The Communist Parties of China and Vietnam do not get on

Dec 20, 2017

ONCE upon a time the Communist Parties of China and Vietnam were staunch comrades in the proletarian struggle. Mao Zedong thickened ties by helping Ho Chi Minh in his anti-colonial fight against the French and Americans, providing both military equipment and advice on communist discipline and ideology. Capitalism has transformed both countries in ways that would have shocked the two revolutionaries. Yet both parties have survived against the odds, running Leninist dictatorships while overseeing rapid economic growth. They are far and away the most successful of the world’s remaining communist states, easily eclipsing shabby Cuba, tiny Laos and militant North Korea.

It is not just in embracing free markets that Vietnam has mimicked China. Under Xi Jinping, the Chinese Communist Party has centralised authority and clamped down on dissent. Observers wonder whether the party in Vietnam isn’t starting to follow suit. A harder line was signalled at the last five-yearly congress, in early 2016. The...

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