Vietnam History

Vietnam History

Pre and early history

From around the 4th century BC. Relatives of the Vietnamese peoples originally from southern China invaded what is now Vietnam. In the Delta of the Red River around 208 BC the kingdom of Nam-Vi¨ºt founded (“country in the south”). In the 2nd century BC The troops of the Chinese emperor conquered the area and took control of the Viet Empire, which now belonged to the Middle Kingdom as the province of Annan (“pacified south”). As a result, Chinese culture, administration and religion (Buddhism) spread and shaped the country. Public revolts against Chinese sovereignty were put down, and the country’s leadership was replaced by Chinese state officials.

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10th to 16th centuries

Chinese rule ended in the 10th century AD when Ngô Quyen managed to drive the imperial troops out of the country. He founded the empire Dai Vi¨ºt, which initially only included the north of today’s Vietnam. In the south, the Champa empire had ruled since the 2nd century AD. The empire Dai Vi¨ºt was structurally based on the Chinese empire: a well-structured administrative apparatus and an absolute emperor legitimized by Buddhism guided the centralist empire, whose capital was thang-long, to today’s Hanoi.

In the 11th century the area expanded to the south and the Cham ruling region was pushed back. In the 14th century, Dai Vi¨ºt was temporarily occupied again by Chinese troops of the now ruling Ming dynasty, but these could be driven out again after a short time under the leadership of the partisan Le-loi. Le-loi founded the Le Dynasty, which officially ruled until 1788. Gradually, the emperor lost power over a new aristocracy: many important posts were filled by members of influential families who competed with each other. In the 16th century, two noble families dominated political life in the empire: after the emperor was disempowered, the Trinh family ruled from Thang-long in the north and the Nguyen from Huë in the south. They fought each other and triedto expand their empires further to the west (now Laos and Cambodia).

Colonization by France

In the first half of the 17th century, the first Europeans came to Dai Vi¨ºt, mostly Spaniards, Dutch and French, who mainly supplied the Nguyen family with weapons. After the Tay Son uprising that broke out in southern Vietnam in 1772, the divided country was reunited under the leadership of Nguyen Anh and with the help of French troops. The capital of the empire, renamed Vi¨ºt Nam in 1804, became Huë. In the decades that followed, France’s influence in Vietnam increased rapidly, and between 1862 and 1885 French troops gradually occupied the country, declaring Kochinchina, Annam and Tonkin to be French protectorates. In 1887 the three areas were merged with Cambodia to form the “Union Indochina”, in 1893 Laos was also incorporated.Officially, the Nguyen rulers remained in power,

Under French rule, Vietnam’s agriculture was modernized, and large plantations (coffee, tea, rubber) were created that worked for export. Raw materials were also mined and exported. In addition to the French in Vietnam, the beneficiaries of the lively trade were only the members of a small upper class. In contrast, the majority of the Vietnamese people lived in great poverty. The Vietnamese suffered from hunger as rice harvests increased export earnings. Again and again this led to uprisings against the French colonial power, which were often put down by the French troops – often bloody. The Yen Bai uprising of 1930 was largely driven by the Vietnamese National Party, which had been founded four years earlier.In the same year, Ho Chi Minh (1890-1969) founded the Vietnam Communist Party, which united with the like-minded movements in Laos and Cambodia to form the Indochina Communist Party. Ho Chi Minh (born Nyuyen That Thanh) had lived in France for years and was one of the founders of the French Communist Party.

The path to independence

In 1940, France was defeated by the German Empire during the Second World War. Vietnam was occupied by Japanese troops in May 1941, which consequently took up almost all of Southeast Asia. In the same year, the Indochina Communist Party, together with Vietnamese nationalists, founded the “League for Vietnam’s Independence” (Viet Minh), which was led by Ho Chi Minh. After the Japanese surrender in August 1945, he proclaimed the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, whose first president he became. France then sent troops to the country. The French government agreed to recognize Vietnam’s independence within the Indochinese Federation and the French Union, but French troops should remain in the country.After several incidents between the Vietnamese People’s Army and French troops, the so-called Indochina War broke out in November 1946 and was to continue until 1954. During the war, the Democratic People’s Republic of Vietnam under the leadership of Ho Chi Minh was supported by the Soviet Union and, from 1949, by China, while the “Provisional Central Government of Vietnam” set up by Saigon in France with the former Emperor Bao Dai at the head of Great Britain and recognized as legal by the United States. The vast majority of the Vietnamese people sided with the Communist Viet Minh during the Indochina War. The conflict ended with France’s defeat at Di¨ºn Bi¨ºn Phu in May 1954, and French troops withdrew from North Vietnam. France soon gave up its position as a colonial power in Indochina.

Division and Vietnam War

The 1954 Geneva Indochina Agreement took account of the situation in Vietnam and initially established a provisional division of the country along the 17th parallel. In the north, the Democratic Republic was founded under the leadership of Ho Chi Minh with Hanoi as the capital, the southern part of the country with the capital Saigon became a kingdom under the former emperor Bao Dai. Elections were announced for 1956 with the aim of reuniting the parts of the country.

But the two parts of Vietnam developed completely differently: In South Vietnam, the new head of state Ngô Dinh Di¨ºm, who overthrew the former emperor Bao Dai in 1955, established the anti-communist Republic of Vietnam, which received massive economic aid from the USA. At the same time, Ho Chi Minh consolidated its position in North Vietnam and, with the support of the Communist Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China, advanced the country’s industrialization. When the South Vietnamese head of state refused to hold the agreed reunification elections in 1956 and gradually developed a dictatorial style of leadership, an increased underground activity of various resistance groups in South Vietnam, which in 1960 became the National Liberation Front (Front National de Liberation of Vietnam-Sud / FNL, according to the leadership role of the communists called Viet Cong). Until 1964, the Viet Cong associations, which were supported by North Vietnam, controlled large parts of South Vietnam.

The South Vietnamese head of state Ngô Dinh Di¨ºm was overthrown in 1963 by the military, which took over power. From 1962, the United States sent over 15,000 military advisers to South Vietnam, fearing a communist takeover. In 1964, after an alleged attack on US warships by North Vietnam (Tonkin incident), the United States intervened openly in the Vietnam conflict. A total of over half a million US soldiers were deployed by 1969, and North Vietnamese targets were bombed by the US Air Force. The attack also targeted the so-called Ho Chi Minh Path, a supply path for the Viet Cong that partially led through Laos and Cambodia. The United States uses chemical defoliants to track down guerrillas in the impenetrable forests. From 1968, under the increasing pressure of the American public, the first negotiations for a ceasefire between North and South Vietnam and the USA began. In January 1973, a ceasefire agreement was signed between the warring parties, which provided for the complete withdrawal of US troops and a joint interim government for South Vietnam and later free elections. Ho Chi Minh had died in September 1969 and political power in North Vietnam was in the hands of the so-called “group of four” (Pham Van Dong, Vo Nguyen Giap, Truong Chinh, Le Duan).which provided for the complete withdrawal of US troops and a joint interim government for South Vietnam and later free elections. Ho Chi Minh had died in September 1969 and political power in North Vietnam was in the hands of the so-called “group of four” (Pham Van Dong, Vo Nguyen Giap, Truong Chinh, Le Duan). which provided for the complete withdrawal of US troops and a joint interim government for South Vietnam and later free elections. Ho Chi Minh had died in September 1969 and political power in North Vietnam was in the hands of the so-called “group of four” (Pham Van Dong, Vo Nguyen Giap, Truong Chinh, Le Duan).

After the USA withdrew from South Vietnam, the war between North and South Vietnam continued and ended with the surrender of South Vietnam in April 1975. Saigon was renamed Ho Chi Minh City. A total of around 3.3 million Vietnamese fell victim to the Vietnam War, and almost 60,000 soldiers lost their lives on the American side.

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The Socialist Republic of Vietnam

In July 1976, both parts of the country, in which large areas were devastated, were united to form the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. In the south, the communist transformation of the existing system began in the form of nationalization, collectivization and re-education of the population. Hundreds of thousands fled to other Southeast Asian countries (“boat people”) over the next few years.

At the end of 1978, Vietnamese troops invaded Cambodia and overthrew the Khmer Rouge’s pro-China regime. As a result, Chinese troops entered Vietnam, but withdrew after two months. There have been repeated border incidents between the two countries. In the early 1980s, food shortages in Vietnam caused serious unrest among the population. In the second half of the 1980s, the Soviet Union reduced its financial support, whereupon the Vietnamese economy suffered severe losses and the situation of the Vietnamese population deteriorated further. Vietnam had to withdraw its troops from Cambodia in 1989, and two years later the leaderships of both countries signed a peace treaty.

Economic reforms led to the re-privatization of some companies. Under the leadership of Le Duc Anh (President 1992-97) and Vo Van Kiet (Prime Minister 1991-97), the country opened up to the west and to foreign investors. In 1992, a new constitution laid down the transformation of the planned economy into a market economy with a socialist orientation. This led to a series of trade agreements (eg with Japan and Australia), and in 1994 the USA lifted the trade embargo against Vietnam that had existed since 1975 (official diplomatic relations have been in place again since 1995). International development aid began to flow to Vietnam, which was one of the poorest countries in the world in the mid-1990s. In 1995 Vietnam also became a member of the Southeast Asian association ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations, consisting of Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines; since 1984 also the Sultanate of Brunei). In the second half of the 1990s, the economic reforms that had now been carried out led to an economic upswing, but the country is still dependent on development aid. In 2007, Vietnam became the 150th country in the World Trade Organization (WTO).State included in the World Trade Organization (WTO).State included in the World Trade Organization (WTO).

In 1997 there was a change in the top political leadership in Vietnam, and the state and prime ministers could no longer stand for election due to age reasons. 60-year-old Tran Duc Luong became the new president, and Phan Van Khai became the new prime minister and thus head of government. The top management changed again in 2006. Nguyen Minh Triet became the new president; Nguyen Tan Dung became prime minister. President since July 2011 is Truong Tan Sang.

The constitution, which came into force on January 1, 2014, continues to stipulate the leading role of the Communist Party of Vietnam (KPV) in state and society. The KPV leadership continues to control the legislative, executive and judicial branches. The new constitution also formally grants fundamental rights such as freedom of expression, belief, assembly and the press. In practice, however, these rights are significantly restricted by broad laws and official powers.

Vietnam President