Seventy years after the world-shaking victory, Dien Bien Province is witnessing remarkable changes every day. The former battlefield now features schools, hospitals, and other infrastructure works. The province’s economic growth is among the fastest in the northern midland and mountainous region and comes in the middle in the nation’s rankings.

On the 70th anniversary of the Dien Bien Phu Victory (May 7, 1954-2024), Nhan Dan had a conversation with Dien Bien Party Secretary Tran Quoc Cuong.

A bird’s-eye view of Dien Bien Phu City.

A bird’s-eye view of Dien Bien Phu City.

Q: What has Dien Bien Province been doing to prepare for the 70th anniversary ceremony of the Dien Bien Phu Victory?

A: To implement the plan for the 70th anniversary of the Dien Bien Phu Victory as approved by the Secretariat and the Central Steering Committee for major anniversaries during the 2023-2025 period, Dien Bien Province has worked with the Ministries of Defence; Public Security; and Culture, Sports and Tourism, as well as other relevant ministries and agencies, to quickly carry out the following contents:

First of all, we are refurbishing historical sites on the Dien Bien Phu battlefield; repairing and upgrading martyrs’ cemeteries; completing a temple dedicated to heroes and martyrs who fell on the Dien Bien Phu battlefield; renovating memorials to fallen soldiers, young volunteers and people; and refurbishing the streets to be used for the military parade and other anniversary activities.

Second, we are making preparations and coordinating with relevant agencies for the incense offering ceremony at the temple worshipping heroic fallen soldiers who laid down their lives on the Dien Bien Phu battlefield, the incense offering ceremony at A1 National Martyrs Cemetery, and the military parade at Dien Bien Phu Square.

In particular, the Ministry of National Defence decided that the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Dien Bien Phu Victory will include a fireworks display and a parade of helicopters at Dien Bien Phu Square, which conveys the message that 70 years ago, the sky was occupied by the French army, but now the Dien Bien Phu sky is ours.

Q: According to statistics, in Dien Bien Province, about 140 soldiers who once participated in the Dien Bien Phu campaign are still alive. What specific policies have the provincial authorities worked out to pay gratitude to these people?

A: 70 years have passed, and the number of soldiers, former youth volunteers, and frontline workers who once participated in the Dien Bien Phu Campaign has become fewer. To date, in Dien Bien Province, there are only 140 soldiers and nine former youth volunteers who directly participated in the campaign are still living, all of them aged over 90 years old. Many Dien Bien Phu soldiers are still healthy enough to attend some events.

It should be affirmed that paying tribute to the Dien Bien Phu soldiers is not a temporary but a regular work. Over the past years, Dien Bien Province has fully implemented proper policies targeting national contributors, war veterans, and former youth volunteers, with regular visits being made to these groups of people.

Especially during holidays and Lunar New Year, leaders of the Party Committees and People’s Committees at provincial, district, and communal levels usually visit, encourage, and learn about the health and living conditions of the elderly, as well as the jobs of their children and grandchildren.

The province has a policy to ensure stable residence for all former Dien Bien Phu soldiers. There are cases where, due to a change of residence, their children and grandchildren did not have employment, so the province required the locality to arrange jobs immediately.

In addition, the province also regularly organises health checks for former Dien Bien Phu soldiers and former youth volunteers currently living in Dien Bien Phu City and other localities.

Tran Quoc Cuong — Member of the Party Central Committee, Secretary of the Dien Bien Provincial Party Committee.

Tran Quoc Cuong — Member of the Party Central Committee, Secretary of the Dien Bien Provincial Party Committee.

Q: After the Dien Bien Phu Campaign, many officers and soldiers stayed to follow the appeal of President Ho Chi Minh and General Vo Nguyen Giap to build and develop Dien Bien into what it is today. How could you evaluate the role of veterans in Dien Bien's economic development for over the past 70 years?

A: Not only did they achieve victories on the battlefield to contribute to the famous victory of Dien Bien Phu, after the campaign ended, fulfilling the appeal of President Ho Chi Minh and General Vo Nguyen Giap, many Dien Bien Phu soldiers moved to become leaders, directors, and workers of farms and cooperatives, thus making an important contribution to building Dien Bien Province into what it is today.

 We can mention many legacies of Dien Bien Phu soldiers on the production and socio-economic development front such as the Muong Ang coffee and Sen Cu rice brands.

Dien Bien Province currently has over 3,000 ha of coffee, which is the result of efforts by many Dien Bien Phu soldiers from the 1960s. Many cooperatives, rice production groups, and Muong Thanh field are also the labour results of Dien Bien Phu soldiers who became workers at construction sites and farmers in agricultural cooperatives and groups. In particular, the former soldiers now also encourage their children and grandchildren to work hard to contribute to building a more prosperous Dien Bien.
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Dien Bien is developing day by day, stimulated from the spirit of the historic victory in the past....

Dien Bien is developing day by day, stimulated from the spirit of the historic victory in the past....

Dien Bien Phu City in the present day

Dien Bien Phu City in the present day

Areas such as tourism and services thrived in 2023, especially with the number of tourists surging by more than 23% and total revenue rising by 26%.

Most encouragingly, poverty reduction has achieved very positive results. The poverty reduction rate reached 4.32% in 2023, lowering the poverty rate to 26.03%. In addition, national border sovereignty is being maintained.

Q: Could you please talk more about the breakthroughs in the province’s socio-economic development direction in 2024?

A: In 2024, the world situation is expected to continue to be complicated and unpredictable. The domestic economic situation will also remain difficult. However, with high spirit and determination, Dien Bien Province has focused on building and implementing an economic growth scenario associated with the programme on socio-economic development, national defence and security protection, and budget estimates for 2024.

The province continues to pay attention to investing and promoting the four poles of development, including Dien Bien Phu City, Muong Lay Town, Tuan Giao Town, and Muong Nhe Town. It will also keep improving the business investment environment, administrative reform, and modernisation of the administrative system. In addition, Dien Bien will strengthen investment attraction and create the best conditions for investors and businesses to invest in agriculture, urban development, and renewable energy.

The province will continue to improve the quality of healthcare, education, training, and care for people's material and spiritual lives and promote the role and responsibility of setting an example for officials and party members, especially leaders. It will pay attention to implementing social security policies and taking care of people's lives, especially poor households, policy families, people with meritorious services, and social protection beneficiaries.

In particular, based on the newly approved master plan for the northwestern province of Dien Bien, the Dien Bien Province has identified several breakthroughs which focus on developing and promoting the strengths of agriculture and forestry.

The province will focus on developing tree varieties with high economic value, such as coffee and macadamia; precious medicinal varieties under the forest canopy, such as Lai Chau ginseng and Ngoc Linh ginseng; cultivating valuable aquatic products, such as sturgeon and cold-water salmon; exploiting high-quality fruits and vegetables to serve the needs of people and tourists. According to the Prime Minister's conclusion on April 8, 2023, Dien Bien Province is urgently coordinating with the Ministry of Education and Training to develop a project to establish Dien Bien Phu University in 2024 and 2025.

In addition, in 2024, with the approval, leadership and direction of the Politburo, Secretariat, National Assembly, and Government, Dien Bien Province will focus on activities to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Dien Bien Phu Victory, according to national level ceremonies. Based on the approved project content, the province has now established a Steering Committee and subcommittees to assign specific tasks.

Q: Dien Bien is known as a land rich in historical and cultural values. What specific policies has the province had to take full advantage of its historical strengths, truly turning Dien Bien into a cultural and tourist centre of the Northwest region?

A: Dien Bien is honoured to have the special national relic complex of the Dien Bien Phu battlefield, with 45 particularly important cultural and historical relic sites, including the enemy’s resistance areas where we attacked to fight against the enemy, and others related to the process of bringing weapons, artillery and ammunition to the battlefield.

Determining that relic sites are only valuable when they are useful in propaganda towards fostering the patriotism and the tradition of fighting against the enemy among people, Dien Bien Province identified the five following works for preserving and promoting the relics:

Firstly, it is crucial to boost propaganda to help people understand more about the significance of the relic and realise their responsibility and honour in together preserving the relic sites for the long term for future generations, and not to let the daily life activities damage the relic sites or erode the relevant traces and documents.

Secondly, the province will plan and promptly carry out the renovation, embellishment, and maintenance of the projects under the pressure of time, nature, and people’s daily livelihood. If there is no timely plan for the conservation, it would be impossible to keep the relic sites intact.

Thirdly, a specific plan is essential to coordinate with many sectors and localities to regularly organise tours to the relic for people, soldiers, armed forces, especially younger generations. The visits will help them understand more about the glorious victories of our army and people in the past, as well as the resilient will and bravery of our ancestors, thereby fostering patriotism among younger generations.

Next, it is necessary to urgently develop a project to digitise all documents related to the battlefield, towards building a historical book with the images recording all historical traces of the Dien Bien Phu battlefield for long-term protection.

Thank you very much!

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Published: March, 2024
Design: BINH NAM
Translation: NDO