2016年1月21日 星期四

越共選舉新領導人Vietnam Faces Last-Minute Maneuvering for Communist Party Leadership

Vietnam Faces Last-Minute Maneuvering for Communist Party Leadership

HANOI, Vietnam — Soon after becoming the American ambassador toVietnam in 2007, Michael W. Michalak approached Nguyen Tan Dung, the country’s new prime minister, at a gala dinner and mentioned that human rights were among the American government’s highest priorities inVietnam.
“You could see his face just freeze,” Mr. Michalak, now the senior vice president of the U.S.-Asean Business Council, recalled with a chuckle. Mr. Michalak quickly told Mr. Dung that he wanted to toast his health and make a friendly suggestion: The caterers should serve American beef at the next such diplomatic event.

“He just cracked up, and we started drinking vodka,” Mr. Michalak said. “And ever since then, at every one of these dinners, he always would make sure to have a shot of vodka with me.”
On Wednesday, Vietnam’s ruling Communist Party is to convene its national congress, which meets every five years to select the country’s top leaders. And Mr. Dung, a charismatic prime minister who favors closer ties with the United States, is battling to succeed Nguyen Phu Trong, a conservative apparatchik looking to stay on in the party’s top job of general secretary, according to several analysts, diplomats and business leaders.
The outcome of these congresses is usually settled months in advance, but a protracted spat between factions loyal to Mr. Dung and Mr. Trong has resulted in last-minute maneuvering. Whoever comes out on top could determine the future of Vietnam’s carefully calibrated strategic balance between China, its ideological ally and main trading partner, and the United States, which the party elite increasingly considers an important counterweight against growing Chinese influence in the region.
Mr. Dung, who is finishing his second term as prime minister, won praise among Vietnamese for denouncing China’s decision to move an oil rig into disputed waters near Vietnam’s coast in May 2014, and he is considered a champion of market-oriented policies who has developed warm personal relationships with top American officials.
By contrast, Mr. Trong, the party’s general secretary since 2011, appeared reluctant to criticize China in the oil rig dispute, and he is seen as a more forceful proponent of the state’s role in the economy and defender of the party’s monopoly on power. But he also steered Vietnam into the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an American-led trade agreement among a dozen Pacific Rim nations that excludes China.
“If the conservative faction emerges the winner at this party congress, the U.S. may find that it would need to do even more trust-building with Hanoi” than it has done lately, said Phuong Nguyen, an associate fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
“Trade and investment ties are expected to still forge ahead if the TPP is ratified,” she said, but she predicted that it would be more difficult for Washington to expand military ties with Vietnam if Mr. Trong’s faction prevailed.
At 66, Mr. Dung is five years younger than Mr. Trong. But according to a longstanding rule, the age limit for a member of the Politburo to start a new term is 65. The leadership can grant an exception, however, and Mr. Dung has been angling for one so he can succeed Mr. Trong as the party’s general secretary, several Vietnamese political observers have said in recent months.
That prospect, once considered almost inevitable, has come to seem less likely in recent days as Mr. Trong and his supporters have sought to force Mr. Dung into retirement, analysts said. The apparent turnaround has caused concern among Vietnam’s urban intellectuals, many of whom view Mr. Dung as the best hope for further integration into the global economy and curbing Chinese influence in the region.
“Dung doesn’t have many allies in the Politburo, and it’s very hard for him to change the status quo, so we are worrying,” said a Vietnamese academic at a state-affiliated institution, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive political matter.
While Mr. Trong’s supporters are said to have the upper hand in the elite, 16-member Politburo, they are worried that Mr. Dung, an unusually dynamic prime minister, has undercut the party leadership by strengthening government institutions and building a vast patronage network among provincial party bosses and in the 175-member Central Committee.
One chain of events that has been discussed in recent days is that the party’s top four leaders, including Mr. Dung and Mr. Trong, will retire and cede power to a younger crop of Politburo members, apparently in a victory for Mr. Trong’s camp. Some analysts said Mr. Trong may even remain in his post for another year or two to keep a lid on tensions inside the party elite.
It is not entirely clear how the leadership shuffle will affect Vietnam’s warming relationship with the United States, or its efforts to assert its economic independence and sovereignty over parts of the South China Sea without angering China.
In May 2014, the Chinese oil rig episode set off street protests in some cities that were initially tolerated — some said encouraged — by the government, and then riots at industrial parks in central and southern provinces. Dung, unlike other party leaders, responded to the Chinese move with denunciations of Beijing's territorial ambitions that appealed to Vietnamese patriotism.
Relations between the Communist neighbors have since recovered somewhat, and Dung shook hands with President Xi Jinping of China when he visited Hanoi in November. But many Vietnamese object to China's island-building projects in disputed waters, viewing them as reminders of Chinese imperial conquests of Vietnam. They also resent China's economic influence here, in the form of growing trade, tourism and infrastructure projects.
At the beginning of January, Vietnam formally accused China of violating its sovereignty, as well as a recent confidence-building pact, after Beijing landed a plane on one of the artificial islands built by the Chinese.
Mr. Dung’s economic record has been marred by scandals at state-owned enterprises and a bout of debilitating inflation. Yet he is still widely seen as the party’s strongest proponent of opening the Vietnamese economy to more foreign investment and competition, and of Vietnam’s membership in the TPP.
“Until now, none of our leaders did much to internationalize Vietnam, but Dung is different — he stands out,” said Nguyen Viet Ha, who runs a chemical-trading company in Hanoi. “Before, we depended on China a bit more, and now we’re a bit more independent and have access to Western technology.”
Bui Kien Thanh, an American-educated businessman who has advised Mr. Dung and other prime ministers on economic policy, acknowledged that such policies had left Mr. Dung open to criticism. “A lot of people say Nguyen Tan Dung is an American ally and so on, but that is only talk,” he said. “Nguyen Tan Dung sees very well that economic opening cannot go without good relations with the U.S.”
Other analysts and business leaders said relations with the United States would remain on an upward swing even if Mr. Dung were forced to retire. Mr. Trong’s visit to the White House in July — the first by a Vietnamese Communist Party boss — was a clear sign of a growing consensus across party factions that better relations with the United States is in Vietnam’s national interest, they said.
Mr. Michalak, the former American ambassador, said Vietnam’s relationship with China had “dropped down a few degrees” since the oil rig dispute. “I don’t think that’s going to change anytime soon no matter what government gets in” at the congress, he added.


Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
越南河內——2007年上任美國駐越南大使不久,邁克爾·W·邁克拉克(Michael W. Michalak)在一次晚宴中上前與越南總理阮晉勇(Nguyen Tan Dung)談話,中間他提到,人權是美國政府在越南最重視的問題之一。
「你能看到他的臉馬上就僵住了,」邁克拉克低聲笑着回憶到,他現在是美國-東盟工商理事會(U.S.-Asean Business Council)的高級副會長。邁克拉克接著說想為他的健康乾杯,並提了一個友好的建議:下一次舉辦這樣的外交活動,應該讓晚宴承辦商提供美國牛肉。
  • 檢視大圖越共總書記阮富仲
    Brendan Smialowski/A.F.P. — Getty Images
  • 檢視大圖越南總理阮晉勇
    Sean Gallup/Getty Images
  • 檢視大圖越南河內,為將於周三開始的越共黨代會準備的一面旗幟。
    Aaron Joel Santos for The New York Times
  • 檢視大圖在美國接受教育的商人裴基成曾給阮晉勇及其他總理就經濟政策提供建議。
    Aaron Joel Santos for The New York Times
  • 檢視大圖一名士兵在位於河內的胡志明紀念堂前,馬路對面是越南國會所在地。
    Aaron Joel Santos for The New York Times
周三,執政的越南共產黨將召開五年一次的全國代表大會,選舉該國最高領導人。頗具個人魅力的總理阮晉勇支持與美國建立更緊密的聯繫,據幾位分析人士、外交官和商業領袖透露,他正努力讓自己成為比較保守的現任越共書記阮富仲(Nguyen Phu Trong)的繼任者,後者則正在謀求連任。
相比之下,自2011年起擔任越共總書記的阮富仲當時似乎不願就石油鑽井平台爭端批評中國,他被認為力主促進政府在經濟決策中扮演主要角色,也是越共專權的維護者。但他也帶領越南加入了跨太平洋夥伴關係協定(Trans-Pacific Partnership),這是一個由美國主導的貿易協定,成員為十二個環太平洋國家,其中不包括中國。
位於華盛頓的國際戰略研究中心(Center for Strategic and International Studies)副研究員阮方(Phuong Nguyen)表示,「如果保守派在黨代會選舉中獲勝,美國可能會發現,它將需要採取更多的行動,與河內建立互信。」
「在此之前,沒有哪個領導人在使越南國際化方面做過太多努力,但阮晉勇不同,他在這方面非常突出,」在河內經營一家化學貿易公司的阮越河(Nguyen Viet Ha)說。「過去,我們對中國的依賴有點多,現在更獨立一些,能接觸到西方的技術。」
在美國接受教育、給阮晉勇及其他總理就經濟政策提供建議的商人裴基成(Bui Kien Thanh)承認,這類政策使阮晉勇同樣容易受到指責。「很多人會說阮晉勇是美國的盟友之類,不過也就說說而已,」他說。「阮晉勇很清楚,不和美國建立良好關係,很難實現經濟開放。」