HANOI (VIETNAM) – Booming economic development and containment of the pandemic was celebrated by Vietnam’s ruling Communist Party chief Nguyen Phu Trong in Hanoi on Tuesday as he presided over the opening of a key party congress which is held once in five years.
In a bid to push Vietnam’s ongoing economic success delegates will pick a new leadership team over the nine days of meetings which is held behind closed doors.
“Our country has been developing rapidly and sustainably, consolidating people’s confidence in the Party, the state and the socialist regime,” said Trong, reflecting on the Party’s record since 2016.
“Growth quality has improved, the economy has been stable, inflation has been kept under control,” said Trong, 76, speaking in an expansive, 75-minute address to 1,600 delegates from across Vietnam.
Trong who has been suffering from health complications over the last few years, will become the longest serving General Secretary since Le Duan if he continues as Party chief.
Trong had spearheaded crackdowns on corruption over the past five years – which was officially dubbed a “blazing furnace”. Trong said on Tuesday many cases of corruption cases had been detected, investigated and prosecuted, boosting people’s support for the campaign: “Corruption has been gradually contained and prevented,” he said.
Government critics have described the crackdown as politically motivated.
Vietnam officially has four ‘pillars’ of leadership: the Party chief; the state president; the prime minister and the National Assembly Chair. In the months running up to the meeting there has been intense competition for the limited number of top positions in the government.
The country has seen its economy out do much of Asia in the past year. Due to stringent measures, it was also able to keep a check on the pandemic. Vietnam has reported just over 1,500 COVID-19 infections and 35 deaths in total.
Referring to the pandemic, Trong said, “In the context of rapid and complicated global evolution, we have been focusing on consolidating national defence and security,”
Trong refrained from mentioning the nation’s name as he addressed tensions with China over the latter’s increasing aggressiveness in claiming vast, potentially energy-rich regions of the South China Sea which overlap with Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone.
Vietnam is “determined and persistent to protect its independence and sovereignty … rightly and effectively handling relations with large countries and neighbouring countries,” said Trong.