“Đổi Mới”, which was initiated in 1986, might be seen as the Vietnamese equivalent of Deng Xiaoping’s attempt to build socialism with Chinese characteristics. Of course, even if many social indicators point to a more equal development in Vietnam, the reality is that there is no Chinese road, or Vietnamese road, to socialism. Or, at least not a road which requires what is, in effect, uninterrupted capitalist growth. Especially, a growth that is based on fossil fuels and the rich getting richer, while the poor are getting poorer
Therefore, even if Vietnam feels more equitable and even freer – and it does – than China, there is this reality of walking around the Hoam Keim lake and looking at the poor souls with big cameras around their necks hoping to earn a few thousand dongs with a photo of a tourist, while all and sundry have their iphone 6s attached to selfie sticks.
Nevertheless, there has been enough to impress me here; students who are interested in learning for learning’s sake and a level of education that I have seldom, if ever, encountered with Chinese students. Moreover, even if there is no road to socialism through uninterrupted economic growth based on fossil fuels, the discussions going on in Vietnam regarding sustainability give grounds for hope and maybe even the realisation is around the corner that Vietnam’s problems cannot be separated from imperialist and, yes, Chinese control of the world market.