By Minh Phong – Translated by Kim Khanh
The land of the painted caves
Placed at Dien Bien Phu Victory Museum in the northern province of Dien Bien, the artwork, featuring 4,500 characters, is a panorama of the Dien Bien Phu battlefield at different times from late 1953 to May 7, 1954.
It depicts the entire armed forces going to battle, the opening combat at Him Lam hill, the A1 hill battle, and the triumph.
The painting was done with about 30 painters drawing continuously and some occasionally. Most of the participating painters are young graduates from the Vietnam University of Fine Art.
Nguyen Van Mac, director of the cultural heritage preservation company and a manager of the art project, said it aims to convey an image of a people’s war.
Luong Xuan Doan, Chairman of the Vietnam Fine Arts Association, said it is an epic by drawing, adding that the participation of young people makes the painting even more valuable.
The Dien Bien Phu Campaign lasted from March to May 1954 under the command of General Vo Nguyen Giap. Its victory on May 7, 1954 led to the signing of the 1954 Geneva Accords in which France agreed to withdraw its forces from its colonies in Indochina.
HÀ NỘI — The Ministry of Transport will prioritise funding for the maintenance and repair of Long Biên Bridge, an iconic structure in the Vietnamese capital.
Lê Hoàng Minh, Director of the Transport Infrastructure Department at the Ministry of Transport, said that through inspection, the department noted that the bridge’s maintenance management unit, Hà Hải Railway Joint Stock Company, still ensured safety amid funding difficulties.
“However, the department also has asked the management units to immediately reinforce the railings, fix potholes, and install warning signs so that people know the current status of the bridge,” he said.
Regarding the funding for maintenance this year, Lê Hoàng Minh said: “The ministry will give priority to funding for the Long Biên Bridge right after the budget estimate is finalised between the Ministry of Transport and Việt Nam Railway Corporation.”
“Every year, the State budget still provides funding for maintenance at the highest level possible, to ensure safety for people,” Minh said.
Particularly, the road surface was cracked, causing problems for traffic, Minh said, although the bridge’s management unit has regularly maintained the surface to ensure traffic safety.
The current bridge was also very weak, so the construction of the concrete surface was difficult as workers are not able to use specialised vehicles.
“Our workers have to repair the bridge surface manually, leading to a decrease in the durability of the road.”
Minh said that in order to repair and maintain Long Biên Bridge, it was necessary to have a large budget.
“For example, just repainting the entire bridge needs funding up to VNĐ70 billion (US$3 million),”
“Currently, the bridge maintenance is still using the money of the railway industry, with limited funds, so the bridge cannot be clearly improved. ”
A representative of Việt Nam Railway Corporation (VNR) said that after nearly 120 years of operation, due to bombing during the American War and the speed of urbanisation, the bridge has become seriously degraded.
VNR has been assigned by the Ministry of Transport to implement projects to reinforce and repair the bridge.
Every year, VNR still prioritises funding from capital sources for regular maintenance of minor damage.
He admitted that funding for national railway maintenance was limited, only meeting about 36 per cent of actual repair needs.
Phan Tiến Dũng, Deputy Head of the Infrastructure Division, VNR, said in advance of the deterioration of the bridge, VNR sent a telegram to request Hà Hải Railway Joint Stock Company to have immediate temporary solutions.
Specifically, for all minor failures, this unit needs to check and include them in the 2021 maintenance plan.
VNR has asked the management unit to use its funds to prioritise repairing the damage on the bridge surface, and installing warning signs at the two ends of the bridge, he said.
Local media has reported that Long Biên Bridge surface was damaged with potholes in many locations, meaning road users could see the river below.
All safety protection steel frames and trusses have turned yellow and rusted due to not being painted or repaired for a long time.
Although the bridge is weak, there are vehicle-restricting signs at the path leading to the bridge, but at peak hours, it still has to endure tens of thousands of motorbikes and bicycles, a local woman living on Ngọc Thụy Street, Gia Lâm, said.
In addition to annual funding for repairs, the government and relevant ministries have to set up a separate project to repair the bridge in the form of an overhaul, according to Dũng.
Long Biên Bridge was built between 1899 and 1902, by French architects Daydé & Pillé and opened in 1903.
Before Việt Nam’s independence in 1945, it was called Paul Doumer Bridge, named after the then Governor-General of French Indochina. — VNS
Xo said that under the order, motels, hotels and accommodation facilities across the country will be examined, while the border guards will increase border patrol, and the police will seek illegal immigrants and launch legal proceedings against them and brokers of illegal immigration.
Illegal immigrants who are negative to COVID-19 will be returned to the places they departed, while accommodation facilities violating relevant regulations will have their licenses revoked and receive administrative fines and even criminal punishments, he said.
According to the officer, since the beginning of the year, about 150,000 people have entered Vietnam, including 110,000 through land border gates, and 40,000 through flights.
Meanwhile, 39 localities nationwide have reported 199 cases with 1,343 illegal Chinese immigrants. The Ministry of Public Security prosecuted 49 cases with 141 defendants.
“It is crucial to drastically prevent illegal immigrants, as illegally entering Vietnam is violating the country’s sovereignty, causing high risks of pandemic outbreaks and affecting the livelihoods of Vietnamese people,” he stressed.
The officer added that the major method of organizing illegal entry into Vietnam is contacting those wishing to enter Vietnam through the Internet before transporting them to the country.
As Vietnam shares a long border with neighboring countries, it is easy to cross the land border, he said, adding that through the general examination campaign, localities will report to the ministry major methods of brokering illegal entry into Vietnam, thus put forth effective prevention and combat measures.
Vietnam ranks 22nd among 138 countries and territories in the 2020 Military Strength Ranking.
Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has said that the government will give special attention to equipping the army with advanced technologies and equipment.
|Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc works with the General Staff of the Vietnam People’s Army on September 6. Photo: VGP|
The investment, with a focus on streamlining the army’s organization, aims to build the modern army by 2030, Phuc said at a meeting with the General Staff of the Vietnam People’s Army on September 5.
This is followed by the continuous implementation of the Politburo’s Conclusion No.16-KL/TW dated July 7, 2017 on trimming the army and restructuring military businesses, and the Politburo’s Resolution No.15-NQ/TW dated on January 6, 2012 on modernizing the army in the 2011-2020 period.
Vietnam normally gives few details about policies for the army in terms of spending and organization.
Vietnam moves in global military strength ranking
According to the US-based Global Firepower, Vietnam jumped one spot to 22nd out of 138 countries and territories in the 2020 Military Strength Ranking.
Vietnam remains the second strongest military power in Southeast Asia, behind Indonesia.
|Vietnam attempts to build a mordern army by 2030. Photo: Reuters|
The ranking utilizes over 50 individual factors to determine a given nation’s PowerIndex score with eight categories ranging from manpower, airpower, land forces, naval forces, natural resources, geographical features, finances, to logistics.
Regarding land forces, the country has 2,615 tanks (ranking 10th), 2,530 armored vehicles, 70 self-propelled artillery, 1,000 towed artillery, and 85 rocket projectors.
Vietnam also ranks 35th globally in strength of the navy with 65 ships, including six submarines.
Its airpower strength also has the same ranking.
The total military personnel are 5.48 million, accounting for 5.6% of the total population. Of the overall figure, the reserve personnel hit 5 million, ranking 1st among 138 ranked countries. The fit-for-service is 41.8 million (13rd).
After the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, Vietnam, the country of 97 million people, has applied compulsory conscription for men of 18 to 27 for the enlistment of two years while the status for women is voluntary.
The report also reveals that Vietnam’s defense budget is around US$5.5 billion, rising from US$3.3 billion in the previous version.
Also on September 5, PM Phuc highlighted the importance of strengthening the militia, mainly maritime militia.
Late last year, Colonel General Phan Van Giang, deputy defense minister and chief of the General Staff of the Vietnam People’s Army, said the country will build maritime militias in 14 provinces across the country with an aim to contribute to the sovereignty protection and maritime economy.
A plan on establishing maritime militias was proposed in July 2018 by the Central Military Commission to the Politburo, the Secretariat, and the government.
According to the Central Military Commission, the operations of maritime militias are urgent and crucial to the protection of territorial waters in the current circumstance
According to an article posted on the Washington-based Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS)’ Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI), Vietnam’s 2019 Defense White Paper reaffirms the motto of “defending the Homeland from afar,” which includes exhausting all non-military channels to keep the homeland from being threatened in the first place.
While the armed forces remain “at the core” of this system, the goal of the “all-people” defense doctrine is to use these other capacities to “prevent and push back the risks of war.”
A number of stringent security, safety, and hygiene measures were taken as part of efforts to protect the health of passengers and prevent the potential spread of the coronavirus during the flights.
Upon landing at Can Tho Airport, each individual on board underwent a health check-up.
Of the arrivals, a total of 208 citizens were put into isolation in Tien Giang province, and the remainder were quarantined in Vinh Long province.
All quarantine facilities are disinfected in order to ensure safety for all Vietnamese citizens.