There is a problem that the VCP is facing today, one that has sparked much debate among the top members of the Communist leadership. This problem has much to do with Vietnam’s relationship with the two juggernaut nations: The United States and the People’s Republic of China. It is obvious that both of these countries play a major role in Vietnam’s economic operations, as both countries share interests in Vietnamese goods and services. However, the relationship that Vietnam shares with these two countries is highly delicate.
Every action that Vietnam makes, it must do so in a manner that defends the country’s interests without alienating its partners. This task is more difficult than it sounds however, as China and the U.S. have very different objectives. In most cases, American interests tend to conflict with the Chinese, which usually means that any stance taken by the Vietnamese government will conflict with at least one side, if not the other. Therefore, in order to maintain a good footing politically, the Vietnamese government will have to take strategic steps that will protect the country’s interests.
One of the major issues that prevents further cooperation between the U.S. and Vietnam is the VCP’s constant abuse of human rights. The totalitarian dictatorship of the Vietnamese Communist Party raises many barriers for the United States in terms of establishing economic and military ties. Some of the members in the VCP want to better relations with the U.S., they might even want to improve the human rights situation in the country. Unfortunately, other factions in the Party are bent on maintaining power, even at the price of losing land to the Chinese. Which brings me to the other side.
Vietnam’s relationship with the Peoples’ Republic of China can be characterized as less than equal. On many occasions, China feels the necessity to flex its growing military and political power on the Vietnamese people, invading Paracel, Spratly, and harassing the fishermen in the Eastern Sea. Even so, the Chinese still gain favor from the more conservative branch of the Party. The “Conservatives,” otherwise known as the cowards, are the ones who put the Party before everything else. They suppress the citizens, sell land to the Chinese, and will do anything, all for the sake of maintaining their power, and “the Party.”
It is possible to distinguish the Liberal strand of the Party from the Conservative branch, though the individuals responsible are still less than clear. The Liberal camp can be characterized as those who want to develop closer ties with the United States and stand up to China on issues like Paracel and Spratly. They are the ones who might take a second look at reforming the Party in order to move forward. The Conservative side are the ones who want to maintain the Party rule, no matter what the cost. These guys side with China in order to cling onto their power, disregarding everything else. In other words, they are the puppets of China.
So what is the Communists’ Dilemma? Well, let’s sum it up. The Communists today are faced with a choice: either side with the U.S., make the necessary changes to the system and risk the complete disintegration of the one-party system, or side with China, continue to suppress the people, slowly let the land get taken away, but then carry on the rule of the Party. The dilemma can be summed up by the following: “Side with the U.S., lose the Party. Side with China, and lose the country.” To any rational thinker, the choice is obvious: reform the country, defend the country, and let the Party fade away!
Sadly, many in the VCP still regard the Party as the highest significance. They can’t think in terms of right or wrong, but only what they can do to defend their own interests. However, the circumstances have changed significantly since then. Some members of the VCP finally realize that nothing good can come from siding with China. They seem more interested in developing U.S.-Vietnam relations, maybe even to improve the country. This is more than speculation, but still requires more substantial evidence for further examination. What is apparent is that the Vietnamese Communist Party is no longer set on selling out to China. At this time, the size of the resistance is difficult to measure, only time will tell if it is strong enough.