Hundreds of thousands of people crowded Ba Dinh Square in central Hanoi Sept. 2 to triumphantly celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam (now the Socialist Republic of Vietnam). Veterans of the nearly 40 years of unremitting war for national liberation, trade union and Communist Party leaders, government officials and foreign dignitaries watched as a massive parade strewn with red flags, Vietnamese flags and posters of revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh and other national figures from Vietnam's long history wound its way through downtown Hanoi.
"Vietnam has undergone many trials, overcome a lot of difficulties and recorded many significant successes [in the last 50 years]," read a statement distributed at Vietnam's mission to the U.N. in New York. Following 100 years of colonial rule and 40 years of war, Vietnam "embarked on a new revolutionary stage of overcoming step-by-step the serious consequences left behind, and of national reconstruction and comprehensive economic, political and social renovation," the statement read.
In the past five years, Vietnam has achieved remarkable success in the economic and diplomatic fields. From a rice importer, Vietnam has now become the world's third largest rice exporter, behind only the U.S. and Thailand. Oil exports have increased from 2.7 million tons in 1990 to 6.9 million in 1994. Inflation has dropped from a staggering 774 percent in 1986 to just over 14 percent today.
"However, due to disadvantages such as poor infrastructure, shortage of capital, outdated economic structure, poor management, etc., Vietnam has yet to face a lot of obstacles," the Vietnamese mission said.
Education and health remain areas of primary concern for the government. In 1945, when Ho Chi Minh declared independence from French colonial control, 95 percent of Vietnamese could not read and write. Today, that number has fallen to 10 percent, despite the long periods of war and disruption.
Everyone is guaranteed health care, despite a shortage of medical personnel and equipment. Today, over 90 percent of the population has immediate access to health care, but the government has announced plans to update the health care system and provide immediate access to everyone.
In the diplomatic field, Vietnam has pulled off a number of advances in recent years, including the breaking of the U.S. blockade of the country. The U.S. and Vietnam established diplomatic relations earlier this summer, ending 20 years of formal hostility. Over 160 countries now enjoy diplomatic relations with the southeast Asian country.
"Vietnam is now entering a new phase of development in the direction of industrialization and modernization with an aim to eradicate poverty and backwardness and to improve the quality of life of the people, thus facilitating the sustainable development for the country to enter the 21st century and realizing the goal of prosperous people, strong country, social justice and civilization," the mission's statement said.
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