A look back in the early 1990s.

On July 11, 1995, the United States normalized relations with Vietnam. But signs of a new country, one closely allied to western capitalism, were increasingly visible in the early 1990s, especially after the U.S. lifted its trade embargo in 1994. 

As diplomatic and economic shifts occurred, the streets of Vietnamese cities changed too. There was an influx of new hotels and skyscrapers. Ads for western products popped up on buses and storefronts. 

With these physical changes came an improved economy. Vietnam experienced approximately 8 percent GDP growth through most of the 1990s. Poverty declined too, and the country's poverty rate is now lower than China and India.

But there were cultural backlashes too. In Hanoi, hundreds of shops and restaurants with western brand names had advertisements ripped off or covered up. The Vietnamese communist party cracked down on what it saw as cultural vices around the same time, publicly destroying pornographic literature and imagery. 

Below, via Reuters, a look back at the suddenly globalizing country and its changing streets in the mid-1990s: 

Huge advertisements of U.S., Japanese and Korean products are seen at a busy Hanoi street July 15, 1995 

(REUTERS)

Vietnamese women look at boxes of American cereal products during the opening of the first US trade exhibition in Hanoi April 21, 1994 called "Vietnamerica Expo '94" 

(REUTERS)

Three Vietnamese policemen look at a model of Mercerdes-Benz 600SEC on display in Hanoi's Vietnam-Soviet Friendship Palace May 5, 1994 

(REUTERS)

Two tourists walk past advertisements of foreign companies near the airport of Ho Chi Minh City March 8th, 1994. Credit cards issued by American banks were not accepted in Vietnam before the US trade embargo was lifted a month before 

(REUTERS)

Hanoi residents pass by a streamer for a movie titled "Em va Michael Jackson" (You and Michael Jackson) outside a theatre in Vietnam's capital March 19. The film is a comic love story about a young woman falling in love with a dancer imitating US pop star Michael Jackson (REUTERS)
Vietnamese guests look at the newly-opened plant of Coca-Cola in Ha Tay province, near Hanoi August 26, 1995. The $24 million plant would supply the soft drink to 30 million people in the capital and surrounding areas 

(REUTERS)

Vietnamese Buddhist monks walk past a huge inflatable "Pepsi can" displayed at "Vietnamerica Expo '94" in Ho Chi Minh City's Reunification Palace November 4, 1994 

(REUTERS)

Young passengers reach out of the windows of a bus painted with an American soft-drink advertistment in Hanoi July 13, 1995 

(REUTERS)

A Vietnamese woman walks in front of a billboard advertising Pepsi in Hanoi February 3, 1995. U.S. companies were freed to trade in Vietnam when then-president Bill Clinton lifted a U.S. economic embargo. (REUTERS)
A Vietnamese woman walks past a Pepsi advertisement which has been crudely painted over February 2, 1996. Throughout Hanoi hundreds of shops and restaurants bearing western brand names had their advertisements ripped off or covered up as signs of xenophobia crept into the country's purge on "poisonous" cultural items 

(REUTERS)

Two Vietnamese air force officials try their hands on an notebook computer during the opening of Vietnam Computer Expo '95 in Hanoi November 1, 1995

(REUTERS)

A book vendor shows copies of a translated Vietnamese version of former U.S. Defence Secretary Robert McNamara's memoirs "In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam," on sale in Hanoi June 27, 1995 

(REUTERS)

Vietnamese police burn semi-erotic posters and other so-called social evils in a park in central Hanoi February 3, 1996. The Vietnamese Communist Party was clamping down on vice at the time in a move to reaffirm its authority and ideology. 

(REUTERS)

Two women look over a display advertising a home pregnancy test made by a USA company at a healthcare exhibition in central Hanoi September 13, 1996 

(REUTERS)

A shop owner polishes a gold-colored hammer and sickle emblem outside his souvenir store in Hanoi April 9, 1995 

(REUTERS)

A group of Vietnamese hawkers squat on the roadside in front of a billboard April 21, 1995 advertising the construction of a new and luxurious resort complex. 

(REUTERS)

A woman rests while another walks past a sign advertising the construction of a new up-market hotel in Ho Chi Minh City. 

(REUTERS)

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. A colorful mural with a woman's head and words reading "take me out to the go-go."
    Equity

    How Go-Go Music Became Kryptonite for Gentrification in D.C.

    Go-go has become the soundtrack for a growing anti-gentrification movement in Washington. Now a city council bill wants to make it D.C.’s official music.

  2. audience members at venue
    Life

    What Early-Career Income Volatility Means for Your Middle-Aged Brain

    A long-term study of people in four cities finds that income volatility in one’s 20s and 30s correlates with negative brain effects in middle age.

  3. Drilling Wells in Los Angeles
    Environment

    Why Is California Approving So Many New Oil Wells?

    Drilling and fracking permits are up since Governor Newsom took office. But it’s not totally clear why.

  4. Life

    Holland Aims to Bring Back Its Starry Nights

    Campaigners want government agencies and companies to turn off the lights so citizens can rediscover the beauty of darkness.

  5. photo: Chilean police clash with anti-government demonstrators during a protest in Santiago, Chile.
    Equity

    What’s Behind the Wave of Urban Protests?

    The slums of the world’s growing cities have become staging grounds for demonstrations against corruption, inequality, and municipal dysfunction.

×