I passed through Vinhomes Golden River, a commercial district that is being built at the moment along the Saigon River, several times during my short stay in Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh City. A huge sketch on the wall showed the full view of this future landmark building complex in the center of the city.
There will be rows of skyscrapers mushrooming along the river, subways stopping by it, central gardens, riverside avenue, leisure park, fancy hotels, apartments, shopping malls and office buildings all over the area.
The projected district is a result of Vietnam's strong desire for prosperity. Five days after I re-entered Vietnam, I can sense the whole country's pursuit greatly differs from what it went after in the 1970s.
In my interviews here, officials at different levels all mentioned the word "reform." This is not only the goal of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV), but also the wish of ordinary people. The desire of Vietnamese for development and to become well-off as soon as possible is the strongest among the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN
Such desire might come from the impulse of this country with its population of 90 million to become a major power in the region, but mostly, it comes from the will of its people. Among traditionally Confucian countries in Asia, Vietnam is the only nation that is relatively underdeveloped.
Local people gave me some fruits as gifts one day before I left, including grapefruits and mangos. They told me some farmers are getting rich ahead of others because of fruits planting. The annual income of farmers near the Ho Chi Minh City can reach 30,000 yuan ($4,492) and their fruit can be transported to China within three days.
In the eyes of the Chinese, Vietnam is getting rich by taking a free ride on China's rapid economic development. Over the years, we have gradually believed that China's relationship with its neighbors is partly dependent on whether they can get a fair slice of the cake from China's development. Moreover, Beijing can also share other's profits when our surrounding nations are better off.
The increase of imported fruit from Vietnam is closely related to the development policy in China's border areas.
Sun Ruijun, mayor of Pinxiang city in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, told us that China allows its farmers who are living along the border to purchase goods from other countries without paying import tax if they spend less than 8,000 yuan, and that applies to both adults and children.
Villagers formed cooperative societies, combined their quotas and started to work on trade and logistics. They successfully escaped poverty and greatly increased their income.
When ASEAN nations such as Vietnam and China have coordinated pursuit in economy, a common basis for cooperation is created. Safeguarding and enlarging such foundation hence becomes our most significant source of diplomatic wealth. Vietnam's development needs to ride on China, and Beijing needs to take a ride on Hanoi's economic train as well.
If some issues cannot be resolved for now, we should set them aside, as the late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping argued. As long as we stick to treating development as a priority and hold on to reaching common prosperity, we will eventually figure out the right way and the right timing to solve the puzzles.
I took a walk along Dong Khoi Street the night before I left Vietnam. The Louis Vuitton and Gucci signs were sparkling in the night. I saw a huge signboard advertising joint subway project between Japan and Vietnam. Most of the motorcycles running at high speed on the street are made in Japan or South Korea. I don't believe this will always be the case. Yet more efforts are needed if we want to see Chinese brands there any time soon.The author is a senior editor with People's Daily, and currently a senior fellow with the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China. firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @dinggangchina.