April 30, 2015

40 years after fall of Saigon, Vietnamese see U.S. as key ally

Fall of Saigon
North Vietnamese tanks invade the Doc Lap Palace on April 30, 1975. (Herve Gloaguen/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

This week marks the 40th anniversary of the fall of Saigon, a national holiday in Vietnam better known as Liberation Day. The event signified the end of the Vietnam War, culminating with a North Vietnamese army tank bulldozing through the gates of the Reunification Palace – the residence of the president of South Vietnam – and major helicopter evacuations of American military personnel and Vietnamese citizens.

Vietnamese Embrace U.S. and CapitalismYet four decades after the controversial war, the Vietnamese public sees the United States as a helpful ally and even embraces some of the core tenets of capitalism.

Today, the Vietnamese view the U.S. in a positive light. About three-quarters of Vietnamese (76%) expressed a favorable opinion of the U.S. in a 2014 Pew Research Center survey. More highly educated people (89%) gave the U.S. especially high marks. Young people ages 18-29 were particularly affirmative (89%), but the U.S. is seen positively even by those who are old enough to have lived through the Vietnam War. Among those ages 50 and older, more than six-in-ten rated the U.S. favorably.

The U.S. and Vietnam have built strong economic ties since war’s end, reflecting the Vietnamese public’s desire for increased participation in international trade and their views that the U.S. is the top player in the world economy. Despite the Vietnamese government’s single-party socialist framework, an overwhelming majority of Vietnamese (95%) agreed that people are better off in a free market economy, even if some people are rich and some are poor. An equal percentage voiced the opinion that growing trade and business ties between Vietnam and other countries is a good thing. Specifically, most view international trade as having positive effects on job creation (78%) and raising workers’ wages (72%).

Since officially normalizing diplomatic relations in the 1990s, Vietnam and the U.S. have enjoyed a strong economic partnership. The two countries traded more than $35 billion in total goods in 2014, with Vietnam counting the U.S. as its largest export market.

As negotiations continue over the 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership – a free trade agreement between Pacific nations that includes Vietnam and the U.S. but excludes China – the Vietnamese public picked the U.S. as the world’s leading economic power (56%), eclipsing regional powerhouses Japan (14%) and China (11%).

Looking to the future, Vietnam sees the U.S. as an important ally. When asked about what countries they can rely on as a dependable ally in the future, more Vietnamese chose the U.S. than any other country. Conversely, China is viewed as the greatest threat to the future of Vietnam. This sentiment may be driven in part by territorial disputes between China and Vietnam in the South China Sea, an issue that a majority (84%) of Vietnamese worry could lead to a military conflict.

Topics: Asia and the Pacific, International Threats and Allies, U.S. Global Image and Anti-Americanism, Wars and International Conflicts

  1. is a research analyst focusing on global attitudes at Pew Research Center.

5 Comments

  1. Muthyavan.1 year ago

    Time is fast changing in Asia pasific region. Because of vast economic changes in these region, Vietnam is another country in the region facing new threats. How it has faced histirically its threats earlier with old allies successfully is a natural lesion. That it is developing a close trust with an old enemy to face new threat from the neibouring new supper economic power. Economic and political changes in this region are very fast developing into new enemies and changing old enemies as new trusted allies.

  2. Larry Niemotka1 year ago

    People of Vietnam are NOT the Communist government of Vietnam. Bottom line, people are still very much under the heel of the communist governing committees and have little freedom. Those who have good financial means seem to have more freedom but when the money runs out ??? I know how poor farmers lands and factories profits are confiscated by the communists who still enslave citizens. Schools teach the communist manifesto and if the teacher does not comply they are punished. This impression of “love” for the USA is only self serving and a one way street . Under this false façade lurks hard liners bent on true communist doctrine . The same people that we once wished to illuminate with liberty are now dimly subjugated to tyranny. I’ll never support Vietnam until all are free.

    1. Anh Vu1 year ago

      My friend, I’m a Vietnamese, I’m an English teacher with a salary of 4000000 VND/month (Which is about less than 200 U.S Dollars. This amount of salary is pretty common for most of the youngsters who just graduated out of College. Regular middle class people with satisfied jobs made about 10000000 to 30000000 VND (which about 500 to 1500 U.S Dollars). If you compare that amount of the middle class people to what I made, there is no doubt that I’m a lower class people of this country. Although I don’t make lots of money, i still have my good life and freedom. I satisfied with a getto meal which cost about 5 to 10 cents. Life in here is peaceful, we all enjoy our times. Yet, I haven’t mentioned about the negative sides but freedom doesn’t have to be “Democracy”. We have our own way of freedom and the only way to experience it is to come to Vietnam and see it for yourself.

    2. Phuc Nguyen11 months ago

      I agree with Larry Niemotka. Vietnamese people has been suffering the big bad communist government for nearly half of century. All about education here is propaganda preaching, young people have very little chance to develop themselves. Teachers in school, who are brave and smart enough, would realize the truth behind what they do for their whole career: manner-destruction.

  3. Byron Snyder1 year ago

    Amazing and pleasing at the same time. It was Johnson and McNamara we and our servicemen and descendants of those killed should be angry with. . . .dead or not.