BINH DUONG (VNS) — In the past 40 years, since Viet Nam was reunited with its southern region, the country made significant progress in socio-economic development and diplomacy. But many challenges are still ahead.
That was the message at the opening ceremony of the international conference entitled Viet Nam – 40 Years of Reunification, Development and Integration organised on Saturday in Binh Duong Province.
Nguyen Huu Tu, deputy secretary of Binh Duong Province's Party Committee, spoke at the opening, highlighting how the country had made achievements in construction, national protection and international integration during the past four decades.
Noted conference participant, Professor Carlyle A. Thayer, of New South Wales at the Australian Defence Force Academy, agreed that Viet Nam has made significant progress in diplomacy over the last four decades.
According to the expert's review, between 1975 and 1991, the country went from being a member of the socialist camp to a member of the international community. Later, it sought to multilateralise and diversify its foreign relations by developing economic links and political relations with major powers in Asia, America, Europe and Southeast Asia between 1991 and 2006 period.
Professor Thayer said that since 2006, Viet Nam consolidated its international role by forging strategic partnerships and pursued a policy of proactive international integration.
As evidence, he noted that Viet Nam and the United States raised bilateral relations to a Comprehensive Partnership in 2013 and now the country is on verge of membership in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.
Regarding socio-economic development, the professor pointed out both progress and challenges. In 1985, ten years after being liberated, the country still suffered from a severe economic crisis.
Despite improvement, the country is still facing some big economic and systemic changes, he said.
"The country's social-oriented economy now faces big challenges if the markets it's integrating with are competitive and stronger," he said, adding, "The major challenges are reforming State enterprises, ending the bad debt situation and keeping the East Sea peaceful."
Professor Tsuboi Yoshiharu, of Waseda University, has been studying Viet Nam for 40 years and shared much of Thayer's view on the country's economic development.
Yoshiharu explained how despite the difficult 20 years after the American war (1975 - 1995), the country has seen positive economic development and international integration. The scholar pointed out how per capita income increased significantly from US$100 in 1986 to $1,000 in 2010.
"Viet Nam has escaped the status of a poor country. However, there are some major challenges the country has to face in the upcoming time, including reconciliation, recruiting young people, and reforming the economic and political system," he stressed.
The more than four million overseas Vietnamese sent US$12 billion last year in remittance; they are a group that will continue to play a big role in Viet Nam's future.
But, more than anything, recruiting young people is essential, he argued, as 60 per cent of the country's population is people below 40 years old.
The most important role for the government is to assign suitable tasks for youngsters to show their ability and talent, Yoshiharu said.
The conference was organised by Thu Dau Mot University, University of Social Sciences and Humanities under Viet Nam National University – Ha Noi, University of Social Sciences and Humanities under Viet Nam National University – HCM City, and University of Sciences at Hue University.
The conference gathered more than 300 reports authored by local and international experts about Viet Nam's struggle for reunification, renovation, development and integration.
War heroes, heroines honoured
A number of events were held across the country yesterday to commemorate the upcoming 40th anniversary of National Unification Day.
A crowd of 101 mothers from the southern Tay Ninh Province and 98 from northern Tuyen Quang Province were honoured with the title, "Vietnamese Heroic Mother," for the sacrifices and contributions they made to the national struggle for unification and independence.
A monument was erected in honour of the Logistics Battalion 22, Sub division 270, who continued to send weapons and supplies to the Con Co Island in central Quang Tri Province during the war from 1965-1971. Of Battalion 22's 120 soldiers, only 34 survived the war.
A delegation of American professionals and distinguished experts, who were active members in the anti-war movement in America, visited the central city of Da Nang, led by John McAuliff, director executive of the American Fund for Reconciliation and Development. — VNS