- Year of publication: 2009
- Source: Show
- Pages: 3-6
- DOI Address: -
POLITICAL SYSTEM OF THE SOCIALIST REPUBLIC OF VIETNAM
The article describes peculiarities of the political system of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, a country which has been undergoing modernization, but certainly not as fast as the other spheres of social-economic life. Many of the shortcomings of the system were evoked and their elimination is postulated. The need for building a civil society: a broader participation of the Vietnamese in social, economic and political life, the necessity of a greater role played by private sector and its engagement in the financing of higher education and professional practice, as well as a further liberalization of commerce is called upon in the strategy.
The Communist Party of Vietnam still plays a dominant role in the political system, and the elections to the National Assembly prove that there is no will of renouncing this model. Nevertheless, there were some attempts of change in this field. The party personnel has been rejuvenated. The new secretary general Nong Duc Manh started liberalizing the political system with great caution. The fact that he was reelected as secretary general at the 10th Congress, proves that the process of reforming the country is irreversible. On the other hand, we have to remember that this process is very unstable, shaky and characterized by a lack of consequence.
UNDERSTANDING DEMOCRACY AND ITS DRIVING FACTORS IN VIETNAM
Democracy and social justice have been debated for decades, not only in the academic circles, but also in practice in most societies. It continues to be a central theme in various discourses in international relations and in domestic politics, particularly after the end of the Cold War. Societies have been changing, as a result of which the theoretical framework within which we discuss democracy and social justice also evolves. This paper presents opinions on this subject expressed in Vietnam in the recent discussions in journals and in other forms of publication with focus on how the democratization process is implemented in this country ruled by the Communist Party. Given the present world context, one can hardly mention democratization in a communist country, but author points out that democracy is possible when both internal and external factors are strong enough to drive it, which includes the change in political mindset of the leaders of the Communist Party, the emergence of societal forces such as more open media, NGOs, social groups, and the impact of economic integration and globalization. He also points out some constraints of democracy in Vietnam. The conclusion is that democratization is possible in Vietnam and at present progresses step by step, but more sa a top-down process.
Doi moi – SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC CHANGES IN VIETNAM: THEIR SOURCES, MEANING AND RESULTS
The article focuses on the modernization of the Vietnamese socio-economic system according to the reform program known as „doi moi” (renovation). After presentation of the economic systems of the South Vietnam and the Democratic Republic of Vietnam until 1976, the author describes the economic situation of the country after unifi cation. She points that efforts made to integrate two completely different systems were unsuccessful and caused the social and economic crisis, which reached its peak in the mid-1980’s.
To overcome the crisis, Vietnam launched in 1986 the political and economic campaign of reforms to facilitate the transition from the centralized socialist economy to the socialist-oriented market economy. Doi Moi combined government planning with free-market incentives and encouraged the establishment of private businesses and foreign investment, including foreign-owned enterprises. The economic reforms that introduced market forces in Vietnam resembled those initiated earlier in China.
As the result of the doi moi, the economic situation in Vietnam began changing gradually: 1. The period 1989–1992 was a turning point; gradual reforms staved off the total collapse while maintaining the support of society. 2. In 1993–1997 increase in export and foreign investments resulted in the rapid development of economy. 3. After 1997 East Asian Financial Crisis the government control of the economy and the nonconvertible currency has protected Vietnam from more serious consequences. 4. By the beginning of the 21st century the doi moi has managed to transform Vietnamese economy into the export-oriented one – the success of the reforms was evident.
The socio-economic achievements of Vietnam consist of the following: 1. privatization, 2. openness in trade and investment as well as integration of the domestic economy with the regional and world economies; 3. macro-economic, social and political stabilization.
FOREIGN POLICY OF VIETNAM IN THE FIRST DECADE OF THE 21st CENTURY. THE PRESENT SITUATION AND THE PERSPECTIVES FOR THE FUTURE
As a result of the decades of reforms (doi moi) internal conditions as well as international position of Vietnam have changed diametrically. Inside the country, the basis of market-oriented economy allowed to lift Vietnamese economy out of crisis and assured its further, dynamic development. This process was supported signifi cantly by implementation of the foreign policy based on peace and multilateral cooperation. It was made possible by the fact that changes in both internal and external conditions at the turn of the 20th have created different opportunities and threats for Vietnam from those experienced at the beginning of doi moi.
In response to the new challenges, Vietnamese administration revised the strategy of development, especially in the fi eld of foreign policy. The 9th Congress of CPV in April of 2001 approved the new doctrine of Vietnamese foreign policy. As the earlier doctrine, which had been in effect since 1991, it maintained all fundamental principles, such as multilateral cooperation, independence and special importance of economic relations. It was supplemented, however, by the new elements: the principles of non-intervention in domestic policy and proactive engagement in international economic integration on the regional (ASEAN) and global (WTO) levels. The document approved during the 9th Congress resolved one of signifi cant dilemmas of Vietnamese government concerning attitude towards the international processes of integration and the place and role of Vietnam in the developing structures.
Positive trends in Vietnamese economy after 2001 and optimistic forecasts for the future indicate that changes implemented in foreign policy have brought good effects. International position of Vietnam has also strengthened. SRV is a member and active participant of ASEAN and WTO, the ties with China are getting closer (despite disputable issues), strategic partnerships with Russia, the United States, Japan, India and the European Union are developing.
THE PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA TOWARDS INDEPENDENCE AND UNIFICATION OF VIETNAM.
The article outlines 20 years of Sino-Vietnamese political relations from 1954 to 1976, within the framework of the struggle for independence and subsequent unification of Vietnam. This period begins with the North Vietnamese successful military effort to win independence and China’s role in the peace settlement and international recognition of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam at the Geneva Conference. The article describes special Sino-Vietnamese relations at each stage of the process and presents the role of China in the Vietnam war – vital, although varying.
The focus has been put on the relation between the People’s Republic of China and the Democratic Republic of Vietnam – the two ideologically similar new entities. The article proceeds to show how the evolution of alliance between the two countries was determined by the international context – the Sino-Soviet rivalry and cooperation, the Cold War confl ict with the United States and the subsequent rapprochement between the two countries, by the confl ict between China and Vietnam as well as other factors. Apart from the international context, the article emphasizes PRC’s internal strife as the key factor of the approach towards Vietnam – in contrast to the DRV’s priorities, which having been based on two stable premises: the victory in the war for unifi cation and the role played in it by the North Vietnam and ultimately by the Soviet Union, have remained unchanged. The study analyses specifi c context of the Sino-Vietnamese relations during the time when the ideological factor and the common struggle against imperialism determined bilateral relations. The research has been based on the international sources and is a summary of the master’s thesis The Sino-Vietnamese relations 1945–1976. China’s position towards independence of Vietnam.
VIETNAMESE RELIGIOSITY: THE TRADITIONAL CULT OF TUTELARY SPIRITS IN VILLAGE COMMUNES AND THE STATE
The author indicates the present renaissance of all the forms of religiosity after the doi moi reforms, indigenous and of foreign origins.
The study is based on the author’s field work in Vietnam at the end of the 1970’s and his analysis of the “temple books” collected by the colonial French authorities. The authors compares this Vietnamese material with Chinese cults and religious practices, and – on the other hand – briefly outlines the present situation of religious cults with the “socialist” period and in detail analyses their state on the village level in the last centuries of the monarchy.
As the principal forms of the Vietnamese religiosity the author outlines the following cults and rites: 1) The “Three Teachings” – Confucianism, Taoism and Zen Buddhism; 2) Sino-Vietnamese cults – adapted from China (as the Chinese cult of Mazu, of the Prince Guan, Xuan Wu, etc.); 3) The Vietnamese cults of saints (thanh), in particular of the “national heroes” (anh hung), worshipped in the dinh temple; 4) Cults of the local tutelary spirits (most of the village cults belongs to this category) also worshipped in dinh; 5) The cult of the ancestors; 6) The state cults celebrated by the ruler; 7) Beliefs and practices related to the mysterious forces – benevolent or malignant (such as astrology, geomancy, oracles, the use of amulets, etc. In addition the author indicates that these cults and rites involves first of all various communities, not individuals as in the West, and instead western priests the rites are usually performed by the heads or representatives of the communities: of the family, of the community or of the state. One can find there the anthropocentric not the western theocentric orientation (this is common to all the countries of the Confucian-Buddhist civilization). Moreover, the orthopraxy not the western orthodoxy prevails in Vietnam as in the region, hence religious rites and practices are essential there, not beliefs, so important in the West. The rites serve first of all to preserving/restoring order and harmony in the family, in the village or in the region/the state. Therefore the deep religiosity is usually missing and the rites have mainly social functions.
The author describes the traditional Vietnamese village commune as a semiautonomous village-state (with its own complex bureaucracy) that could be compared with the Mediterranean city-states. Hence, following the Vietnamese historians, the author characterizes the Vietnamese monarchy as a kind of federation of such village communes. In this respect Vietnam differs significantly from the Chinese Empire, where the state was much stronger. Village communes constituted the fundamental entity of the political and social order in the Vietnamese monarchy and these traditions influenced political culture in Vietnam.
The author presents the village communes’ tutelary spirits – thanh huang: their types, character, ranks and functions. He indicates that this deity corresponds to the Chinese “tutelary deity of a city” – cheng huang, and indicates all together 14 types of such Vietnamese deities (with numerous examples). The author indicates the difficulties related to such surveys in the field and in archives, first of all related to the “temple taboo” (hen) and its relation to the state policy.
The strengthening of the state in the 2nd millennium involved increasing control of the village cults and the resistance of the local communities, which protected their original cults with taboo and other measures. In this way the old cults that contradicted the newly propagated Confucian values and norms often could be preserved. The author outlines the complex interrelations of the village communes and the state in the last centuries of the Vietnamese monarchy in detail with references to various examples of villages and their correspondence with the Ministry of Rites. He concludes that a significant autonomy of village communes was preserved until the end of the independent Vietnamese monarchy in the religious aspect, which was certainly essential to the Confucian type of state.
THE WAR AGAINST EVIL SPIRITS – SAINT TRAN’S SPIRITUAL EFFICACY IN CONTEMPORARY VIET NAM
According to popular beliefs, when ghosts and evil spirits intrude into the life of the living, they afflict and harm people. They are invisible but the consequences of their intrusions are visible. They make their victims sick, miserable or even crazy. Their powers are great, so suppressing them requires an even greater force. That force is seen in the powerful figure of Saint Tran. In this paper authoress explores the way, in which physical, mental and emotional problems are interpreted by Vietnamese people in terms of supernatural agency. Saint Tran, i.e. Tran Hung Dao is a well-known national hero who defeated the Mongol-Chinese army that invaded Vietnam in the 13th century.
According to the widely diffused beliefs, he is involved in a particular “war against evil forces”, and the people could use his power for their own advantage. As a symbol of military strength, masculinity and mysterious power, Saint Tran has become the most famous protector of the people in many ways. People’s afflictions and malaises are interpreted in the name of his enemy, Pham Nhan (by the legend he acted as a guide for the invading Mongol-Chinese army), who was pitifully defeated by Tran Hung Dao and then became maligned and pathogenic. A captious and capricious spirit Pham Nhan still receives offerings, since the people continue to fear his power. A battle between Saint Tran and all sorts of malignant forces is reflected in various religious activities in contemporary life. In these, Saint Tran communicates his power through his media, exhibits his eminence in his sacred places (temples and shrines), transmits his power through these same sacred places, and signifies his protection through bloody marks and amulets.
The authoress has not discussed the practical effect of exorcism rites and healings or the relation between exorcism and psychotherapy. She gives a general overview of contemporary practices and beliefs as articulated by individual voices, and notes the continuity between past rituals and those of today. On this basis, she identifies and delineates current ideas about spiritual efficacy and Saint Tran’s specific importance in a world inhabited by the dead, ghosts and demons. She shows that faith has the power to turn psychological belief into social reality. Regardless of what psychological elements are involved, or the verifiable efficacy of the rites, the social fact remains that Saint Tran has become one of the most powerful spirits for fighting off ghosts and demons in the religious landscape of contemporary Viet Nam.
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