Extracted from Ghost Train to the Eastern Star by Paul Theroux, an American writer.
All this order, prosperity and efficiency the Vietnamese had found for themselves after decades of war, in spite of us; we could take no credit for it.
‘What sort of work do you do in Saigon?’
‘I am an inspector in a factory,’ she said. ‘We make leather shoes for women.’
I drew a picture of a fancy stiletto-heeled shoe on a page in my notebook. She looked at it and smiled. She said, ‘Yes!’ They were exported to Europe and the United States.
I asked her how much money she made and the details of her work. She said that she and her fellow workers earned $400 a month. Could that be true? Her husband earned $700 a month. These figures were much higher than the salaries of comparable workers I’d met in Romania and Turkey.
So, other than making Vietnamese rich by setting up luxury goods factories and paying wages higher than those found in parts of Europe, the United States has played no part in the prosperity of Vietnam.