Vietnam: Three reasons that make Pham Minh Chinh becoming Prime Minister “surprise” 

Vietnam’s New Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh (right) presents flowers to his predecessor Nguyen Xuan Phuc during a meeting of the National Assembly on April 5, 2021, in Hanoi.

Vietnamese political observers continue to be concerned about who has just become Vietnam’s new government leader, and challenges await the new cabinet.

On Tuesday, April 6, 2021, from Singapore, political researcher Le Hong Hiep told the BBC that Pham Minh Chinh’s becoming Prime Minister surprised observers and there were three reasons:

As many people have expressed their opinion, most of them are surprised at the selection of Mr. Pham Minh Chinh as the new Prime Minister of Vietnam in this term.

The main reason is that Mr. Chinh, before becoming Prime Minister, was head of the Party Central Organizing Commission, a position that is not usually promoted to the position of Prime Minister.

Normally, the position of Prime Minister in Vietnam was chosen among the Deputy Prime Ministers of the previous term, especially from the person in charge of the economic sector.

Therefore, the selection of Mr. Pham Minh Chinh was surprising and, secondly, Mr. Chinh had no experience in economic management at the national level.

Before that, he had only had management experience at the local level in Quang Ninh province, although his tenure in this province was considered a success, creating momentum for Quang Ninh to develop rapidly.

However, the management experience at the local level is very different from the management experience at the national level.

Third, there are also many people who believe that Mr. Pham Minh Chinh has a security background, so he may not be suitable for the position of Prime Minister.

For these reasons, many people have no expectation that Mr. Chinh will become Prime Minister, so this decision is surprising.”

According to Ph.D. Le Hong Hiep, the fact that Mr. Pham Minh Chinh was chosen to become the new head of the Cabinet of the Government of Vietnam, however, has some reasons, he said:

The possible settlement this time stems from high-level agreements within the leadership of the Communist Party of Vietnam when there is no more viable option.

And while it may come as a surprise, we also have to wait and see if this is the right choice.

For example, Mr. Chinh’s achievements in Quang Ninh province can be a driving force to help Mr. Chinh perform well in the role of Prime Minister in managing the national economy.

Mr. Chinh himself is considered a reform-minded person. During his time as a leader in Quang Ninh province, he has supervised the renovation of the local economy and then conducted a number of reforms in the state management machine, which merges party and government titles at the local level, for example.

And he is also known to know how to use professional consulting units to implement the plan methodically for the locality in this province.

Thus, if Mr. Chinh continues to maintain such a professional approach at the national level in the implementation of economic strategies, I hope that he can bring about positive results. for Vietnam’s socio-economic development over the next few years at least.”

According to Mr. Le Hong Hiep, in this new term, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh and his new cabinet will have to deal with a number of key challenges and challenges:

First of all, internally, I think the most important thing is how to maintain the momentum of economic development, and moreover create a breakthrough to help Vietnam’s economy develop rapidly in the coming time. For example, by 2025, the target is to achieve a GDP per capita of $5,000 by 2025 and look beyond, to become a middle-income country by 2030.

To do this, Vietnam needs to have institutional breakthroughs, in terms of more sustainable and creative economic development and how to overcome the middle-income trap.

In order to move towards the above goals, especially the further goal is that by 2045 to become a high-income country, Vietnam will have to develop rapidly and sustainably in the next 5 to 10 years, therefore, the upcoming governance of Mr. Pham Minh Chinh will be very important to the future and become an important development momentum for Vietnam.

As for foreign affairs, of course, the biggest challenge is maintaining peace and stability and creating a favorable development environment for Vietnam in the coming time.

And in that context, how to manage challenges in the South China Sea (Vietnam calls it the East Sea), protect Vietnam’s sovereignty in the South China Sea as well as maintain peace for economic development will be a big challenge for him.

In addition, how to manage the relations of Vietnam is also very important, because strategic competition between the US and China is increasing and becoming a fundamental challenge of Mr. Chinh and the new cabinet in foreign affairs in the coming time.”

The South China Sea and Covid-19?

Regarding the issue of sea and islands and the recovery of Vietnam’s economy after the Covid-19 pandemic, Ph.D. Le Hong Hiep added:

I see that the Whitsun Reef event in the South China Sea recently took place in the context that Vietnam is undergoing leadership changes, so this is why Vietnam has not taken any action or response more drastically.

However, this is understandable, because, over the past few years, Vietnam has tended to keep its response to an appropriate level, unless China’s actions exceed a certain limit, otherwise, Vietnam will try to restrain it.

I think the recent Vietnamese response to the Whitsun Reef event to China’s regional moves echoed the same response configuration.

As a result, when the Chinese ships are now dispersed, it can be considered that the tension has been relieved and that Vietnam does not necessarily have to take any tougher action.

However, in the coming time, if China’s actions recur and there are escalating steps in the field, then perhaps Vietnam will have to consider more aggressive actions.

As for domestic affairs, in the immediate future, the great challenge for the new government of Mr. Pham Minh Chinh from managing the economy, especially dealing with the Covid-19 epidemic will be how to maintain early recovery of economic growth and reopen the economy.

Because as far as I understand, economic performance is a very important factor in assessing the performance of the new government as well as the personal performance of the new Prime Minister.

Therefore, I believe that Mr. Pham Minh Chinh will take decisive actions in the coming time to be able to revive the economy from the current bottom soon, in order to help the Vietnamese economy overcome the challenges of Covid-19 pandemics.”

Ph.D. Le Hong Hiep is a senior researcher at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (Iseas – Yusof Ishak) of Singapore, he has conducted many studies on politics, security, and international relations of Vietnam and the region. (Translated)


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