Vietnam’s president on Wednesday urged further modernisation of the armed forces in the face of growing maritime territorial disputes as the nation celebrated 70 years since it declared independence from France. More than 30,000 people, from soldiers to schoolgirls, marched in a lavish parade in the capital Hanoi to mark the anniversary of founding president Ho Chi Minh’s proclamation of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.
His famous September 2, 1945 speech — part of which was taken from the US Declaration of Independence — launched a new era of struggle to end nearly a century of French colonial rule and later fight off American intervention and reunify Vietnam. Speaking in the same Ba Dinh square as Ho Chi Minh 70 years ago, Vietnam’s President Truong Tan Sang took aim at new global power struggles in the region. “Disputes over sea and islands are on the rise, especially in the East Sea,” he said, referring to the South China Sea by its Vietnamese name.
Such maritime territorial disputes are a direct threat to Vietnam’s “peace, stability, territorial sovereignty and integrity”, Sang added, calling for further modernisation of the armed forces so that the country would be better prepared. After Ho Chi Minh’s 1945 declaration, it took another nine years for Vietnam to score a decisive victory over the French at Dien Bien Phu in 1954. The US then entered the conflict, hoping to forestall the emergence of a communist Vietnam. Earlier this year, Hanoi also celebrated the 40th anniversary of the fall of Saigon on April 30, marking the communist victory over US forces.