2018 has been a year of many firsts for Vietnam, and a year of striking stories in various fields that have profoundly affected the nation and its people.
VnExpress International presents in pictures a selection of stories that happened in or impacted Vietnam in 2018.
Dinh La Thang (L), former Minister of Transport and former chairman of state-owned oil giant PetroVietnam, got 30 years in jail for economic management violations while runaway bigwig Trinh Xuan Thanh, former board chairman and general director of PetroVietnam Construction Corporation (PVC), received two life sentences for causing million-dollar losses each at PVC and PetroVietnam’s real estate subsidiary PVP Land. Their first trial was in January, before Thanh appeared at another trial in February and Thang in June.
On March 3, U.S. aircraft carrier the USS Carl Vinson docked in Da Nang City on Vietnam’s central coast for a historic five-day port call. It was the first time a U.S. aircraft carrier had returned to Vietnam since the end of the American War in 1975.
On March 8, Vietnam's Industry and Trade Minister Tran Tuan Anh signed the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) in Santiago, Chile. After the U.S. backed out of the TPP, the 11 remaining countries including Japan and Canada signed a new agreement that will reduce tariffs in countries that together account for more than 13 percent of the global economy, a total of $10 trillion in gross domestic product.
Firefighters help a family escape from fire at the Carina Plaza apartment complex in Ho Chi Minh City on March 23. The fire, which broke out at around 1:15 a.m., killed 13 people, incinerated 150 motorbikes and was one of the deadliest to hit the city, second only to a blaze that killed 60 people at International Trade Center in 2002.
Nguyen Thuy Khanh (first row, L), director of Green Innovation and Development Center (GreenID), posed for a photo with six others recipients of the Goldman Environmental Prize as she became the first Vietnamese to receive the world's biggest award honoring grassroots environmental activists in April. The award recognized her efforts to engage in scientific research that prompts governmental agencies to get involved in long-term sustainable energy projects, helping reduce dependence on Vietnam’s coal sources.
Citizens from Ho Chi Minh City’s District 2 had a heated meeting with city legislators on May 9, demanding answers regarding the Thu Thiem urban development plan that has been a drag on their lives for more than a decade. The meeting lasted more than seven hours into the night as residents vented their ire over what they said was reckless land reclamation and unfair site clearance compensation.
Protests erupted across several localities n Vietnam on June 10 and 11, with thousands of people taking to the streets in Hanoi, Da Nang, Ho Chi Minh City and several provinces, calling for the Special Economic Zones (SEZ) bill to be scrapped. Protestors were objecting in particular to a provision that would allow foreign investors to lease land for 99 years, saying it would undermine Vietnam’s sovereignty. The bill has been postponed for further discussions.
The "Golden Bridge" has attracted hordes of guests since it opened in Da Nang in June and repeatedly made international headlines, with some calling it "the hands of God." The Time magazine included it in the list of top 100 World’s Greatest Places for 2018; while the Independent had it as one of the 10 most incredible bridges in the world; and CNN ranked it sixth out of 85 top destinations worldwide for travel photos.
The Giang brothers, Giang Quoc Nghiep, 28, and Giang Quoc Co, 33, wowed international audiences in June when they went on the stage of Britain's Got Talent 2018 with a daredevil performance in which they climbed up and down stairs with one balancing the other’s head on his own. The duo made it to the season’s finals and finished fifth, despite a death-defying, blindfolded final performance.
Armed police guard Ta De Village in Long Luong Commune of Son La, a northern province that borders China, in June after they broke down a drug cartel led by Nguyen Thanh Tuan and Nguyen Van Thuan, who were deemed "especially serious criminals" and wanted for the trafficking of 890 kilograms of heroin. Both were shot and killed on June 28, after police spent hours persuading them to give themselves up.
The hands of Lo Van Sanh after three days digging mud to find his wife and child. Lai Chau Province was worst hit by floods and landslides in Vietnam’s northern highlands in the last days of June, which killed at least 23 people and left 10 missing and caused damage worth VND458.7 billion ($20 million). Lai Chau alone reported 16 dead and locals had to spent days dealing with the aftermath of landslides.
This boat is about to sink as a man carries clean water back to his home in July. 22,000 residents in outlying districts of Quoc Oai and Chuong My in Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital city, suffered as their homes and streets were submerged underwater for 5-7 meters for weeks since July.
A family in Laos’s Attapeu Province. Rushing waters from a partially constructed hydropower dam in the province killed 27, left 131 missing, and stranded more than 3,000 people on July 23. The incident created flood scare but eventually caused little impact on Vietnam. Still, it served as a reminder of the cost of hydropower development rush in the region.
Pepper farmers in the Central Highlands were left high and dry by falling prices, diseases and other problems. Stakes that used to have lush pepper vines twining around stood empty in a funereal line. Without any long-term plan, farmers had rushed to chop down coffee trees and expand pepper cultivation. Apart from the vagaries of diseases and other problems that monoculture generates, pepper prices fell sharply, leaving farmers with dead farms and huge losses.
Seven people died and five others were hospitalized after overdosing on drugs during the Vietnam Electronic Weekend (VEW) Festival in Hanoi on September 16. Following the deaths, Hanoi decided to suspend all music festivals. It is not clear for how long the suspension will last.
Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong took oath as Vietnam’s new president after a secret vote by the parliament on October 23, making him the first person after Ho Chi Minh to simultaneously head the Party and executive branches of governance in Vietnam. His appointment followed the death of former President Tran Dai Quang on September 21 due to a serious illness.
A car ploughs into deep water on a street in Thao Dien area of Ho Chi Minh City's District 2, which is popular with expats, on the night of November 25. Storm Usagi weakened into tropical depression in the afternoon, but sparked prolonged heavy downpours in HCMC that inundated at least 40 streets, keeping thousands of residents awake throughout the night.
Vietnam’s first car maker VinFast, a unit of Vietnam’s largest conglomerate, Vingroup JSC, displays its SUV in Ho Chi Minh City on November 26. Vinfast rolled out its very first products on October 2 at the famous Paris Motor Show.
People row a boat to get around a flooded street in the central city of Da Nang on December 9. The city received rainfall of 635 mm in 24 hours from the night before, the highest since records were available in 1975. The flooding damaged tens of thousands of houses in Da Nang and nearby provinces, and killed 14 people.
Vietnam’s football coach Park Hang-seo lifts the AFF Cup as he celebrates the championship with his wards at the My Dinh National Stadium in Hanoi, December 15. The victory marked the second time Vietnam has become Southeast Asian champs. The nation waited 10 years for this moment.