Episode 27

What to Expect from Vietnam’s New Leaders

Released on February 19, 2021

After a year-long battle behind closed doors, Vietnam has a new political leadership. At its Congress, which finished on February 1st, the Communist Party selected a new Politburo to run the country for the next five years. What will it mean for Vietnam and the region? In this episode of Asia Matters we find out why the Party thinks a 76 year old man with serious health problems is the best person to lead this rapidly-changing society.

More than a third of the Politburo are now men with a background in the security services. What does this tell us about the Communist Party’s intentions? And how will the leadership navigate Vietnam’s relations between the United States and China?

Our presenter in this episode is Bill Hayton, Associate Fellow with the Asia-Pacific Programme at Chatham House. His guests are Nguyen Phuong Linh, Vietnam analyst with Control Risks in Singapore and Nguyen Khac Giang, researcher at the Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand.

Nguyen Phuong Linh (@linhpnguyen)

Nguyen Phuong Linh is an Associate Director in the Southeast Asia Business Intelligence practice at Control Risks in Singapore. Linh has advised a diverse range of clients on potential partnerships, market entries, business conflicts and other commercial relationships and opportunities in Southeast Asia. She has also spent a remarkable amount of her time traveling across the region, especially in Indonesia, Myanmar and Vietnam, where she has built up an extensive network of government officials and business sources in various sectors. Before joining Control Risks, Linh was a foreign correspondent for the Financial Times and Reuters, with posting in Hanoi, Jakarta and London, and experience reporting across Southeast Asia over the previous decade. Linh has an MSc in Asian Politics from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London and an undergraduate degree in International Economics from the Vietnam National University.

Nguyen Khac Giang (@khacgiang)

Nguyen Khac Giang is a Ph.D. candidate at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. His work focuses on Vietnam and Asian affairs, particularly through economics and politics. He is concurrently a Senior Research Fellow at the Vietnam Institute for Economic and Policy Research. He held the positions of researcher and head of the political research unit prior to becoming Senior Research Fellow. He has written for tuanvietnam.net and the Vietnam Financial Review, where he covered business and government policy. His writing has appeared in numerous other publications, including The Diplomat and the Asian Journal of Political Science.

Bill Hayton (@bill_hayton)

Bill Hayton is an Associate Fellow with the Asia-Pacific Programme at Chatham House in 2015 and has worked as a journalist with BBC News since 1998. He is the author of The Invention of China and The South China Sea: The Struggle for Power in Asia. He was the BBC’s reporter in Vietnam in 2006/7 and spent a year seconded to the state broadcaster in Myanmar in 2013/14 working on media development. He focuses on the South China Sea disputes and current affairs in Southeast Asia. He has briefed government departments, officials and companies in the UK, the USA, Europe and Asia and written for numerous media outlets on these subjects. He is a graduate of the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

Vietnam: Rising Dragon

By Bill Hayton
Hayton’s book addresses a broad variety of issues in today’s Vietnam, including important shifts in international relations, the growth of civil society, economic developments and challenges, and the nation’s nascent democracy movement as well as its notorious internal security. With a firm sense of historical and cultural context, Hayton examines how these issues have emerged and where they will lead Vietnam in the next stage of its development.
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