To mark the advent of the 700th episode of the Vietnam Veteran News podcast we will take a look at the situation in Vietnam today. There was an excellent story in The Straits Times titled: Vietnam shows the way forward for Asean submitted by Karim Raslan about how the country of Vietnam is doing today. The story tells a little about the history of the country and points out how resolute the Vietnamese people are about maintaining their sovereignty.
It is easy to be a Monday morning quarterback, but reading the article makes one wonder what were the leaders of this country thinking when the decision was made to engage in a land war in Vietnam. Currently the Vietnamese are in a little bit of a wad with the Chinese about who controls the South China Sea. Many are concerned it could lead to war between the two countries and they think that would lead to disaster for the smaller Vietnam.
According to Raslan’s article that might not be the case. The Vietnamese have been kicking the Chinese butts starting in 40 AD when the Tru’ng Sisters, led a revolt on the backs of war-elephants against the Han dynasty. In the 1400’s, the nobleman Le Loi drove out the Ming armies, establishing Vietnam’s longest-ruling dynasty. In 1979 battle-hardened Vietnamese soldiers repelled invading Chinese troops in a nasty and little reported on border war. The Chinese are probably thinking twice about starting another war with their testy southern neighbor.
Despite these hostilities the two countries share much culturally and economically. This makes Vietnamese policies and actions a model for the other Asean countries. The Vietnamese (unlike the Filipinos) have done an excellent job juggling economic, political, and military interests, keeping China at arm’s length while not antagonizing the giant. A leading journalist recently explained: “We cooperate in business and economics, but when it comes to sovereignty, we fight.”
The other aspect of modern day Vietnam is the economy. It has one of the fastest growing economies in the world today. It looks like the little country is doing big things today. We wish them the best.