From People’s World
HANOI—With only 35 recorded deaths, Vietnam has managed the coronavirus pandemic better than almost any other country on earth. And, unlike other nations, where mass unemployment and recession are the norm, Vietnam’s economy is actually growing. That’s the context in which the 13th National Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) is set to open here on Jan. 26.
The meeting is the highest governing body of the CPV and meets every five years to review the party’s activities and map out a plan for its future work. The congress will also elect members to positions of party leadership, including the general secretary of the CPV, who plays a leading role in the Vietnamese government.
The 13th National Congress is getting a lot more international attention than most previous party congresses, with an online press conference for journalists on Jan. 21 bringing participants from around the globe. The reason is that over the last five years, Vietnam has skyrocketed onto the international scene, becoming a major player both economically and diplomatically.
The country’s economy is among the fastest—if not the fastest—growing in the world. From 2016 to 2019, Vietnam saw average annual growth of around 7%. Even in 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, it was one of only ten national economies to see any growth, expanding 2.91% for the year.
Vietnam is also increasingly recognized on the world stage for its efforts to foster international cooperation and peace. In 2019, Hanoi hosted the U.S.-DPRK Summit, one of the year’s most significant diplomatic events.
Vietnam has emerged as a leader in the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), a political and economic association of ten countries in the region. During Vietnam’s 2020 chairmanship of ASEAN, the group saw record levels of cooperation and activity. Vietnam is credited with ushering in the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RECP), the world’s largest trade agreement.
Perhaps out of all Vietnam’s achievements over the last five years, however, the one that stands out the most is the successful way in which the government, under the leadership of the CPV, contained the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, it has recorded just over 1,500 total cases and 35 deaths.
But a look back on previous performance is only part of the congress’ responsibilities. The party has a lot of important work ahead of itself, including deciding on a new Five-Year Economic Plan, which will aim at continue the success of the last five years. The congress will also make decisions about how to escalate the fight against COVID-19 and roll out the vaccine throughout a country of nearly 100 million people.
Also among the important tasks of congress delegates is the election of the CPV Central Committee and general secretary. Current General Secretary Nguyễn Phú Trọng has received much praise for his leadership and anti-corruption campaign. At 76 years old, Trọng is above the legally required retirement age of 65 and has already served the maximum of two terms, but its possible the congress could give special permission for him to be re-elected.
The 13th National Congress of the CPV is the culmination of over a year of preparation. At the beginning of 2020, local party branches held their own congresses and selected their representatives to the next level above them. Now that all communes, wards, districts, cities, and provinces have held their congresses, the delegates for the national congress are in place and ready to meet.
The congress is scheduled to last a week, finishing its work on Feb. 2.