The victory of communist forces in Vietnam in April 1975 ranks as one of the most politically significant occurrences of the post-World War II era in Asia. The achievement was even more phenomenal for having been accomplished in the face of determined United States opposition and for having called into question the very policy of containing communism. This occurrence marks a turning period not only in political but also economic facets of Vietnam. Although the communist government in Vietnam attempted to gain an isolationalist approach to economics, it has continually veered towards an economically integrated market on the global stage.
The events of April 1975 prepared the way for the official reunification of North and South in 1976, some three decades after Ho Chi Minh first proclaimed Vietnam's independence under one government in September 1945 and more than a century after France divided Vietnam in order to rule its regions separately.
Reunification was the long-established objectives of Ho Chi Minh's nationalist and anticolonialist predecessors, who had resisted Chinese rule for 1,000 years and French domination for a century. Indeed, Vietnam's unrelenting resistance to foreign intervention remains a dominant Vietnamese historical theme, visible in the repeated waging of dau tranh, or struggle to gain a long-term objective through total effort and motivated by chinh nghia, or just cause. Vietnam's communist leaders claim that every Vietnamese has been a soldier in this struggle. Ironically, Vietnam's fierce determination to remain free of foreign domination has often been combined with an equally strong willingness to accept foreign influence. Historically, the pattern has been to adopt foreign ideas to indigenous conditions whenever they applied. Therefore setting the stage for global efforts in balancing a country between public and private control over its economy.
In the 1980s, Vietnam ranked third in population--60 million- -and first in...