Vietnam: goes online to celebrate 45 years since end of war

The Independence Palace in Ho Chi Minh City will host some Reunification Day events. (Mel Longhurst/VWPics via AP Images) © AP

HO CHI MINH CITY — Vietnam has largely lifted a nationwide lockdown to contain the new coronavirus, but events will be drastically curtailed when the country celebrates Reunification Day on Thursday.

The national holiday, held every year on April 30, will commemorate the 45th anniversary of the liberation of Saigon, also known as the fall of Saigon, now called Ho Chi Minh City, which marked the end of the Vietnam War.

The main ceremony began at 8 a.m. local time here in the commercial hub in Vietnam’s south. But large parades have been canceled and many exhibitions will be held online amid the lingering risk of coronavirus infection.

“Each location which attends and follow the event online have a maximum of 30 guests and officials, including leaders and representatives from a variety groups in each location,” according to the city’s guidelines, which list members of the armed forces, intellectuals, war veterans and representatives of farmers, youths and Vietnamese living overseas.

Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, the incumbent chairwoman of the National Assembly and First Deputy Prime Minister Truong Hoa Binh were among the high-ranking attendees from Hanoi.

Hanoi had good reason to declare victory against the coronavirus and press ahead with the online celebration. Vietnam is set to decide its next leadership in January during its twice-a-decade Communist Party convention, meaning leaders have to balance economic recovery and a return to normalization with prevention of a new outbreak.

About 6,000 people participated in the main event five years ago.

This year, Vietnamese will be able to follow the activities from separate locations, such as the headquarters of the municipal Party Committee, the People’s Council and People’s Committee, and the local committee of the Vietnam Fatherland Front. Main locations will be set up at the Reunification Hall and the Tank 390 exhibition stage at the Independence Palace, the home and the workplace of South Vietnam’s president during the Vietnam War. All activities will be televised nationwide and live-streamed on digital platforms.

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