E NCYCLOPEDIA OF M ODERN A SIA 76 waged a guerrilla war against the Japanese and Vichy French troops. Following Japan’s surrender, Ho’s Viet Minh marched into Hanoi and declared the founding of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV) on 2 September 1945. To assuage fears that Communist forces would not dominate the new coalition govern- ment, Ho dissolved the ICP. With the return of French colonial forces and the breakdown of a series of negotiations in 1946, the Viet Minh began a guer- rilla war, culminating in the 1954 defeat of French forces at Dien Bien Phu. Materially aided by the Peo- ple’s Republic of China after April 1950, the Viet Minh leadership was encouraged to restore the Com- munist Party. In February 1951, the Lao Dong Party (LDP) was founded. Under Chinese, Soviet, and French pressure, the DRV accepted the temporary division of Vietnam at the 17th parallel as part of the Geneva Accords and anticipated winning nationwide elections in 1956– 1957. The LDP was the sole political force in the north and began to implement a Communist political and economic system. The LDP’s land reform pro- gram, implemented in two phases between 1954 and 1960, was particularly brutal and had a negative effect on production. At the advice of Chinese advisers, "people’s courts" were established and "class labels" were applied to all members of society to aid identifi- cation and liquidation of the landlord class. Wide-scale violence and peasant unrest led the LDP to sack its general secretary and revise its policies. The LDP also imposed a strict system of control over its writers and artists, beginning in 1954. In May 1959 the LDP Politburo authorized support for southern revolutionaries to defeat the regime of Ngo Dinh Diem (1901–1963). In 1963, the LDP or- dered the infiltration of North Vietnamese troops into the south of the country. The LDP continued its pol- icy to take over the south following Ho’s death in 1969 and eventually negotiated peace with the United States in 1973. In 1974, the Politburo again ordered the use of force to take over the south. Formal reunification occurred in October 1976, at which point the LDP changed its name to the Vietnam Communist Party. From 1976 to 1986, the VCP consolidated its rule but led the country into an economic malaise and diplomatic isolation, following the December 1978 in- tervention into Cambodia. In 1986 the party embarked on a radical course of economic reform, known as doi moi , or renovation, that had a positive impact on the economy. The decollectivization of agriculture caused Vietnam to go from being a net importer of rice to the world’s third largest exporter of rice by 1988. Like- wise, per capita GDP doubled in the first fifteen years of the reform program. The VCP remains the sole legal party in Vietnam today. It is ruled by an 18-person Politburo and a 170-member central committee.
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