A nationally publicized, violent clash between authorities and a fish farmer is testing the capacity of Vietnam to match its Communist Party governance with its free market global economic aspirations. The farmer got into a confrontation when police in Hai Phong tried to seize his land, which in Vietnam is owned by the government and leased to farmers.
After the case attracted local media attention, Internet commentary, and nationwide sympathy for the farmer, Vietnam’s prime minister announced the eviction had been illegal. More importantly, he called for a review of land management policies nationwide.
At issue is a question that goes to the foundation of Vietnam’s emergence on the global economic stage: Can the ruling party replace the methods of the past with governance that is consistent with problems of the present? For that to happen, the prime minister’s concerns will have to be translated into action.
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