76-year-old Nguyen Phu Trong was appointed as the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam for the third time, and he responded to a reporter’s question that “there is no limit to the fight against corruption”

76-year-old Nguyen Phu Trong became General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam for the third time
Text/Cao Ran

On February 1, the week-long 13th National Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam closed, and the new leadership of the Communist Party of Vietnam collectively appeared for the first time. Nguyen Phu Trong, the 76-year-old general secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam, is the only person with gray hair.

The day before, the 13th Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam, elected by the 13th National Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam, held its first plenary meeting and elected the current General Secretary and President of Vietnam Nguyen Phu Trong as the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam. This is the third time Nguyen Phu Trong has assumed the highest position of the Viet Cong after his re-election in 2016. According to the term of office, Nguyen Phu Trong will serve until 2026, becoming the highest leader in Vietnam for the longest time since the 1980s.

Nguyen Phu Trong did not shy away from the issue of his age at the closing press conference of the 13th National Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam. He emphasized that despite his high age, he will do his best to do things and deserve the trust of the Congress.

The youngest “Hanoi No. 1”

According to the election rules of the Communist Party of Vietnam, the age limit for leaders to hold office is 65. Five years ago, at the 12th National Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam, Nguyen Phu Trong and the then No. 2 figure of the Viet Cong and Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung both exceeded the limit, and Nguyen Phu Trong was granted an “exemption.”

The General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam, the Prime Minister, the President of the State and the Chairman of the National Assembly are known as the “Big Four” in Vietnam’s political arena and share the highest power. After Nguyen Tan Dung retired to the second line due to age restrictions in 2016, Nguyen Phu Trong was re-elected as General Secretary, Nguyen Tan Dung’s long-term economic assistant and Executive Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc was promoted to Prime Minister, Minister of Public Security Chen Daguang was promoted to the chairman of the country, and Nguyen Thi Kim Yin, vice chairman of the National Assembly, was promoted. The qualifications of the latter three cannot be compared with Nguyen Phu Trong.

Nguyen Phu Trong, who graduated from the Philosophy Department of Hanoi National University, worked in the propaganda and theoretical front of the Communist Party of Vietnam for 30 years and was promoted to the editor-in-chief of the central agency publication “Communist” and the chairman of the Central Theoretical Committee. From 2000 to 2006, he served as secretary of the Hanoi Municipal Party Committee and continued to serve as the chairman of the Central Theoretical Committee.

According to information from the Vietnamese official media, the city party secretaries of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City generally serve concurrently as members of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of Vietnam Central Committee, and “go further” before they retire. Nguyen Phu Trong was only 56 years old when he became the secretary of the Municipal Party Committee. He was the youngest “Hanoi No. 1” in this century.

Since the 1980s, the secretary of the Hanoi Municipal Party Committee has been a leading cadre from the economic front, with Nguyen Phu Trong being the only exception. However, Le Xuan Tung, the former secretary of the Hanoi Municipal Party Committee of Nguyen Phu Trong, is one of the most important economic theorists of Vietnam’s reform and opening up, and is also a long-term colleague and leader of Nguyen Phu Trong.

From 1986 to 1996, the then Central Committee Member Lei Xuan Dong led a group in the Central Theoretical Committee to study and organize the economic theory of socialism with Vietnamese characteristics; during this period, Nguyen Phu Trong was promoted from the senior editor of the “Communist” magazine to the chief editor. Before Le Xuan Dong became the secretary of the Hanoi Municipal Party Committee, he briefly served as the deputy secretary of the Hanoi Municipal Party Committee in charge of cultural and educational work as a central cadre, and it was Nguyen Phu Trong who succeeded him.

When the highest level in Vietnam determined the theoretical framework for reform and opening up, it coincided with the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the drastic changes in Eastern Europe. Nguyen Phu Trong’s old subordinate and deputy editor-in-chief of the “Communist” magazine, Le Nhi, later recalled in an interview with the official media that there was a “de-communization” voice within the Communist Party of Vietnam and advocated changing the name of the “Communist” magazine to “Learning”. , But Nguyen Phu Trong firmly opposed, saying that “the cause of the party must be believed and go to the end.”

As secretary of the Hanoi Municipal Party Committee, Nguyen Phu Trong focused on fighting corruption and reforming state-owned enterprises, especially the reform method of streamlining and merging state-owned enterprises and controlling pricing power has continued to this day. At this time, Vietnam is recovering from the 1998 Asian financial crisis, and Hanoi under Nguyen Phu Trong has also caught up with a short period of “prosperity.”

However, it was not until 2006 that Vietnam joined the WTO and enacted the “Investment Law”. At that time, Hanoi’s breakthrough in economic opening was limited. However, the 14th APEC Leaders’ Informal Meeting was held in Hanoi, which drove the city’s tourism revenue growth by 26.8%, allowing Hanoi, which originally had less than 5,000 travel agencies, to add more than 7,000 tourism companies within a year.

That year, Nguyen Phu Trong was promoted to the chairman of the National Assembly from the secretary of the Hanoi Municipal Party Committee and the chairman of the Central Theoretical Committee. At this time, ten years later, the other three state-level leaders Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Chen Daguang and Nguyen Thi Kim Yin had just entered the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam.

76-year-old Nguyen Phu Trong was appointed as the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam for the third time, and he responded to a reporter’s question that “there is no limit to the fight against corruption”
In October 2020, Nguyen Phu Trong will meet with visiting Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga in Hanoi

Anti-corruption “unlimited”

“Who doesn’t like money?” On February 1, at the closing press conference of the 13th National Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam, Nguyen Phu Trong replied in response to a reporter’s question about anti-corruption work during the new term. Then the conversation changed: “But honor is the most important thing. Noble things, because no one can take money away after death.”

He also pointed out that anti-corruption “is a big problem in any country and in any period.” Although the high-level anti-corruption storm of the Viet Cong has recovered millions of dollars in national property in the past seven years, in his new term, “There is no limit to the anti-corruption struggle, and it will not stop no matter who is involved.”

Within the Communist Party of Vietnam, Nguyen Phu Trong has a reputation for hard work and simplicity. According to “Vietnam Express” (VnExpress) reports, some congressmen recalled that after assuming the presidency of the National Assembly, Nguyen Phu Trong’s son got married and did not hold a large-scale banquet, and only sent out informative invitations after the wedding.

In 2013, Nguyen Phu Trong established the Central Anti-Corruption Steering Committee covering party, government and military agencies two years after serving as the general secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam, and he has personally served as the director until now. Since then, he started with the corruption case of a Vietnamese oil and gas company and personally led the investigation.

In 2016, Trịnh Xuân Thanh (Trịnh Xuân Thanh), a former executive of a Vietnamese oil and gas company and deputy governor of Hou Giang province, fled the country. The following year, Zheng Chunqing disappeared while seeking asylum in Germany. Later, he appeared on Vietnamese national television, saying that he had surrendered to the Vietnamese government and was sentenced to life imprisonment. The German government accused the Vietnamese government of kidnapping in Berlin and expelled many Vietnamese diplomats, causing international incidents.

In 2017, Ding Luosheng, a member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam and secretary of the Ho Chi Minh City Party Committee, was removed from office for corruption when he served as chairman of the Vietnam Oil and Gas Group. He was later sentenced to 13 years in prison and became the highest-ranking official who fell from the horse since the unification of Vietnam.

On the eve of the 13th National Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam in 2021, Nguyen Van Binh, the former governor of the Central Bank of Vietnam, who entered the Politburo at the same time as Ding Luosheng, was punished by the Central Supervisory Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam for dereliction of duty and missed the new Politburo. So far, of the three economic leaders who entered the Politburo five years ago, only Wang Tinghui, secretary of the Hanoi Municipal Party Committee, will remain in the new Politburo.

Although Nguyen Phu Trong has always advocated “declaring war on corruption,” according to the Provincial Governance and Public Management Performance Index (PAPI) released by the Vietnamese government every year, by the time of his second term, 54% of Vietnamese citizens surveyed believed that they must pay bribes to obtain the government. Work, an increase of 8% from when he first became the top leader.

On February 1, Nguyen Phu Trong quoted Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam’s founding leader, at a press conference: “Cut off a branch full of bugs and save the whole tree”. He said that corruption is a “disease of the powerful,” and the fight against corruption in Vietnam is still complicated and challenging.

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