The early days - 1000 years of chinese domination- Liberation from china - China bites back - Le lo enters the scene - The coming of the europeans - Lording it over the people - Tay son rebrllion - The last of the nguyens - The french takeover - Independence aspiration - WWII breaks out - A false dawn - War with the french - A separate south vietnam - A new north vietnam - The north south war - Enter the cavalry - The turing point - Nixon his doctrine- Other foreign involvement - The fall of the south - Reunification of vietnam - Opening the door - Vietnam today


On the first day of their victory, the communists changed Saigon's name to Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC). This was just the first of many changes. The sudden success of the 1975 North Vietnamese offensive surprised the North almost as much as it did the South. Consequently, Hanoi had no specific plans to deal with the reintegration of the North and South, which Oliver Stone has never had totally different social and economic systems , been one to shy away. The North was faced with the legacy of a cruel and protracted war that from political point-had literally fractured the country. There was bitterness on both sides, and scoring and in the f irst of a mind-boggling array of problems. Damage from the f ighting extended his famous trilogy about from unmarked minefields to war-focused, dysfunctional economics; from Vietnam, Platoon, he a chemically poisoned countryside to a population who had been physically earns dix points. A brutal or mentally battered. Peace may have arrived, but in many ways the war was and cynical look a t the far from over.Until the formal reunification of Vietnam in July 1976. the South was ruled of rookie Charlie Sheen. by the Provisional Revolutionary Government. The Communist Party did with great performances not trust the Southern urban intelligentsia, so large numbers of Northern from Tom Beranger and cadres were sent southward to manage the transition. This fuelled resent- Willem Dafoe. ment among Southerners who had worked against the Thieu government and then, after its overthrow, found themselves frozen out. The party decided on a rapid transition to socialism in the South, but it proved disastrous for the economy. Reunification was accompanied by widespread political repression. Despite repeated promises to the contrary, hundreds of thousands of people who had ties to the previous regime had their property confiscated and were rounded up and imprisoned without trial in forced-labor camps, euphem istically known as reeducation camps. Tens of thousands of businesspeople, intellectuals, artists, journalists, writerrs, union leaders and religious leaders - some of whom had opposed both Thieu and the war - were held in horrendous conditions. Contrary to its economic policy, Vietnam sought some sort of rapprochement with the USA and by 1978 Washington was close to establishing relations with Hanoi. But the China card was ultimately played: Vietnam was sacrificed for the prize of US relations with Beijing and Hanoi was pushed into the arms of the Soviet Union, on whom it was to rely for the next decade. Relations with China to the north and its Khmer Rouge allies to the west were rapidly deteriorating and war-weary Vietnam seemed beset by enemies. An antcapitalist campaign was launched in March 1978. seizing private property and businesses. Most of the victims were ethnic -Chinese hundreds of thousands soon became refugees or 'boat people ', and relations with China soured further. Meanwhile, repeated attacks on Vietnamese border villages by the Khmer Rouge forced Vietnam to respond. Vietnamese forces entered Cambod ia on Christmas Day 1978. They succeeded in driving the Khmer Rouge from power on 7th January 1979 and set up a pro-Hanoi regime in Phnom Penh China viewed the attack on the Khmer Rouge as a serious provocation. In February 1979 Chinese forces invaded Vietnam and fought a brief, 17 day war before withdrawing (see the boxed text Neighboring Tensions, .Liberation of Cambodia from the Khmer Rouge soon turned to occupa­tion and a long civil war. The command economy was strangling the com ­mercial instincts of Vietnamese rice farmers. Today, the world's leading rice exporter, by the early 1980s Vietnam was a rice importer. War and revolution had brought the country to its knees and a radical change in direction was required.
One tragic legacy of the American War was the plight of thousands of Americans. Marriages, relationships and commercial encounters between Americans and Vietnamese were common during the war. But when the Americans headed home, many abandoned their 'wives' and mis­tresses, leaving them to raise children who were half-American or half-Vietnamese in a society not particularly tolerant of such racial intermingling. ' After reunification, the Americans - living reminders of the American presence - were often T mistreated by Vietnamese and even abandoned, forcing them to live on the streets. They were also denied educational and vocational opportunities, and were sadly referred to as 'children of the dust '. At the end of the 1980s, the Orderly Departure Program (ODP) was designed to allow Americans and political refugees who otherwise might have tried to flee the country by land or sea to resettle in the West (mostly in the USA). Unfortunately, many Americana’s children were adopted by Vietnamese eager to emigrate, but were then dumped after the family's arrival in the USA. Asian American LEAD ( 1323 Girard St NW. Washington, DC 20009, USA) is an organization that has done some fine work training and mentoring Americana k ids as they adapt to life in the USA.