Contemporary Vietnam: A Guide to Economic and Political Developments

Contemporary Vietnam: A Guide to Economic and Political Developments

Contemporary Vietnam: A Guide to Economic and Political Developments

Contemporary Vietnam: A Guide to Economic and Political Developments


This book provides full details of contemporary economic and political developments in Vietnam. It continues the overview of developments up to late 2005 which were covered in the author's Vietnam: A Guide to Economic and Political Developments (also published by Routledge, 2006). Key topics covered include Vietnam's success, in general, in maintaining high rates of growth in the face of problems such as inflation and the global financial crisis; continuing economic reforms; foreign trade and investment; battles against corruption; population growth; the determination of the Communist Party to maintain its hold on power; and Vietnam's response to public health problems such as AIDS, SARS and bird flu.


This is a follow-up book to Vietnam: A Guide to Economic and Political Developments, published in 2006. The postscript dealt with events as late as March of that year. So this book deals with subsequent events and supplementary material not available previously.

At the end of the Second World War in 1945 Vietnam was a classically poor country (with, for example, a low national income per head and most of the labour force working in agriculture) and a generally poorly endowed one in terms of natural resources.

Ho Chi Minh’s resilience in seeing off, in turn, such powerful opponents as France (the original colonial power), Japan and the United States is truly remarkable. Vietnam went on to give China a bloody nose in the border war of February 1979 over Kampuchea. Equally impressive is the nation’s capacity to forgive and forget. On the other hand, nobody is blind to the deficiencies of such a oneparty state in terms of human rights (including those of ethnic minorities) and in terms of problems such as corruption. Like China, Vietnam is determined to remain a one-party state, seeing economic reform and development as a means of helping the Communist Party retain that control in a stable country.

The Vietnam War ended in 1975 and the reunited country faced the problem of how a poorer, planned economy in which state ownership and control dominated could successfully absorb a more advanced, capitalist economy. The two Vietnams were reunited in 1975 and the two Germanys in 1990 (with the West German economy effectively absorbing its poorer communist neighbour). But the two Koreas remain divided, with South Korea in a different economic universe compared with its (now nuclear-armed) twin.

By the time China started to introduce its economic reform programme in 1978, it had largely reoriented its trade away from Comecon – the communist trading bloc (after quarrelling with the Soviet Union in the early 1960s) – and was not aid-dependent. Vietnam, on the other hand, suffered from the collapse of communism.

Winning the war proved easier than winning the peace and after 1989 Vietnam felt compelled by the economic problems experienced to change course, specifically to adopt a market-orientated economic policy known as doi moi (usually translated as ‘renovation’). Many of Vietnam’s ‘renovations’ have . . .

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