Glossary -- Vietnam
- Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN)
- The military ground forces of the South Vietnamese government (Republic of Vietnam) until
its collapse in April 1975. ARVN originated in the Vietnamese military units raised by French
authorities to defend the Associated State of Vietnam in the early 1950s. During the Second
Indochina War (q.v.), it grew to over 1 million men and women organized into eleven
army divisions (plus specialized units, such as Rangers and Special Forces) deployed in four Corps
Tactical Zones (redesignated as Military Regions in 1971).
- Asian Development Bank (ADB)
- Established in 1966, the ADB assists in economic development and promotes growth and
cooperation in developing member countries. Membership includes both developed and developing
countries in Asia and developed countries in the West.
- Black Flag forces
- A band of mostly Chinese adventurers who fled to northern Vietnam after the collapse of the
Taiping Rebellion (1851-64) in China. They eventually placed themselves at the service of the
imperial court in Hue and fought the French forces in the 1883-84 Tonkin campaign.
- boat people
- Refugees who fled Vietnam by sea after 1975. Many fell victim to pirate attacks in the Gulf
of Thailand, drowned, or endured starvation and dehydration as a result of their escape in ill-
equipped and undersized vessels. Those who reached safety in neighboring Southeast Asian
countries were accorded temporary asylum in refugee camps while awaiting permanent resettlement
in industrialized Western nations willing to accept them.
- A general term for a Buddhist monk (as opposed to the more specific bhikku,
meaning an ordained monk).
- Cao Dai
- Indigenous Vietnamese religion centered in Tay Ninh Province, southern Vietnam. It was
founded and initially propagated by Ngo Van Chieu, a minor official who, in 1919, claimed to
have had a series of revelations. The faith grew under the leadership of Le Van Trung, its first
"pope" or Supreme Chief, chosen in 1925. Doctrinally, the religion is a syncretic blend of
Christianity, Buddhism, Taoism, Confuciancism and Western nineteenth-century romanticism.
Before the fall of Saigon, the Cao Dai had about 1 to 2 million adherents.
- A party chapter composed of a collection of party cells (to dang), the lowest
organizational echelon of the Indochinese and later the Vietnamese Communist Party.
- A lord or prince. The hereditary title used by the Trinh and Nguyen families, who ruled
Vietnam in the name of the emperor during the later Le Dynasty in the sixteenth through the
- Colombo Plan
- Founded in 1951 and known as the Colombo Plan for Cooperative Economic Development in
South and Southeast Asia until it was expanded in 1977 and called the Colombo Plan for
Cooperative Economic Development in Asia and the Pacific. It is an arrangement that permits a
developing member country to approach a developed member country for assistance on a one-to-
one basis. Assistance may be technical or in the form of capital or commodity aid.
- Co Mat Vien
- An advisory council set up by Emperor Minh Mang following the rebellion of Le Van Khoi
in the 1830s.
- Committee for Coordination of Investigations of the Lower
- Established in 1957 under the sponsorship of the United Nations Economic and Social
Commission for Asia and the Pacific, the Committee aims to develop water resources in the lower
Mekong basin through improvements in hydroelectric power, irrigation, flood control, watershed
management, and navigation. Its membership is limited to Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam.
- Communist International
- Also called the Comintern or Third International, it was founded in Moscow in 1919 to
coordinate the world communist movement. Officially disbanded in 1943, the Comintern was
replaced from 1947 to 1954 by the Cominform (Communist Information Bureau), in which only
the Soviet and the ruling East European communist parties (except for Yugoslavia, which was
expelled in 1948) and the French and the Italian communist parties were represented. The
Cominform was dissolved in 1956.
- Vietnamese communist term (used originally in China to mean purchasing agent) applied
disparagingly to the middleman who extracts a profit without engaging in economic production,
that is, a "comprador capitalist." The term is also applied to an entrepreneur in Cholon, Ho Chi
Minh City's predominantly Chinese sister city.
- Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (Comecon)
- Also abbreviated CEMA and CMEA, the organization was established in 1949 to promote
economic cooperation among socialist bloc countries and is headquartered in Moscow. Its members
in the 1980s included the Soviet Union, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary,
Poland, Romania, Cuba, Mongolia, and Vietnam.
- democratic centralism
- A basic Marxist-Leninist organizational principle accepted by all communist parties, including
the Vietnamese (most recently at the Fourth National Party Congress in December 1976). It
prescribes a hierarchical framework of party structures purportedly established through democratic
- dong (D)
- Vietnam's monetary unit, which in mid-1989 had an exchange rate of US$1 to D4,500.
- First Indochina War (1946-54)
- The anticolonial conflict, also known as the Viet Minh War, between France and the Viet
Minh, a Vietnamese communist-dominated coalition of Indochinese nationalist elements led by
veteran revolutionary Ho Chi Minh. The French defeat at Dien Bien Phu in May 1954 marked the
final episode of the war. The conflict was brought to an end officially by the Geneva Conference
of July 1954 and its resulting agreements.
- fiscal year (FY)
- January 1 to December 31.
- gross domestic product (GDP)
- The value of domestic goods and services produced by an economy over a certain period,
usually one year. Only output of goods for final consumption and investment are included because
the values of primary and intermediate production are assumed to be included in final prices.
Reductions for depreciation of physical assets are normally not included. See gross national
- Group of 77
- Founded in 1964 as a forum for developing countries to negotiate with developed countries
for development aid, the original 77 developing nations had expanded by the 1980s to include the
127 members of the Nonaligned Movement (q.v.).
- Term applied by the Vietnamese to the ethnic Chinese residents of Vietnam.
- Hoa Hao
- Indigenous Vietnamese religion centered in An Giang Province, southern Vietnam. It was
founded in the 1930s by Huynh Phu So, the son of a village elder in Chau Doc Province.
Doctrinally, the faith is a variant of Mahayana Buddhism, but allows no intermediary between man
and the Supreme Being. Before the fall of Saigon in 1975, the Hoa Hao had more than 1 million
- Ho Chi Minh Trail
- An intricate network of jungle trails, paths, and roads leading from the panhandle of northern
Vietnam through Laos and Cambodia into the border provinces of southern Vietnam. At the height
of the Second Indochina War (q.v.), it was a major resupply artery for Hanoi's armed
forces operating in South Vietnam.
- Indochina Federation
- A political concept, never fully realized, joining the three Indochinese states into a
confederation, first proposed at the Indochinese Communist Party Central Committee meeting in
October 1930. The government of France resurrected the term in 1946 to describe a limited internal
self-government granted to the states of Vietnam (including Cochinchina), Laos, and Cambodia. In
the 1980s, the term was used disparagingly by some observers and analysts to categorize Vietnam's
military presence in, and influence over, Laos and Cambodia.
- International Monetary Fund (IMF)
- Established along with the World Bank in 1945, the IMF is a specialized agency affiliated
with the United Nations and is responsible for stabilizing international exchange loans to its
members (including industrialized and developing countries) when they experience balance of
payments difficulties. These loans frequently carry conditions that require substantial internal
economic adjustments by the recipients, most of which are developing countries.
- International Telecommunications Satellite Organization
- Established by two international agreements concluded at Washington, D.C. in August 1971,
and effective in February 1973, INTELSAT was formed to carry forward the development,
construction, operation, and maintenance of the global commercial telecommunications satellite
system. In the 1980s, there were 109 signatory member nations and 30 nonsignatory user nations.
- Khmer Rouge
- The name given to the Cambodian communists by Prince Norodom Sihanouk in the 1960s.
Later, the term (although a misnomer) was applied to the insurgents of varying ideological
backgrounds who opposed the Khmer Republic regime of Lon Nol. Between 1975 and 1978, it
denoted the Democratic Kampuchea regime led by the radical Pol Pot faction of the Kampuchean
(or Khmer) Communist Party. After being driven from Phnom Penh by the Vietnamese invasion of
Cambodia in December 1978, the Khmer Rouge went back to guerrilla warfare and joined forces
with two noncommunist insurgent movements to form the Coalition Government of Democratic
- missing-in-action (MIA)
- United States military term for servicemen who remained unaccounted for at the end of the
Second Indochina War (q.v.). In the 1980s, rumors persisted that some MIAs were still
alive and had been detained involuntarily in Vietnam after the war.
- National Assembly
- The highest organ of government in Vietnam, according to the 1980 Constitution. The
National Assembly is empowered with both constitutional and legislative authority. It can,
theoretically at least, elect and remove members of upper-echelon government bodies, such as the
Council of State and Council of Ministers; it may also pass laws, raise taxes, approve the state
budget, and amend the constitution.
- new economic zones
- Population resettlement scheme undertaken in southern Vietnam after 1975 to increase food
production and alleviate population pressure in congested urban areas, especially Ho Chi Minh City
(Saigon). The sites selected for resettlement previously had been undeveloped or had been
abandoned in the turbulence of war.
- Nonaligned Movement (NAM)
- Formed as the result of a series of increasingly structured nonaligned conferences, the first of
which met at Belgrade, Yugoslavia in September 1961, the NAM's purpose is to insure the
sovereignty and territorial integrity of nonaligned nations. In the 1980s, there were 127 member
- Parrot's Beak
- The part of the Cambodian province of Svay Rieng that juts into the southern Vietnamese
provinces of Tay Ninh and Long An. During the South Vietnamese and United States incursion
into Cambodia in 1970, and again during the Vietnamese invasion that drove the Khmer Rouge
from power in 1978, the area was the scene of heavy fighting.
- People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN)
- The military forces of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (until 1976) and, after
reunification, of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. During the Second Indochina War
(q.v.), PAVN bore the brunt of the fighting against the United States military forces in
Vietnam, but was consistently able to recoup its losses and infiltrate units south by means of the
Ho Chi Minh Trail (q.v.). Failing to topple the Saigon government during the Tet
Offensive of 1968, PAVN undertook its first conventional invasion of South Vietnam in the Easter
Offensive of 1972. This attempt ended in defeat, but PAVN's next effort, the Spring Offensive of
1975, quickly overran the ineffectual ARVN resistance and toppled the Saigon government, thereby
bringing to a close the Second Indochina War.
- Produced Nation Income (PNI)
- A measure of an economy's material production that excludes income generated by the
service sector and depreciation on capital equipment. It is used to measure controlled or communist
economics where accounting procedures may ignore the service sector as "unproductive."
- Monetary unit of the Soviet Union, which in mid-1989 had an exchange rate of US$1 to
- search and destroy missions
- Offensive military operations undertaken by United States combat units in Vietnam to find
and neutralize the enemy, especially when the enemy's strength and disposition had not been fixed
precisely. The capture and holding of territory during such operations was not a priority.
- Second Indochina War (1954-75)
- Armed conflict that pitted Viet Cong insurgents native to southern Vietnam and regular
PAVN (q.v.) units with Chinese and Soviet logistical and materiel support on one side
against ARVN (q.v.), United States, and smaller forces from the Republic of Korea
(South Korea), Australia, Thailand and New Zealand on the other. Most of the ground fighting
occurred in southern Vietnam. However, part of the conflict also involved an intensive air war over
North Vietnam and Laos from 1965-73 and combat between competing indigenous forces in Laos
- to dang
- A party cell, the lowest organizational echelon of the Indochinese and later the Vietnamese
- Viet Cong
- Contraction of the term Viet Nam Cong San (Vietnamese communists), the name applied by
the governments of the United States and South Vietnam to the communist insurgents in rebellion
against the latter government, beginning around 1957. The Vietnamese communists never used the
term themselves, but referred to their movement as the National Front for the Liberation of South
Vietnam (also known as the National Liberation Front), formally inaugurated in December 1960.
- Viet Minh
- Contraction of the term Viet Nam Doc Lap Dong Minh Hoi (Vietnam Independence League),
a coalition of nationalist elements dominated by the communists and led by veteran revolutionary
Ho Chi Minh. The movement first identified itself in May 1941, when it called for an uprising
against the French colonial government. It proclaimed the independence of Vietnam on September
2, 1945, and led the anti-French guerrilla war that followed, until the victory at Dien Bien Phu
brought the conflict to an end.
- World Bank
- The informal name used to designate a group of three affiliated international institutions: the
International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), the International Development
Association (IDA), and the International Finance Corporation (IFC). The IBRD, established in
1945, has the primary purpose of providing loans to developing countries for productive projects.
The IDA, a legally separate loan fund administered by the staff of the IBRD, was set up in 1960 to
furnish credits to the poorest developing countries on much easier terms than those of conventional
IBRD loans. The IFC, founded in 1956, supplements the activities of the IBRD through loans and
assistance designed specifically to encourage the growth of productive private enterprises in less
developed countries. The president and certain senior officers of the IBRD hold the same positions
in the ICF. The three institutions are owned by the governments of the countries that subscribe
their capital. To participate in the World Bank group, member states must first belong to the
International Monetary Fund (q.v.).