28 May 2016
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    » 01/12/2016, 00.00

    VIETNAM

    Amid tensions, Vietnam’s Communist Party preparing its 12th congress



    Opposing economic and political choices underscore the confrontation between Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong. Liberalisation and cautious opening to the West stand against the status quo and the Marxist regime.

    Hanoi (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The 12th National Congress of Vietnam's Communist Party is set to open on 20 January. One of its most important tasks will be to choose the country’s economic and political orientation and its three top leaders for the next five years.

    Opposing factions are vying for power. Current Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung wants to become the party secretary general, the key post in the country’s power structure. Against him stands the current secretary, Nguyen Phu Trong, backed by President Truong Sang Tân.

    The differences between the two run deep and cover the country’s development model, the role of the Party and foreign policy.

    Economic liberalisation has pushed Vietnam’s per capita income from around US$ 100 in 1986 to more than US$ 2,000 by the end of 2014, according to the World Bank.

    In fact, Vietnam is one of the fastest-growing economies in Asia, with a GDP growth rate of 6.68 per cent last year.

    However, the growth-centred economic model has brought problems, such as excessive dependence on exports and foreign investment, with the state sector often inefficient vis-à-vis the private sector.

    At the government level, reforms are needed to tackle corruption and improve accountability and efficiency.

    Modernising the system is expected to push the country towards the West. Yet, the global economic slowdown and Beijing’s expansionism in South China Sea have complicated matters.

    Vietnamese leaders will need to pursue a more dynamic foreign policy with closer ties to the United States, and less dependence on Beijing but without breaking away from its northern neighbour.

    Against this backdrop, 127 well-known figures sent an open letter to the Politburo on 9 December, calling for an end to the ruling Marxist-Leninist ideology, the direct election of the general secretary and the removal of socialist from the state’s name.

    Disaffected with Marxism, many of the prime minister’s supporters want to overhaul the party and the regime along liberal lines and adopt a more pro-Western foreign policy to resist Chinese expansionism.

    Conversely, supporters of the current party secretary have undertaken actions that have marked Vietnam’s recent political history.

    These include the arrest of Nguyên Van Dai, a human rights advocate, who was taken into custody the day a European Union delegation arrived in the country to talk about human rights, as well as the violent crackdown, a few days later, against a group called the ‘Labour Brotherhood’ that emerged after the prime minister told Asia-Pacific leaders that independent labour organisations would be allowed.

    In view of this trend, a police general recently warned against the danger of a "reactionary opposition", arguing that all independent organisations should be banned.

    What happened in last month’s party plenum, which was held to discuss the leadership issue, highlights the party’s travails.

    Originally planned to be four days, it stretched to eight days. At the end, it decided to postpone the congress due to the lack of consensus on who should be the next party chief.

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    See also

    15/10/2007 CHINA
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    07/09/2010 CHINA
    Shenzhen, political reforms and the ambiguities of Wen Jiabao and Hu Jintao
    The Chinese President proposes political reforms for the capital of China’s modernisation but with “Chinese characteristics”. Two weeks before, Prime Minister Wen Jiabao had pleaded for political reforms; otherwise, economic modernisation would fail. Pro-democracy activists examine the issue. For some, the Chinese regime is not willing to “acknowledge internationally accepted values”.

    12/05/2009 NEPAL
    Maoist war against President Yadav continues
    Demonstrations take place in Kathmandu as violence breaks out in the villages. Supporters of former Prime Minister Prachanda are out to get the Nepali Congress and Nepal’s Marxist-Leninist Party which are now the government.

    17/01/2009 VIETNAM
    Political representatives meet with auxiliary bishop of Hanoi
    Contrasting interpretations are possible of the meeting between the bishop and the president of the central committee of the patriotic front, who has spoken of "good relations" with the archbishop's office, without referring to the archbishop by name.

    18/01/2011 VIETNAM
    Vietnam Communist Party chooses new leaders
    Vote is unanimous for approved slate of candidates to the central committee, which will choose new party chief as well as the new president and prime minister. Nguyen Phu Trong and Truong Tan Sang should take on new roles. Nguyen Tan Dung should be confirmed in his current post.



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