Vietnam. In February, protests among ethnic minorities
erupted in the mountains of central Vietnam. Kravall police
and soldiers, supported by helicopters, were deployed
against the riots, which were described as the worst in
years. Vietnamese exile organizations stated that the unrest
had been heightened by the torture of two Christians in the
area. Others believed that the rapid expansion of coffee
cultivation in the mountains, which increased the
population, had led to the contradictions.
Countryaah, Vietnam's ruling Communist Party held a congress in Hanoi
April 19-22. President of the National Assembly (Parliament)
Nong-'u'c Manh was elected new Secretary-General. He
replaced the conservative Le Kha Phieu. President Trān-'u'c
Lu'o'ng and Prime Minister Phan Văn Khai retained their
seats. Nong-Đu'c Manh, aged 60, was the first member of an
ethnic minority, northern Taiwan, to be elected to a top
position within the party. He was seen as a reform-friendly
force and was known to have increased Parliament's influence
US Secretary of State Colin Powell made a notable visit
to Vietnam in July - over 30 years after joining as a
soldier in the Vietnam War. In November, the National
Assembly and the President accepted the agreement on
normalized trade relations with the United States that Bill
Clinton negotiated the year before.
In July, at least 16 people perished in the mountains of
the north as Hurricane Durian pulled over the area. A month
later, Hanoi was hit by the worst floods in 20 years, and in
October storms and floods in the Mekong Delta claimed more
than 300 lives.
During the year, General Duong Văn Minh, South Vietnam's
last president who capitulated to North Vietnam's forces in
1975, passed away at the age of 86. Nguyễn Văn Thiễu, who
ruled South Vietnam for ten years until the days before
North Vietnam entered the country, also died in the United
States at the age of 78.
Contemporary History of Vietnam
Vietnam's contemporary history is the country's history
from the 1990s until today. After the Vietnam War
(1957-1975) between the South and the North, where the
US-backed South lost, Vietnam was reunited to the Socialist
Republic of Vietnam. After the war, a difficult period, both
politically and economically, followed to build the country.
Throughout the 1990s, Vietnam's economy has become more
liberalized and conditions have facilitated private
business, which has led to far better economics, although
poverty and corruption are still major problems. In 2001,
the Communist Party was given a new, more reform-friendly
leadership with Secretary-General Nong Duc Manh in the lead,
and reforms and political embellishment followed.
Vietnam is a member of the UN, the World Trade
Organization, ASEAN and APEC.
In 1996, the Vietnam Communist Party (CCP) made a
generational change in leadership: Tran Duc Luong became
President, Phan Van Khai Prime Minister and Le Kha Phieu new
Secretary General. The shift did not appear to lead to any
significant change in policy, with the Communist Party
holding on to its monopoly of power. However, the National
Assembly gradually gained greater authority, and in 1997,
three representatives who were not affiliated to the party
were elected for the first time.
In 2001, the party took on a new, more reform-friendly
leadership with Secretary General Nong Duc Manh in the lead.
After advocating both continued economic reform and some
political softening, Nong Duc Manh was re-elected as party
leader for another five years in 2006. At the same time, top
management was renewed with Nguyen Tran Dung as prime
minister and Nguyen Minh Triet as president, both from the
southern region. Still, the economic changes went much
faster than the political ones.
In the election to the National Assembly in 2007, the
Communist Party received 91 percent of all votes. The
influence of the congregation was formerly more formal than
real, but has in recent years gradually increased its
importance. However, the assembly is still subject to the
communist party's directives.