Brief Information About Vietnam’s Development Process

Viet Nam is located in a region considered a cradle of mankind, one of the earliest agricultural centers practicing wet rice farming, where the stone and metallurgical revolutions took place. On the basis of socio-economic development in the Dong Son Era and given the struggle against natural disasters and foreign invasion, the Van Lang State, the first state in Viet Nam was established in the 7th century B.C. With their hard work and creativeness, the Van Lang (and then Au Lac) inhabitants created a civilization that influenced the entire Southeast Asian region. Together with the formation of the first state in Viet Nam’s history was the evolution of a diverse economy and an advanced civilization known as the Red River Civilization (or Dong Son Civilization), symbolized by Dong Son bronze drum, a heritage reflecting the quintessence of the lifestyle, traditions and culture of ancient Vietnamese.

In the cause of national building, the Vietnamese people had to cope with various foreign aggressions. During 12 centuries from the resistance war against the Qin Dynasty in the 3rd century B.C until late 20th century, the Vietnamese had to launch hundreds of struggles and uprisings against foreign aggressions. The principle of placing the small and weak forces before much larger and stronger ones has become the rule of thumb in the national defense wars of the Vietnamese people.

Since the 2nd century B.C till the 10th century, Viet Nam had been dominated by different Chinese feudal dynasties for more than a thousand years. During this period, the existence of the nation had been challenged, giving rise to the spirit of undauntedness and unyieldingness of the Vietnamese people in the struggle to maintain the nation’s vitality, to preserve the quintessence of its culture and to gain national independence.

The Bach Dang victory in 938 opened up a new era in Viet Nam’s history – the era of development of an independent feudal state, national construction and defense. As a result, the centralized administrative state was established under the Ngo (938-965), Dinh (969-979) and Earlier Le (980 – 1009) Dynasties.

Viet Nam entered the period of renaissance and development under the Ly (1009-1226), Tran (1226-1400), Ho (1400-1407) and Le So (1428-1527) Dynasties. Dai Viet, the name of the country under these dynasties, was known as a prosperous nation in Asia. This period marked the golden age of Viet Nam’s history in all aspects. In economic terms, this period saw the development of agriculture and irrigation (with the construction of the Red River Dyke) and the formation of traditional handicraft villages. In religious terms, traditional beliefs, Buddhism and Confucianism were considered the three co-existing official religions. One important achievement in the Ly-Tran Dynasties was the introduction of Nom scripts, Viet Nam’s own writing system based on the reform and Vietnamization of Chinese Han scripts. In addition, this period also marked the splendid development of education, science, culture, art, history and law (establishment of Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam, introduction of Hong Duc Code and Complete Book of Dai Viet History). This period was called the Civilized Age of Dai Viet. Thang Long (the old name of Ha Noi) was officially recognized as the imperial capital city of Dai Viet according to the Proclamation on the Transfer of the Capital to Ha Noi in 1010 by Ly Thai To.

From the 16th century, the backwardness and weakness of the feudal regime under Confucius ideology were revealed and feudalism fell into a decline. While many nation states in Europe were moving to capitalism, Dai Viet was bogged down in civil wars and divisions, which heavily impeded the country’s evolution despite certain developments in the economy and culture, the establishment of towns and ports and the rapid growth of domestic and international trade between the 16th and 18th century.

In the early 19th century, Western capitalist countries entered the period of imperialism and colonialism. Through missionaries and trade, the French gradually dominated Viet Nam. For the first time in history, Viet Nam had to confront the invasion of a Western industrial country. In that context, some Vietnamese intellectuals were aware of the need to carry out reforms, bringing the country out of stagnation. Many reform plans were proposed, yet rejected by the Nguyen Dynasty. Subsequently, the country was driven into backwardness and deadlock and became a semi-feudal colony for almost 100 years from 1858 to 1945.

The founding of the Communist Party of Viet Nam on 3 February 1930 was an important milestone in Viet Nam’s history. In August 1945, under the leadership of the Communist Party headed by President Ho Chi Minh, the Vietnamese people successfully launched an uprising to seize power. On September 2 1945, President Ho Chi Minh read the Declaration of Independence and the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam was established.

To protect national independence, the Vietnamese fought in a nine-year resistance war against French re-invasion (1945-1954). The war ended with Dien Bien Phu victory and Geneva Accord in 1954. According to the Accord, the country was temporarily separated along the 17th Parallel North into two territories, North Viet Nam and the South Viet Nam, which would be reunified two years later with a general election (1956). North Viet Nam was named Democratic Republic of Viet Nam and led by Viet Nam’s Labor Party with Ha Noi as the capital. South Viet Nam or Republic of Viet Nam was ruled by a pro-French and then pro-USA government in Saigon. Though Saigon regime attempted to prevent reunification, it failed to subdue peace and national reunification campaigns. As a result, the National Liberation Front for South Viet Nam was founded on December 20 1964.

To support the South Viet Nam regime, the US sent military aid and over half a million US and allied soldiers to Viet Nam since mid-1960s, and started bombing northern Viet Nam in 1964. To fulfill President Ho Chi Minh’s aspiration that “nothing is more precious than independence and freedom”, the Vietnamese people stood up, fought bravely and recorded victories in both northern and southern Viet Nam. In 1973, the Paris Accord was signed for restoration of peace in Viet Nam and withdrawal of the US troops. The war came to an end in spring 1975 as the patriotic armed forces launched an offensive against the Saigon regime, liberated southern Viet Nam and reunified the country. On July 2 1976, in the first session of the National Assembly of a unified Viet Nam, Democratic Republic of Viet Nam was renamed Socialist Republic of Viet Nam.

In the first ten years of post-war period, many socio-economic targets could not be achieved due to both internal and external reasons. Viet Nam’s economy fell into crisis and stagnation; people’s lives were difficult.

At the 6th Congress of the Communist Party in 1986, Doi Moi (reform) policy was launched with focus on economic reform. This marked an important milestone in Viet Nam’s new stage of development. Doi Moi policy was consistently reaffirmed and fulfilled throughout later Party Congresses. For over 20 year, Viet Nam has recorded significant achievements: from a food importer, Viet Nam has become the second largest rice exporter in the world; average annual growth rate reaches 7%; people’s lives have been significantly improved; per capital income doubles; UN’s Millennium Goals are achieved such as halving poverty rate within a decade, universalization of primary education, gender equality promotion and enhancement of women’s status; socio-political stability is maintained; external relations are broadened and Viet Nam’s position is enhanced internationally.

Throughout the formation and development of Viet Nam, patriotism, self-reliance, tradition of unity for national cause are the most important features and the moral standards of the Vietnamese. The tradition of industriousness, creativeness and patience originates from the life full of hardship of the Vietnamese people. The need to stand united to cope with difficulties and challenges has created close bonds between the people and the nature and among the people, which can be observed in the family as well as the community no matter at home, village or nationwide level. Throughout history, the Vietnamese people are also characterized by traditions of mutual assistance, ethic-based lifestyle, benevolence, hardship sharing in needy times, high consensus, quick adaptation and integration, flexible behavior, eagerness to learn, respect for righteousness, and tolerance. These are the powerful and endless endogenous strengths for the Vietnamese people to embark on the cause of national construction towards the goals of strong country, prosperous people, and just, democratic and advanced society, striving to become a basically industrial country by 2020.