HANOI — It’s 8am in Hanoi and already thousands of motorbikes, mopeds and scooters flow through the streets. Some sway with the weight of two or three passengers, boxes of merchandise, sacks of rice, or tied-down pieces of furniture that look heavier than vehicle and driver combined. vFor the first-time pedestrian, crossing the road is a daunting experience, but, amid all the apparent chaos, the “system” works. The trick is to just walk when you can, and let the torrent of bikes flow around you. Don’t look left, don’t look right. Just walk This functioning chaos contrasts sharply with the mostly prudent macroeconomic course that Vietnam has been taking. The Doi Moi, or “renovation” economic reforms were launched in 1986, emulating China’s move to open up its markets, after more than a decade of stagnation since the fall of Saigon to the Vietnamese communist forces.
BANGKOK — Last week, just over fifteen years after the US and Vietnam normalised relations marred by decades-old war, the naval destroyer USS John S. McCain docked in the central Vietnamese city of Da Nang to mark the anniversary. The ship is named after the grandfather of 2008 US presidential candidate John McCain, a former prisoner of war in Vietnam. Commanding officer Jeffrey Kim said that “over the last 15 years, we’ve established trust, a mutual respect, and I know that, in the coming years, our friendship and relationship will continue to become better.”According to a Vietnamese scholar who requested anonymity, the tighter relations are seen as a good thing inside the country. “Vietnamese view the US rather positive as the war is becoming history in the memory of a new generation,” he commented in an email.