richard Nixon begins to reduce USA ground troops in Vietnam as domestic public opposition to the war grows.
  23. 1970 – USA President Richard Nixon’s national security adviser, Henry Kissinger, and Le Duc Tho, for the Hanoi government, start talks in Paris, France.
  24. 1973 – Ceasefire agreement reached in Paris. USA troops pull out.
  25. 1975 – North Vietnamese troops invade South Vietnam and take control of the whole country after South Vietnamese President Duong Van Minh surrenders.
  26. 1976 – Socialist Republic of Vietnam is proclaimed. Saigon is re-named Ho Chi Minh City. Hundreds of thousands flee abroad, including many “boat people”.
  27. 1979 – Vietnam invades Cambodia and ousts the Khmer Rouge regime of Pol Pot. In response, Chinese troops cross Vietnam’s northern border. They are pushed back by Vietnamese forces. The number of “boat people” trying to leave Vietnam causes international concern.
  28. 1986 – Nguyen Van Linh becomes party leader. He introduces a more liberal economic policy.
  29. 1989 – Vietnamese troops withdraw from Cambodia.
  30. 1992 – A new constitution is adopted allowing certain economic freedoms. The Communist Party remains the leading force in Vietnamese society.
  31. 1994 – USA lifts its 30-year trade embargo.
  32. 1995 – Vietnam and USA restore full diplomatic relations. Vietnam becomes a full member of ASEAN.
  33. 1997 – Le Kha Phieu becomes party leader. Tran Duc Luong is chosen as president, and Phan Van Khai becomes prime minister.
  34. 1998 – A senior party member, Pham The Duyet, faces charges of corruption. Economic growth slumps in the wake of the Asian financial crisis.
  35. 1999 – A former high-ranking party member, Tran Do, is expelled after calling for more democracy and freedom of expression.
  36. 2000 – USA President Bill Clinton pays a three-day official visit. USA pledges more help to clear landmines left over from the Vietnam War. The Vietnamese government estimates nearly 40,000 people have been killed by unexploded munitions.
  37. 2001 – The Communist Party chooses Nong Duc Manh as its new leader. USA and Vietnam implement a trade agreement which normalises the trade status between them.
  38. 2002 – Russia hands back the Cam Ranh Bay naval base, once the largest Soviet base outside the Warsaw Pact. President Tran Duc Luong reappointed for a second five-year term by National Assembly, which also reappoints Prime Minister Phan Van Khai for a second five-year term.
  39. 2004 – First USA commercial flight since the end of the Vietnam War touches down in Ho Chi Minh City.
  40. 2005 – Prime Minister Phan Van Khai makes the first visit to USA by a Vietnamese leader since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975.
  41. 2006 – Senior officials are investigated over the alleged embezzlement of millions of US dollars of state money in the transport ministry.
  42. 2006 – As part of an anticipated political shake-up, the Prime Minister, President and National Assembly Chairman are replaced by younger leaders.
  43. 2007 – After 12 years of talks, Vietnam becomes the 150th member of the World Trade Organisation.
  44. 2007 – Government approves a US$33bn plan to build a high-speed rail link between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
  45. 2007 – USA agrees for the first time to help fund a study into the removal of Agent Orange, the highly toxic defoliant chemical (herbicidal damaging the environment) used by USA forces, from a former USA base in Da Nang.
  46. 2007 – President Nguyen Minh Triet makes first visit to USA by a Vietnamese head of state since the Vietnam War ended in 1975.
  47. 2007 – Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung is reappointed and promises to push through economic reforms.
  48. 2008 – Vietnam launches first communications satellite from French Guiana.
  49. 2008 – USA and international media campaigners condemn the guilty verdicts on two Vietnamese journalists Nguyen Viet Chien and Nguyen Van Hai, who had helped to expose a major corruption scandal. Nguyen Van Hai pleads guilty and is spared imprisonment.
  50. 2008 – Vietnam says it plans to enforce a two-child policy in an attempt to control population growth.
  51. 2008 – China and Vietnam resolve border dispute 30 years after the 1979 war which left tens of thousands dead.
  52. 2008 – Government bans bloggers from raising “inappropriate” subjects.
  53. 2009 – Jailed journalist Nguyen Viet Chien is among more than 15,000 prisoners freed early under a Lunar New Year amnesty – one of Vietnam’s largest.
  54. 2009 – Government dismisses Nguyen Cong Khe and Le Hoang, the editors of the two largest pro-reform newspapers, over their coverage of the October corruption scandal trial.
  55. 2009 – Vietnam calls on China to stop preventing Vietnamese fishermen from working in what Hanoi says are its territorial waters amid growing tensions over fishing grounds.
  56. 2009 – Six democracy activists sentenced for up to 6 years in prison for “spreading propaganda” against the government by hanging pro-democracy banners on a road bridge.
  57. 2009 – Pro-democracy activist Tran Anh Kim receives 5½ year jail sentence for subversion after allegedly publishing pro-democracy articles on the internet.
  58. 2010 – Four activists, including prominent human rights lawyer Le Cong Dinh, are jailed on charges of trying to overthrow the government. Rights groups abroad say the case is a sign of a growing clampdown on freedom of expression.
  59. 2010 – Human Rights Watch accuses Vietnam of intensifying its suppression of online dissent.
  60. 2010 – The government arrests the chairman of shipbuilding corporation Vinashin, one of the country’s largest state-owned companies, for allegedly nearly bankrupting the enterprise.
  61. 2011 – Five-yearly congress of the Communist Party reappoints Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and elects the head of the national assembly, Nguyen Phu Trong, as party secretary-general.
  62. 2011 – Vietnam begins joint operation with USA to clean up contamination from Agent Orange, the highly toxic defoliant chemical (herbicidal damaging the environment) widely used by the US military during the Vietnam War.
  63. 2011 – China and Vietnam sign an agreement to manage the South China Sea dispute. It includes a hotline to deal with emergencies and a provision for twice-yearly bilateral meetings.
  64. 2012 – Vietnam surpasses Brazil to become the world’s largest coffee exporter.
  65. 2012 – The Communist-dominated parliament votes to require elected leaders, including the president and the prime minister, to face annual confidence votes. Observers say the votes may be little more than symbolic.
  66. 2013 – Twenty-two people are sentenced for trying to overthrow the government, in what is seen as a renewed clampdown on freedom of expression.
  67. 2013 – New decree bans internet users from discussing current affairs online.
  68. 2013 – Economy grows by 5.14% in first three quarters of year, marking return to growth after years of stagnation.
  69. 2013 – Leading dissident Le Quoc Quan sentenced to 30 months in jail for tax evasion, charges his supporters say are politically motivated.
  70. 2014 – State media for the first time marks anniversary of South Vietnam’s 1974 clash with China over Paracel Islands, in sign of growing tension over Chinese intentions in the area.
  71. 2014 – Court sentences former Vietinbank official Huynh Thi Huyen Nhu to life in prison in possibly the country’s largest fraud trial. Twenty-two others get jail terms of up to 20 years, but public voices discontent at clearing bank of any liability.
  72. 2014 – Vietnam releases high-profile democracy campaigners Cu Huy Ha Vu, Nguyen Tien Trung and Vi Duc Hoi amid Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade talks with USA.
  73. 2014 – Prominent bloggers Pham Viet Dao and Truong Duy Nhat jailed for “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe interests of state”.
  74. 2014 – One Chinese worker killed and at least 90 other people injured when protesters attack Taiwanese-owned steel mill in Ha Tinh province. Crowds attack several other foreign-owned companies in protest at China’s moving drilling rig into waters also claimed by Vietnam in South China Sea.
  75. 2014 – The chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Martin Dempsey, holds talks with Vietnamese leaders, in the highest-level visit by an American military officer since the Vietnam War.
  76. 2014 – USA says it will partially lift its embargo on arms sales to Vietnam, which has been in place for 3 decades. USA says the move applies to weapons for maritime purposes only.
  77. 2014 – Prominent dissident blogger Nguyen Van Hai is released from prison and flies to USA after serving 2 years of a 12-year sentence for conducting “anti-state propaganda”.
  78. 2015 – The government revokes licence of outspoken newspaper Nguoi Cao Tuoi website – “Elderly” in Vietnamese – after it publishes articles which allegedly “abuse freedom and democratic rights”.
  79. 2016 – Communist Party re-elects conservative Nguyen Phu Trong as General Secretary for a second term, after relatively liberal Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung withdrew from contest after failing to garner enough support from delegates.
  80. 2016 – USA lifts long-standing ban on selling weapons to Vietnam.
  81. 2016 – Government says it will release 20,000 prisoners over the next 2 years to save money.
  82. 2016 – Formosa Ha Tinh Steel is ordered to compensate local fishing communities after authorities establish toxic chemicals from its plant caused widespread fish deaths along the central coast.
  83. 2016 – India announces half a billion dollars-worth of credit for Vietnam for defence spending.
  84. 2016 – Vietnam issues an international arrest warrant for oil executive Trinh Xuan Thanh on fraud charges.
  85. 2016 – Police arrest well-known blogger Ho Van Hai for posting articles critical of the government. His arrest is the latest of an ongoing crackdown on writers and activists.
  86. 2017 – Vietnam introduces draft law requiring all adult citizens to donate blood once a month due to a shortage at national blood banks.
  87. 2020 – (to 2021) COVID-19 pandemic caused more than 21,000 deaths in Vietnam.
  88. 2021 – Vietnam has 98 million people.

© Comasters February 2022.

  • Jim KABLE
    Posted at 16:25h, 16 February

    Interesting summary Jeffery – no mention of Australia there at all. Why? All the glory only to the US?

    And the US was still in the south of VN when it fell to the forces of Uncle Ho Chi-Minh. Why juxtapose the massacre of the innocents in My Lai with deaths occurring elsewhere possibly inflicted by the opposing forces elsewhere unless to suggest an equivalence? And in raising the issue of “corruption” I think you might draw some comparisons with the blatant corruption coming from the present Penteculist PM Morrison and his gang – asylum-seekers, First Nations issues, pork-barrelling, misogyny… mixing of church and state (even his claims to be a Christian don’t stack up – given the cult of which he is a member is NOT Christian – there is no Jesus of “Love thy neighbour” – no Jesus with His tale of The Good Samaritan…just abandonment of those who require compassion – and promotion of negative discrimination against some of the most marginalised in our society…along with militarisation of our society, too. Cameron MURRAY and Paul FRIJTERS in their 2017 book “Game of Mates” exlain the high level of corruption currently existing in Australia. Apart from those things – an interesting country to examine… As you’ll be aware – most of those who fled VN and a large percentage of which were welcomed here by the most decent of Liberal Party PMs – Malcolm Fraser – it should be pointed out – were ethnic Chinese – out of southernm China in the north of Viet-nam – from the north to the south – from the south to Pulau Bidong – among other islands including in Indonesia – to Australia – not many ethnic Viet-namese – unless they had participated to closely with the US, of course. Corruption during the US occupation of the south was rampant of course – at the highest levels. There may still be some – I have a friend whose academic and investigative research follows these stories – but as in China, too, the corruption is being cracked down on. Not so here in Australia, alas! [You recall that I undertook introductory Viet-namese language stiudies at the ANU in January, 1980. That from 1982 and for a year I wrote a weekly essay (translated by editors of the paper) about aspects of Australia for a VN language newspaper – Chuong Sai-Gon (The Clarion or The Bell of Saigon)? Jim

    • comasters1
      Posted at 12:43h, 20 February

      Jim, I suppose I did not comment on Australian troops (as opposed to US troops) because Aus was only following the US. Moving away from strict communism is hard. There is no Deng Xiaoping equivalent in Vietnam. Even Deng nearly lost power after the 1989 Tiananmen Square demonstration. But the economic improvements in Vietname is already impressive if not its governmental system – biggest coffee producer in the world. The Vietnamese are generally hard working people – I feel confident for them. Jeff

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