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HistoryFriday, 03/04/2005, 11:11

From Saigon to Ho Chi Minh City

President Ho Chi Minh once said: “The southern region is the flesh and blood of Vietnam. Rivers may be shallow, mountains may be eroded, but the truth will never change.”

From Saigon to Ho Chi Minh City


HCM City's Hall at night

President Ho Chi Minh once said: “The southern region is the flesh and blood of Vietnam. Rivers may be shallow, mountains may be eroded, but the truth will never change.”

The truth proves that Vietnam was formed through a long time of reclamation of land from the sea and forests, expansion and defense of our ancestors; it also expresses the struggle against foreign invaders who wanted to separate the southern region, including HCM City, from Vietnam.

Long ago, when first arriving in the land around Saigon that they called Gia Dinh, and settling in the entire southern region, the settlers always looked toward the capital, now Hanoi, but formerly called Thang Long:
Since the days of bringing swords southward to expand the country,The South has longed for Thang Long (Rising Dragon)!

In 1859, the French colonialists occupied Saigon and the southern region. From the South, they expanded their invasion in the whole country. Under French rule, Vietnam was divided into three regions, with three different policies. The northern region was a protectorate, the central region was governed by a Vietnamese king and French special envoy, and the southern region was a colony.

Politically, the invaders suppressed all resistance movements and controlled the circulation among the three regions. Economically, they invested only in fields that benefited their homeland; they maintained monopolies of salt, liquor and opium. Socially, they promoted backward habits of the feudalism and carried out obscurantism; up to 90% of Vietnamese people were illiterate at that time.

The French invaders paid closer attention to the southern region in general and Saigon in particular. They tried to turn Saigon into the “Pearl of the Far East” with a view to boast their colonial civilization policy. The entire southern region had only one Vietnamese representative in France’s Parliament.

Under the French occupation, people organized many patriotic movements to struggle against the invaders in spite of the Nguyen dynasty’s attitude of weakly accepting the situation. All the patriotic movements against invasion, namely the resistance wars led by Thu Khoa Huan, Truong Cong Dinh and Nguyen Trung Truc in the southern region; the struggles led by Phan Dinh Phung and Tong Duy Tan in the central region; and the resistance wars led by Hoang Hoa Tham and Nguyen Thien Thuat in the northern region; were local, without coordination by way of help for one another.

Later, though the movements calling for freeing Phan Boi Chau or mourning Phan Chu Trinh – two patriotic scholars – and the resistance war launched by Vietnam Kuomintang in Yen Bai in 1930 were larger, they ended in failure.

Only after Nguyen Tat Thanh (President Ho Chi Minh later) left Saigon’s Nha Rong Port in 1911 for Europe, witnessed the success of Russia’s October Revolution, which opened a new era with Lenin’s theses on people and colonial powers, and then brought back and publicized Marxism-Leninism during the formation of Vietnam’s working class and the Communist Party, that nation-building and national liberation got on the right path.

The unification congress on February 3, 1930, presided over by President Ho Chi Minh, saw the establishment of the Vietnam Communist Party and the blueprint of the fight against invasion, and feudalism, and for national liberation, land allocation to farmers, and the building of socialism. These policies and mechanisms paved the way for the success of Vietnam’s revolution despite all the difficulties and sacrifice.

After the Party’s establishment, the Party Central Committee was based in Saigon during the 1930-1940 period. After the Southern Region Revolution, the central committee was moved to Hanoi. Under the Party’s command, the revolution was started throughout the country, the peak of which was the Xo Viet Nghe Tinh movement in the 1930-1931 period. The movement called for people’s welfare and democracy, anti-Fascism, and struggles in Saigon and Hanoi. The revolution rose to another peak in the 1939-1945 period when the Party prepared all forces and facilities for its opportunity. When World War II ended, with the unconditional surrender of the Fascists to the Allies, the Party launched a resistance war countrywide. Under the leadership of the Party and President Ho Chi Minh, the people took the opportunity to seize political power within 12 days (from August 14 to 25), despite heavy losses after the Southern Region Revolution. This is a legendary story for a backward and separated country under foreign occupation.

The August Revolution was a milestone for the history of the country. The revolution completely destroyed the colonialist and feudal regime, and put an end to its separation policy. It helped set up the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, turning the Vietnamese from slaves to owners of the country, and the Party to the political power holder.

The August Revolution created a uniform government for the entire country, making it a stepping stone for the resistance wars against French and American invaders. Internationally, the French Government had to recognize this revolutionary government through a preliminary agreement signed on March 6, 1946, and a temporary treaty signed on September 14, 1946, at the Fontainebleau Conference, where President Ho Chi Minh was invited as a VIP.

However, after the August Revolution, Vietnam encountered such difficulties as illiteracy, hunger and invasion. In the North, 200,000 Chinese soldiers entered the country, while British soldiers entered the South to take over Japanese soldiers who had surrendered. All of them hated the revolutionary government and managed to eliminate it. The British forces also helped the French colonialists to reoccupy Vietnam. When France was still ruled by German soldiers, the French Government claimed that it would manage to recover Indochina.

In this context, 28 days after the Saigon people seized political power, on September 23, 1945, French invaders occupied Saigon again and the whole southern region, as a step to invading the entire country. They established an “autonomous” Southern Region, with a puppet government, Saigon being the capital, aiming to repeat what they did nearly 100 years before.

The Central Government, led by President Ho Chi Minh, followed the Independence Proclamation announced by President Ho on September 2, 1945:
“All peoples in the world were born equal; every people has the right to live, be happy and enjoy liberty…”

“The people, who have bravely fought the French invasion over the past 80 years, and who have bravely supported the Allies to fight Fascism, must live independently…”
“Vietnam has the right to enjoy freedom and independence, and it is really a country of liberty and independence. All Vietnamese people are determined to use all their spirit, facilities, lives and property to protect liberty and independence.”

The people in Saigon and the southern region began to fight French invaders with all kinds of rudimentary weapons, ready to risk their lives instead of being occupied, starting the 30-year resistance war to protect their independence and reunification.

The Party Central Committee and the Government led by President Ho Chi Minh also appealed: “All for the resistance war and the southern front.” Northern and northern Central provinces sent many groups to the South. The Central Committee ordered 2,000 political prisoners, who had just freed from Con Dao Island, to stay in the southern region to assist the resistance forces there. Ton Duc Thang, Le Duan, Pham Hung and Le Van Luong were among these prisoners.

As the French military force was so strong, it expanded the occupation from Saigon to many southern localities. On February 27, 1946, President Ho Chi Minh appealed to southern soldiers and people to continue the struggle, granting them the glorious title of “Fatherland’s Iron Bulwark.”

The resistance war of the people in Saigon and the southern region aimed to delay the French invasion process for the Central Government to have enough time to push Chinese soldiers back into their own homeland, hold talks with the French Government, and prepare forces for a long-term resistance war against the French invaders.

The war broke out, with the main battlefields in the North. People and soldiers in Saigon and the southern region boosted their guerrilla warfare to cause more losses for the enemy, enabling the Government to launch a series of big military operations, especially the historic victory of Dien Bien Phu. Although busy with the main battlefields, the Government paid close attention to those battlefields in the southern region and regularly sent soldiers and weapons there.

With the Dien Bien Phu victory and the Geneva Treaty (1954), half of Vietnam from latitude 17 northward was liberated. The South was still occupied, waiting for a general election for national reunification two years later.

But U.S. imperialists then entered to replace French colonialists, aiming at a long-term occupation in the South, with a puppet government following a new type of colonialism, and Saigon was chosen as the capital of South Vietnam (from latitude 17 southward). Therefore, the South became the frontline and the North the rear. The resistance war against American invasion lasted for 21 years.

The North carried out the “All for the frontline, all for defeating U.S. imperialists and the puppet government” slogan set by the Central Committee and President Ho Chi Minh. Many campaigns for the South were launched in the North. Almost every family in the North had at least one member participating in liberating the South.

Despite hardships and sacrifice, people and soldiers in Saigon and the southern region always looked to the North and President Ho, firmly confident of final victory. The South was worried when American invaders bombed the North, especially Hanoi and Haiphong with giant B52 aircraft at the end of 1972. The South strengthened the resistance war to help the North, and southern people were very glad to see the triumph of people and soldiers in Hanoi in their fight against U.S. air raids.

The entire country fought, and nothing could stop Vietnamese from struggling for national independence, liberty and reunification. Finally, the war ended in victory. On April 30, 1975, Saigon and the entire southern region were liberated. The liberation was welcomed by all people in the country and by people in every country.

The country has been unified after years of resistance war against French and American invaders. From Saigon, Uncle Ho had found a way out for the people and the country. He wished to visit Saigon and the southern region, and the beloved people, but his wish could not be fulfilled. He died in 1969.

In 1976, after the reunification, the National Assembly unanimously decided to rename Saigon-Cholon-Gia Dinh as Ho Chi Minh City. The city is worth bearing the name of the beloved president, who founded the Communist Party, army, front and revolutionary government, and who led the people and the country to a glorious victory. Bearing the name of Uncle Ho is a big honor for the city, but it also requires high responsibility for building and protecting the country.

Since liberation, HCM City has contributed a great deal to socialist and national construction and defense. Politburo’s Resolution 01 (1982) stipulates that HCM City has a political position just behind Hanoi, the capital. It is endowed with favorable conditions that cannot be found elsewhere. It has great potential for developing industry, exports, tourism and services. In coordination with other localities, HCM City is forming an agro-industrial economic structure for the country’s socio-economic development.

HCM City has contributed a great deal to the country, particularly in terms of economy. On the road to industrialization and modernization on the threshold of the 21st century, HCM City has connected with Dong Nai, Ba Ria-Vung Tau and Binh Duong provinces to form a focal economic hub. It has also cooperated with the Mekong Delta provinces, the rice basket of the country; the southwestern provinces and the Central Highlands, with forestry potentials; and the central and northern provinces. HCM City is one of the country’s biggest venues to attract foreign direct investment. It is trying to become a sizable tourism and service center.

In the effort to achieve integration with the economies of Southeast Asia, and with those of the rest of the world, HCM City has been trying to contribute its part to the common cause. As part of the unified country, HCM City strives to realize the tasks set by the resolution of the 9th Party Congress, contributing its part to national construction and defense to be worthy of a city bearing the name of Uncle Ho.

( 300 years of Saigon-HCM City – Chinh Tri Quoc Gia Publishing House )

By the National Assembly of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, 6th tenure, 1st session, for officially renaming Saigon-Gia Dinh City as Ho Chi Minh City.
The National Assembly of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam
Considering the boundless love of the people of Saigon-Gia Dinh City for President Ho Chi Minh and their wish for the city to be named after him;
Considering the long and difficult revolutionary struggle launched in Saigon-Gia Dinh City, with several glorious feats, deserves the honor of being named after President Ho Chi Minh;
After discussing the suggestion of the Presidium of the National Assembly’s meeting;
Decides to rename Saigon-Gia Dinh City as Ho Chi Minh City.

Hanoi, July 2, 1976
P.p. the Presidium,Truong Chinh
( 20 Years of HCM City )


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