Vietnam's democratic transition, democratization paths

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Many countries around the world, including Vietnam, respect South Korea's economy. It is amazing how South Korea rose from obscurity to become one of the developed and high-income countries. South Korea's economy is ranked fourth in Asia and eleventh in the globe (Thanh, 2005 p. 87). Vietnam has had one of the worst economies in history, but it has been fighting to match South Korea's economic position for the past six years. Vietnam's economy has clearly advanced since it began business and inter-country collaboration with South Korea and China. The economy of Vietnam in 2015 cannot be compared to how the economy was in 2012 since there has been an improvement. The industrial production in 2015 October remained intact, and the number of exports increased leading to a trade surplus. The FDI inflows rose by 10% in January 2016 (Hofstede & Bond, 1988 p. 13). These are some of the economic advancements that Vietnam has been able to achieve after following South Korea’s footsteps. However, setbacks are holding Vietnam behind, and this hinders her from following South Korea’s trajectory closely. The political structure of Vietnam is the weak section that cannot allow for economic development towards achieving high-value chains, globalization and FDI growth (Kornai, 2000 p. 31). Vietnam consists of a single party with the Judiciary as an independent body. The national assembly elects the president and gives him the mandate to be in power for five years. There is no multi-party system in Vietnam, and therefore the government is no longer challenged by an opposition party to adjust towards advancing the economy.

China is another controversial country that has had economic development over a short period. Unfortunately, Vietnam cannot follow the economic development tactics of China since China did not have democracy for growth. South Korea has more advantageous techniques that can be applied by Vietnam to advance its economy, but not the ones used in China. In 1987, South Korea had its first presidential election where the previous successor, CHUN Doo-woo was removed out of power. He had been a dictator for a long time and blocked the exercise of democracy (Biggart & Guillén, 1999 p. 739). Since then, South Korea has had democracy, fair elections, and representation of all people in leadership, representation of people in policy making and equitable distribution of resources. That was the start of economic advancement in South Korea, unlike China where the economy where wealthy merchants took the opportunity to grab public property. In return, they used the resources by giving jobs to average citizens and immigrants, and this led to the growth of the economy. Therefore Vietnam has to opt for fair representation in government political positions by ensuring a multi-party system where the operating government can be challenged in case it embezzles public funds or fails to adhere to development agendas (Hofstede & Bond, 1988 p. 19). The state autonomy is very important and there must be cooperation between the government and social forces. Understanding and collaboration in South Korea are based on the fact that the Chaebol is in good terms with the government, and therefore people’s desires are well represented. For example in 2007, the Chaebol negotiated with the government and urged it to offer more business opportunities to local businessmen by allowing them low tax duties to engage in business with countries like United States (Chang, 2010 p. 79). The situation is different in China since the government has full control of all mandates and only the rich survive the struggle and ordinary citizens continue to suffer. To attain high-value chain, globalization, increased FDI and healthy development, Vietnam has to adopt the political reforms as in South Korea but not as in China.


Biggart, N.W. and Guillén, M.F., 1999. Developing difference: Social organization and the rise of the auto industries of South Korea, Taiwan, Spain, and Argentina. American Sociological Review, pp.722-747.

Chang, K.S., 2010. South Korea under compressed modernity: Familial political economy in transition. Routledge.p. 39-86.

Hofstede, G. and Bond, M.H., 1988. The Confucius connection: From cultural roots to economic growth. Organizational dynamics, 16(4), pp.5-21.

Kornai, J., 2000. What the change of system from socialism to capitalism does and does not mean. The journal of Economic perspectives, 14(1), pp.27-42.

Thanh, V.T., 2005. Vietnam's trade liberalization and international economic integration: evolution, problems, and challenges. ASEAN Economic Bulletin, pp.75-91.

May 02, 2023

World Economics



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