Hanoi watchers are glued to the drama: Over the past week they have been following closely the details of the Communist Party’s power struggle, allegedly between Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong and Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung — and their respective supporters. According to some analysts, the political turmoil extends beyond merely a two-faction conflict. In a January 14 article in The Diplomat, Jonathan D. London writes that “Perhaps most strikingly, a struggle has emerged over the decisional authority of the current general secretary, the 16-member Politburo he leads, and the 175-member Party’s Central Committee, with a host of retired and current party power-brokers seeking influence to the best of their abilities.”
Only a few weeks earlier, on December 16, Vietnamese police arrested prominent human rights lawyer Nguyen Van Dai on charges of conducting propaganda against the state, which can carry a lengthy prison term. The arrest has caused a global outcry by human rights organizations and has been condemned by some governments. However, the Vietnamese government has been escalating its human rights abuses, even as the United States, the European Union, and other nations have increased their foreign aid and trade with the Hanoi regime.
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