High ambitions of Vietnam’s New Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh

“Multiple conspiracies” is probably a prominent identity in Pham Minh Chinh, who will sit as Prime Minister of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam on April 5, although there are some objections from old senior officials of the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV).

Head of the CPV’s Central Organizing Commission Pham Minh Chinh during an online conference in Hanoi on January 21, 2021

Since Chinh’s direct “boss” police general Hoang Ngoc Nhat, was deposed in 2002, the process of progressing from being an office secretary to becoming a Prime Minister has only been 19 years.

During that time, rolling around in Ba Dinh politics – from gathering daily news to reporting to being head of the Government – was hard work, sometimes beyond imagination. Saying intelligence general Pham Minh Chinh “multi-conspirator” is to evaluate the whole process.

Reform or dictatorship?

Public opinion inside and outside Vietnam has been noted, in the Secretariat, except for Mr. Trong, no one has a deep connection with China as Mr. Chinh. More surprisingly, Chinh was able to jump to the Government from the Secretariat, beating two strong candidates, Truong Hoa Binh and Vuong Dinh Hue. Jumping on the left line and defeating 2 guys on the right line must be multi-conspirator and greatly supported.

Future historians will verify and identify who “back” Pham Minh Chinh? Is it in the Party or from a foreign country? Really these are questions that at present times are difficult to answer satisfactorily. The hot current situation of Vietnam is not the time to discuss in that direction.

What concerns of the domestic and the international community are whether Pham Minh Chinh will be a reformer or a dictator? What are his priorities in his agenda? The internal prediction shows that Mr. Chinh will not “explode” like Mr. Phuc. Mr. Chinh will have 5 deputy prime ministers and more than two dozens of ministers to share responsibilities.

But it is unclear whether the new Prime Minister dares to ignore the daily affairs to focus on major issues in the world? Do not know if Mr. Chinh has less appeared in the media, spent time with his people about the big story? And a more subtle question is being asked by the public: Will the new Prime Minister stop at the “Prime Minister” seat or does he have the ambition to become an “Emperor” like Xi Jinping in China?

General Secretary position

There are many questions without answers for the politician no stranger in Vietnamese politics, but there are still many parts as mysterious and dangerous about Chinh.

It is mysterious and dangerous because it is not known which “position” will Mr. Chinh stop at? If his ambition is merely economic power, then he will test his abilities as Prime Minister during deep integration. Regarding economics or market, there are not many differences between capitalism or communism, even if only in name.

But if Mr. Chinh only chooses the Prime Minister’s seat as a transition period to achieve higher ambitions of political power, then of course he will move towards the general secretary position. The space of thinking and action at this time will not only be a market issue, here will be the tendency to lean towards the US or China, but that is also to choose between democracy or dictatorship? Will the country’s development orientation be designed according to universal values ​​or follow the totalitarian model?

In the short term, the priority of all priorities for Chinh may be to restructure the power relationship of the “four pillars.” This restructuring not only serves for the operating framework of the “executive” branch held by him but also directs a situation that was not uncertain but still contained many unknowns. That is, in the near future, the Politburo will agree who is the “candidate” for the seat of General Secretary?

Having his own plan to replace Party leader Nguyen Phu Trong right after the 13th Congress may be accused of “lese-majesty.” But with intelligence general Chinh, worrying about it as a professional requirement must be considered reasonable.

Because there are many indications that Nguyen Phu Trong’s “throne” looks as solid as a stone table, even looks “unmatched,” but in reality, it is not so. Mr. Trong’s general secretary position is revealing many weaknesses. There are obvious flaws, but many are hidden, which the most obvious is his health problem.

The state of Trong’s health is currently extremely delicate and frustrating for both his supporters and opponents. To his “fans,” people suddenly asked each other: Unfortunately, if Trong suddenly dies, what would the Party be like? What will the country be like? Who will “burn the furnace” next? …

For those who oppose Trong, people are even angrier: Nearly a hundred million Vietnamese people have to be under the leadership of the old man who has had a stroke, and must be accompanied by someone on the platform? He’d rather be in a wheelchair, moving like President Franklin D. Roosevelt to walk.

Calculations

If heading to the party’s leader post, Chinh must take into account the most important vote from Beijing. In order to win that ballot, the long-interrupted “Three Special Zones” plan needs to be reactivated. It is no coincidence that at the online conference on the morning of March 28 to thoroughly grasp the Resolution of the 13th Congress, Mr. Chinh called for “to have a mechanism to protect cadres who dare to think, dare to say, dare to do, dare to take responsibility, etc.”

Of course, Mr. Chinh is smart to push the story of “Three special zones” to Mr. Phuc, when also at the above conference, Nguyen Xuan Phuc called for “further study of the Law on Special Economic Zones.” In the past, Phuc himself instructed to have dialogue, to listen to and absorb opinions of the masses and old revolutionaries, and knowledge classes at home and abroad about the Law on Special Economic Zones.

The issue of “joint exploitation” with China in Vietnam’s EEZs in the South China Sea (Vietnamese call it the East Sea) is certainly also on the priority agenda of the new Prime Minister. Those who have known Mr. Chinh when he was the Deputy General Department of Intelligence, the Ministry of Public Security, under Nguyen Tan Dung’s PM leadership, are clear from Chinh’s point of view: With China, Vietnam has an only safe way to “exploit natural resources together with China.”

That is why recently, State President Nguyen Phu Trong was forced to reveal when he self-reviewed his presidency, he was unable to publicize the “incidents” that happened in the South China Sea, because of the delicate matter. State media quoted Trong from reading the summary report for the 2016-2021 term before the National Assembly on March 24, saying:

There are things that cannot be said publicly, but there are times, there are incidents that happen in the South China Sea, how to act in our west and southwest regions as well as the relationship with China. There are things that we have to say very truthfully to you comrades that are very delicate, very clever, but our whole system is doing very well.”

Also, for this reason, Beijing can now wary. COVID-19 is about to turn the left and turn the world up. Comprehensive Sino-US competition is on the brink of conflict. It is not yet known whether this will be a hot or cold war. Just as writer Nguyen Huy Thiep once wrote: “There will come a time when world politics is like a plain mannequin, the concept of purity is meaningless.”

China likely doesn’t want to let Vietnam be a toddler. It has to support another “iron hand” to bring “prodigal son” back to “motherland” as stated by the Communist Party Politburo member Yang Jiechi in 2014. Now is the time for Chinh’s opportunity to step up the 15 agreements between China and Vietnam signed in January 2017.

Use the national treasury to participate in the BRI

The “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI) is the next test for China to evaluate the “relative destiny” between Beijing and Hanoi. Chinh will have a “glorious” mission to guide public opinion on China’s BRI participation issue. According to his predecessor Phuc, the previous Law of the Three Special Zones failed because the people did not understand (?!).

It is unclear whether Chinh will then use a baton, prison, or other demagogic measures to continue using the state treasury or borrowing money from abroad to promote BRI in Vietnam.

Recently, the local people learned that Vietnam is the second country to receive investment capital from BRI (only after Pakistan), with a total investment in 2020 of $2.46 billion for two projects named Dau Tieng Solar Power and Nam Dinh 1 Coal Power, with a capital investment of $2.16 billion provided by China.

Meanwhile, companies in developed countries increasingly abandon coal power projects because of the problem of environmental pollution and the devastation of people’s health. More than anyone, Mr. Chinh knows very well, Mitsubishi Corporation of Japan has announced its withdrawal from the coal power project in Binh Thuan province. China, by contrast, is still actively promoting such projects.

It is known that Chinh was very deeply involved with former PM Nguyen Tan Dung in the 12th Central Committee. Back in Quang Ninh, Mr. Chinh almost persuaded the “collective king” to drive Quang Ninh according to the Shenzhen model in the so-called “Van Don Special Economic Zone” if it did not face a wave of protests from the people across the country.

Chinh also has a reputation as a “big brother” because he used to be in the same boat as Nhan “AIC,” Thai Minh “Ba Vang Pagoda” … but Trong’s anti-corruption campaign “burning furnace” did not touch officials and projects backed by Chinh.

Just as Dr. Nguyen Duy Huong, from Nghe An, denouncing the “burning furnace” is just an act of disgrace, personal polishing, for an excuse to “confine power” into the private cage of the party chief. In that context, Mr. Trong had to accept Pham Minh Chinh and Vuong Dinh Hue in the “The Four pillars” in order to balance the factions.

Particularly, Mr. Chinh was honored by journalist Huy Duc as the character of the year. Facebooker Do Nga predicted that Mr. Chinh could become a Putin of Vietnam. But Facebooker Phan Thai Binh did not hesitate to call Chinh “a tough guy” when he borrowed Mr. Trong’s furnace, in the name of the Head of the Central Organizing Commission to throw all those who used to be his heavy rivals (typically is discipline a series of police generals).

Predicting the “resurgence” of the new Prime Minister, political analysts said that Mr. Chinh will be the one to raise the “leading flag” of the Party in many areas, except continuing the mission of the infamous furnace of the Party chief Trong because, in order to clear the landing zone to get higher, Mr. Chinh will not rush to cause internal resentment.

The sound of the sound

It is not clear how General Secretary Trong will convince the Politburo about his successor if his health does not allow further administration of the apparatus. The lack of the “perfect” candidate is favorable for Mr. Chinh. Most leading candidates have certain defects, and choosing one of them requires overturning the inheritance rules.

With some phenomena through the above analysis, there are grounds to believe that Chinh’s ambition will not stop at the role of Prime Minister. The fact that he will eventually climb to the peak of the CPV’s power is a real possibility. And once Mr. Chinh attains that high level of ambition, where will Vietnam’s development model “float“? If there are no smart dictators, what kind of dictator will he choose?

In the opposite direction, if Mr. Trong still maintains the “courtyard” position as before the Congress, will Mr. Chinh’s “restructuring” of the “Four Pillars” power will pass the door of Trong or not is the need to continue to monitor. It is worth noting that Chinh cannot underestimate the current legislative branch held by the new Chairman of the National Assembly Vuong Dinh Hue.

The rise of generals led by the new Defense Minister Phan Van Giang is also a new phenomenon. Whether or not General Giang’s military career path can create a respectable balance and counterbalance to the new Prime Minister’s attempts in the relationship with Beijing is a big unknown. Certainly, the role of the military will then be different from the time of General Secretaries Nong Duc Manh and Trong.

In the end, the greatest lesson for all-time rulers is people’s hearts. The people of Vietnam are very sensitive and fiercely express their indignation towards all forces who are willing to sacrifice national interests and betray the interests of the nation.

The fact that historians excluded two dynasties Ho and Mac out of the margins of their own history is enough to express the severity and justice of history. Meanwhile, if many martial arts are won, people are willing to “liquidate” defects for the dominant corporations, if they do not humiliate the nation.

References:

http://nghiencuuquocte.org/2021/03/24/viet-nam-bau-chinh-phu-moi-co-phai-cang-som-cang-tot/#more-39422 Vietnam elected a new government: Yes as soon as possible? (March 24, 2021)

http://www.viet-studies.net/kinhte/PMChinh_NhanToBatThuong_TB.html

Phạm Minh Chính – Nhân tố bất thường sau Đại hội 13 (8/2/2021)

https://osf.io/preprints/nu8bd/

PGS.TS Phạm Minh Chính – Dấu ấn từ Bí thư đổi mới đến chính khách “đa nghệ” (01/01/2021)

https://thediplomat.com/2021/02/the-rise-and-rise-of-nguyen-phu-trong/

The Rise and Rise of Nguyen Phu Trong (26/2/2021)

https://thediplomat.com/2021/03/the-final-victory-of-nguyen-phu-trong/

The Final Victory of Nguyen Phu Trong (5/3/2021)

https://www.voatiengviet.com/a/sau-khi-dang-bai-chi-trich-ong-trong-bac-si-nguyen-van-huong-bi-bat/5826541.html Sau khi đăng bài chỉ trích ông Trọng, Bác sĩ Nguyễn Duy Hướng bị bắt (24/3/2021)

Thoibao.de (Translated)

Source: https://www.rfa.org/vietnamese/news/blog/ambition-of-a-sly-pm-04032021160157.html

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