AS the world looks to Ho Chi Minh City this Sunday for the anniversary of the fall of Saigon and reminisces on a war that ended two decades ago, Vietnam is eyeing new threats. The fear of new economic domination from outside and worry that the sheer pace of change and growth will rob the fruits of victory have emerged as the leadership pushes ahead with reform. In the build-up to subdued celebrations, the strength and pride in Vietnamese nationalism is quickly apparent in the comments of both the leaders and the people. This week, premier Vo Van Kiet spelt out in unusually stark terms the impact on his people of the long years of war against France, America, China and Cambodia. The consequences were still being suffered and the country was poor and backward, he said. 'There is hardly any family in the country that has not been touched in some way.' For most Vietnamese, warfare has not been the stuff of Oliver Stone movies, of faraway jungle battles. Mr Kiet, like other leaders such as Communist Party General Secretary Do Muoi, lost relatives or spent years in tough colonial prisons. But despite the suffering, few talk about the years of struggle as a triumph of communism. It is, instead, a victory for Vietnam; that peace, growth and development all stem from an independence that is real. Even the most bitter anti-communist among the former South Vietnamese Army officers still in the south proudly talk of 'one Vietnam'. And the increasingly wayward youth, who are far less ideological than their parents and less familiar with the 'struggle', talk openly of their love of their nation. 'Yes, in cities we race motorcycles and we hear that drug use is on the increase, but that does not mean we are not Vietnamese,' one young Hanoi student said this week as he shopped for a pair of jeans. 'It is true we put money before politics and that our immediate goals are more material. 'We want to have a good education so we can get good jobs to earn more money. 'Perhaps that makes us different from our parents, but we both love our nation and so ultimately our goals are the same.' More than 50 per cent of Vietnam's 72 million people are under the age of 25. Mr Kiet revealed his concern over the cost of change and the potential for new economic colonialism as Vietnam opens its trade and investment doors. His thoughts are readily echoed by officials across the country. In the boom town of Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon, where there is the greatest exposure to foreign businessmen and outside finance, People's Committee spokesman Nguyen Son said the city and country needed foreign capital but had to ensure it did not become 'controlled' by other countries. 'We face many challenges as we try to grow while narrowing the gap between the rich and poor,' Mr Son said. 'One of the most important challenges is to develop with the help of many friends, without turning into an economic colony for one of them.' Privately, another official said the city was watching the commercialism of the new American investment closely. 'After all, we have lived with the US before, something Hanoi has not.' Former US defence secretary Robert McNarama's statements this month revealed the extent to which Vietnamese nationalism was misunderstood. Now, with Vietnam poised to join the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and greater numbers of foreigners working with Vietnam, the need for understanding has never been greater.