Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

Party wins big in Vietnam, but with a few twists

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As has happened every few years since the mid-1940s Vietnam’s Communists won parliamentary elections last month by a landslide, claiming 91.6 percent of the chamber’s 500 seats, officials announced on Friday. No surprises there. The Communist Party has a constitutionally-mandated monopoly on power.

We noted in a story on election day that the vote was rigged to retain party control although the outcome would allow for the legislature’s role in policymaking to continue to grow incrementally.

On Friday the results showed that more self-nominated candidates and more businessmen were elected to the unicameral body this time around than ever before. Four out of 15 self-nominated candidates made it this year, including the vice chairwoman of Hanoi’s young businesspeoples’ association and a doctor who runs his own hospital. Four years ago at the last National Assembly election only 1 of the 30 self-nominees who ran landed a seat.

Voters handed seats to Dang Thanh Tam and Dang Thi Hoang Yen, two of the country’s best known capitalists and perhaps the country’s richest brother and sister duo. They preside over the conglomerate Saigon Invest Group and other companies. Pham Huy Hung, head of VietinBank, the country’s biggest partly-private bank, also got seat. So did Dinh La Thang, chairman of state oil and gas group Petrovietnam, which is probably the country’s most influential company. State media said its revenues this year are expected to be close to a quarter of the nation’s GDP and it makes annual tax contributions that put it in a league of its own.

from Tales from the Trail:

The coming conflict with China

2008 was the last presidential election when voters didn't know or care about the candidates views on China, argues political risk analyst Ian Bremmer.

NUCLEAR-SUMMIT/Bremmer's new book "The End of the Free Market" argues that the Chinese economic model -- which he calls state capitalism -- is so fundamentally different from Western free market capitalism that tensions and economic conflict are inevitable in the years ahead.

Will former minister’s stab in the back hurt Germany’s SPD?

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The last time Germany went to the polls, Wolfgang Clement was deputy head of the Social Democrats (SPD), and one of the most powerful figures in government: the “super minister” in charge of both economic and labour market policy, who had previously governed the SPD heartland of North-Rhine Westphalia, home to 18 million people.

 Four years on, Clement is urging the public to vote for one of the centre-left SPD’s most bitter rivals, the business-friendly Free Democrats (FDP).

China’s elusive land reform

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It is ironic that 30 years after they gave birth to the reforms that transformed China into an economic powerhouse, the country’s vast hinterlands are still dogged by poverty.

The breathtaking growth of the economy since the pro-market reforms launched by Deng Xiaoping has led to an extraordinary increase in real living standards and an unprecedented decline in poverty. According to World Bank estimates, more than 60 percent of the population lived under the $1 per day poverty line at the beginning of economic reform. This had fallen to 10 percent by 2004, so - on this narrow measure at least – about 500 million people were lifted out of poverty in a single generation.

Hu hiccup gives vent to China power speculation

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By Benjamin Kang Lim and Simon Rabinovitch

When Chinese President Hu Jintao spoke to the nation this week, an unusual six-second pause may have said more about elite politics in this secretive state than the other 90 minutes of
stolid Communist Party rhetoric. In an address marking 30 years of economic reforms, Hu appeared to lose his place in the middle of a sentence, halting awkwardly for 6.5 seconds — the only such break in his speech and an extremely rare bump for Chinese officials long-practised in flawlessly reading out speeches.

When Hu picked up again, he skipped a chunk of the prepared comments, forming a sentence that appears in none of the official transcripts of his speech, nor any Chinese press report. “One
centre”, he said, then went silent before continuing, “is the lifeline of our Party and our nation.” The official transcript read, “one centre and two basic points are mutually linked,
mutually dependent”, a slogan coined in the 1980s in which “one centre” has a purely economic meaning.

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