Vietnam’s Two Sisters: Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City together exemplify the vitality and importance of this Southeast Asian nation

On a recent personal visit to Vietnam, I was struck by the dynamism of this vital Southeast Asian nation. Vietnam has emerged as a veritable economic dynamo with one of the fastest growing economies over the last two decades. And while the foundation of this dynamism was laid by the promulgation of the Doi Moi reforms in the 1980s, the success of the country is equally attributable to the energy and entrepreneurship of the Vietnamese people.

In this context, I would like to introduce Vietnam’s two sisters who I believe exemplify the Vietnamese success story. The first sister is Ho Chi Minh City in southern Vietnam. Bright, modern and chic, this city is truly representative of the East Asian miracle. Known for its business-friendly ethos, Ho Chi Minh City is packed with glitzy cafes, malls and tourist areas. From small roadside eateries serving customers on small plastic tools to renowned luxury hotel brands, the city truly highlights how open, business-friendly and outward-looking this country is.

Ho Chi Minh City

Then there is the other sister Hanoi in the north. On first glance, the capital city has a more traditional look – the streets are busy and there is a ‘mind-your-own-business’ feel in the air. But slowly the charming character of Hanoi reveals itself. From its many splendid lakes to its dime-a-dozen cafés and quaint noodle soup shops, Hanoi begins to grow on you. And before you know it you dive head-first into Vietnamese culture which is defined by a mix of tradition and modernity, history and hope for the future, quiet resilience and entrepreneurship, and most of all warm hospitality and a willingness to learn and adapt.

Given this overall picture, one might be tempted to compare Vietnam’s socio-economic development model with that of China. But there is a crucial difference. By some accounts China’s breakneck economic development over the last three decades appears to have created multiple contradictions in that society. Market reforms unleashed great forces that perhaps even the Chinese Communist Party didn’t anticipate. That’s why the regime of Xi Jinping today is trying to bottle up and control those forces to preserve the longevity of the Chinese Communist Party.

Hanoi’s Hoan Kiem at night

However, Vietnam’s development seems to be more organic, steady and rooted in the Vietnamese experience. And I can’t help but imagine that Vietnam’s two sisters – Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City – are like the two baskets of a Vietnamese carrying pole, one balancing the other. While Ho Chi Minh City absorbs from the world and provides impetus to the Vietnamese economy and entrepreneurship, Hanoi as the capital maintains tradition and the unique Vietnamese identity. Together, they create a perfect balance, supporting each other and organically propelling the country forward. Add to this the fact that Vietnam today is seen as a key proponent of a rules-based order – in the context of the South China Sea issue for example – has a very open trade policy, and has signed on to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity. This clearly shows that Vietnam is well integrated with the global economy and is striving to be a net contributor for regional peace, security and development.

All of this makes Vietnam a vital cog in any plans to maintain stability in East Asia, draw rules of the road to ensure peace and development, and foster resilient supply chains as countries look to de-risk from China. Vietnam with its two sisters certainly holds out hope for the region.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/talkingturkey/vietnams-two-sisters-hanoi-and-ho-chi-minh-city-together-exemplify-the-vitality-and-importance-of-this-southeast-asian-nation/

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