Vietnam

A little information about the country that one intends to visit or that one has visited often allows us to put into context the past or future emotions specific to each trip. A little history or anecdotes are often welcome ... This is what you can find on this page dedicated to Vietnam. But nothing like (short) videos to get a more precise idea of the places visited or to visit. Beside is a list of the videos edited from the photographic material I brought back from the trip Vietnam & Cambodia • 2014.

You just have to click on the image to access the page giving more information on the place treated in the video and of course, to see this video ...


Ancient history

Traces of prehistoric humans dating from around 500,000 years ago have been discovered in caves in North Vietnam.

But the first organized society in this territory seems to date from almost 3000 years before Jesus Christ with the Hong Bang dynasty.

Vietnam has always interacted with China, whose domination it has suffered for many centuries.

Vietnam independence

Struggles for independence have been going on since the beginning of our era, but it wasn't until the middle of the 10th century that the country's independence from China was seen. However, tensions continued over the following centuries with China and the Vietnamese people, motivated mainly by the Chinese push to the north, enlarged their territory towards the south, clashing with the Cham and Khmer peoples settled in these regions.

During the 13th century a civil war caused the fall of the already declining Ly dynasty and its replacement by that of Dees Tran who established a hereditary monarchy, replacing the old system based on "the celestial mandate". The "mandate of heaven" (or celestial mandate) was a kind of monarchy of divine right, but in which the king could be removed from his functions if he acted badly. But natural disasters could also be attributed to heaven's withdrawal of confidence in the sovereign, which legitimized popular rebellions in the event of problems. This system, although virtuous from the start, has never been a factor of political stability.

The Tran dynasty used Buddhism as a factor of social cohesion and abolished slavery.

Like all countries in the region, Vietnam had to face the Mongol invasions. But unlike neighboring countries, including China, Vietnam repeatedly pushed back the Mongol invaders, yet at the cost of much destruction and many Vietnamese perished in these bloody wars.

After a long period of peace with the Chams settled in central and southern Vietnam following their common resistance against the Mongols, new wars between the Cham and the Tran dynasty towards the end of the 14th century.

A new Chinese invasion at the very beginning of the 15th century marked the recoloniation of Vietnam for a few years, but a resistance movement under the leadership of Lê Loi drove the Chinese out.

A new dynasty, the Lê, took over the throne for the next 3 centuries.

This dynasty reorganized the administration in an efficient way, attacked corruption and established a certain meritocracy opening the doors of the administration to all, according to their capacities and no longer according to their birth. The power of the Le dynasty inspired respect in China, but wars with the Cham resumed and ended with a Vietnamese victory in 1470.

The 16th century saw the decline of the Lê dynasty and the division of the country where two dynasties, the Lê and the Macs compete for power from 1527. The Macs will be ousted towards the end of the century, allowing the reunification of a country bloodless, exhausted by years of civil war.

However, the Le dynasty will lose all real power in favor of the Trinh and the Nguyen.

The struggles between these families vying for power will continue and re-divide the country for the next 200 years. The North will be known to foreign visitors as Tonkin and the South as Cochinchina.

Western colonization

The first Portuguese missionaries arrived in Vietnam around 1500 when British, Dutch and French trading posts were established on the coasts, Vietnam becoming a stopover on the sea route to China.

The local authorities seeing with a dim view the expansion of Christianity on their territory at the beginning of the 19th century, they arrested several missionaries, which would provoke a military intervention on the part of the French. This intervention marked the beginning of a series of conquests leading to French domination over Tonkin and Cochinchina in 1887.

This colonization gave birth to nationalist movements causing massacres on both sides.

French control was complete until the outbreak of World War II, when the Japanese invaded French Indochina and made it a rear base and exploited natural resources to support their war effort. The French administration remained in place, allowing the Japanese to station its troops in the region.

Japanese exploitation led to a takeover of the country and caused an appalling famine, killing nearly 2,000,000.

First Indochina War

The Viet Minh, a communist-inspired movement led by Ho CHi Minh, demanded in 1941 Vietnam's independence from France and the departure of the Japanese occupier. After the defeat of Japan in 1945, the administration of South Vietnam fell into chaos as the North established a provisional government which proclaimed independence in September 1945.

 

France, refusing Ho CHi Minh's proposal for collaboration, at the end of which it was to withdraw its colonial administrators and help in the development of Vietnam, sent the French Expeditionary Force from the Far East to re-establish its colonial domination.

 

Immediately resistance was organized and the First Indochina War began in 1949. It was to end in 1954 with the scathing French defeat at Dien Bien Phu.

 

The Geneva agreements concluded at the end of the war confirmed the end of French colonization and the division of the country with a demarcation line on the 17th parallel. The division was to be transitional pending elections in 1956.

Vietnam war

But the seizure of power in South Vietnam by the Catholic Ngo Dinh Diem and the establishment of a Republic of Vietnam temporarily ended this reunification process by replacing an internationally recognized Vietnam by two entities, one supported by America's camp in the South while the North was supported by the Soviet Union and China.

 

The North undertook sometimes painful and murderous land reforms while Diem in the South resolutely engaged in the fight against communism, arresting tens of thousands of socialist sympathizers. The severe repressions carried out by Diem led to a new guerrilla warfare, that of the Viet Cong. In 1963, mass demonstrations were organized by Buddhists dissatisfied with the Catholic regime of Diem and these were bloodily suppressed. This episode ended in a coup d'état in which DIem was assassinated. A struggle for power then began, at the end of which General Thieu took the head of South Vietnam. Infighting and electoral fraud considerably weakened the country, allowing the Viet Cong to advance.

 

It was in 1965 that the United States engaged militarily alongside South Vietnam, waging one of the deadliest wars of the 20th century. The bombardments were of rare intensity.

 

World public opinion, and in particular in the United States, forced the United States to withdraw gradually from the conflict and the final departure of the troops took place at the beginning of 1973. The Vietnam War would end in 1975 with the capture of Saigon. It had caused between 1 and 3 million deaths.

 

Reunification of Vietnam.

 

The Socialist Republic of Vietnam, merging the North and the South, was born on July 2, 1976. No mass executions for the collaborators of the old regime, but many Vietnamese fled the country while thousands were incarcerated in re-education camps.

 

In 1978, the Vietnamese army intervened in Cambodia following abuses committed at the border by the Khmer Rouge of Pol Pot. The Khmer Rouge regime was overthrown and a new pro-Vietnamese socialist government ruled until 1989 as the People's Republic of Kampuchea.

 

In 1986, a historic turning point at the head of the Communist Party allowed the implementation of major economic reforms, announcing the transition from a planned economy to a market economy encouraging private ownership of the means of production, while leaving industries strategic in the hands of the government.

 

There followed a period of prosperity and strong growth in production and exports, as well as the country's opening up to tourism.


 

Vimeo showcase • Vietnam