Where is ‘Vietnamese aspiration’?

Last update: 08:00 | 30/03/2019

VietNamNet Bridge - “After a long time of thinking about why Vietnam still has not become a powerful country, I have come to the conclusion that the lack of aspirations is a crucial cause,” writes Huynh The Du, a respected scholar, for VietNamNet, which initiated the ‘For a Powerful Vietnam Forum’.


The process of evolution and human genome change has been going very slowly. As such, the way we behave in the future is very much determined by the past. Therefore, it is useful to review what happened in the past to find the outstanding characteristics of Vietnamese and the factors that led them to success.

The moment when I had the deepest and most obvious perception about Vietnam’s history was in the winter of 2013 at Harvard. At that time I was sitting listening to a tape recording of interviews with Vietnamese veterans for the documentary film ‘The Vietnam War’ by Ken Burns & Lynn Novick, produced by Florentine Films.

The prideful voice of veteran Vietnamese soldiers made me understand that it is the aspiration to become independent, not to kneel to anyone, and the determination to do things, which have all contributed to incredible exploits. Vietnam won all the wars against powerful countries in the world.

I could also imagine the strong determination of the Vietnamese nation when Ly Thuong Kiet recited ‘Nam Quoc Son Ha’ (Mountains and Rivers of the Southern Country, a famous 10th century Vietnamese poem, considered "Vietnam's first Declaration of Independence") which helped defeat the Song army. 

I could hear elderly people vowing to fight against the Yuan invaders at the Dien Hong Conference. I understood why Le Loi – Nguyen Trai could defeat the Ming army and I took pride in the victory of the Vietnamese people led by Emperor Quang Trung over the Qing soldiers.

I understand why Vietnam won the the historic Dien Bien Phu battle and I have deeper understanding about what Vogel wrote in "Deng Xiaoping and the transformation of China". 

Deng said China aimed to "teach Vietnam a lesson" when launching the border war in 1979. But, in fact, Vietnam was the one who taught China a lesson.

War causes miserable pain. But during these wars, the Vietnamese people were able to do great things when they were in danger of losing territory and becoming slaves.

Doi moi (renovation) has been the most prosperous socio-economic development stage in Vietnam’s history. Vietnam has gained great achievements praised by the world. However, the achievements are still below the expectations of the Vietnamese people.

In the early 1990s, when setting the goal of becoming an industrialized country by 2020, Vietnam was inspired by the success stories of Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore, which turned into ‘dragons’ just after three decades.

One of the important factors behind their success was the desire to rise. The nations were determined to do this and they were able to do it.

Meanwhile, some other regional countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand have gained certain success, but they just remain ‘small tigers’.

As for Vietnam, 2020 is nearing and it is highly possible that the development goals are unattainable. The lack of aspiration and the pressure to reach the goals at any cost are the reasons behind this.

Vietnam has gained great achievements, but morals and beliefs are degrading. The public has a negative outlook about the current situation. The negative outlook is creating a shadow over society. Some individuals in important positions act for their own personal profit and squeeze the national resources.

Vietnam won’t be able to develop with such a negative energy source. The most important thing that needs to be done now is to create Vietnamese aspiration, with the belief that Vietnam can do more and more things.

Where is Vietnamese aspiration and how can it be ignited? 

Huynh The Du

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