Andrew Wheeler (2016) The Intergenerational Transmission of Human Capital in Vietnam

This paper examines the causal effect of parental education on the cognitive and non-cognitive development of children. I find that a parent’s education is a strong determinant of their child’s verbal aptitude, numerical aptitude and educational aspirations. Parents who complete high school rather than just primary school will on average lift their children’s cognitive performance by 24 percentiles in maths, 15 percentiles in vocabulary and 23 percentiles in reading tests. Children of these parents will also aspire to complete two more years of schooling. Somewhat surprisingly, I find that parental education has no impact on children’s self-esteem or self-efficacy. These results are robust to various specifications. I estimate these effects using instrumental variables, taking a change in education policy with differential effects on North Vietnam and South Vietnam as my instrument.

Chad Raymond, Mark Selden, and Kate Zhou (2000) Rural Resistance and Reform in China and Vietnam

This article examines the social bases of agrarian transformation during and
after the communist-led collectivization of agriculture in China and Vietnam.
The social science literature generally portrays rural people as passive, depoliticized
and dependent. Nowhere is this more true than in studies of socialist
societies that have been heavily influenced by totalitarian and authoritarian
theories. The literature focuses on the initiative and power of supreme leaders,
as well as party and state mobilization, to explain social and institutional
change. This perspective, while not uncontested, holds generally for the subject
reviewed here.’

Our central thesis, in contrast, is that the cumulative weight of rural resistance
eventually made it too costly, both economically and politically, for the
respective states of China and Vietnam to continue collectivized agriculture.
While recognizing significant differences in the structure and performance of
collectivized agriculture in Vietnam and China, this study underlines strikingly
similar tactics used by farmers to circumvent, resist and eventually, under politically
fortuitous conditions, contribute to the elimination of the core institutions
of collective agriculture and expand the scope of the market and household economies.
We consider, in short, the interplay of resistance from below and the
roles of party and state in generating fundamental social change.

If everyday resistance succeeds in dividing ruling groups, it has the
capacity to contribute to and shape far-reaching social change. Yet if Vietnamese
and Chinese villagers have manifested surprising strength in generating
system change, this should not blind us to the fact that they have yet to institutionalize
their power in a manner that will guarantee their future participation in
decisive political processes.

Chad Raymond, Mark Selden, and Kate Zhou (2000) The Power of the Strong: Rural Resistance and Reform in China and Vietnam. China Information 14 (2): 1-30

Mark Leonard (2013) China's ideological divides

In the past, Europeans assumed that as China became wealthier and more developed it would inevitably become more like [them]. This led to a lack of curiosity about China’s internal debates and an attempt to primitively divide its thinkers and officials into ‘reformers’ who embrace Western ideas and ‘conservatives’ who want to return to China’s Maoist past... The stereotype outside China is that Chinese politics has remained trapped in aspic even as the economy has been through radical changes. In fact, the country has gone from having a system animated by larger-than-life charismatic figures such as Deng or Mao towards the collective bureaucratic leadership of technocrats who exercise power according to strict term limits and are subject to regular reviews by their peers and constituents... [A]lthough China’s footprint will become ever more important for the world, the drivers of its internal debates will be increasingly domestic.

In the economic realm, the main divide is between a social Darwinist New Right that wants to unlock entrepreneurial energy by privatising all the state-owned companies and an egalitarian New Left that believes the next wave of growth will be stimulated by clever state planning. In the political realm, the main divide is between political liberals who want to place limits on the power of the state, either through elections, the rule of law, or public participation, and neo-authoritarians who fear these measures will lead to a bureaucratised collective government that is unable to take tough decisions or challenge the vested interests of the corrupt, crony capitalist class. In the foreign-policy realm, the main divide is between defensive internationalists who want to play a role in the existing institutions of global governance or emphasise prudence and nationalists who want China to assert itself on the global stage.

Mark Leonard (2013) Introduction to China 3.0
***CHINA 3.0

See also:
Mark Leonard (2008) China's new intelligentsia (Vietnamese translation by Pham Toan)
Trần Hữu Dũng (2009) Ổn định và phát triển: Trí thức Trung Quốc đang nghĩ gì?

Xiang Zhou and Yu Xie (2015) Intergenerational social mobility in China

In China as well as other post-socialist countries, the emergence of markets provided abundant opportunities for the old elites to convert their political power into physical capital, thus making socioeconomic status far more inheritable than before. Meanwhile, a more market-driven reward system spurred a sharp increase in income inequality, thereby equipping upper-class families with more resources and incentives to pass their economic advantages on to their offspring. The abolition of egalitarian educational policies, moreover, severely limited the channel of upward mobility for children of socioeconomically disadvantaged families. A combination of these processes may well explain the consolidation of status hierarchy and its influence on social fluidity.

Absolute rates of mobility, especially of upward mobility, have grown substantially from the cohort born in the 1950s to that born in the 1970s. This growth, however, has been entirely driven by the force of industrialization—that is, the placement of an increasingly larger share of children of farming origin into nonfarming occupations. When the farm sector is excluded, both the rise in upward mobility and the decline in class immobility disappear... Given that industrialization and rural-urban migration have sped up in China during the same period, this finding accords with our hypothesis that... the boundary between agriculture and other sectors tends to be more permeable in rapidly industrializing countries than in advanced industrial societies.

Xiang Zhou and Yu Xie (2015) Market Transition, Industrialization, andSocial Mobility Trends in Post-Revolution China

James G. McGann (2012) Think tanks in China

[T]he changing landscape of China’s economy redefined the context in which think tanks function in China. This shift manifested itself in the National Co-operative Law. Implemented in 2007, the National Co-operative Law represented a mild liberalization for rural civil society. New co-operatives developed in evolutionary and peaceful ways, had great respect for private property, and were self-motivated and voluntary in nature (bottom-up process). This process contributed to the expansion of democratic concepts by giving citizens effective means to shape their future lives and their world. In this sense, the new co-operative movement helped to build and change civil society in China, making civil society institutions more of a critical dialogue partner with the state. As China’s market became increasingly free, think tanks too seized the opportunity to find private financial sources. They began to use media and overseas sources as outlets for civil society. Their scholars, looking to profit from their access to the media, began representing their own views in the media rather than those of the institution. Lastly, the newly acquired money and independence from government leaders allowed them to become financially autonomous and intellectually free. Today, Chinese think tanks fill a gap caused by the Cultural Revolution and other isolationist policies of the past.

The policy arena in China is becoming progressively open and there are an increasing number of actors involved in public policy decisions. This change has not only affected the domestic activities of Chinese think tanks, but has also had a profound impact on the influence of Chinese think tanks on the world stage. A Brookings fellow noted in a recent speech that more 13 and more representatives from Chinese think tanks are coming to the United States every week to meet with U.S. institutions to exchange policy ideas. 

The majority of Chinese think tanks are sponsored or directly affiliated with government agencies, such as the Development Research Center of the State Council and the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations... The Chinese government sees the need to increasingly heed public opinion in its decision-making and uses input from think tanks as a way of maintaining legitimacy through a more collective leadership strategy... The political stance of the leadership in China naturally affects the dialogue and freedom of Chinese think tanks, especially with regard to domestic social issues... despite the opportunity to pursue more liberalized research, the major focus of research institutions in China today is economics and international security concerns, two transnational factors that are extremely important to China’s future and political leadership.

James G. McGann (2012) Chinese Think Tanks, Policy Advice and Global Governance 

Ly H Chu (2014) Tóm tắt những hạn chế của các cách tiếp cận trong nghiên cứu chủ đề giai tầng ở Việt Nam

Các bàn luận về chủ đề giai tầng của các học giả trong nước (establishment) thường thống nhất với quan điểm của Nhà nước về giai tầng được ghi trong Hiến pháp. Trong các nghiên cứu của các học giả ngoài nước (independent/non-establishment), chủ đề chính được quan tâm là mối liên hệ của sự hình thành giai tầng (social class) và quá trình dân chủ hóa ở Việt Nam. Cả hai cách tiếp cận đều có một số điểm hạn chế.

Trong nghiên cứu xã hội học trong nước, những đề tài về phân tầng, cấu trúc, tầng lớp xã hội không có nhiều nếu không muốn nói là hiếm hoi trong suốt những năm 1990 và 2000. Viện Xã hội học và Tạp chí Xã hội học ra đời năm 1983, nhưng theo quan sát của giáo sư Trịnh Duy Luân (2004) thì phải đến năm 1992 khái niệm phân tầng xã hội mới được sử dụng lần đầu tiên. Nghiên cứu của giáo sư Tương Lai năm 1993 dường như là nghiên cứu trong nước duy nhất mà tác giả đưa ra phân tích về bất bình đẳng thu nhập không với tư cách là một hệ quả không thể tránh khỏi và vô hại của kinh tế thị trường, mà là sự thách thức đối với nhà nước trong việc bảo đảm các mục tiêu công bằng xã hội. Ngoài nghiên cứu của giáo sư Tương Lai, nghiên cứu của tiến sỹ Đỗ Thiên Kính năm 2010 là nghiên cứu trong nước thứ hai về phân tầng xã hội sau Đổi mới. Nghiên cứu này có nhiều điểm giá trị, nhất là việc cho thấy rằng nghề nghiệp đã trở thành một chỉ báo xã hội học ý nghĩa cho nghiên cứu về các khác biệt xã hội. Tuy nhiên, nó có hai hạn chế lớn. Một là, tầng lớp xã hội mới chỉ được nhìn nhận như là một chỉ báo điều kiện sống chứ chưa được nhìn nhận như là một chỉ báo cơ hội sống. Nghiên cứu chỉ đưa ra những phân tích di động xã hội nội thế hệ (sự chuyển đổi nghề nghiệp của cá nhân trong vài năm) chứ không có những phân tích di động xã hội liên thế hệ (so sánh tương quan nghề nghiệp của cha mẹ và của con cái) cần thiết để phân tích bất bình đẳng về cơ hội sống. Hai là, người nghiên cứu đưa ra những lập luận thống nhất với quan điểm nhà nước về phân tầng xã hội hợp lý theo kiểu cấu trúc – chức năng (xem ngay dưới đây).

Vì sao vấn đề giai tầng không được quan tâm nghiên cứu ở trong nước? Tôi thử đề xuất ba vấn đề. Một là, có lẽ vì cứ nhắc đến giai cấp là người ta nghĩ ngay đến quan điểm Marxist về xung đột và đấu tranh giai cấp, về sự bóc lột của giai cấp thống trị đối với giai cấp bị trị. Trên thực tế, Đảng đã dựa trên quan điểm này để tập hợp nông dân chống lại các 'giai cấp bóc lột' bao gồm 'địa chủ' trong cuộc cải cách ruộng đất năm 1956. Nhưng khi cuộc cải cách này kết thúc, thì từ đó đến nay, trong Hiến pháp, cấu trúc xã hội của Việt Nam luôn được coi là bao gồm hai giai cấp công nhân – nông dân cùng một tầng lớp trí thức liên minh với nhau, mà không tồn tại các giai cấp đối chọi với nhau. Như thế, nhắc đến bất bình đẳng giai cấp là gợi lại những sai lầm của cải cách ruộng đất, cũng như mâu thuẫn với quan điểm của Nhà nước được ghi trong Hiến pháp.

Hai là, nghiên cứu theo dòng Marxist ở các xã hội hậu xã hội chủ nghĩa, như của Djilas (1957), coi người trong Đảng như là tập hợp thành một giai cấp mới. Giai cấp được gọi là tư bản đỏ này nắm quyền lực chính trị đối với nguyên liệu sản xuất và không khác gì giai cấp tư sản ở các nước tư bản, đối chọi với toàn bộ những người dân thường bị bóc lột. Những bình luận của ông Nguyến Kiến Giang (1995) hay Hayton (2010) về quan chức cấp cao ở Việt Nam trong thời kỳ Đổi mới thống nhất với quan điểm của Djilas (1957). Tất nhiên, cách tiếp cận về giai cấp như thế bị coi là sai trái và nguy hiểm với sự ổn định xã hội, nhất là khi, theo bình luận của Abuza (2001), Đảng coi quyền lực chính thống của mình đồng nghĩa với sự ổn định chính trị và xã hội của đất nước.

Ba là, một số học giả nước ngoài như Gainsborough (2002) hay Heberer (2003) đi theo hướng tiếp cận là gắn giai tầng với thái độ và hành động chính trị. Cụ thể, họ muốn tìm hiểu vai trò của các giai tầng xã hội trong việc thúc đẩy quá trình dân chủ hóa. Theo họ, nếu các giai tầng được hình thành thì sẽ đem lại những biến chuyển xã hội và theo đó là những biến chuyển về mặt chính trị. Cách tiếp cận này tất nhiên cũng không thể được chấp nhận ở trong nước.

Vậy thì các học giả trong nước bàn về chủ đề giai tầng như thế nào? Từ các bài bình luận, tổng hợp của các tác giả ở các viện, học viện nghiên cứu (ví dụ như Nguyen KM 2007; Nguyen TTu 2007; Ngo NT 2012; Nguyen Dta 2010), có thể thấy nổi bật lên hai lập luận thường được sử dụng để hợp lý hóa quan điểm của Nhà nước về phân tầng xã hội và các khác biệt xã hội. Lập luận thứ nhất là, các vị trí cao - thấp trong xã hội là kết quả khách quan của sự khác biệt giữa các thành viên trong xã hội về khả năng bẩm sinh, sự cố gắng, và những đóng góp của họ. Người giỏi hơn, có ích hơn thì được hưởng lợi nhiều hơn và ngược lại. Lập luận thứ hai là, mỗi giai cấp hay mỗi tầng lớp bao gồm những người làm đủ mọi ngành nghề và ở các vị trí khác nhau, có người giàu, người nghèo, vì thế tựu chung lại các giai tầng này ngang bằng với nhau và không đối chọi.  Ví dụ, theo Ngo NT (2012), giai cấp nông dân bao gồm cả các nông dân tỷ phú lẫn những người làm đồng thuê, hay theo Nguyen TT (2007), nhóm xã hội trung lưu thì là tập hợp của tất cả các thành phần ưu tú đến từ tất cả các giai cấp và tầng lớp trong xã hội.

Tuy lập luận mà các tác giả trong nước kể trên đưa ra ít được dựa trên cơ sở lý thuyết hay bằng cớ thực nghiệm, có thể thấy trong lập luận thứ nhất có dáng dấp của một số học thuyết như thuyết chức năng về phân tầng xã hội của Davis và Moore (1945), thuyết Darwin xã hội, thuyết giải thích di động xã hội dựa trên khác biệt về trí thông minh bẩm sinh (ví dụ như của Nettle 2003; Saunders 2012) hay thuyết cá nhân (Giddens 1991). Những thuyết này, vô tình hay hữu ý hợp lý hóa bất bình đẳng xã hội, hoặc là đã hoàn toàn lỗi thời, hoặc đã mất dần tầm ảnh hưởng trên thế giới (xem các bình luận của Collins 1971; Breen & Goldthorpe 2001; Savage & Egerton 1997; Sullivan et al. 2013; Nisbett et al. 2012; Savage 2000: 105). Lập luận thứ hai cũng hoàn toàn không có cơ sở khoa học. Không thể lấy định nghĩa về giai cấp nông dân - công nhân mà nhà nước sử dụng làm công cụ ý thức hệ - chính trị làm công cụ phân tích, bởi các nhóm được gọi là công nhân hay nông dân này chỉ có thể coi là các nhóm đồng nhất về mặt lịch sử - chính trị cho trường hợp cụ thể của Việt Nam, chứ không thể coi là các nhóm đồng nhất về mặt kinh tế, văn hóa, xã hội theo các lý thuyết khoa học về phân tầng xã hội.

Mối quan tâm chủ yếu của các học giả ngoài nước là vai trò của các tầng lớp xã hội trong việc thúc đẩy những biến chuyển xã hội. Phân tích của các học giả như Gainsborough (2002) theo cách tiếp cận ý thức giai cấp – hành động chính trị có những đóng góp quan trọng vào hiểu biết về xã hội Việt Nam sau Đổi mới. Tuy nhiên, cách tiếp cận này còn tồn tại một số điểm hạn chế. Thứ nhất, cách tiếp cận này không khỏi bị chi phối bởi quan điểm chính trị của người nghiên cứu, đó là tin rằng, cải cách chính trị ở Việt Nam là tất yếu. Việc quá chú trọng đến một viễn cảnh về những biến chuyển xã hội theo một chiều hướng định sẵn có thể là trở ngại cho việc tìm hiểu sâu về sự tiếp nối và tái sản sinh xã hội, trong khi cần hiểu thấu đáo về xã hội hiện thời trước khi có thể bàn đến vấn đề thay đổi xã hội. Thứ hai, nếu cứ tiên quyết gắn vấn đề giai cấp – tầng lớp với vai trò chính trị của nó, thì nhiều khi lại có tình trạng vì không thấy hay không dự báo được vai trò chính trị của các giai cấp nên phủ nhận là có tồn tại giai cấp. Đây là một trong những cách lập luận thường được sử dụng nhằm phủ nhận ý nghĩa của nghiên cứu về giai tầng trong xã hội học trên thế giới (xem nhận định của Chauvel 2006). Thứ ba, có thể việc quá tập trung vào mặt chính trị khiến cho những cách tiếp cận không đưa chính trị vào trung tâm - những cách tiếp cận khác Marxist, chưa được đưa vào xem xét và ứng dụng trong nghiên cứu giai tầng. Trong khi đó, rất nhiều nghiên cứu trên thế giới sử dụng các cách tiếp cận khác Marxist, như các cách tiếp cận của Weber, Goldthorpe hay Bourdieu, chỉ ra rằng bất bình đẳng có thể được phân tích và giải thích một cách sâu sắc, mà không nhất thiết phải nhìn nó chỉ với quan điểm Marxist là những đối chọi và xung đột trong quan hệ giai cấp về mặt sở hữu tư liệu sản xuất.

Ly H Chu (2016) Social class influences on life chances in post-reform Vietnam

Theda Skocpol (1982) Peasant mobilisation for the Vietnamese revolution

There is no reason why organized revolutionary movements, once on the scene, cannot appeal to many different kinds of agrarian cultivators, including "traditional" ones. This certainly was what the Vietnamese Communists succeeded in doing. In mountainous areas, they mobilized minority ethnic groups, peasants, and notables together by appealing to their fears of ethnic exploitation. In northern Vietnam, they mobilized peasants by displacing the French and by pushing aside within the communal villages the exploitative landlords and the Confucian notables. And in southern Vietnam they mobilized peasants-including..., the rice sharecroppers-by seizing and redistributing large land holdings and by organizing local associations to support peasant livelihood and defend their possession of the redistributed land… The historical record shows that peasant-based revolutions have (alternatively or simultaneously) received support both from peasants economically or politically threatened by newly penetrating capitalist forces and from agrarian cultivators involved in export-agricultural production. In Vietnam, for example, the revolution gained support from northern peasants resentful of French colonial controls, and also from southern peasants set in opposition to the great landlords who dominated the export-oriented rice economy. The Vietnamese Communists were able to sink roots in both groups, drawing from them resources to wage prolonged revolutionary war. 

The Vietnamese Revolution also grew out of the impact of colonialism upon the politics of indigenous middle-class Vietnamese, who became modern-educated, yet were denied important elite posts in the French-dominated colonial state. Nationalist and revolutionary political movements were the predictable result. Thereafter, the progress, even survival, of these movements depended upon a weakening of French power-and that came only with the interimperialist military rivalries of World War 11. The Japanese captured colonial Vietnam and in 1945 displaced the Vichy French administrators, only themselves to face defeat soon thereafter at the hands of the United States and Britain. The disruptions-and ultimate vacuum-of state power during World War I1 gave the Vietnamese Communists an ideal opportunity to claim the nationalist mantle, to assert sovereignty on the heels of the departing Japanese, and finally to mobilize Vietnamese peasants (especially in the North) to resist France's attempt to reimpose colonial control. 

Thus, the military and political reverberations of imperialist expansion contributed crucially to the emergence and success of the Chinese and Vietnamese revolutions. Without the breakdown of the imperial and colonial regimes, without the emergence of organized revolutionary parties, and without the openings created for them by interimperialist military rivalries, the peasants of China and Vietnam could not have been mobilized for revolution. And given the local agrarian structures of China and Vietnam, the peasants could not have become revolutionary in the absence of direct mobilization.

Ivan Szelenyi (2015) The Vietnamese transition

Vietnam, much like China some seven years earlier, dismantled the agricultural cooperatives and gave agrarian production back to the peasants (this is something Russia never did and the Central European countries did not do either). So in one stroke Vietnam eliminated food shortages and as far as we can tell dramatically reduced poverty during transition (while as we saw poverty skyrocketed in the former USSR and its European satellites). Vietnam also followed China by NOT combining perestroika with glasnost, hence retaining the political monopoly of the Communist Party, what arguably was the precondition – but for a price what many would judge to be unaffordable – of a gradualist transformation (this again is something what distinguished Vietnam and China from the European post-communist regimes – see this point in Yamaoka 2007. 9.) Nevertheless, Vietnam’s reforms were not only later than the Chinese, they also had more of a shock element. While Vietnam did not rush to mass privatization, it moved more aggressively to market liberalization, shut down early state enterprises, opened faster rooms for the private sector and opened up its borders to FDI (Bunck 1996. 236.). Hence I may argue Vietnamese “capitalism from below” came with a “neo-liberal” flavour. Nevertheless, Vietnam never experienced the transitional recession/depression mainly because in the first stages of reform the rapidly expanding household sector absorbed most of the costs (and labour freed from SOEs – see McCarty 2000.) So far Vietnam is a “success story” – much like China is. They managed the transition without the frightening costs other post-communist transformation trajectories could not avoid. 

But both for China and Vietnam the BIG question is – much like for the neo-patrimonial/ rentier states, but for a different reason – sustainability. There are two major reasons why the East Asian transformation from below is vulnerable: (i) will they be able to retain their export led industrialization once the price of their labour will catch up with the rest of the world? (ii) can the political monopoly of the communist party maintained under market capitalist conditions and if it cannot is a “gradualist” transformation of the political system conceivable? If it is not and political systems either stay or fall, what would be the social and economic consequences of such a political disintegration? 

Edmund Malesky and Jonathan London (2014) State-led development in Vietnam

Although we lack counterfactual evidence, it appears likely that SOEs were more often beneficiaries, rather than engines, of growth. Recent analyses of the role of the state sector in Vietnam have demonstrated [...] profound underperformance. As Pincus et al. 2012 demonstrate, SOEs in Vietnam can no longer claim to be the vanguard of the working class, at least in a numerical sense, as they account for only 11% of employment and have actually seen net employment drop by 22% between 2006 and 2010. Growth decompositions show that the state sector accounted for only 19% and 8% of GDP and industrial growth, respectively, between 2000 and 2010. Moreover, given their tremendous advantages, SOE contributions to export have been absurdly small, with most exporting accomplished by small-scale farmers and foreign investors. From textiles (Vinatex) to shipbuilding (Vinashin), Vietnamese SOEs have failed to be competitive on world markets. TFP studies by ownership in Vietnam have not been credible, because they fail to properly account for the contribution of free land and cheap capital to SOEs’ bottom line. For now, London’s (2013) characterization of Vietnam’s poorly performing industrial policy as “chaebol dreaming” remains apt.

With even modest assumptions about these cheap inputs, the state sector seems to have been a net drag on the Vietnamese economy. Three distortions have been documented: First, even though SOEs have not been successful at exporting in their core competencies, they are protected in those core competencies by Group A investment restrictions on private entry and phase-in requirements on WTO tariff-reduction obligations (Auffret 2003). Second, protections in core businesses, cheap land to rent to private producers, and cheap capital have generated tremendous cash flow that SOEs have funneled into subsidiary investment projects in unrelated businesses, as SOE managers seek to maximize their individual revenue. Vinashin, for instance, had 445 subsidiary businesses and 20 joint ventures, which ranged from real estate to hotels and karaoke. These sideline businesses crowd out more dynamic and entrepreneurial businesses (Nguyen & Freeman 2009). Third, Phan & Coxhead (2013) demonstrate adverse effects of these policies on labor markets, showing that state-sector activity has both depressed returns to skills in nonstate sectors and crowded out more skill-intensive forms of private-sector growth. The effect arises directly from the privileged role of the state sector and the lack of oversight to ensure meritocratic hiring. Because SOEs are capital intensive and protected, the returns to skills in SOEs are higher than in the private sector. Therefore, employment in SOEs is highly coveted. Nevertheless, hiring into SOEs is based on nonmarket mechanisms, such as familial connections, relationships, and outright corruption. Those without such connections have less incentive to invest in high-level skills, leading to lower-quality labor available for private-sector producers.

Critical to the debates about a new economic model is the demonstration by fine-grained scholarship that SOEs are remarkably unproductive relative to nonstate competition. Furthermore, scholars have shown that the greatest periods of growth and poverty reduction occurred when the state sector was at its weakest. In Vietnam, the 2001–2006 boom was correlated with robust growth in private investment; the post-2007 decline correlates with the return of SOEs.

Edmund Malesky and Jonathan London (2014) The political economy of development in China and Vietnam

World Bank (2008) Water pollution in Vietnam

Three industry groups dominate the water pollution index top 30 rankings. They relate to (a) paper and wood products, (b) chemicals and (c) metal processing. The first group includes corrugated paper and paperboard, particle board and plywood, and pulp processing. Soap, detergents, cleaning and polishing preparations, perfumes and toiletries are added to the other more dominant chemical categories including agro-chemical products and medical chemicals. The processing, treatment and fabrication of iron and steel and non-ferrous products, in addition to general mechanical engineering, appears consistently high in all three indexes, but especially for water and land. A broader group of food processing industries appear in the top 30 of the water pollution index rankings including the 48 sugar refineries and factories in Vietnam, processing and preserving of fruit and vegetables and “other food products” category that covers production of coffee products, packing of tea, manufacture of soups and broths, spices, sauces and condiments, and frozen meat and poultry dishes. As for the other indexes, fish processing is prominent.

The top 10 provinces stand out with high loads in the 4 types of water pollutants [TSS - total suspended solids; BOD - biological oxygen demand; metals to water; chemicals to water]covered in the index (Table 2.4). Other provinces have a more variable profile. Ninh Binh for example, which is ranked 30th on the water pollution index, is very high for TSS but relatively low for the other water pollution parameters. Analyzing that province further, two dominant industries from a pollution standpoint are VSIC-4 categories basic iron and steel and casting of iron and steel. Those two sectors are responsible for 93 percent of TSS releases in Ninh Binh Province. Binh Dinh Province, which ranks 15th on the water pollution index, ranks high for BOD but has only a moderate ranking for the other water pollution parameters. The reason for this profile is clear. Binh Dinh is a center for paper and paperboard production, a sector ranked highest nationally for BOD pollution.

Da Nang and Binh Dinh contribute most water pollutants in the Central Economic Focal Region (59 percent of BOD, 68.3 percent of TSS, 63 percent of chemicals, and 70.3 percent of metals). Da Nang alone accounts for 54.4 percent of all emissions of TSS. In terms of contribution by industrial sectors in the Central Economic Focal Region, the fertilizer and nitrogen compounds sector accounts for 26.1 percent and 21.7 percent of chemical and metal releases, respectively. The corrugated paper and paperboard sector releases 31.8 percent of BOD, and the basic iron and steel sector contributes 33.4 percent of TSS in the region. Those three sectors together have only 53 enterprises of the total in the Central Economic Focal Region.

World Bank (2008) Review and Analysis of the Pollution Impacts from Vietnamese Manufacturing Sectors

Steve Bass et al. (2010) Viet Nam’s development priorities to date aim at high rates of economic growth – but in ways that constrain integration of environment objectives

The prevailing development narrative in Viet Nam is to achieve middle-income status through economic growth, under conditions that (it is assumed) will also reduce poverty en route. This is in spite of environmental damage becoming apparent and export markets increasingly demanding sustainably produced goods. Viet Nam’s market orientation excites competition between provinces to attract foreign direct investment (FDI), which continues to drive a ‘race to the bottom’ in ignoring environmental standards; state-owned enterprises (SOEs) continue to ‘steal from the future’ by polluting air and water. Heavy costs are imposed on the environment, with much natural resource degradation and pollution, which in turn explains much entrenched poverty. The National Environmental Performance Assessment (n.d.) is consequently gloomy, noting how water and air quality having been static or deteriorating and big losses of biodiversity in particular.

Environment is not central to the economic growth philosophy, except that poverty is seen to be a cause of environmental degradation. Indeed, environmental problems are sometimes attributed explicitly to some ethnic minorities – suggesting that changing the resource use practices of poor people should be the priority. Various policy documents suggest that environmental protection to make up for recent ‘environment sacrifices’ can be ‘afforded’ only once middle-income status is achieved.

The ‘economic growth first’ narrative creates great pressure to ignore environmental considerations at all levels. Production, income and economic growth are the top targets by which officials will be assessed. The associated quantitative indicators are compelling and the lack of similar quantitative environment indicators does nothing to balance the growth incentive. Furthermore, the honourable notion of ‘victory means sacrifice’ would seem to justify acceptance of the idea of sacrificing environment in the medium term – why create only one ‘green job’ if two ‘polluting jobs’ can be created today and the resultant income used to clean up associated environmental damage later? This short-term drive for growth may indeed be efficient if environmental assets can later be rebuilt, or if environmental hazards did no lasting harm, but this is not always the case. Unlike Thailand, Laos, Malaysia, Indonesia, and other neighbours, Viet Nam’s environment was already highly degraded before the growth spurt of the 2000s. Without significant change, the likely outcome of continued degradation may resemble China’s – with its huge social costs.

Steve Bass, David Annandale, Phan Van Binh, Tran Phuong Dong,Hoang Anh Nam, Le Thi Kien Oanh, Mike Parsons, Nguyen Van Phuc,and Vu Van Trieu (2010) Integrating environment and development in Viet Nam: Achievements, challenges and next steps

OECD (2015) Recent state of natural resource endowments and environmental pressures in Vietnam

A considerable proportion of Vietnam's economic growth in the past two decades has been the result of exploiting natural resources, especially the intensified use of both land and water, and a large degree of deforestation to plant export crops.

Vietnam is relatively rich in water resources, but regional and seasonal differences are significant and local shortages occur during the dry season, in particular in Southeast provinces. Moreover, almost 60% of Vietnam's total water resources are generated outside its borders, making the country vulnerable to decisions made about water resources in upstream countries (FAO AQUASTAT, 2013).

The economic scarcity of land is significant, with just 0.12 ha of agricultural land per capita, one-sixth of the world average, on par with Belgium, just below the Netherlands, but less than China or Indonesia and just above the Philippines and India (FAOSTAT, 2015). There are also growing pressures to convert agricultural land into higher-value non-farm uses (both urban and industrial).

Only about 30% of soil resources in Vietnam are of good quality. Due to the excessive use of fertilisers, pesticides and other chemicals, there has been a progressive degrading of the land and soil environment (MONRE, 2014). This leads to the widening prevalence of soil erosion, decline of soil fertility and growing risk of eutrophication (Pham et al., 2006; Vietnam Soil Association, 1996).

Deforestation, from increased planting to profitable agricultural crops, notably coffee, occurred heavily until the early 1990s. While the area of natural forest continues to decline, reforestation efforts in the last 15 years have increased total forested areas, in particular of planted and naturally regenerated forests. Despite these efforts and successes, over two-thirds of natural forests are considered to be of  'poor' or 'recovering' quality and low land forests have been almost completely depleted (UN-REDD, 2009). Vietnam has one of the highest rates in the world of the deforestation of primary forests.

Vietnam is listed among the ten countries potentially the most affected by climate change. Climate change scenarios developed by the Vietnamese government predict increases in average temperature, rainfall and rising sea levels. The potential impacts on agriculture are serious, as floods and droughts are predicted to happen more frequently. In particular, large cultivation areas in Mekong and Red River deltas are likely to be even more affected by salt water intrusion to sea level rise (ISPONRE, 2009).

OECD (2015) Agricultural policies in Vietnam 2015 

Minh T.H. Le, Sara Holton, Huong Thanh Nguyen, Rory Wolfe, Jane Fisher (2015) Prevalence of Poly-Victimisation among Vietnamese High School Students

Although there are more than 30 million children and adolescents in Vietnam, and they account for more than a third of the nation’s population [32], there is limited evidence about poly-victimisation among them. Most previous studies in Vietnam only investigated specific forms of victimisation. The UNICEF Multi Indicator Cluster Survey 3, investigated mothers aged 15–49 years about their care of their under-five year old children and the children's health and development. Conducted in fifty low and middle income countries, it found that Vietnam was among the countries in which corporal punishment and psychological and physical abuse of children were the most prevalent [33]. Nguyen et al [18] investigated 2,581 grade 6–12 students in Vietnam and found that 67% reported at least one form and 6% all four forms of neglect, physical, emotional and sexual abuse.

This is the first study in Vietnam to investigate poly-victimisation among adolescents systematically and comprehensively.

Victimisation was widespread in this sample of high school students with nearly a third having experienced more than ten forms of victimisation.

There were much higher rates of lifetime victimisation among these Vietnamese adolescents than among secondary school students from China [29] and South Africa [31], which are upper-middle income countries. Compared to China—a country which shares many social and cultural similarities with Vietnam, the prevalence was double that reported by Chan [29]. The same conclusion can be made when the results are compared with those reported from high income countries. The prevalence of poly-victimisation in this sample (31%) is much higher than that reported among Australian 23-24-year-old young adults (14%) [3] and triple that reported by Turner et al (10%) among a national sample of American children and adolescents [22, 45]

Exposure to more adverse life events, the presence of a chronic disease or disability, living with a step-parent, perception of family as unhappy, punishment at school and rural residence increased the risk of poly-victimisation when controlling for other variables in this [study's] sample.

Minh T.H. Le, Sara Holton, Huong Thanh Nguyen, Rory Wolfe, Jane Fisher (2015) Poly-Victimisation among Vietnamese High School Students: Prevalence and Demographic Correlates, PLoS ONE 10 (5)

Jane Fisher, Thach Duc Tran, Trang Thu Nguyen, Tuan Tran (2012) Common perinatal mental disorders and alcohol dependence in men in northern Viet Nam

This study is to our knowledge the first to establish the prevalence and correlates of common perinatal disorders and alcohol dependence in men in a low or lower-middle income country and in Viet Nam.

We found that the prevalence of PCMD [perinatal common mental disorders of depression and anxiety] in men(17.7%) was less than that in women in this setting (29.9%) (Fisher et al., 2010), but that alcohol dependence, which was not found in women, was widespread in men in both rural and urban areas (33.8%).

The prevalence of any depressive disorder in men in this study (12.6%) is higher than the pooled prevalence in high-income countries (9%) (Paulson and Bazemore, 2010) and much higher than in the studies which used the same diagnostic assessment in well-resourced Asian countries:Singapore(1.8%) (Cheeetal.,2004) and HongKong(3.1%) (Laietal.,2010).

As others have found, alcohol dependence was highest among men occupying the lowest socioeconomic position.

Non-psychotic mental health problems in men have been neglected not only in Viet Nam but also in other resource-constrained countries. The results of this study suggest strongly that perinatal mental health problems represent a significant public health concern not only among women but also among men in northern Viet Nam. These data suggest that interventions should not be confined to women, but should also include men and should be combined with community-based strategies to reduce alcohol misuse and family violence

Jane Fisher, Thach Duc Tran, Trang Thu Nguyen, Tuan Tran (2012) Common perinatal mental disorders and alcohol dependence in men in northern Viet Nam, Journal of Affective Disorders 140: 97-101

Jane R.W. Fisher, Huong Thu Thi Tran and TuanTran (2007) Mental health during and after pregnancy and links to socioeconomic conditions

There is emerging evidence that poor mental health is common in women in the postpartum year in Vietnam. Two detailed investigations using psychological autopsies to investigate maternal deaths (defined as those occurring during pregnancy or up to 42 days postpartum) in ten provinces have found that 8% to 16.9% are by suicide, which is exceptionally high by world standards [16,17]. Fisher et al. [18] found that 32.7% of 506 women attending immunisation clinics with their six week old babies scored in the clinical range of >12 on a translated and culturally verified version of the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale [EDS] and 19% expressed explicit ideas that they did not want to go on living. Tran Tuan et al. [19] found that 20% of the 2000 mothers of six to eighteen month old infants surveyed for the Vietnam arm of the Young Lives Project, an investigation of childhood poverty, met screening criteria for psychiatric clinical caseness on the locally validated WHO SRQ 20. Both of these studies surveyed representative samples of women who had recently given birth. Given that depression during pregnancy is a risk factor for depression after childbirth, these data indicate that antenatal depression might also be common in Vietnamese women.

[In this study's cohort] higher EDS scores indicating lower mood were associated with psychological and social adversity including experiencing criticism and coercion in the intimate partnership, overcrowded living conditions, low security of employment and unwelcome pregnancy. Although few women reported symptoms of sufficient severity to suggest clinically significant disturbance, these data indicate that these factors may contribute cumulatively to causing more severe mood disturbance and associated disability.

Jane R.W. Fisher, Huong Thu Thi Tran and TuanTran (2007) Relative socioeconomic advantage and mood during advanced pregnancy in women in Vietnam,  International Journal of Mental Health Systems 1: 3

Khai Thu Nguyen (2012) State reform and use of cải lương

Scholars have situated cải lương's development to the building of Vietnamese (particularly Southern) culture at the turn of  the century. Vuong Hong Sen, the author of A Diary of Fifty Years of Love for Singing, a memoir about cải lương in the early years of its formation, ties the birth of cải lương with a brewing sense of national identity emerging in the south during colonialism: "At that time, in the South there was a mysterious wind: 'the rise of patriotism.' We no longer resisted, because we could not defeat [the French] with force, we could no longer be revolutionaries, so patriotism boiled and brewed silently within us" (Vuong 1968: 26). Vuong Hong Sen attributes cải lương's ability to double as a pure form of entertainment as a means through which national identity could be (surreptitiously) imagined: "At first, singing and playing, mixing French into our language, playing at life, making fun. .., putting a love of country into an old performance, we kept on transforming, changing it, and cải lương was born unexpectedly, from what year no one knows for certain" (Vuong 1968: 21-22; see also Ba 1988). Cải lương was a means of "burying" the patriotic spirit "within a surface of enjoyment and play" that allowed the latter to develop (Vuong 1968: 18-19).

Philip Taylor writes that many of the Chinese stories, costumes, and choreographies were eliminated from post-1975 reformed cải lương, as well as "Western melodies, musical genres from the tango to love songs, eclectic foreign costumes, use of Western stories and motifs drawn from sources as varied as Ancient Rome, Egypt, India and the US Wild West" (Taylor 2001: 151). According to Taylor, revolutionary reforms in the south after 1975 tamed the "excesses" of cải lương by directing its emotional components toward the building of socialist and revolutionary values. The emotions of reformed cải lương expressed merely "fearlessness and optimism" (Taylor 2001: 152) and were stripped of personal components. 

Yet the reformed post-1975 cải lương plays did not abandon cải lương's historical relationship with sentimentality and narratives of the woman and family. In remaking cải lương, the state would borrow from the immensely popular form to create nostalgia for an original and coherent state, or "homeland," as a way to erase the loss of southern society and facilitate an imaginary of a united nation.

Khai Thu Nguyen (2012) A Personal Sorrow: "Cải Lương" and the Politics of North and South Vietnam, Asian Theatre Journal, 29(1): 255-275

Tai-lok Lui (2005) Middle-class politics in contemporary China

The middle class in China’s major cities — which is often expected to be a social force to bring about democratization and an open society — is likely to be a source of disappointment to the optimists, at least in the near term. My interviews with professionals, managers, and administrators in Shanghai reveal that they are low-profile liberals, if not conservatives. True, they are well aware of rising  social  inequalities,  regional  imbalances,  corruption,  and  other  social problems. They understand that the political environment is far from satisfactory and they would like a more responsive and accountable government. Yet,they will not push for democratization; in fact, it is not even high on their list of priorities of future changes. They prefer gradual reform, meaning a slow process of the loosening of existing authoritarian governance. Their conservatism is, in a way, understandable. Their interests are firmly rooted in the existing economic structure and they are eager to preserve what they have earned in recent years. Although many of those I interviewed were uneasy about the glaring gap between the rich and the poor, and express their concern about the welfare of the needy, on the whole they feel they deserve the level and the kind of material rewards they have attained.

Attempts to quicken the pace of liberalization and democratization in China will almost certainly scare the middle class away from politics. In fact, it is often when confronted by the authoritarian state that the middle class takes a pro-liberalization stance. Thus, middle-class politics (more appropriately, a kind of nascent middle-class politics) is two-faced. On the one side, it is a soft challenge to the Chinese authoritarian state. It will be a social force to promote liberalization and during such a process of liberalization we may see the emergence of civic and pressure groups that will loosen the existing top-down authoritarian control in many aspects of social life in China. On the other side, as noted above, the middle class is more conservative when it comes to concrete state policies and the direction of future economic and political reform. Middle-class politics as such does not guarantee the fostering of the kind of democratization that will truly empower those who are suffering in the course of the capitalization of the Chinese economy, namely, workers and peasants. Nor will middle-class politics necessarily include the interests of the poor in their political platform and re-form agenda. Middle-class politics, unless re-articulated to more radical ideology brought about by dramatic changes in the structural setting at a critical conjuncture, is primarily about the interests of the middle class.

The rise of the middle class and the gradual emergence of middle-class politics in China are no substitute for agitation and resistance from below. Paradoxically, what is absent in contemporary Chinese politics is a true representation of the interests of the oppressed in the existing political structure.

Tai-lok Lui (2005) Bringing class back in, Critical Asian Studies, 37(3): 473-480

Catherine Locke, Nguyễn Thị Ngân Hoa and Nguyễn Thị Thanh Tâm (2012) The plights of low-income migrants: family, marriage, children upbringing

'Low-income migrants acknowledge that spousal separation impinges on marital affection and conjugal intimacy but have to put their anxieties aside in the face of needing to secure their families’ economies. Mai says “We are rural people, what can I say about love? . . . We did not think about love or our emotions.”'

Catherine Locke, Nguyễn Thị Ngân Hoa and Nguyễn Thị Thanh Tâm (2012) Struggling to Sustain Marriages and Build Families Mobile Husbands/Wives and Mothers/Fathers in Hà Nội and Hồ Chí Minh City,  Journal of Vietnamese Studies, 7(4): 63-91

Nguyen Thi Nguyet Minh (2012) Migrant domestic workers in Hanoi

'... the rural-urban differentiation has been increasing and the movement of rural migrants into domestic service and their experiences at work are part of this process. The rural domestic workers migrated as a result of the rural-urban disparity within Vietnam. In the course of migration, they were again confronted with a hierarchical order in the urban labor market, being channelled into its lower-end sectors with demeaning occupations like domestic work. Working in the intimate home sphere of urban families, the domestic workers experienced intensely this rural-urban hierarchy to an even greater degree. It was there that their rural personhood was consumed, scrutinized, supervised, and looked down on at the same time. It was there that they were relegated to their proper place and expected to serve. The social relations within domestic service in Vietnam thus represent a major shift from the ideology of an equal and classless society of the state socialist period, which the country still pursues in theory.

The migratory experiences of the domestic workers showed contradictions. As migrants, they aspired to improve their life or the life chances of their children by migrating to the city. Yet they were confronted with a pronounced hierarchy in the urban workplace, which reinforced their marginalized status. Young migrant domestic workers might wish to escape from the restrictions of village life, yet were even more highly controlled in the city. It was indeed a case of thwarted aspirations. On the other hand, in order to be able to provide for their family, many domestic workers had to leave it; to be able to bring their children up, they were supposed to devote themselves to the care of other people’s children. They were not in a position to “both live with (their) family and support it.” In the words of Mary Romero, they are “restricted to the most basic ‘mothering’ agenda of sending money home to house, feed and clothe their children” while helping urban families give their children better nurturing. This arguably “determines child-rearing and socialization while reproducing class differences,” further accentuating the existing rural-urban gap.'

Nguyen Thi Nguyet Minh (2012) '“Doing Ô Sin” Rural Migrants Negotiating Domestic Work in Hà Nội', Journal of Vietnamese Studies, 7(4): 32-62.

Jacqui Baker & Sarah Milne (2015) Southeast Asian dirty money states

Illicit revenues have not been part of the normative story of state formation. Rather, illegal practices and monies have been framed under the banner of “corruption:” an aberrant, irrelevant and dysfunctional side economy to official narratives of statehood. Yet, as the articles in this thematic issue show, to dismiss corruption and criminal activity as outside of the realms of state activity is to exclude an important dimension of state formation in contemporary Southeast Asia. The sums generated by these illicit economies are considerable, and parts of the state are heavily dependent upon them for everything from everyday state work, to the extension of sovereignty and the shoring up political stability. Little wonder then that these states exert enormous effort in the capture, control, and organization of dirty monies. The empirical evidence therefore challenges conventional narratives about how weak fiscal states are unable to build fiscal power, and instead suggests that Southeast Asian states often degrade their fiscal architecture in pursuit of illicit profits.

The relationship between illegal rentier economies and the state does not necessarily entail chaos or an absence of the rule of law. Rather, illegal economies are systematically established and protected by the state – as seen in the highly organized and visible deployment of the tools and devices of state territorialization. For example, state laws and institutions are used to demarcate areas for illegal logging; public infrastructure and equipment like roads and trucks are used for illicit timber extraction; and specialized drilling machines are deployed openly for the construction of underground mining tunnels that enable so-called informal mining. This level of capitalization and investment indicates how “illegality” can be systematized and normalized at a remarkable scale and how actors involved expect such practices to endure over time. 

Perhaps the most prominent example of this is in To’s article on Vietnam, where the state has recently re-zoned woodland around an upland village as “national forest.” This territorialization has not only changed the legal status of the land, extending state propriety over it, but has ushered in a host of government officials, law enforcers, and park rangers to “protect” the forest and uphold the logging ban. Residents who engage in traditional timber extraction are effectively criminalized and local law enforcers have the authority to confiscate village-logged timber or issue fines. However, the law is rarely enforced as stated on paper. Instead, the law is “taxed” through bribes extracted from villagers, who effectively conduct logging on behalf of local authorities. As timber is subsequently transported through government checkpoints, local middlemen known as lawmakers – who are themselves officials with familial ties to the government-run People’s Committee – skillfully maneuver the illicit timber through and over the formal law. The biggest rents from this illegal logging industry are not kept by the villagers who fell the timber, but are accumulated by state institutions and state officials. In this way, territorialization of upland Vietnam is central to the establishment of an illicit regime of extraction that finances and enriches the state.

Martin Gainsborough (2010) The Vietnamese state

To sum up, what we have, then, is a state which is little more than a disparate group of actors with a weak notion of 'the public good', using uncertainty, not impartial rules, as the basis of order. However, this is only part of the picture since the state also appears as greater than the sum of its parts - an institution which has 'self-preserving and self-aggrandizing impulses', to quote Benedict Anderson (1983), which takes people in and spits them out, and which re-creates itself in a way that cannot be reducible to the wit of any one individual. In Vietnam this comes across most clearly in terms of the way in which when this 'collectivity' of institutions and actors feel its core interests threatened, it is able to mobilize fairly robustly in order to clamp down on people or activities deemed to threaten the 'whole show'.

Martin Gainsborough (2010) Vietnam: Rethinking the state