Renewing political legitimacy : pragmatic reforms and Doi Moi
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The Vietnamese Communist Party (VCP) first launched Doi Moi [Renovation] in 1986—10 years after the VCP officially assumed power in 1976 of the Socialist Republics of Vietnam. As the VCP describes, Doi Moi is a comprehensive economic reform package with new initiatives toward building “a mixed economy” that introduces “market mechanism with state management and a socialist orientation” to Vietnam’s economy. With Doi Moi, pragmatism has evidently taken center stage in place of dogmatic concerns for ideological correctness. The thesis seeks to first examine the conditions and factors that gave impetus for the economic reforms in Vietnam. These conditions and factors are especially evident when they are examined in a comparative context with the Soviet Union and China’s experiences with similar reforms as they are done here in the thesis. Moreover, the change of orientation from a centrally planned economy to market-oriented economy is reflected in Doi Moi’s decentralization and economic liberalization reforms as well as the VCP’s opening up to international reintegration and reconciliation with namely the United States. From this examination, it is apparent that at the crux of the VCP’s decision to pursue reforms and the Vietnamese people's support for reforms are fundamental considerations of self and political interests—the VCP's to stay in power and the people's to subsist and prosper. Whether reforms are socialist or capitalist—in form or in practice—are thus of lesser importance to the VCP and Vietnamese people than whether reforms work or do not work.