Vietnam’s State President and former Prime Minister, Nguyen Xuan Phuc (left), congratulates the newly elected Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh. Picture: Supplied
Vietnam’s State President and former Prime Minister, Nguyen Xuan Phuc (left), congratulates the newly elected Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh. Picture: Supplied

Vietnam places hope in new leadership

By Valerie Boje Time of article published Apr 7, 2021

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THE Embassy of Vietnam in South Africa is, like representatives and citizens of the country worldwide, following with interest the leadership transition in the Southeast Asian country.

Pham Minh Chinh, 63, was sworn in as the new prime minister on Monday, while former prime minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, 66, takes on the role of president of Vietnam.

Phuc, who held the position of prime minister for five years, has been widely credited with successful growth in the economy and his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Chinh comes to the position as an experienced politician and technocrat, having served as a senior state security official and head of the Communist Party of Vietnam’s (CPV) central organisation commission, among other important positions. He was elected unopposed by the 13th party conference in late January.

At the conference, Nguyen Phu Trong, 76, was re-elected for a third term as party general secretary while later economist and former deputy prime minister, Vuong Dinh Hue, 64, was elected to chair the 500-member national assembly.

With strict measures including a nationwide lockdown, Vietnam has managed to contain the spread of the virus and quickly get its economy going, becoming one of a handful of countries that last year recorded positive economic growth.

Chinh’s first task is seen as leading further growth of the economy including implementing economic reforms required by new trade deals and dealing with bottlenecks in the manufacturing sector, as well as pollution and climate change.

The government targets to achieve an economic growth of at least 6.5% this year and prepare fundamental factors to accelerate the growth pace from 2022 onward.

Vietnam’s official policy endorses "socialism with a market orientation” and Hanoi has signed more than a dozen free trade agreements in recent years with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations - which Vietnam chaired last year - and the international community, as well as bi-lateral agreements.

The new leadership will continue to foster Vietnam’s foreign policies, including opening its markets to the global economy and balancing relations with its neighbour China under Xi Jinping and the new US administration of Joe Biden, and wishes to see their country prosper and play a greater role in the region and the world.

Asked what the impact of the changes may be for South Africa, Ambassador Hoang Van Loi said the good relations could be expected to grow as the party conference had recognised the role of multilateral diplomacy and Vietnam regarded SA as one of its strategic partners.

A high-ranking delegation of the CPV led by Chinh, paid a working visit to South Africa in July 2019, and agreed to arrange the fourth meeting of the Vietnam-South Africa Trade Committee in Hanoi, increase measures to consolidate the legal framework for the bilateral collaboration in diplomacy, economy, trade, investment, agriculture, energy, national security and defence.

The new government will focus on implementation of the party’s resolution setting out the goals and targets for the next period while it continues to promote a socialist rule-of-law state and uphold a spirit of discipline of administration - including a strong anti-corruption stance.

It will concentrate on effective management of resources for national development, including that of strategic infrastructure, digital transformation and the digital economy, and building its capacities and enhancing its status and influence in the world, according to the Vietnam News Agency.

Chinh affirmed his determination to safeguard national independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity; ensure defence, security, and social order and safety; and create mechanisms and policies to turn strengths in people, culture, and great national unity into drivers of national building and development.

Attention would be paid to developing a comprehensive social welfare system, with a focus on remote, border, and island regions and ethnic minority-inhabited areas, and caring for the material and spiritual lives of all people, said VNA. - Val Boje

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