As a writer and researcher, who has been reporting on Vietnam for over 20 years, I have witnessed the dramatic reforms associated with “Doi Moi.”
|James Borton, senior writer and non-resident fellow at Tufts University Science Diplomacy Center. Photo: Tufts University|
During this current pandemic, Hanoi authorities responded quickly with clear regulatory measures: passengers arriving from international flights were required to fill out health declaration forms; arrivals from high-risk areas were subjected to testing and, if deemed potentially infected sent to a quarantine camp, and the government shut its border to all Chinese travelers.
The government’s swift actions, together with consistent public health messaging, has bolstered public and also international confidence in leadership at a time when much was still unknown about the virus.
As a result, in a country of 97 million, Vietnam has only 355 confirmed cases and zero deaths. Unlike other authoritarian states, Vietnam has been transparent with its collected data and has even garnered high marks from social activists and critics on its information access and central-local government policy coordination. As a result, Washington and the World Health Organization do trust Hanoi’s reported figures as opposed to Beijing's failure to provide data and information.
As the 2020 ASEAN chair and coupled with its seat at the UN Security Council, Vietnam is more than poised to wave an ‘open for business flag to foreign investors. No doubt, Hanoi’s success in Covid-19 prevention and the confidence among business leaders that policies will be jumpstarted to generate renewed foreign direct investment will continue to push Vietnam forward to be one of the early economies recovering from the impact of the pandemic. Already more transnational companies are making plans to relocate from China to Vietnam.
The lesson that Vietnam has learned that will bolster its ASEAN leadership role and instill FDI confidence is to stay the course with information transparency flow from the local to the central level.
James Borton is a senior writer and non-resident fellow at Tufts University Science Diplomacy Center.