Transition from socialism to market economy in Vietnam
~~~ Văn Nguyên Dưỡng ~~~
Thưa quý độc giả và bằng hữu,
Gần đây chúng tôi nhận được bản tin về những câu hỏi khẩn thiết của Nhà giáo Trần thị Lam, người đã làm bài thơ làm rúng động Hà Nội và được cả triệu lượt người đọc trên Facebook. Các các câu hỏi của Cô, thế hệ trẻ Việt Nam ở trong nước và ở hải ngoại cần biết và cần những câu trả lời thích đáng.
Giáo sư Tiến sĩ Mai Thanh Triết đã có những câu trả lời ngắn nhưng chính xác. Riêng câu hỏi thứ 4, theo TS Triết, thì chưa có một tài liệu nào viết về chuyện này. Thực ra thì đã có một tài liệu viết bằng Anh ngữ cách đây 20 năm. Nhưng ở thời điểm đó các mạng internet chưa mở rộng nên chưa có dịp đăng tải.
“Nên Kinh tế Thị trường Định hướng Xã hội Chủ nghĩa” của CSVN là rập khuôn chủ trương kinh tế đổi mới của Đặng Tiểu Bình, cộng sản Tầu.
Xin nhớ lại, sau khi Hoa Kỳ bỏ bạn Đồng Minh Nam Việt Nam bằng Hiệp ước Paris tháng 1/1973 và ngày 30/4/1975 Sài Gòn sụp đổ. Sau khi thống nhất hai miền Bắc, Nam, Đảng CSVN đã tức tốc áp dụng chính sách tàn độc nhổ cỏ tận gốc và phế bỏ tất cả tàn dư của thể chế nhân bản, tự do của Miền Nam, giam cầm toàn bộ sĩ quan của QLVNCH, Cảnh sát, lãnh tụ tôn giáo, đảng phái quốc gia và giới trí thức, báo chí, nhà văn, nhà báo, kể cả nhà giáo. Đốt sách, cấm chợ, đánh tư sản mại bản, tịch thu hầu hết xí nghiệp sản xuất và cơ sở thương mại tư nhân, đổi tiền, bần cùng hóa toàn dân Miền Nam và thiết lập nền móng xã hội chủ nghĩa rập khuôn Liên Sô từ hạ tầng cơ sở nông thôn đến thị thành với hệ thống “Mậu dịch quốc doanh”. Kết quả là hàng chục triệu người mất công ăn việc làm và lâm vào hoàn cảnh sống dở, chết dở. Hàng triệu gia đình thuộc giới cao và trung lưu phải bị lưu đày đói no ở các khu kinh tế mới. Trong khi đó, các lãnh tụ đảng CSVN tham lam và mù quáng, xua quân xâm chiếm Cao Miên, gây cuộc chiến đẫm máu với cộng sản Tầu, làm cho nền kinh tế nghèo nàn xã hội chủ nghĩa càng thêm kiệt quệ... Thay đổi kinh tế, phá bỏ hệ thống quốc doanh thay bằng hệ thống kinh tế thị trường theo lối của Trung Cộng là tất nhiên... Nhưng ngụy biện là sách lược chính của Đảng CSVN.
Xin mời đọc cả hai tài liệu dưới đây. Tuy đã viết trên hai thập kỷ, nhưng các bài viết này vẫn giữ được giá trị thời sự đang tiếp diễn. Và những ước tính về một tương lai đen tối của Việt Nam dưới chế độ cộng sản toàn trị, từ hai mươi năm trước, đã diễn ra như một hiện thực đau lòng hiện nay làm cho cả một dân tộc đang lâm vào cảnh khốn cùng thật bi đát.
Chiếc đầu tàu CSVN đang đưa đất nước vào vực thẳm, nếu không có một phép lạ như một thiên cơ huyền bí cứu vãn thì cái họa mất nước khó mà tránh khỏi. Thiên cơ ai mà lường trước được? Nhưng phép lạ thường diễn ra.
Xin mời đọc một bài viết về một khúc quanh của lịch sử Việt Nam sau chiến tranh dưới đây.
Over the past two decades, Asian countries in the Pacific rim have developed at an accelerate space, so much so that the world has marveled at their transformation. According to official statistics, the economic growth rate of the most countries in this region exceeds the rest of the world by a large margin. The Socialist Republic of Vietnam (SRV) is the one of the few exceptions.
The Vietnamese people, as well as their political friends and economic neighbors, all share an interest in turning Vietnam in to a free, peaceful and prosperous country. But is there any chance for the country join the rest of the region on the road to development? The answer was yes, especially after the United States of America lifted its embargo against Vietnam in March 1994. However, the obstinate aptitude of the communist Party of Vietnam’s leaders and their limited reform policies since 1986 have been the main obstacles of the country’s modernization.
After a decade of observing the economic reform in Vietnam, the majority of the world economic experts and political analysts predict that their will be no economic modernization in Vietnam. Nor will the nation have prosperity without freedom and democracy. Although many of them admit that Vietnam, in the past ten years, had made a number steps in its movement from Socialist economy to Market economy. Experts argue that the issue is still fundamental unchanged since the Communist leaders are neither able to solve the pretty of the mass of Vietnamese people nor capable of assuring the future destiny of the country. The Communist leaders in Vietnam believe that their “economic renovation” is an ideal “socialist-oriented economy”, which brings modernization to the nation and prosperity to the people. On the contrary, many Vietnamese intellectuals in exile deny this argument. They accuse Hanoi-leaders of “trying to consolidate the devastated Communist regime in Vietnam while attempting to exploit its geopolitic position in Asia-Pacific and its human and natural resources for their own greed of wealth, prosperity and power. Their economic reforms set up a new class of Red-Capitalists in Vietnam.
In reality, the economic reforms in Vietnam are very complicate and comprehensive. It is not the purpose of this paper to discuss these controversial arguments, but the purpose is to assess Vietnam’s chances in joining the Asian economic matters for a viable economic reform and development.
I. Overview of the Vietnam Situation after the war-end in April 1975.
1.1. Economic reforms in Vietnam, an issue has two faces.
Before discussing economic reforms in Vietnam, recognition of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV), or the Worker Party, most critical principle is essential. It is a principle that governs all activities in the government, in the nation, and within the party itself. This principle is that all official statements and documents, such as political announcements, economic statistics, reports, books, press releases, news, comments, and even laws, have been formulated, regulated and circulated as propaganda for the interests of the CPV and its leaders alone. These statements and documents are not true but paradoxical. “Paradox” therefore is the standard and is applied throughout the regime’s hierarchy from highest to lowest levels as the communist principle. Any violations of this principle by any party’s echelons or lower grades are condemned of “anti-regime”. Consequently, paradox under Vietnamese Communist regime means to exaggerate, lie, or falsify official and unofficial information which is covered under demagogic words and numbers. “Paradox” practices are followed especially in political reports and economic statistics. The highest degree of CPV’s paradox can be defined as “ an issue has two faces, one is superficial and the other is hidden.”
It is hard to understand the true causes and effects of the economic reforms in Vietnam if we do not recognize the CPV’s paradox. Indeed, the party’ s paradox was visible during the Vietnam War and from 1979 period of Vietnamese occupation of Cambodia. Recently, the CPV published an official economic book written by Đặng Đức Đàm, a member of the Central Committee of the Party and an economist. This economic book is titled “Vietnam’s Economy 1986-1995”. This book has been considered by many international economic observers as an exaggerative political and economical document. However, the economic statistic of the book will be used in this essay to continue to assess Vietnam’s economic reform chances.
1.2. Vietnam during the period 1975-1985.
a. The Vietnam War and its Aftermath:
In 1975, the Hanoi-leaders and the CPV successfully violated the Paris Accords of 1973 by attacking and occupying of South Vietnam and unified the country; Vietnam came totally under he Communist regime itch political, economical, military ladministration structure not unlike that of the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). It seems that every one in the nation was working for the people. This regime created a mechanism that possibly submerge the country more deeply into the Pacific.
Reflecting back to the 1960’s, Vietnam was at the same level of economic development as that of Taiwan, Singapore, or South Korea. A war and three decades later, Vietnam has become one of poorest countries in the world, while Taiwan, Singapore and South Korea have become Giants in the Pacific Rim.
A series of critical issues have greatly influenced the economic destiny of Vietnam. The first issue is the backwardness of leadership. The evolution of Vietnam needs creative leadership, but the Vietnamese statement bury themselves in the ideology of “socialist revolution” of the past first decade of this century. It is difficult for the CPV leaders to recognize how this ideology has become, especially since the universal trend is moving toward economic integration and cooperation. Under the pressure of international events, Hanoi-leaders have gone from an extreme to another. Sometimes they adopted an attitude of self isolation and called it “independence”, boasting that they represent “the human supreme mind”. Sometimes they mobilized the whole nation to achieve “international duties”, copying the most minute details of the “Stalinist model” while regarding other countries as enemy. The backwardness of the leadership in Vietnam impeded the economic development in society and pushed the whole country towards a course of collapse.
The second issue is the extreme poverty of people. As a matter of fact, the war has devastated the whole country from the North to the South and from the cities to the rice fields. Several economic indicators such as partial starvation in the northern and central provinces, poor crops’ production, population increases, the high level of unemployment and underemployment, the high rate of inflation and deficits, chaotic distribution, and the low level of life expectancy. Among the basic issues facing Vietnam during the period 1975-1985, poverty was the most apparent and devastating.
The third issue is the deterioration of the resources and potentials. The national resources under the Vietnamese communist regime have severely misused to the point of wasting away the tremendous reservoir resources and resourceful people. first concern is the country’s youth. The youth generation is not ready to assume the role of the future generations upon which the the nation relies to rebuild. Statistics provided by an issue of the Nhan Dan Daily ((The People Daily of the CPV) in 1990 gave an alarming note on the disorientation and the lack of will of the Vietnamese youth. They have been victims of the educational, economic, and political systems in Vietnam creating a serious problem of limited future human resources. Second concern is natural resources. Natural resources have been exhaustively and disorderly exploited. This has created a tremendous threat on ecology and severely decreased the living conditions. The already limited resources ưere mostly wasted rather used. Theft of equipments and parts, and dilapidation of national assets were common practices. Last but not least, the national assets suffered great losses in important fields of cultural heritage and intellectual knowledge. This was the result of propaganda and one-way information. The Vietnamese intellectuals became more and more worn down such that the people seldom dare to think differently than that the official line on everything in life.
There are more issues, but the most important one which has retarded the Vietnamese people’s ability to rebuild their country was the ambitious outcomes of war by the CPV-leaders in Cambodia.
b. The Vietnamese Occupation of Cambodia and the Sino-Vietnamese War.
The period of 1976-1980 was presumed to a period that Hanoi-leaders would take the opportunity to rebuild their country and to improve the living standard of their people so that they would be rid of poverty and sufferings they had previously encountered. Unfortunately, under the Communist regime, everything is decided by the CPV and not the true, actual requirements of the people.
At the end of 1977, Hanoi-leaders committed an act which effectively erased all the trust of neighboring countries. The countries of ASEAN and around the world could not believe that Hanoi would decide to bring the country into war again by moving troops across the Cambodian borders and occupying Cambodia. The Vietnamese occupation of Cambodia r became the main cause of the war with the People’s Republic of China. On February 17, 1979 in order “to teach Vietnam a lesson” China launched 200,000 troops, 1,200 tanks through Vietnamese borders and attacked Vietnamese troops in their territories after Hanoi had strengthened its invasion forces to occupy Phnom Penh in January 15 (The Harper Encyclopedia of Military History, p. 1525).
Hanoi-leaders did nothing to solve their own problems within Vietnam by dragging them into war. On the contrary, it created even more internal and economic adversities for Vietnam. People were drafted in order to reinforce the occupation army in Cambodia and the armies in the north border. More budget had allocated for military and huge police army which was used to control segments of the population. Though aid was provided by the USSR and some Eastern poured aid European countries, unfortunately Vietnam had in exchange to relinquish some of its sovereignty. The CPV agreed to the USSR setting up the naval base and air base in Cam-Ranh Bay and Danang, in the interest of Soviet strategy.
After decades of continuous conflicts with millions of people engaged long term fighting and any budget fund mainly devoted to the war efforts, normalcy seemed to exclude the notion of peace. After 1975 any attempt to rebuild the country was abolished by the CPV’ s leaders themselves.
II. Economic Reforms in Vietnam from 1986-1999.
Vietnam’s economy was greatly damage by the reduction of Soviet’s economic support, withdrawn in the early 1980’s, especially under Gorbachov’s Administration from 1985 onward. For years, the leadership in Hanoi had pursued a pro-Soviet policy and had opposed China, both before and after the Sino- Vietnamese War in 1979. To reward such loyalty, the Soviet and its allies in Eastern Europe poured aid into Vietnam. This economic aid was estimated at about 1.5 billion dollars a year from the Soviet Unions alone. Unfortunately, when it was cut, Vietnam’s economy collapsed.
As known as for 21 years, American aid had played a major role in the economic well-being of the people of the South Vietnam and their modernization efforts. In 1975, this came to an abrupt end. Four years later, in the wake of Hanoi’s invasion of Cambodia and the resulting ineffective war, China cancelled nearly 100 aid projects to Vietnam. With this, Vietnam lost its last source of reconstruction assistance.
In addition, Vietnam’s foreign deb was overwhelming. According to Nguyễn văn Linh, the former Secretary General of the CPV, during a report broadcasted by Hanoi radio on November 8th, 1986, the total amount of Vietnam-Soviet debt come to 15 billion routes, which converted to 8.4 billion dollars. To overcome this extra debt to Russia would add an extra burden to the country which already was in arrears with many other countries of the world.
The economic stringencies faced by Hanoi government during the 1975-1985 period were massive. Insufficient budget for administration needs, excessive rinsing debts, cut off in financial aid by Soviet Unions, internal economic unrest, maintaining over 1,500,000 troops, all created more problems for Hanoi-leaders. The government was forced to export labor overseas to pay off foreign debts, to use the Cambodian conflicts as an economic exchange.
The economic policies in Vietnam were changed whether the CPV want it or not. It became a matter of survival in order to save the regime.
However, according to the official media of the regime, the “economic renovation” (Đổi Mới Kinh tế) was not changed, a reform of economy, nor a transition from Socialism to Market Economy. For years, Hanoi has denied the fact that the CPV leaders were forced to change their economic policies. Officially, they stated that the “revocation” was part of the inner reasons of the CPV’s ideology. In fact, in “Vietnam’s Economy 1985-1995”, Đặng Đức Đàm has written these forewords: “Economic Renovation in Vietnam started in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. Yet until 1986 it was basically carried out within the centralized planning mechanism, with policies designed to improve and readjust it, rather than replace it with the Market Mechanism.”
In reading the foreword of his economic book, one might have the impression that the economic reforms in Vietnam was truly a “national development of the Communist economy. In addition, it appears that “Economic Renovation” was a basic thinking of Socialism or Communism!.. As Đặng confirmed father in the book, “The basic content of the policy of promoting a multi-sector economy to a socialist-oriented, multi-sector one in which the state plays a leading role.” (P.20, Vietnam’s Economy 1986-1995, Thế Giới Publishers, Hanoi 1995, Đặng Đức Đàm). This explanation of Đặng was a big lie or a propaganda catchphrase. Đặng is really a true communist leader, like others, who always labeled the CPV as the “Creator”.
2.2. Reforms’ Processes during the Period 1986-1990.
In 1986, the Sixth Convention of the CPV chose Nguyễn văn Linh as Secretary General of the Party. The “economic renovation” started immediately based on the Sixth Convention Congress Decision of the following key tenets: “The policy regarding a multi-sector economy is of long term strategy significance; it bears the character of a law governing the passage from small production to a large-scale socialist production, it reflects a democratic spirit in economics, it ensures for everybody the possibility of earning his or her live hood in keeping with the law (Đặng Đức Đam 1995, pp 19-20).
In reality, the partial economic liberalization of Vietnam was in response to the rapid deterioration of the economic situation and the pressure of the Soviet Unions. Three main programs were launched to: increase food production, increase production of consumer goods, and increase exports.
To implement these economic programs the following economic measures were introduced:
a. In Agriculture: the gradual dissolution of the collective farms with the land and agricultural implements being returned to the farmers who will hold the land under long term lease (up to 15 years); replacement of the rice quota and the force sale of rice to government agencies by a system of agricultural tax which farmers can pay either in kind or in cash; and allowing private traders to buy rice and other agricultural products.
b. In Industry and Services: opening up almost all sectors previously reserved to public enterprises to private activities and lowering the level of state support to public enterprises together with abolishing price controls and the systems of dual prices. Weakening the central system of economic planning with the individual government enterprises now being responsible for both their supplies and sale. Individual enterprises however are required to contribute to the budget an amount commensurate with their activities.
c. In Finance: establishing of a two-echelon banking system which regulates the national finances in accordance with the practice of the market economy, increasing the interest on deposit; and allowing a system of private credit cooperative to attract saving.
d. In Foreign Investment: passing a law for foreign investment opening up the country for foreign investors. (Đăng, 1995, pp. 38-48).
By mid 1989, these steps and measures of good timing succeeded in halting inflation, which stood at 4% a month, and turned around in agricultural production. However, as the end of 1990, the situation rapidly deteriorated when President Gorbachov of Russia announced his “Unilateral Convention Force Reduction” and withdrew Russian navy force from Cam-Ranh Bay, and decreased 80% of Russia’s aid to VietNam. There were serious reductions or delay in the supply of refined oil products and fertilizers. Without fertilizer and fuel the rhythmic activities of agricultural production could not be maintained.
Meanwhile, a financial scandal developed due to the lack of regulation and control. The need to keep inflation at a manageable dimension by cutting down the budget deficit had forced the Vietnamese government to cancel many vital projects needed to increase the control’s productive capacity.
As for Western investment, according to the Vietnam official figures, a total of 105 permits had been issued to foreign companies wishing to invest some 852 million dollars with about half of the fund to be in the field of oil exploitation. In announcing the above, the Nhân Dân Daily, March 12, 1990 also said none of these projects “serves the food production and infrastructure construction beside telecommunications. Moreover, 75% of these projects are located in the Southern provinces.” Whatever, the explanation might be, nobody knew for sure how many projects had been approved by the CPV’s Politburo and how many projects had been implement during the first five-year plan 1986-1990.
In trying to attract foreign investment, Hanoi has made a particular effort to invite international banks to set shop in Vietnam. Banking officials from France, The United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, Indonesia are known to have visited Hanoi and Saigon (then changed the name into Ho Ci Minh City) in 1989, but nothing has come out of these visits until the United States lifted its trade embargo against Vietnam in the third month of 1994. Most of impediment can, therefore, be traced to the CPV’s own ineptitude. Even at the best times, CPV’ s leaders did not seem to know how to achieve it. They have continuously baulked at the myriads of problems that come with any project. They have continuously demonstrated unresolved doubts about what to do, which resulted in delays that no investors could tolerate.
As a matter of fact, the first five-year plan of the CPV’s “socialist-oriented economy” has failed. Besides, there were even more factors that impeded the economic reforms in Vietnam during the period 1986-1990.
III. Effects and Weaknesses
Many analysts have observed that the main factors that have impeded the “economic renovation” in Vietnam during the period 1986-1990 were: political uncertainties, the lack of environment for business, bureaucratic difficulties, the finance systems. And the poorness of the infrastructure especially transport, communications, and power generation (Lê Mạnh Hùng, Vietnam Perspective, International Conference 1990, Honolulu, Hawaii).
3.1. In Political Domain: The Cambodian conflict had brought Vietnam downhill even more. The hope of developing the country by inviting investment had not been successful even though Vietnam has a lot of valuable resources. Unfortunately, the investors have been no confidence in Vietnam future since there were many obstacles such as political incertitude of Hanoi leadership, bureaucratized cadres, and troublesome corruption of government’s officials of all levels.
3.2. In Economic Domain: The Sixth CPV’s Politburo Resolution has drafted to read: “the strategy of the renovation is to concentrate on rural areas, territorial waters, and mountainous and hilly areas; to pay great attention to rural industries; to build up a new countryside...” (Đặng, 1995, p.14). In contrary, the application of the economic reforms had shown a different direction; it concentrated on the reconstruction and the development of urban areas.The reconstruction in rural areas was neglected. As a result, Đặng described the situation as “in 1986 and 1987, agricultural production again showed signs of decline, with danger of possible recurrent stagnation. During the lean months of 1988, 9.3 million people in 21 provinces didn’t have enough food. And in many other places, the peasants were no longer attached to the land” (Đặng, p. 55). In reality, it was the time of starvation. In Thanh Hoa Province alone (South part of North Vietnam) tens of thousands of villagers became beggars causing the proud Socialist Republic of Vietnam regime to call for international food assistance. However, the various donors of the time were not convinced that their aid would really reaching the hands of Vietnamese people.
In industry, Đặng elaborated on the period of 1986-1990 by simply saying: “for Vietnamese industry, the period of low growth, that is 1990 and the years preceding it.” (p. 85). Đặng’s figures reveal total private enterprises to be 920 in 1985 with a large drop to 770 in 1990 (p.180). In five years, the private enterprises decreased by 150 units, or 17%, essentially revealed the failure of the “economic renovation”. Especially, the number of private enterprises in food production and food stuff had gravely decreased from 320 to 223 units, 36%, and from 246 to 130 units, 46%, respectively. However, the private enterprises in material construction had augmented from 64 to 131 units, or 51%. The CPV’s leaders ignored the consummation of food of the Vietnamese mass but took care of the living condition of their party’s cadres. These figures gives us a more example of the CPV’ s paradox.
The fact is, during this period of time, about fifty percent of “State Enterprises” have been transformed into “Private Enterprises” with full CPV’ s cadres control covered under the paradoxical name “private owners” (in the ensuing five-year plan the percentage have gradually increased). This means, with some CPV’ s resolutions and and government’ s degrees issued, Hanoi leaders have officially plunged the national assets without guilt and shameless. These private owners --all were family members or relatives of CPV’ leaders from the Central Committee to the Politburo-- have received more funds subsidized from National Bank than other State enterprises. They have full liberty to manage their “new businesses” without any control of the Party except for the secret promise of sharing the benefits reasonably between themselves. This economical paradox should be recognized to comprehend how the “socialist oriented economy”, or the “economic renovation” in Vietnam, during its course of implement, has led the Communist leaders and cadres to become “Red Capitalists”...
The failure of the “economic renovation” during the period 1986-1990 was even more apparent by trade deficits as follows: in 1986, deficit of 627 million US dollars; in 1987, 524 million; and in 1988, 625 million (Lê Mạnh Hùng, International Convention ơn December 6 & 7, 1990 in Honolulu, Hawaii). The national debts increased gravely but the CPV ‘s leaders and cadres were more richer and richer year after year.
IV. Progresses of the Economic Reforms, Period 1991-1995.
In 1991, real changes started when the Communist Party’s Seventh Convention has replaced Nguyễn văn Linh by Đỗ Mười as Secretary General of the Party and assigned Võ văn Kiệt as Prime Minister of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam’s Government. These decisions were viewed as a big step for the economic reforms. Võ văn Kiệt was a Southern-born intellectual and became the real salvation of the CPV, it’s regime and its economic renovation which was in critical situation in 1990. Kiệt was a liberal power that helped to open the door to the new concept of diplomacy and economy from the region and the world. But the most important factors that assisted in the growth of the Vietnamese economy included:
4.1. Vietnam, under the pressure of the United Nations, withdrew its troops from Cambodia in 1990-1991
4.2. The United States lifted its trade embargo against Vietnam in early March 1994.
4.3. World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) began to help Vietnam to rebuild its national economy. While, the political and economic tumble of the Communism in Europe and the collapse of the USSR left Vietnam without financial friends and allies, therefore, the CPV was obliged to open to the capitalist world, at least in the economic matter.
In reality, it is significant that the reaction projected by Hanoi-leaders to the changes occurring in the Western European countries was not one of being particularly overjoyed.
On the contrary, they were quite worried that the events in these countries might set an example, causing similar changes in Vietnam as well. This was a clear sign that the Hanoi-leaders clung to the Socialist Communism doctrine rather than welcome any changes, except economic change. International analysts labeled this Vietnam phenomenon as a “lame horse” or “half-way reform”. Some economic reforms might temporarily help the regime but will not grant the long term prosperity for the Vietnamese people.
So far, the economic reforms have had limited results. At the end 1995, the country counted more than 25, 000 undertakings had been started including: state enterprises, joint-stock companies, limited liability companies, and private enterprises. The most visible progresses were observed four areas: agriculture, industry, services, and investments.
In general, over recent years, under the Võ văn Kiệt Administration, industrial production in Vietnam had achieved fairly growth rates which were relatively similar in most branches. in 1994, total output value increased 14% compared with previous years. State-owned enterprises continued to hold a leading position in high-tech/capital-intensive industries. However, non-state enterprises had been increased from 770 units in 1990 to 4,212 in 1993 and to 18, 697 in 1994. More than 50% of these enterprises had an average of fixed assets of more than 500 million đồng (Vietnamese basic-currency), which was about 1 million US dollars at the time and an average of floating capital of more than 260 million đồng. About 100 units had a fixed assets from 1 to 2 billion đồng. Their activities were mainly concentrated in commerce and industry. “Some of them are former state enterprises endowed with material and technological installations, good management and qualified employees,” said Đặng (pp.24-25).
4.4. Foreign investment and Trades: To meet the demand of capital for economic development, Võ văn Kiệt Administration had encouraged foreign direct investment (FDI) and direct investment through development credit. In general, funds and capitals were coming from foreign investment and loans from the community of international financial organizations such as World Bank, IMF, and Bank of Asia. the evolution towards an open economy in Vietnam was becoming more and more in evidence since international trades had been emerged since 1994.
a. Foreign investment: Since the execution of new law, foreign investments and joint venture increased considerably. In 1994, investment licenses totaled to nearly 4 billion US dollars, a 50% rise above 1993, that created new jobs for 650 thousand people, and hidden jobs for another 100 thousand. Also in 1994 there were 214 projects investing in the fields on industry, such as oil and gas and material construction with an annual of 44% increase, 36 projects investing in tourism and hotels reached 25% of the total capital invested. Taiwan was the leading investing country with more than 180 projects and nearly 2 billion US dollars invested; Hong Kong was second with 170 projects with a total of 1.7 billion US dollars; followed by Singapore, South Korea, and Japan.
Since the lifting of US trade embargo against Vietnam (March 1994), relations between Vietnam and economic organizations of the United States and the European countries moved ahead. American companies total investment increased up to 2.7 billion US dollars. The investment level of Western and Northern European countries has grown considerably (Đặng, pp.46-48).
b. Improvement of International Trades: Basically, the activities of external economy in the recent past were realized in accordance with the Prime Minister Võ văn Kiệt and his administration’s team economic-plan, which based on the “open market”, instead of the CPV Politburo’s policy. Generally, Vietnam external economy has taken remarkable steps in development of space, depth, and expansion. Specialized exports imports enterprises whether private or State-owned have the equal right of direct export of their products to foreign markets, and to import raw materials and machines for their businesses. Therefore, imports and exports really created advantages for businesses and truly stimulated exports.
In summary, at the end of the second five-year plan of 1991-1995, Vietnam began achieve stabilization and growth. Conditions have been formulated for a brighter economy in the future. However, history of economic development in Vietnam under the socialist regime has proved otherwise...
The transition from Socialism to Market Economy in Vietnam under Võ văn Kiệt Administration has made great progresses to help the economic development of the country and perhaps it has promised better better living conditions for the people. However, many politicians in the world have observed that the recent upheaval in Eastern Europe hardened the Hanoi’s dogmatism. Therefore, in their economic openness they did not hide the desire to have “capitalist money” poured in to revamp their “socialist regime”. But when Võ văn Kiệt and his administration’s team succeeded in allowing an “open market” to exist, political-struggle within the Vietnamese Communist Regime surfaced.
Conflicts have spread among top leaders of the CPV, especially between conservatives (pro-China, such as Lê Đức Anh, State President; Đỗ Mười, CPV’s Secretary General) and liberal (pro-Western capitalist countries, such as Võ văn Kiệt, Prime Minister; Phan văn Khải, First Vice Prime Minister). Conflicts also spread widely among top communist cadres like those between the North and the South and/or between young liberal technocrats, professional experts and conservative old leaders from all levels. The Herald International Tribune on July 3rd, 1996 summarized the situation as “the conflicts of power in Vietnam is not the split between conservatives and liberals among the CPV ‘s leaders on economic reforms, but on the split of power between the Politburo of the Party and the Government Administration.” Indeed, when Võ văn Kiệt seized the Administration power, the Politburo could not control the activities of Kiệt’s cabinet members. That became a contradiction of the communist dictatorial system of governance.
The resulting conflicts squared off the Party-seized powers and Administration-seized powers and a dozen of top leaders of both sides were elimination or killed before the Party’s VIII Convention. Finally, during that Convention held in early June 1996, three important decisions had been issued. In view of which there were three consequences as in the followings:
5.1. The aging leadership in Hanoi still held their positions (Lê Đức Anh, Đỗ Mười and Võ văn Kiệt). It means the power-conflict would continue.
5.2. A new “Political Permanent Committee” of the CPV composed of five top leaders will decide all the nation’s activities including the national economic reforms. These five members were Đỗ Mười, Lê Đức Anh, Võ văn Kiệt, and two new facesGeneral Lê Khả Phiêu -President of the CPV’s Military Committee- and Nguyễn Tấn Dũng -Vice Minister of Interior. Among them, three were conservatives with Kiệt and Dung as liberals from the South. It means that the Government Administrative branch cannot carry out its dogmatic function with such power as in the preceding years. As a result, the total power will be returned to the Party.
5.3. A “political committee” of employees will be reorganized in any size enterprises. In any fields, including foreign investment and joint venture’s enterprises. It means the CPV will attempt to regain its power of the national business in the near future (Ngày Nay Vietnamese Journal, July 16th 1996).
These decisions would restrict and greatly impede the development of the economic reforms again by deterring any other foreign investors in Vietnam. Therefore, nobody knows the future of Vietnam, politically and economically.
In a like manner, international observers have recognized that, after ten years of economic reforms, Vietnam has “produced” more than twenty of new “red capitalists”, each owned from 1. to 1.5 billion US dollars and about 2,000 other new capitalists, each possessed from 80 to 100 million UD dollars. Their property and assets have been distributed in Vietnam, Asia, and Europe with funds deposited in international banks. They used their privileged Communist Party and administration’s positions to enrich themselves and drain national resources by doing legal business under covered of the “private enterprises”, by engaging in the black markets, through corruption and peculation. In the cities, relatives of those in top party cadres have used their influence for private gain. In rural areas collective farms were dismantled and local officials became the-backbone of the new “rural bourgeoisies (Hawaii news, Vietnamese bimonthly, Dec.15, 1996; p.33).
So “the savage capitalism that operates under the cloak of a socialist market economy is ushering in more intensive form of explosion, greater alienation, enormous gaps between rich and poor, and growing economic and social differences between town and countryside,” said Maurice Meisner, professor of history at University of Wisconsin (Business Week, January 13, 1997; p.18).
Moreover, the deteriorating relationship between the people and its government will eliminate the notion of State and Nation. The bond and trust necessary for the normal societal functioning have evaporated. Consequently, the sense of community once characterizing Vietnamese society has faded away, replaced by selfish interests and short-sighted economic decisions. This mentality will have a long lasting effect on the grassroots people of Vietnam and hinder any revival economic efforts.
Some have argued that economic modernization will likely lead to political democracy, but others do not believe so, for there is no economic modernization without freedom and democracy. For this reason, the prerequisite conditions for any amelioration of the situation in Vietnam are basic changes in politics. First of all, there must be an end to the communist monopoly. Political democracy must be restored as right of everyone.
Once the dictatorship, proletarian or whatsoever, is abolished the new political spirit will allow true national reconciliation. Accordingly, the change must involve the abolition of all systems of forced hatred and division that split the nation of Vietnam for more than half of century.
The combination of a communist bureaucracy and capitalist economics in Vietnam today, has created massive social and economic upheaval. The fear of the current leadership in Vietnam, especially after the VIII Party’s Convention, will reverse any further economic development of Vietnam, placing the whole country on a potential course of collapse and destruction with no chances of joining the Asian region in viable economic reform and development.
1. Joyce Barnathan: “Has Red Capitalists wrecked China”.
Business Week, Jan. 13, 1997, p. 18
2. Đặng Đức Đàm: “Vietnam Economy 1986-1995”; Thế Giới Publishers, Hanoi 1995;
ASIA, HC-444; D33; 1995.
3. Hoàng Lan........: “New Capitalists in Vietnam”, Hawaii New -bimonthly, Dec. 15, 1996, P.33.
4. Lê Mạnh Hùng...:”Vietnam Perspectives”; International Conference, Honolulu, HI; Dec. 6 & 7, 1990.
5. Phạm Trần...: “The VIII Convention of the Communist Party of Vietnam”, Ngày Nay, Vietnamese Newspaper, July 16, 1996, pp. 1, 2 and 4.
6. Hawaii News Vietnamese bimonthly, April 15, 1996, pp.31-32.
Xin đón xem Bài 2: “CHINA IN THE POST COLD WAR”.
(China’s modernization under Deng Xiaoping era)
Bao Nhiêu Thắc Mắc Cho Vừa Về Thảm Trạng Đất Nước Hôm Nay?
Trích: “Cô Giáo Trần Thị Lam: thắc mắc biết hỏi ai?”
Sinh ra trong thời bình, đã từng tự hào vể màu cờ sắc áo, đã từng yêu đảng, yêu bác. Nhưng càng trưởng thành, tôi càng đặt ra cho mình nhiều câu hỏi thắc mắc biết hỏi ai?
Và cô giáo đặt ra 13 câu hỏi:
1-Việt Nam có 9.000 giáo sư, 24.000 tiến sĩ nhưng không có bất kỳ bằng sáng chế nào. Vậy số giáo sư, tiến sĩ đó, họ làm gì?
2-Giáo dục Việt Nam cải cách không ngừng, vậy tại sao 63% sinh viên thất nghiệp khi ra trường có việc làm?
3-Báo chí ca ngợi người Việt Nam thân thiện hiếu khách, vậy tại sao đa số du khách nước ngoài tuyên bố sẽ không quay trở lại Việt Nam lần thứ 2?
4-Đảng cộng sản Việt Nam thừa nhận rằng chưa có nhận thức rõ, cụ thể và đầy đủ về thế nào là “Nền kinh tế thị trường định hướng xã hội chủ nghĩa”, vậy rốt cuộc ai nghĩ ra mô hình này?
5-Nhiệm vụ của báo chí truyền thông là nói lên sự thật hay là nói lên những điều có lợi cho đảng?
6-Nhà nước nhận lương từ tiền thuế của dân để làm việc phục vụ nhân dân hay để cai trị nhân dân?
7-Công an là lực lượng được thành lập để bảo vệ dân hay bảo vệ chế độ?
8-Khẩu hiệu của quân đội là “trung với đảng”, vậy sao khi hy sinh lại ghi trên bia mộ là “tổ quốc ghi công” chứ không phải “đảng ghi công”?
9-Tại sao có “huân chương kháng chiến chống Pháp, chống Mỹ” mà lại không có “huân chương kháng chiến chống Tầu”?
10-Đảng cử thì đảng bầu, tại sao đảng cử lại bắt dân bầu?
11-Chủ nghĩa xã hội là chế độ ưu việt, vậy tại sao nó sụp đổ tại Nga, nơi nó được sinh ra và tại sao chỉ còn vài quốc gia theo mô hình này?
12-Tư tưởng Mác-Lenin là tư tưởng khai sáng nhân loại, vậy tại sao tượng Lenin bị phá sập tại Nga và các nước đông Âu trong tiếng hò reo của nhân dân?
13-Hồ Chí Minh từng nói: “Không, tôi chẳng có tư tưởng gì ngoài tư tưởng chủ nghĩa Mác-Lê”. Vậy giáo trình tư tưởng Hồ Chí Minh ở đâu ra?
Văn Nguyên Dưỡng