French conquer the area of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Re-name it French Union of Indo-China. [2]


Ho Chi Minh founds Indochina Communist Party to resist French rule. Goes into exile in the Soviet Union and China after the Party is savagely suppressed. [2]


After France surrenders to Germany, Japan, Germany's ally, takes control of Indochina, ruling jointly with the Vichy French. Ho Chi Minh returns to lead resistance to the Japanese and French. Sets up the Vietminh - League for Vietnamese Independence. Though led by communists, it attracts many nationalists. [2]


Vietminh lead the fight against the Japanese, supported by the US, which supplies them with weapons. When France is liberated, the Japanese imprison French troops. In 1945, when the Japanese surrender after Hiroshima, the Vietminh, who are based in the north, take over Hanoi and declare the independence of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. Ho persuades emperor Bao Dai to abdicate, due to his associations with the Japanese. Ho Chi Minh hopes for US support against the French. [2] [4]

British troops arrive in Saigon from Burma. They aim to restore French colonial rule. They rearm Japanese troops and use them to drive the Vietminh out of Saigon and the south. The French re-establish colonial rule in the south. [2]

French General Leclerc says "I didn't come back to Indochina to give Indochina back to the Indochinese." [5]

During this year and the next, Vietminh leader Ho Chi Minh writes at least eight letters to US president Truman and the State Department asking for US help in winning Vietnamese independence from the French. He writes that world peace is being endangered by French efforts to reconquer Indochina and he requests that the "four powers" (US, USSR, China and UK) intervene in order to mediate a fair settlement and bring the Indochinese issue before the UN. He is ignored. [5]


France recognizes Vietnam as a "free state" within the French Union. French troops replace Chinese in the North.

Following months of steadily deteriorating relations, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam launches its first consorted attack against the French. [3]

The French fight the Vietminh for control of the north. They drive the Vietminh out of Hanoi. But the French fare badly in the war against the Vietminh as their highly successful leader, General Giap, employs Maoist guerrilla tactics. In France, there is a lack of enthusiasm and funds for the war. [2]


French General Etienne Valluy attempts, and fails, to wipe out the Vietminh in one stroke. [3]


Bao Dai and President Vincent Auriol of France sign the Elysee Agreement. As part of the agreement the French pledge to assist in the building of a national anti-Communist army. [3]


Communist forces triumph in China and give military aid to the Vietminh. France turns to the US for aid, claiming it is a war against Chinese communist expansionism rather than a colonial war. After the US becomes embroiled in the Korean War, fighting North Korea and then the Chinese, it begins to supply military aid to the French. [2] US Secrtary of State Dean Acheson tells French officials that the US government is set against France negotiating with their Northern based Vietnamese foes, the Vietminh. [5]

The United States sends $15 million dollars in military aid to the French for the war in Indochina. Included in the aid package is a military mission and military advisors. [3]


The US exerts strong pressure on France not to pursue peace feelers extended by the Vietminh and a French delegation, scheduled to meet with Vietminh negotiators in Burma is hastily recalled to Paris. Thereafte the US threatens to cease economic and mititary aid to the French if they negotiate with the Vietminh. [5]


France grants Laos full independence. Vietminh forces push into Laos. [3]

The CIA helps air lift 16,000 men into a fortified French base in a valley in the North called Dien Bien Phu. The CIA later flys in supplies when the base is surrounded and cut off. [5]


The Americans are funding 80% of the French war, over $1 billion per year. After a disastrous defeat at Dien Bien Phu, the French decide to withdraw from Indochina. Peace talks take place in Geneva. The US National Security Council urges Eisenhower "to inform Paris that French acquiescence in a Communist take over of Indochina would bear on its status as one of the Big Three" and that "US aid to France would automatically cease". The US contemplates military intervention including the US of nuclear weapons. In order to try and the non-communist side at the Geneva talks, the CIA disseminates false news items claiming that the Chinese are giving full armed support to the Vietminh. [2] [5]

July - The Geneva Agreement states that the country will be temporarily divided at the 17th parallel. The Vietminh will withdraw north of this line, the French south. Ho Chi Minh's government is recognised as the government of independent North Vietnam; the French remain temporarily in South Vietnam. Free elections to be held in July 1956 across both zones will decide the future government of a united Vietnam. In the meantime, neither zone to accept outside military help, foreign troops or join any military alliance. Laos and Cambodia to become free, independent and neutral. [2]

The agreement was signed by France, Britain, China, the Soviet Union and the Vietminh. The South Vietnamese were represented by the French. The US did not approve the agreement, and was not a signatory. However, Washington undertook not to upset it by force or threat of force. [2] [5]

September - US forms SEATO - an anti-Communist alliance of Britain, France, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Pakistan and the Philippines - and extends protection to Laos, Cambodia and South Vietnam, thus undermining the Geneva Accord. President Eisenhower sends an undercover CIA team to Vietnam to disrupt and weaken the North. They engage in a campaign of military and psychological warfare under the direction of the CIA's Edward Lansdale and begin to make preparations for future war. The US also begins an economic boycott against the North Vietnamese and threatens to blacklist French firms which are doing business with them. [2] [5]


Ngo Dinh Diem, a wealthy Catholic anti-Communist, rejects conditions of Geneva accords and refuses to participate in Nationwide elections. Diem, like Eisenhower and John Foster Dulles, knows that in any national election Ho Chi Minh is sure to win. The US State Department and National Security Council make it clear to Diem that they want the elections postponed for as long as possible. It is this support that enables Diem to scrap the nationwide elections without the fear of action by Vietminh forces. Diem defeats Bao Dai in a rigged referendum and proclaims himself President of Republic of Vietnam. [2] [5]

Diem is opposed by virtually all sectors of South Vietnamese society, but is backed by Washington and the CIA. He establishes a corrupt, ruthless, authoritarian regime which discriminates against the Buddhist majority and does not tolerate any opposition. [2] [3] [5]


The French leave Vietnam. The US Military Assistance Advisor Group (MAAG) takes over training South Vietnamese government forces. This includes a covert program set up the previous year at Michigan State University for training South Vietnamese police. [3] [5]

Deadline for nationwide elections set at Geneva Convention passes. No elections are held. [3] [5]


Vietnamese insurgent activity in South Vietnam begins. Thirty-seven armed companies are organized along the Mekong Delta. [3]

Thirteen Americans working for MAAG and US Information Service are wounded in bombings in Saigon. [3]


Vietnamese forces settle along the Mekong Delta. [3]


North Vietnam forms Group 559 to begin moving cadres and weapons into South Vietnam via the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The Trail will become a strategic target for future military attacks. [3]

Diem orders crackdown on Communists and dissidents. [3]


North Vietnam imposes universal military conscription.

Diem survives coup attempt. [3]

Groups opposing Diem form the National Liberation Front to overthrow Diem and the US presence by force. Though led by communists, the NLF is an alliance of Buddhists, nationalists and peasants. Diem dubs them the Viet Cong (Vietnamese Communists) and requests US aid to fight them. Ho Chi Minh sends aid to the NLF. [2]


400 guerillas attack village in Kienhoa Province, and are defeated by South Vietnamese government troops. [3]

During a tour of Asian countries, Vice President Lyndon Johnson visits Diem in Saigon. Johnson assures Diem that he is crucial to US objectives in Vietnam and calls him "the Churchill of Asia." [3]

President Kennedy authorizes "Green Berets," -- a Special Forces operation activated at Fort Bragg, NC. The Special Forces will specialize in counterinsurgency. [3]

As US atrocities mount in the war that follows, Britain secretly provides US with military intelligence, arms and covert SAS deployments, along with diplomatic support. [1]


President Kennedy increases the number of military advisors from 800 to 16,000. [2]

During the 1960's the CIA runs drug operations from Laos. Opium and heroine is flown all over Indochina to serve the personal and entrepreneurial needs of the CIA's various military and political allies, ultimately turning numerous GIs in Vietnam into addicts. [5]

US Air Force begins using Agent Orange -- a defoliant that came in metal orange containers-to expose roads and trails used by Vietcong forces.

Diem palace bombed in coup attempt. [3]

Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield reports back to JFK from Saigon his opinion that Diem had wasted the two billion dollars America had spent there. [3]


Drawing on the British practise of "villageisation" in Malaya, US forces herd thousands of Vietnamese into "strategic hamlets" akin to concentration camps. The UK government gives its support for this. [1]

Vietcong units defeat South Vietnamese Army (ARVN) in Battle of Ap Bac. [3]

Tensions between Buddhists and the Diem government are further strained as Diem, a Catholic, removes Buddhists from several key government positions and replaces them with Catholics. Buddhist monks protest Diem's intolerance for other religions and the measures he takes to silence them. In a show of protest, Buddhist monks start setting themselves on fire in public places. [3]

With tacit approval of the United States, operatives within the South Vietnamese military overthrow Diem. He and his brother Nhu are shot and killed in the aftermath. [3] [5]

President Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas. Kennedy's death meant that the problem of how to proceed in Vietnam fell squarely into the lap of his vice president, Lyndon Johnson. [3]


In a bloodless coup, General Nguyen Khanh seizes power in Saigon. South Vietnam junta leader, Major General Duong Van Minh, is placed under house arrest, but is allowed to remain as a figurehead chief-of-state. [3]

August - On August 2, three North Vietnamese PT boats allegedly fire torpedoes at the USS Maddox, a destroyer located in the international waters of the Tonkin Gulf, some thirty miles off the coast of North Vietnam. The alleged attack comes after six months of covert US and South Vietnamese naval operations. A second attack is alleged to have taken place on August 4. It is all a fake to justify US military intervention. [3] [5] [10]

The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution is approved by Congress on August 7 and authorizes President Lyndon Johnson to "take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression." The resolution passes unanimously in the House, and by a margin of 82-2 in the Senate. The Resolution allows Johnson to wage all out war against North Vietnam without ever securing a formal Declaration of War from Congress. [3]

Vietcong attacks Bienhoa air base. [3]

October - US forces bomb Cambodian villages near the South Vietnamese border in pursuit of North Vietnamese and Vietcong. [5]

Lyndon Johnson is elected in a landslide over Republican Barry Goldwater of Arizona. During the campaign, Johnson's position on Vietnam appeared to lean toward de-escalation of US involvement, and sharply contrasted the more militant views held by Goldwater. [3]


February - Sustained American bombing raids of North Vietnam, dubbed Operation Rolling Thunder, begins. The nearly continuous air raids would go on for three years. [3]

Soviet Union supplies aid and weapons to the North and the North sends 14,000 PAVN (People's Army of Vietnam) troops south to help the NLF. [2]

February - The US stages the fake capture of a boat carrying communist bloc arms to the Vietcong, in order to give the impression of outside support being given to the Vietcong/NLF. [5]

May - Cambodia severs diplomatic realations with the US after US forces bomb more Cambodian villages. [5]

US journalists are told that it is their patriotic duty to only disseminate information that makes the US look good. [5]

The first American combat troops, the 9th Marine Expeditionary Brigade, arrive in Vietnam to defend the US airfield at Danang. Scattered Vietcong gunfire is reported, but no Marines are injured. [3]

The first conventional battle of the Vietnam war takes place as American forces clash with North Vietnamese units in the Ia Drang Valley. The US 1st Air Cavalry Division employs its newly enhanced technique of aerial reconnaissance to finally defeat the NVA, although heavy casualties are reported on both sides. [3]

US troop levels top 200,000. [3]

March - The practice, in the US, of protesting US policy in Vietnam by holding "teach-ins" at colleges and universities becomes widespread. The first "teach-in" -- featuring seminars, rallies, and speeches -- takes place at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor in March. In May, a nationally broadcast "teach-in" reaches students and faculty at over 100 campuses. [3]


In an effort to disrupt movement along the Mugia Pass -- the main route used by the NVA to send personnel and supplies through Laos and into South Vietnam -- American B-52s bomb North Vietnam for the first time. [3]

South Vietnam government troops take Hue and Danang. [3]

Despite the US rhetoric of fighting communist encroachment in Indochina the Soviet Union supplies the US with $2 million worth of magnesium and China supplies the US with several thousand tons of steel. This at a time when the US is maintaining various embargoes against communist nations. [5]

US President Lyndon Johnson meets with South Vietnamese Premier Nguyen Cao Ky and his military advisors in Honolulu. In keeping with US government rhetoric Johnson promises to continue to help South Vietnam fend off aggression from the North, but adds that the US will be monitoring South Vietnam's efforts to expand democracy and improve economic conditions for its citizens. [3]

Veterans from World Wars I and II, along with veterans from the Korean war stage a protest rally in New York City. Discharge and separation papers are burned in protest of US involvement in Vietnam. [3]

The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) issues a report claiming that the US military draft places "a heavy discriminatory burden on minority groups and the poor." The group also calls for a withdrawal of all US troops from Vietnam. [3]


In a major ground war effort dubbed Operation Cedar Falls, about 16,000 US and 14,000 South Vietnamese government troops set out to destroy Vietcong operations and supply sites near Saigon. A massive system of tunnels is discovered in an area called the Iron Triangle, an apparent headquarters for Vietcong personnel. [3]

Calling the US "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world," Martin Luther King publicly speaks out against US policy in Vietnam. King later encourages draft evasion and suggests a merger between antiwar and civil rights groups. [3]

University of Wisconsin students demand that corporate recruiters for Dow Chemical -- producers of napalm -- not be allowed on campus. [3]

Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, appearing before a Senate subcommittee, testifies that US bombing raids against North Vietnam have not achieved their objectives. McNamara maintains that movement of supplies to South Vietnam has not been reduced, and neither the economy nor the morale of the North Vietnamese has been broken. [3]

By 1967, there are 525,000 US troops in Vietnam and two million refugees. [2]

In 1967, after a succession of short-lived military governments, General Thieu becomes president of South Vietnam and remains until 1975. [2]


Between 1968 and 1971 the US operates the Pheonix Program under which thousands of Vietnamese civilians are arrested on the chance that they may be supporters Vietcong. Torture and murder are commonplace under this program as they had been under similar ones operating since 1965. The US figure for those killed under this program is 20,587. The South Vietnamese government figure is 40,994. [5] [6] [23]

In a show of military might that catches the US military off guard, North Vietnamese and Vietcong forces sweep down upon several key cities and provinces in South Vietnam, including its capital, Saigon. Within days, American forces turn back the onslaught and recapture most areas. From a military point of view, Tet is a huge defeat for the North Vietnamese and Vietcong, but turns out to be a political and psychological victory. The US military's assessment of the war is questioned and the "end of tunnel" seems very far off. [3]

The Battle for Hue wages for 26 days as US and South Vietnamese government forces try to recapture the site seized by the North Vietnamese and Vietcong during the Tet Offensive. Previously, a religious retreat in the middle of a war zone, Hue was nearly leveled in a battle that left nearly all of its population homeless. Following the US and ARVN victory, mass graves allegedly containing the bodies of thousands of people who had been executed during the North Vietnamese occupation are discovered. [3] In fact this widely promulgated story is a fabrication by the South Vietnamese government, promoted by the US. Most, if not all, of the dead were killed during the fighting and were not executed at all. [24]

General Westmoreland requests 206,000 more troops, president Johnson refuses. [3]

March - On March 16, the men of Charlie Company, 11th Brigade, Americal Division entered the village of My Lai. "This is what you've been waiting for -- search and destroy -- and you've got it," said their superior officers. A short time later the killing began. When news of the atrocities surfaced, it sent shockwaves through the US political establishment, the military's chain of command, and an already divided American public. [3]

Later revelations show that My Lai wa the tip of the iceberg. There were many other incidents of massacres, killings, rapes and torture, which went unpunished. Such crimes were not perpetrated by just a few rogue units, but by parts of every army division operating in Vietnam. Furthermore official documents show that it was policy to include many populated areas of Vietnam in the so called "free fire zones", wherein anyone and everyone was considered as a legitimate target. [11] [18]

With his popularity plummeting and dismayed by Senator Eugene McCarthy's strong showing in the New Hampshire primary, President Lyndon Johnson stuns the nation and announces that he will not be a candidate for re-election. [3]

April - Martin Luther King is slain in Memphis. [3]

May - Following a lengthy period of debate and discussion, North Vietnamese and American negotiators agree on a location and start date of peace talks. Talks are slated to begin in Paris on May 10 with W. Averell Harriman representing the United States, and former Foreign Minister Xuan Thuy heading the North Vietnamese delegation. [3]

As the frazzled Democratic party prepares to hold its nominating convention in Chicago, city officials gear up for a deluge of demonstrations. Mayor Richard Daley orders police to crackdown on antiwar protests. As the nation watched on television, the area around the convention erupts in violence. [3] By now the US administration is concerned that it may need troops for controlling civil unrest and it may not have enough if more are sent to Vietnam. [7]

Running on a platform of "law and order," Richard Nixon barely beats out Hubert Humphrey for the presidency. Nixon takes just 43.4 percent of the popular vote, compared to 42.7 percent for Humphrey. Third-party candidate George Wallace takes the remaining percentage of votes. [3]


In an effort to destroy North Vietnamese and Vietcong supply routes and base camps in Cambodia, President Nixon gives the go-ahead to "Operation Breakfast." The covert bombing of Cambodia, conducted without the knowledge of Congress or the American public, will continue for fourteen months. [3] [2] [5]

Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird describes a policy of "Vietnamization" when discussing a diminishing role for the US military in Vietnam. The objective of the policy is to shift the burden of defeating the North Vietnamese and Vietcong onto the South Vietnamese Army and away from the United States. US continues to provide aid, advice and air support. [3] [2]

Ho Chi Minh dies at Age 79 and is succeeded by Le Duan. [3] [2]

Through the reporting of journalist Seymour Hersh, Americans read for the first time of the atrocities committed by Lt. William Calley and his troops in the village of My Lai. At the time the reports were made public, the Army had already charged Calley with the crime of murder. [3] [2]

Massive antiwar demonstration in Washington DC. [3] [2]


March - Prince Sihanouk's attempt to maintain Cambodia's neutrality while war waged in neighboring Vietnam forced him to strike opportunistic alliances with China, and then the United States. Such vacillating weakened his government, leading to a coup orchestrated by his defense minister, Lon Nol. [3] [5]

Within hours of the coup US and South Vietnam government forces establish communication with Cambodian commanders and begin military cooperation against Vietcong forces in Cambodia. [5] The deployment of about 14,000 US troops in Cambodia is kept secret by Nixon. [9]

National Guardsmen open fire on a crowd of student antiwar protesters at Ohio's Kent State University, resulting in the death of four students and the wounding of eight others. President Nixon publicly deplores the actions of the Guardsmen, but cautions: "...when dissent turns to violence it invites tragedy." Several of the protesters had been hurling rocks and empty tear gas canisters at the Guardsmen. [3]

Kissinger and Le Duc Tho begin secret talks. [3]

Number of US troops in Vietnam falls to 280 000. [3]


A legacy of deception, concerning US policy in Vietnam, on the part of the military and the executive branch is revealed as the New York Times publishes the Pentagon Papers. The Nixon administration, eager to stop leaks of what they consider sensitive information, appeals to the Supreme Court to halt the publication. The Court decides in favour of the Times and allows continued publication. [3]

In a move that troubles the North Vietnamese, President Nixon announces his intention to visit The People's Republic of China. Nixon's gesture toward China is seen by the North Vietnamese as an effort to create discord between themselves and their Chinese allies. [3]

Thieu re-elected in South Vietnam. [3]

Telford Taylor the chief US prosecutor at Nuremberg strongly suggests that General William Westmoreland and high officials of the Johnson administration such as Robert McNamara and Dean Rusk could be found guilty of war crimes under criteria established at Nuremberg. But no US court or judge is willing to accept the Nuremberg principles as a defense for those who refused the US war draft. [5]


Responding to charges by Democratic presidential candidates that he is not moving fast enough to end US involvement in Vietnam, President Nixon orders troop strength reduced by seventy thousand. [3]

Secret peace talks revealed. [3]

In an attempt to force North Vietnam to make concessions in the ongoing peace talks, the Nixon administration orders heavy bombing of supply dumps and petroleum storage sites in and around Hanoi and Haiphong. The administration makes it clear to the North Vietnamese that no section of Vietnam is off-limits to bombing raids. [3]

June - Break-in at Watergate Hotel. [3]

The town of Hongai is bombed. Hongai is one of the first places to be bombed with a "pellet bomb", the prototype of the cluster bomb. [6]

Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho reach agreement in principle on several key measures leading to a cease-fire in Vietnam. Kissinger's view that "peace is at hand," is dimmed somewhat by South Vietnamese President Thieu's opposition to the agreement. [3]


A cease-fire agreement that, in the words of Richard Nixon, "brings peace with honor in Vietnam and Southeast Asia," is signed in Paris by Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho. The agreement is to go into effect on January 28. [3]

Under the agreement the US agrees to fund reconstruction in Vietnam to the amount of $3.25 billion. In fact the US gives nothing and imposes a complete embargo on trade and assistance, which lasts until 1994. [5] The Vietnamese are simply left to deal with all the suffering and destruction. [16]

August - The Senate Armed Services Committee opens hearing on the US bombing of Cambodia. Allegations are made that the Nixon administration allowed bombing raids to be carried out during what was supposed to be a time when Cambodia's neutrality was officially recognized. As a result of the hearings, Congress orders that all bombing in Cambodia cease effective at midnight, August 14. [3]

The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to Henry Kissinger of the United States and Le Duc Tho of North Vietnam. Kissinger accepts the award, while Tho declines, saying that a true peace does not yet exist in Vietnam. [3]


US bombers continue to destroy South Vietnam in support of the ARVN. Many US 'advisors' remain to assist and direct ARVN. [2]

According to a report issued by The National Academy of Science, use of chemical herbicides during the war caused long-term damage to the ecology of Vietnam. Subsequent inquiries will focus on the connection between certain herbicides, particularly Agent Orange, and widespread reports of cancer, skin disease, and other disorders on the part of individuals exposed to them. [3] [5]

North Vietnamese and Vietcong take Mekong Delta territory. [3]

May - Impeachment hearings against President Richard Nixon are begun by the House Judiciary Committee. Among the articles of impeachment introduced is a resolution condemning Nixon for the secret bombing of Cambodia. [3]

Nixon resigns. [3]

With North Vietnamese and Vietcong forces in the South believed to be at their highest levels ever, South Vietnamese leaders gird themselves for an expected offensive of significant proportions. [3]


The South Vietnamese Army loses twenty planes in a failed effort to defend Phuoc Long, a key province just north of Saigon. North Vietnamese leaders interpret the US's complete lack of response to the siege as an indication that they could move more aggressively in the South. [2] [3]

Congress refuses President Ford's request for further funds to support the South Vietnamese government . ARVN collapses without US support. In March, Hue and Danang fall and the PAVN presses on to Saigon. [2] [3]

The North Vietnamese and Vietcong initiate the Ho Chi Minh Campaign -- a concerted effort to "liberate" Saigon. Under the command of General Dung, the NVA sets out to capture Saigon by late April, in advance of the rainy season. [2] [3]

April - The Khmer Rouge accept the surrender of Cambodian leader Lon Nol on April 16. The Khmer Rouge's victory ends five years of fighting in Cambodia and ushers in a period of genocide and forced "re-education" engineered by Pol Pot. [2] [3] [5]

Anticipating the fall of Saigon to North Vietnamese and Vietcong forces, US President Gerald Ford, speaking in New Orleans, announces that as far as the US is concerned, the Vietnam War is "finished." [2] [3]

South Vietnamese President Duong Van Minh delivers an unconditional surrender to the North Vietnamese in the early hours of April 30. North Vietnamese Colonel Bui Tin accepts the surrender and assures Minh that, "...Only the Americans have been beaten. If you are patriots, consider this a moment of joy." As the remaining Americans evacuate Saigon (about 8000), the last two US servicemen to die in Vietnam are killed when their helicopter crashes. [2] [3]

Perhaps five million people died during the Vietnam war, the great majority of them civilians. [20]


As the National Assembly meets in July of 1976, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam names Pham Van Dong its prime minister. Van Dong and his fellow government leaders, all but one of whom are former North Vietnamese officials, take up residence in the nation's new capital--Hanoi. [3] [2]

Capitalism is virtually abolished in favour of state planning, public ownership and centralised control. [3] [2]

Initially, impressive progress was made. In Saigon, renamed Ho Chi Minh City, slums were cleared and thousands of unemployed ex-ARVN troops were set to work. [3] [2]

Many improvements in education and healthcare are made. [3] [2]

However, in the South alone, leftover mines and unexploded bombs killed another 10,000 Vietnamese in the post-war decade. [3] [2]

The population booms. In 1976-78 the rice crops fail. Typhoons also damage agriculture making food shortages worse. [3] [2]

Vietnam granted admission to United Nations. [3] [2]

Relations between Vietnam and China deteriorate. [3] [2]

Determined to overthrow the government of Pol Pot, Vietnam invades Cambodia. Phnompenh, Cambodia's capital, falls quickly as Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge followers flee into the jungles. [3] [2]

To punish Vietnam for invading Cambodia, the European Community banned the export of powdered milk, exacerbating malnutrition in under fives. [3] [2]

Swarms of Vietnamese refugees take to the sea in overcrowded and unsafe boats in search of a better life. The ranks of the "boat people" include individuals deemed enemies of the state who've been expelled from their homeland. [3] [2]

China invades, then withdraws from, Vietnam. [3] [2]

After years of Defense Department denials, the US General Accounting Office releases a report indicating that thousands of US troops were exposed to the herbicide Agent Orange. Thousands of veterans had demanded a government investigation into the effect that dioxin, a chemical found in Agent Orange, had on the human immune system. [3] [2] [5]


Documents used as part of a lawsuit brought by 20,000 Vietnam veterans against several chemical companies reveal that Dow Chemical had full knowledge of the serious health risks posed by human exposure to dioxin, a chemical found in the herbicide Agent Orange. Evidence indicated that despite this information, Dow continued to sell herbicides to the US military for use in Vietnam. [3] [2]

It is estimated that 700,000 people left Vietnam by the mid-eighties. Many failed to find homes abroad and ended up spending years in detention camps because no country was prepared to accept them. [3] [2]

By the mid-eighties, the economy was in crisis. The government's reserves were insufficient, so it resorted to printing money. With inflation rising to 700%, the currency was becoming worthless. [3] [2]

With an estimated per capita income of around $150, Vietnam was one of the poorest countries in the world. Denied access to world capital, export markets and modern technology, the Vietnamese economy faced a slow death. [3] [2]

US Offers asylum to Vietnamese political prisoners. [3] [2]

An offensive launched against refugee Khmer Rouge rebels spills over the Thai border and eventually comes to involve Thai troops. The Vietnamese are successful in suppressing the rebels and solidify their hold on Cambodia despite criticism from neighboring countries and the United Nations. [3] [2]


In 1986, faced with mounting criticism from within the Communist Party and public discontent over shortages and rising prices, the Politburo, who had led the country for forty years, resigns en masse. [2]

They are succeeded by the reformers within the Party. [2]

In December 1986, at the Sixth Congress of the Communist Party, the new leadership began a far-reaching programme of economic and social change. [2]

The country was desperate for international capital. To obtain it, Vietnam adopted the restructuring policies which had been urged by the IMF and World Bank. [2]

The government stabilised the currency, put an end to the subsidised economy and introduced 'socialist business accounting' - capitalist management methods - in state enterprises. [2]

To woo foreign investors, the reforms included an exceptionally liberal code of practice, allowing 100% foreign ownership, low taxes and guaranteed repatriation of profits. [2]

Vietnam had promised to pull its troops out of Cambodia by the end of the decade and, by 1989, the bulk of them had gone. [2]


October - Talks began in Paris and in October a peace accord is signed between the Vietnamese backed government in Phnom Penh and a US backed coalition of guerrilla groups, dominated by the Khmer Rouge. [2]

There was to be a ceasefire followed by UN supervised elections in 1993. A summit meeting with the Chinese in November 1991 marked an improvement in relations and border links with China were reopened. [2]

By the early nineties, the social costs of 'doi moi' were becoming increasingly apparent. As state enterprises collapsed and the civil service was retrenched, unemployment climbed to around 7 million. [2]

Free market socialism had been based on the delusion that the massive growth of a new consumer class could bring prosperity to all. [2]

June - Nguyen Van Linh and six other Politburo members retire. There is no change in direction. The new leaders are Van Linh's proteges and continue the free market policies. [2]

Foreign businessmen fill the hotels of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Many countries see the potential for profits in Vietnam and lose patience with the American embargo. Taiwan, Korea and Hong Kong lead the field. [2]

By the early nineties, US corporations are lobbying their government to lift the embargo. They are frantic to get into Vietnam in time to catch up with their Japanese and European competitors. [2]


December - President Bush allows US firms to sign contracts in anticipation of the rescinding of the ban. [2]


July - President Clinton withdraws US objections to international loans and the IMF, World Bank and Asian Development Bank approve credits and loans totalling $721 million. [2]

November - Japan and Western donor nations pledge $1.9 billion in aid. [2]


February - The embargo is finally ended. America's attempt to isolate and impoverish Vietnam ends as ignominiously as had the war. There is no apology. [2]

Clinton justified lifting the ban by claiming that 'it offers us the best way of resolving the fate of those who remain missing'. More than half the American population still clung to the belief that there were American prisoners of war alive in Vietnam. [2]

The Vietnamese still suffer the consequences of the war in their economy, infrastructure and poisoning from chemicals used by US forces. [2]


Vietnam and US restore full diplomatic relations. Vietnam becomes full member of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean). [19] Rich nations prepare to exploit Vietnam's poverty. [20]


Le Kha Phieu becomes party leader. Tran Duc Luong chosen as president, Phan Van Khai becomes prime minister. [19]


A senior party member, Pham The Duyet, faces charges of corruption. Economic growth slumps in the wake of the Asian financial crisis. [19]


A former high-ranking party member, Tran Do, is expelled after calling for more democracy and freedom of expression. [19]


US President Bill Clinton pays a three-day official visit. The US pledges more help to clear landmines left over from the Vietnam war. The Vietnamese government estimates nearly 40,000 people have been killed by unexploded munitions. [19] In reality the US government has done nothing to help alleviate the suffering caused by the Vietnam war, but has spent millions of dollars looking for the bone fragments US pilots downed during the war. And Western institutions such as the World Bank and IMF have only facilitated the exploitation of the Vietnamese people. [20] [21]


December - US, Vietnam implement a trade agreement which normalises the trade status between them. [19]


May - Russia hands back the Cam Ranh Bay naval base, once the largest Soviet base outside the Warsaw Pact. [19]

National Assembly elections return a victory for the ruling Communist Party. No opposition parties contest the poll. [19]

July - President Tran Duc Luong reappointed for second term by National Assembly, which also reappoints Prime Minister Phan Van Khai for second five-year term. [19]


November - First US warship to visit since the Vietnam War sails into port near Ho Chi Minh City. [19]


December - First US commercial flight since the end of the Vietnam War touches down in Ho Chi Minh City. [19]


June - Prime Minister Phan Van Khai makes the first visit to the US by a Vietnamese leader since the end of the Vietnam War. [19]


May - A group of Vietnamese attempts to sue US chemical manufacturers Dow Chemicals and Monsanto Corp for their part in the manufacture of Agent Orange used in the Vietnam war. [8]


Vietnam joins the WTO, but it's human rights record remains poor. [12] [15]

February - The US pledges $400,000 towards a study into the removal of dioxin from the soil at the Da Nang international airport, but still disputes a link between spraying the chemical from the air and ill health. [13] [17]

June - The battle for compensation for those suffering from the effects of Agent Orange continues. [14]

President Nguyen Minh Triet makes first visit to the US by a Vietnamese head of state since the Vietnam War ended in 1975. [19]