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The Socialist Republic of Viet Nam



In 1976 the South was reunited with the North in a new Socialist Republic of Viet Nam. The conclusion of the war, however, did not end the violence. Border tension with the Communist government in Cambodia escalated rapidly after the fall of Saigon, and in early 1979 the Vietnamese invaded Cambodia and installed a pro-Vietnamese government. A few weeks later, Viet Nam was itself attacked by its Communist neighbour and erstwhile benefactor, China. In the mid-1980s, about 140,000 Vietnamese troops were stationed in Cambodia and another 50,000 troops in Laos. Viet Nam substantially reduced its forces in Laos during 1988 and withdrew virtually all its troops from Cambodia by September 1989.

Within Viet Nam, post-war economic and social problems were severe, and reconstruction proceeded slowly. Efforts to collectivise agriculture and nationalise business aroused hostility in the south. Disappointing harvests and the absorption of resources by the military further retarded Viet Nam's recovery. In the early 1990s the government ended price controls on most agricultural production, encouraged foreign investment, and sought to improve its foreign relations. In 1990 the European Community (now the European Union) established official diplomatic relations with Viet Nam. The country signed a peace agreement with Cambodia in 1991 and shortly thereafter restored diplomatic relations with China. The peace agreement also forged the way for strengthening relations with the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). In 1992 Viet Nam signed a 1976 ASEAN agreement on regional amity and co-operation, regarded as the first step toward eventual ASEAN membership. Also in 1992, Viet Nam established diplomatic relations with South Korea. The United States removed a trade embargo in 1994, and in 1995 Viet Nam and the United States agreed to exchange low-level diplomats, although full diplomatic relations (which involve opening embassies and appointing ambassadors) have not yet been established.

 
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