Vietnam. In January, 22 oil company executives and government officials were sentenced to prison sentences for crimes linked to financial malpractice and corruption. Among other things, former Politburo member Đinh La Thăng received 13 years in prison for financial neglect by the state-owned oil and gas company Petrovietnam where he was chief. Another former senior official in Petrovietnam – Trịnh Xuân Thanh – received a life sentence for, among other things, embezzlement. Thanh gained international attention last summer after Germany accused Vietnam of kidnapping him in Berlin where he was seeking asylum. In March, Đinh La Thăng was sentenced to another 18 years in prison for bribery.
According to Countryaah.com, Hanoi is the capital city of Vietnam, a country located in Southeastern Asia. A dozen democracy activists were sentenced in April to between seven and 15 years in prison for social destruction. The arrests of dissent have increased significantly since a new government came to power in 2016, according to Amnesty International.
In June, the National Assembly approved a new law, which meant, among other things, that Internet companies such as Google and Facebook had to store information about users’ ethnicity, interests and political opinions within the country’s borders and not as before in, for example, Singapore.
At the same time as the new cyber law was passed, protests erupted against a bill to introduce special economic zones in which companies would be offered to lease land for up to 99 years. According to critics, foreign companies, mainly Chinese investors, would lease the land. The proposal triggered unusually strong protests for Vietnam with over a thousand protesters, according to the Reuters news agency. More than 100 people were arrested by police. The Chinese embassy in Hanoi described the protests as “illegal gatherings” with “anti-Chinese messages”.
In September, the country’s president Trần Đại Quang died at the age of 61 in a “serious illness”. In October, the National Assembly elected the only nominated candidate – Communist Party Secretary-General Nguyễn Ph迆 Trọng.
Last year, blogger Nguyễn Ngọc Như Quỳnh, internationally known as Mother Mushroom, was released in October. She was sentenced to ten years in prison for propagating propaganda against the state but was released on condition that she go into exile. The release happened in connection with US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis visiting the country.
The Vietnam War was a war that took place between 1957 and 1975. The war began as a revolt in South Vietnam, developed into a war between North and South Vietnam and then became an American intervention war. The border areas of Laos and Cambodia were withdrawn early.
From the first moment, the South Vietnamese government received support and advice from the United States, and from 1964 the United States actively participated in the war on South Vietnam. South Korean, Australian and several other troops joined the United States and South Vietnam. North Vietnam, in turn, received extensive assistance from China and the Soviet Union. About two million Vietnamese, half a million Cambodians and Lao, and 58,220 Americans lost their lives.
The Vietnam War characterized the news scene throughout the world during its years. Since 1945, no other war has killed so many.
After the First Indochina War, which took place between 1946 and 1954 between France and the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (often called Viet Minh), the great powers agreed that Vietnam should be divided into North and South Vietnam (see Geneva Agreement). The split should be temporary, pending elections throughout the country to reunite. These elections never took place, and South Vietnam’s new government used hard means to suppress all opposition. The communists in the south then began an armed uprising, which was supported and led by North Vietnam.
In 1959, Le Duan, the first secretary of the Vietnamese Labor Party (now the Vietnam Communist Party), allowed the rest of the party leadership to give full support to the armed uprising in the south, and in 1960 the rebels formed the FNL Liberation Front. It was under communist control, but had broad support.
The North Vietnamese built an extensive road network through Laos and Cambodia (the Ho Chi Minh Trail) and also used ships to send weapons, equipment and soldiers south.
US into the war
The Kennedy administration responded by increasing the number of US military advisers, but only during President Lyndon B. Johnson did the United States seriously enter the war. On August 2, 1964, a Vietnamese torpedo was fired against an American warship in the Gulf of Tonkin, and two days later the Americans realized that they were under attack again. President Johnson then went to Congress and adopted the Tonkingolf resolution, which gave him full military freedom of action. Shortly thereafter, the United States launched the first bomb attack on North Vietnam.
In February 1965, the bombing started in earnest, and the same year American ground forces entered the war in the south. The American troop presence in 1967 reached nearly half a million men. The purpose of bombing North Vietnam was to pressure Hanoi to request negotiations and stop sending soldiers south, but the effect was quite the opposite: The bombing strengthened the fighting spirit of the North Vietnamese.
In South Vietnam, the Americans also failed to defeat the FNL, which in January 1968 launched the Great Tet Offensive along with North Vietnamese forces against Hue, Saigon and other cities. Militarily, the offensive failed. The FNL and the North Vietnamese suffered heavy losses, but the fighting made such a huge impact on American opinion that it contributed to Johnson’s decision not to seek re-election.
Peace negotiations and termination
In 1969 peace talks were started in Paris, but the war continued throughout Richard M. Nixon’s first presidential term. After a new offensive from North Vietnam and the FNL in 1972 and heavy US bombing of Hanoi over Christmas, negotiations finally came to an end and a ceasefire and US withdrawal agreement was signed in Paris in January 1973. Then, the United States brought its soldiers home. Soon after, both the South Vietnamese and the North Vietnamese broke the ceasefire and the war operations resumed. The US, now weakened by the Watergate scandal, failed to intervene.
Hanoi then decided to launch the Ho Chi Minh offensive, which led to Saigon being conquered on April 30, 1975 and the two parts of Vietnam united in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in 1976. Communist rebel groups also took power in Cambodia and Laos.
After the war
The United States had never before lost a war. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the debate was high on the lessons of Vietnam: Could the United States have won the war? How? Was it immoral? Under what conditions is it appropriate for the United States to intervene in other countries?
The Vietnamese have not had any corresponding open discussion about their teachings. Those on the “right side” have been proud of the victory over the world’s greatest military power, but in Vietnamese society the war is a trauma.
Almost everyone lost some of theirs. Brothers faced brothers, sisters against sisters, and many fled the country. Today, around 2.5 million foreign Vietnamese (Viet Kieu) live around the globe – the number of people of Vietnamese origin living in Norway is estimated to be around 23,000 (2019). Only during the post-1986 reform period were the winners and losers of the war able to forge new bonds.