February 20

Nguyen Ai Quoc, an alias of Ho Chi Minh, wrote an article titled “Khong Tu” (Confucius) in Thanh Nien (Youth) newspaper when China began to abolish rituals and convert pagodas dedicated to Confucius into schools.

People in Pac Po, Cao Bang Province, welcome President Ho during a visit he made on February 20, 1961. He had lived and worked in Pac Po after returning to Vietnam in 1941.

“If Confucius had been living in our age and clung on to old views, he would be treated as a counterrevolutionary. The Chinese Government is getting rid of an old institution, which is against democracy.”
“We, the An Nam people, should perfect our spirits by reading his works and our revolution by reading Lenin’s works.”
Visiting Thanh Hoa Province, he told authorities there: “Authorities are like a line in a machine. If the line is not good, the machine will not work no matter how good the engine is.
“[A province’s] organization is strong or weak, depending on the people. The organization will be strong if people follow it. [You] have to understand people’s desires, miseries, and psychology, and learn about their initiatives.
“[You] have to respect people and gain their trust, and if [you] want to gain their trust, [you] must be incorruptible.”

Speaking about the resistance, he said: “If two stones or two eggs fight together, all of them will break. A hard object and a soft object should fight together so that there will be one left unbroken.
“Both sides [in a fight] have to be ingenious. If France has tanks and cannons, we will destroy roads. If France has airplanes, we will dig a tunnel. If France wants to mount lightning attacks, we will prolong the fight. We will surely win.”
Speaking to patriots and intellectuals, he said, “You should help monitor the Government’s tasks. Please forgive what the Government has not done. It needs 15 minutes [just] to cook rice; it also needs time to change the whole country which suffered 80 years of slavery.”
He said politics is about solidarity and incorruptibility.
He visited Bat Trang and exhorted the village to improve the quality of its products to become a model village for the new Vietnamese Government.
Visiting Hai Ninh Province (now Quang Ninh), he called on authorities and residents to unite the nation and religions.
He returned to Cao Bang to visit an old base, and wrote a poem titled “Visit back to Pac Po cave.”
Earlier, in 1941, he had written another poem about Pac Po.
Speaking at a Politburo meeting on the revolution in South Vietnam, he said presciently: “[We] have to consider the fact that the US might jump into [the fight]. We are not scared of the enemy but we should not discount it.”

By Duong Trung Quoc* and co-writers
*The author is a historian and member of the National Assembly

Translated by Yen Chuong

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