Published: 15:50, May 24, 2024
Xi greets Vietnam’s new president
By Cao Desheng in Beijing and Yang Han in Hong Kong

To Lam pledges full performance of duty as analysts see change as positive for Southeast Asian nation

To Lam swears in the position after he was elected as the president at the National Assembly in Hanoi, Vietnam on May 22, 2024. (PHOTO / VNA VIA AP)

President Xi Jinping has congratulated To Lam on his assuming office as president of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, pledging to work with him to promote bilateral relations.

During the seventh plenary session from May 21-22, the 15th National Assembly of Vietnam ad opted a resolution to elect To Lam the country’s new president, with 472 out of 473 deputies present voting in favor, according to national English-language daily Viet Nam News.

In a congratulatory letter sent to To Lam on May 22, Xi said that China and Vietnam, both socialist countries, are friends and neighbors connected by mountains and rivers.

Xi spoke of his state visit to Vietnam last year, when he and Nguyen Phu Trong, general secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) Central Committee, jointly announced the building of a China-Vietnam community with a shared future that carries strategic significance, opening a new chapter in the relationship between the two parties and the two countries.

Xi said he is happy to see that various departments and local authorities of both countries are stepping up the construction of the China-Vietnam community with a shared future, and have made steady progress in that direction.

Noting that he attaches great importance to the development of China’s relations with Vietnam, Xi said he is willing to work with Lam to maintain strategic communication and guide both countries in the building of the China-Vietnam community with a shared future, with more substantial results in broader fields delivering more benefits to the people of both countries.

In his inauguration speech, Lam said he is deeply aware of his great responsibility to the party, the state, and the people, and pledged to seriously and fully perform the duties of the president of Vietnam as defined by the constitution.

Lam also vowed to actively fulfill the country’s internal, external, defense, and security tasks.

He said he would also — together with the entire party, people, military, and organization in the political system — promote the highest spirit of “self-reliance, self-confidence, self-strength, self-resilience, and national pride”.

Lam, a member of the CPV Politburo, was appointed deputy minister of public security in August 2010 and he became minister of public security in April 2016. He is also the deputy head of the Central Steering Committee on Anti-corruption led by Trong.

Lam’s election came after the resignation of former president Vo Van Thuong in March, who was only in office for one year. The government said Thuong violated party regulations and has negatively affected public perception as well as the reputation of the party and the state.

On May 21, Vietnam’s National Assembly (NA) appointed Tran Thanh Man as its new chairman.

Man, 62, was vice-chairman and chairman of the Vietnam Fatherland Front Central Committee and has been the permanent NA vice-chairman since April 2021. He is also a Politburo member.

In early May, the NA adopted a resolution relieving Man’s predecessor Vuong Dinh Hue from its chairmanship over the violation of party regulations.

To Lam and Man were nominated by the CPV as president and the NA chairman, respectively, on May 18.

Tran Quoc To, deputy minister of public security, is set to take the ministerial role after the NA approved the shift of Lam from his role as the nation’s top security official, according to VnExpress.

“Since early 2023, Vietnam has been facing an unprecedented leadership crisis with a series of high-level dismissals and prosecutions,” said Le Hong Hiep, a senior fellow and coordinator of the Vietnam Studies Programme at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore.

The election is seen as a step towards stabilizing the system and providing a much-needed respite for the CPV to focus on preparations for its 14th National Congress, which will take place in January 2026, Hiep wrote in a commentary on the institute’s Fulcrum analysis site on May 21.

However, “their election also adds complexity to the personnel issue at the congress, particularly in selecting a potential replacement for General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong”, Hiep noted.

On social media, Vietnamese people welcomed the appointment of the new president.

“Congratulations to new President To Lam. Vietnamese people believe that the country will continue to develop strongly under his leadership. We also support the state’s policy of zero tolerance towards corruption and negativity,” a netizen wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

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