The IFES Round table on the outcomes of the 13th CPV Congress: a lively discussion on a familiar theme

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The article provides an overview of the Round table on the topic “The Vietnamese Communist Party in National Construction and the results of the 13th CPV congress” held by. the Center for Vietnam and ASEAN Studies IFES RAS. Russian and foreign scientists discussed a wide range of problems of domestic and foreign policy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, its socio-economic development, the history of the CPV, informational, educational and cultural policy of the Party.

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On May 19-20, 2021, the Center for Vietnam and ASEAN Studies (CVAS) gathered a wide range of Russian, Vietnamese and Western specialists at its Round table on the topic “The Vietnamese Communist Party in National Construction and the results of the 13th CPV congress” continuing the annual series of thematic meetings (Fig. 1). This time the event was dedicated to the recent party congress - the most important event in the political life of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, which determined the main directions of the CPV's policy for the period until 2045 and noted its achievements and problems over the past 10 years. Fig. 1. Deputy Director of the IFES S.V. Uyanaev and Head of CVAS V.М. Mazyrin speaks at the opening of the round table. Photo by the author When discussing the SRV internal processes, the speakers described the situation in the Communist Party itself and in other parts of the political system. It was recognized that the SRV stood out favorably from its regional neighbors in terms of domestic political stability and the continuity of political power. While sharing this view, the Expert of the ASEAN Center MGIMO Victor V. Sumsky noted that the ability of the CPV to orchestrate the course of social development was not unlimited, moreover, there was growing controversy in its policy direction. The author stressed that Viet Nam is now facing a «complex puzzle», solving the problem of transition from the phase of revolutionary radicalism to the phase of evolutionary development, and doing so in the situation of «triumph of world counter-revolution and anti-communism». According to the participants of the Round table, the 13th Congress did not take place in a spirit of euphoria of the achievements. The conference focused on ideological issues. The emergence of a market economy and the greater country openness to the outside world have led to an increase in the complexity of the social structure, the diversification of the interests of the population and of mass consciousness, the emergence of new contradictions and conflicts in society and social stratification, which is inconsistent with the ideas of social justice associated with socialism. Lead Researcher of the CVAS Grigory M. Lokshin emphasized that all of this, as the 13th CPV Congress once again recalled, requires the political leadership to skillfully use various public institutions, to constantly update the ideological arsenal in order not to lose its legitimacy and strengthen the social foundation of power. The main features of the modern political system of Vietnam were shown by the professor of St. Petersburg State University, Director of the Ho Chi Minh Institute Vladimir N. Kolotov. Its flexibility, tradition and modernization make it possible to maintain stability and innovate in the management of the party and the country in the new geopolitical environment. In assessing the CPV’s policy of socialism, he recalled the relevant explanations recently given by the Secretary General of the Central Committee Nguyen Phu Chong, calling them a great contribution to the development of Ho Chi Minh's ideology. Fig. 2. Director of the Ho Chi Minh Institute V.N. Kolotov makes an online presentation. Photo by the author During the discussion, it was noted that there were no cardinal changes in the system of power, no progress at this stage in the rejuvenation of the leadership of the party and the state, which contradicts the previously established practice. Among the main threats, the speakers referred to the loss of confidence in the party, the ideological and moral degeneration of its members, and corruption. This makes it imperative for the CPV to purge the party ranks of compromised individuals, to maintain the governability of economic and social processes, and to maintain the high growth rate of the economy. Prof. Vladimir N. Kolotov outlined the trend of increasing the representation of the security forces in the Vietnam executive branch recognizing it as not accidental intended to avoid such phenomena as waste and corruption. Explaining the position of the CPV in society, Associate Professor of the Ho Chi Minh Academy Do Xuan Tuat highlighted the need for strict supervision of the state apparatus, control over the power that the people delegated to party workers and the state apparatus. This is also required to prevent the degradation of power. Professor of the Political Academy of the Vietnam Ministry of Defense Nguyen Van Tai showed a close relationship between construction and defense of the fatherland, the right combination of which creates prerequisites for successful progress towards the goal set by the Communist Party. The participants summed up the CPV need to seek such a model of the political system that would ensure a strictly dosed implementation of democratization processes, while preventing a dangerous aggravation of social and other contradictions. The experts were generally unanimous in their assessment of the priorities and objectives of the CPV foreign policy. Acting Director of the ASEAN Center MGIMO EkaterinaV. Koldunova stated that Vietnam manages to effectively interact with other ASEAN countries and build a dialogue with the widest range of international partners. The country has not opted for isolationism, as some of its neighbors in the region have done, but it has chosen the path of active integration into international processes. Integration takes place in many areas and at various levels - both bilateral, subregional, regional and interregional with the participation of most countries of the world. The Director of the Center for the Study of Russia and the CIS at the Institute for European Studies VASS Vu Thuy Trang further emphasized the role of international integration, seeing it as an incentive to solve the problems of social and economic development, strengthen national security and maintain a peaceful environment, as well as to enhance the authority of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in the international arena. Associate Professor of the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian MFA Petr Yu. Tsvetov confirmed the strengthening of the SRV's position in the international arena, maintaining the policy of diversification and multilateralism, noting that no changes were made to this policy at the congress. According to Nicholas Chapman, a researcher at Tohoku University (Japan), Vietnam's multidirectional foreign policy has well prepared the country to withstand all the storms of the global situation and has enhanced Viet Nam’s prestige at the international level. At the same time, it was recognized that Viet Nam has not reached yet the required rates of international integration, does not sufficiently foresee its challenges and contradictions, and does not effectively pursue its interests in important areas of international cooperation. The objectives and models of social and economic development approved by the 13th CPV Congress were also analyzed. According to the Head of CVAS, professor Vladimir M. Mazyrin these tasks are partially exaggerated and economically not justified. For example, a country is unlikely to be able to climb into the world’s high-income group by 2045, moreover, it rather get into the middle-income trap. The speaker noted the difficulty of maintaining economic growth rates and overcoming imbalances at the macro level due to the exhaustion of the reserves of the currently dominant extensive development model and the delay in the transition to the innovative stage, which will stretch for 25 years. Agrarian objectives were also described as ambitious: Viet Nam plans to join the group of 15 most developed agrarian countries in agriculture and the 10 largest processing agricultural products centers in the world. According to the Researcher of CVAS Elena S. Burova the effectiveness of the agri-food policy remains rather low due to the lack of complexity in meeting the challenges in this sector. Ineffective government support, non-market land use policy and excessive fragmentation of agricultural land, a lack of investment, and a lag in production restructuring were named as major constraints to development. Postgraduate student of IAAS A.R. Dolinina harmoniously complemented the conclusions on gaps in the agri-food policy of the CPV with a thesis on the transformation of food stereotypes of Vietnamese society and new trends in food consumption in Viet Nam. At this session of the Round table, the debate on what the SRV market economy is in fact broke out. Russian experts supported the conclusion that it had already become predominantly capitalist, while Vietnamese colleagues had evaded the discussion. Some experts, however, believe that, despite the moving to the market-oriented economy, it still retained a socialist orientation. At the same time, the CPV policy for the private sector in the period 1986-2020 is recognized as effective. Professor of the INALCO (Paris, France) Jean-Philippe Eglinger considers private sector as the engine for the development of the entire economy of the CPV. The deepening of Viet Nam's integration into the world economy, i.e. capitalist economy, was illustrated by the Nguyen Quoc Hung on the example of free trade agreements, a series of which was signed in recent years with leading partners. The director of IDR FCTAS RAS Sergey V. Ryazantsev added a demographic context and projection to the socio-economic picture. He pointed out the decline in the birth rate in SRV, the aging of the population, the increase in regional disparities and urban overpopulation, which had led to a shift from stimulating labor emigration to attracting highly skilled foreign workers to Viet Nam. A separate session was devoted to the information and educational policy of the CPV and the issues of youth development, without which there can be no effective management of society. In this regard, participants highlighted the wide publicity given by the Vietnamese press to the preparation and discussion of the draft decisions of the 13th CPV Congress. The Researcher of CVAS Elena V. Nikulina noted the increased interest in the congress and the positive tone of the Western media, outlined the main themes of the Vietnamese, Western and Russian press related to the holding and outcomes of the Congress. The peculiarities of the work of the CPV avant-garde - the Union of Communist Youth - were revealed on the example of the Komsomol organization of the Can Tho city. Master’s student of the University of Lumière (Lyon, France) Tatiana Tepliashina presented examples from her own practice of Komsomol social activity, skillful adaptation to local needs and historical realities, and building relationships with other youth structures. Professor of the RUDN University Marina A. Shpakovskaya gave a generalized analysis of the CPV youth policy. The Round table did not overlook the historical aspects of the CPV's activities. In particular, its role in the August Revolution and the development of the conquests of the people's power was emphasized. Nguyen Tran Tan Hiep, a student at Tyumen State University, showed a number of valuable lessons to be learned from the history of Vietnamese diplomacy during the difficult period 1945-1946 (Fig. 3). A new layer of CPV history was raised by Professor of Kursk University Igor N. Selivanov identifying the inconsistent, but CPSU-oriented attitude of the Vietnamese leadership to the Yugoslav model of socialism, which has a relevant sound in the light of the experience of building the CPV "socialism with Vietnamese specificity". Another little-known page in the life of the CPV was opened by Lead Researcher of CVAS Evgeny V. Kobelev, who noted the difficulties and contradictions in the relationship of the CPV with the CPC and the CPSU in the early 1960s. Fig. 3. Student of the Tyumen State University Nguyen Chan Tan Hiep speaks at the Round table. Photo by the author From the point of view of source studies, the event also turned out to be fruitful. Associate Professor of the IAAS MSU Oksana V. Novakova introduced into scientific circulation an unknown, but, as she believes, one of the fundamental documents in the construction of the DRV - "Theses on Culture" 1943. This topic was further developed in the discussion on the CPV cultural policy. Professor of the FEFU Alexander Ya. Sokolovsky concluded that the language policy of the CPV was highly effective in a multi-ethnic country, stressing that the party thereby managed to avoid conflicts on ethnic grounds. The lack of attempts in the SRV to create a new "historical community - the Vietnamese people" also testifies to the prudence of this course. Senior Researcher of the IO RAS, Anatoliy A. Sokolov, formulated the general concept of building a revolutionary culture in Vietnam, making a new conclusion for Vietnamese studies in Russia, that it was put forward for the first time by prominent party theorist Truong Tinh. The acuteness of the discussion of these problems was brought by the Researcher of CVAS Vadim P. Larin, who, considering the cultural layer as the spiritual basis of Vietnamese society, expressed concern over the preservation of the national traditions and cultural genotype of the country in the face of the powerful influence of Western society and its cultural ersatz. At the same time, the author's attempt to show the spread of Orthodoxy in Vietnam as a positive alternative to this destructive influence did not find support due to the lack of confirmation of this hypothesis. Moderator and organizer of the Round table Vladimir M. Mazyrin, summing up the results, noted that the events of CVAS are becoming more massive in number of participants (this time scientists of Western countries have joined Round table with interesting reports) as well as they increase their analytical and predictive character.

About the authors

Elena S. Burova

Institute of Far Eastern Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences

Researcher, Centre for Vietnam and ASEAN Studies. ORCID: 0000-0003-1047-2573

Vladimir M. Mazyrin

Institute of Far Eastern Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences

D.Sc. (Economics), Chair in Centre for Vietnam and ASEAN Studies, Institute of Far Eastern Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Professor of the Institute of Asian and African Studies, Lomonosov Moscow State University. ORCID: 0000-0001-6988-0139.


Copyright (c) 2021 Burova E.S., Mazyrin V.M.

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