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  • Vietnam: Historical background: Vietnam has strong historical connections to China and India and has been ruled by both China and France. After turmoil and wars in the twentieth century, Vietnam embarked on a program of reform that has opened relations with the United States.

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First millennium BCE
Viet people in north form agricultural and bronze-working kingdoms at Dongson in Red River Valley.
208 BCE
Trieu Da, a Chinese general conquers Viet king Au Lac. He builds a capital and makes himself emperor of the southern land, “Nam Viet,” which includes part of present northern Vietnam and China.
111 BCE
Han Chinese emperor Wu conquers Viet people, beginning nearly 1,000 years of Chinese rule in the north. What is now southern Vietnam was occupied by Hindu Cham kingdoms, related linguistically to Malays.
40 CE
Two Trung sisters lead rebellion against Chinese. After regaining rule, China calls the area “Annam,” the pacified south. Capital moved near to present capital Hanoi.
939 CE
Chinese overthrown and Viet kingdom re-established; now called Dai Viet (Great Viet) under Emperor Dinh Bo Linh.
1000s–1600s
Confucian and Mahayana Buddhist Viets begin long period of expansion south into Hindu Cham territories.
1200s
Mongols invade but are repelled by Dai Viet and Champa.
1428–1789
Le Dynasty in power.
1471
Dai Viet conquers Champa, annexes most of its territory.
1500s
Intermittent civil wars.
1600
Dai Viet reaches Mekong Delta.
1613
Civil war between northern and southern Dai Viet.
1627
Alexandre de Rhodes, a French missionary, adapts Roman alphabet to transcribe Vietnamese language.
1600s
Last of Champa territory conquered by Nguyen clan of Dai Viet.
1802
Nguyen Dynasty established by Emperor Gia Long, capital moved to Hué. Country now known as Vietnam.
1800s
Viets take over Mekong Delta from Khmers.
1850
Viet rulers persecute Catholics and priests, inciting French military intervention.
1859
France captures Saigon, extends control to Laos and Cambodia, forming French Indochina.
1880
France divides up Vietnam into three regions: Tonkin, Annam, Cochin China. French use water management to open new agricultural land in Mekong Delta.
1919
Nguyen Ai Quoc (Ho Chi Minh) emerges in Paris at end of World War I and tries to petition President Woodrow Wilson for self-determination of Vietnam.
1920s
Widespread adoption of Roman alphabet transcription of Vietnamese to replace Chinese characters.
1925
New religion of Cao Dai founded in southern region.
1927–30
Two communist parties founded in north to resist French rule, but heavily repressed.
1940
World War II begins. Japan invades Vietnam.
1941–1944
Viet Minh pro-Independence league organized by Ho Chi Minh (returning from exile) and Vo Nguyen Giap.
1945
Japanese surrender. Ho Chi Minh declares independence and unification of French colonial provinces as Vietnam.
1946
Nationalist Chinese, French, and Viet Minh compete for control over Viet territory. Negotiations fail and French forces bombard the Viet Minh at Hanoi’s harbor.
1946–1954
French-Viet Minh war (also known as First Vietnam War). China and the USSR support Ho Chi Minh; United States supports France as a way to contain the spread of communism in Southeast Asia.
1954
French defeat at Dien Bien Phu leads to Geneva negotiations. Geneva Agreements divide Vietnam at 17th parallel, with national elections to be held in two years.
1955–56
Ngo Dinh Diem returns from exile in America and deposes former emperor Bao Dai after a rigged referendum; declares himself President of (South) Vietnam. Diem refuses to hold national elections. Gains support from United States, which begins sending military advisors.
1960
National Liberation Front, or Viet Cong, formed as an anti-Diem and anti-United States force in the South.
1963
United States supports military coup against the unpopular President Diem; His death results in a succession of leadership changes in the South.
1964
North Vietnamese patrol boat attacks a United States destroyer in Gulf of Tonkin. United States President Lyndon Johnson given war powers.
1965
United States combat troops arrive in Vietnam, beginning (Second) Vietnam War. General Nguyen Van Thieu assumes control of the South.
1968
Tet Offensive launched by Ho Chi Minh and Viet Cong in South. Counter-offensive by United States results in massacre at My Lai.
1969
Richard Nixon assumes presidency in United States and begins “Vietnamization” policy (removing United States ground troops in exchange for increased funding of South Vietnamese) and secret bombing of Viet Cong inside Cambodian borders. Ho Chi Minh dies.
1973
Paris Peace Agreements negotiated by Nixon and Kissinger. United States withdraws troops rapidly following Agreement, but war continues unabated in the South.
1974
Nixon resigns after Watergate scandal; President Gerald Ford reluctant to sustain aid to South Vietnamese forces.
1975
Communists take Saigon. Last remaining United States citizens evacuated. Vietnam unified under Communist rule. Saigon renamed Ho Chi Minh City.
1978
Vietnam invades Cambodia and usurps rule from Khmer Rouge. Tensions with China, which supported Khmer Rouge, increase.
1986
Vietnam commits to “doi moi” (renovation), a program of social and market reforms.
1995
Diplomatic relations normalized between United States and Vietnam.