In 2019, a semblance of political stability prevailed in Vietnam even as the affairs of the Communist Party were beset by the uncertain health of its general secretary, corruption scandals, and the intensification of Beijing’s encroachment on its continental shelf. Vietnam saw continued economic growth but an increasingly complex growth picture. Improvements in the quality of life masked the persistence of economic vulnerability and increasing inequality, while civil society was constrained by state repression. Ominously, Vietnam’s ecological crisis intensified.
In 2018 Vietnam saw intensifying party discipline and state repression, rapid economic growth, spasms of dissent, and new questions about the direction of the country’s social and political development. Amid deepening but perpetually fragile relations with Beijing, Hanoi furthered its strategic ties with the US, Japan, India, and other powers.