Assessment: Outcome of Vietnam’s 13th National Party Congress
Brig Vinod Anand, Senior Fellow, VIF

Vietnam’s 13th National Party Congress concluded on 31 January two days earlier than planned for with a change in the leadership matrix and after approving the developmental plans. Vietnam’s political guidance and governance is based on a quartet of leaders i.e. the General Secretary of Vietnam’s Communist Party, President, Prime Minister and the Chairman of the National Assembly. These appointments are elected during the NPC meeting. Mr. Nguyen Phu Trong while highlighting the achievements of the Party at the 13th NPC observed “Our country has been developing rapidly and sustainably, consolidating people’s confidence in the party, the state and the socialist regime—Growth quality has improved, the economy has been stable, inflation has been kept under control”.

While Nguyen Phu Trong was again elected for a third term as the General Secretary Mr. Xuan Phuc the reigning Prime Minister was named as President. Selection of Mr. Trong for third term in place of the usual two terms could also be viewed both as reflection of unity amongst the Party and appreciation of the work done by him in the earlier two terms. The other two inductees were new i.e. Mr. Pham Minh Chinh was named as the Prime Minister and Mr. Vuong Dinh Hue was elected as Chairman of the National Assembly; all such appointments are for a period of five years. It can also be said that various appointments elected by the NPC also reflect a mixture of conservative and non-conservative elements of the Party thus imparting a degree of balance in the new set up and structures of the Party and the government.

The deliberations of the Congress and the whole process of electing the new appointments went off very smoothly. It is also very significant to note that among the four pillars of leadership two leaders i.e. Mr. Trong and Mr. Xuan Phuc are experienced old hands having been at the helm of affairs of Vietnam for many years. Both leaders have guided Vietnam through the depredations brought in by coronavirus; they have also been instrumental in ushering in of economic growth and development and adopting balanced approach in dealing with regional and global issues. They reflect also the elements of continuity and stability thus indicating that Vietnam would continue to follow pragmatic internal and external policies especially so during the emerging turbulent period impacted not only by the Covid-19 but also by China flouting international norms and rule based order.

Mr. Trong has also acquitted himself as an anti-corruption crusader of Vietnam as he has dealt with such corrupt elements in the Party, government and elsewhere with very firm hand thus advancing the legitimacy of the Part and that of the government as well.

Fresh blood in the shape of Mr. Pham Minh Chinh who is earmarked as Prime Minister and Mr. Vuong Dinh Hue who will be the Chairman of Vietnam’s National Assembly are expected to give a fillip for revitalization and rejuvenation to the affairs under their charge. Mr. Pham Minh Chinh with his experience as head of important Central Organisation Commission and also earlier as Deputy Minister of Public Security would be in a good position to perform the duties and functions of his prime ministerial job.

While President is Head of the State it is the Prime Minister who is responsible for running the government. Mr. Chinh would be keen to look at innovative ways to drive sustainable economic growth and development with particular attention to expansion of health infrastructure and enlarging the scope and scale of Vietnam’s world trade. Vietnam’s economic growth has been one of the fastest in the South East Asian region for last several years till the time it was impeded by the coronavirus pandemic, however with adoption of suitable policies it is expected to return to the previous growth levels within a year or so. It is useful to note that Covid-19 challenge has not gone away as there has been a fresh outbreak of a new strain of the virus which is more contagious than the earlier one in the Northern part of Vietnam but it is being handled well. Handling of Covid-19 by Vietnam has been highly praised worldwide including by the WHO.

Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) also charted out plans for increasing the economic growth rate to 6.5 to 7 percent during the period 2021-2025 while taking robust measures to push for reforms and high-tech growth. During the Party Congress a 10-year socio-economic plan was approved which among other things is designed to involve the private sector in contributing to more than half of the economy as compared to 42 percent share of the economy as of now. The plan also aims at increasing GDP per capita from the estimated USD 2750 at the end of 2020 to USD 4000-5000 by 2025 which almost amounts to doubling of the income.

Undoubtedly, the new leadership is expected to find optimal solutions in its foreign and security policies while dealing with big powers like US and China besides engaging major powers in the region. The new set up would have its role cut out for contribution to the ASEAN and multilateralism as well at the international level especially as Vietnam would continue to be a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council this year.

With both continuity and stability as the hallmarks of the new leadership India-Vietnam relations are going to be further bolstered based on the existing Comprehensive Strategic Partnership signed in 2016 and Joint Vision for Peace & Prosperity signed between two sides last year in December. It would not be out of place to expect that two top leaders of Vietnam who propelled these bilateral agreements would continue to impart momentum and substance to the existing close ties between the two nations. Continuing flux in the global and regional strategic and security environment also predicates that both countries with similar perceptions on such issues coordinate their policies and approaches to deal with complexities arising out of new realities.

(The paper is the author’s individual scholastic articulation. The author certifies that the article/paper is original in content, unpublished and it has not been submitted for publication/web upload elsewhere, and that the facts and figures quoted are duly referenced, as needed, and are believed to be correct). (The paper does not necessarily represent the organisational stance... More >>

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