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What is the "Vietnamese model"? Is North Korea interested?

News reporter Li Yiqing Xin Enbo Sun Yushuang Li Pei

On July 8, 2018, US Secretary of State Pompeo, who ended his fourth visit to North Korea, publicly stated in Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, that North Korea can replicate Vietnam's development path, normalize relations with the United States, and achieve economic prosperity.

This is the first time that a senior US official has officially offered the Vietnamese model as an option to North Korea.

After more than four months, North Korean Foreign Minister Li Yonghao visited the Hanoi Hi-Tech Industrial Park and another major industrial park in northern Vietnam to learn about the process and results of its investment attraction. For a time, all kinds of guesses continued.

However, what exactly is the Vietnamese model?

Generally speaking, when the Vietnamese experts mentioned the Vietnamese model, they stressed that while maintaining the Vietnamese Communist Party as the sole force to lead the country and society, the country actively carried out reform and opening up policies and developed a market economy under the guidance of socialism. It has achieved remarkable economic achievements and has become one of the fastest growing economies in the world.

However, the Vietnamese model that the Americans say is undoubtedly contains another important connotation—a country that had fought with the United States and had long been hostile to the United States, and now has a relationship with the United States and other Western worlds. Normalized, even become a military partner and trading partner.

Ponpeo said bluntly when he thrown the olive branch of Kim Jong-un from the sky: It is hard to imagine that Vietnam is so prosperous today, the relationship between the United States and Vietnam is so harmonious... Your country (North Korea) can also replicate their success. Road.

However, the reference to the Vietnamese model was quickly questioned by all parties. North Korea and Vietnam are essentially different. Vietnam and the United States signed a peace agreement on January 27, 1973, and there is no question of denuclearization. Wang Sheng, a professor at the School of International Studies at Jilin University, told the news (www.thepaper.cn) that the Vietnamese model is based on the perspective of Vietnam, which is interested in developing a market economy and maintaining the political model of the Communist Party. The US perspective will not be consistent.

Hoo Chiew-Ping, a Malaysian National University expert who has long studied North Korea and Southeast Asia, believes that North Korea used to send officials to Hanoi to study Vietnam's socialist economic reforms, but after a long time, North Korea did not implement it. Any of these measures. She told the news that North Korean leaders may have different ideas about the way the economy develops.

American think tanks throw carrots 10 years ago

Before US Secretary of State Pompeo publicly proposed the Vietnamese model, the US think tank had studied Vietnam as an important reference for North Korea's future development path.

After July 2008, in July 2008, Michael O'Hanlon, a senior researcher at the Brookings Institution in the United States, wrote an article that clearly stated the significance of Vietnam's reforms for North Korea.

At that time, North Korea just submitted a nuclear program declaration to China, the chairman of the Six-Party Talks on the Korean nuclear issue, and subsequently blew up the cooling tower of the nuclear facilities in the Yongbyon area. The White House announced that the United States will Partially lifted trade sanctions against North Korea and proceeded to remove North Korea from the list of countries supporting terrorism.

What will North Korea look like after reform? It is today's Vietnam. At that time, O'Hanlon boldly predicted that the United States should not only focus on the current denuclearization process, but should also strategically see North Korea's broader reform prospects and provide the latter with more attractive carrots.

But just six months later, the situation on the peninsula has turned sharply, and the Vietnamese model's policy recommendations have been thrown into the trash.

In January 2013, the new year's speech by Kim Jong-un, the new generation of North Korean leader, once again sparked a discussion about the economic development model. At the time, Deutsche Welle reported that the speech was unexpected. The reference to economic reforms predicted major policy adjustments and quoted experts as saying that the 'Vietnam model' was considered better by North Korea.

But even before the historic Golden Summit in Singapore last May, the US official did not raise the Vietnamese model. Until July, US Secretary of State Pompeo officially mentioned in Hanoi the reproduction of Vietnam's development path, which triggered a heated debate in the field of Korean policy research.

Carl Thayer, a professor of political science at the University of New South Wales in Canberra, and a Vietnamese expert, told the news that the US Secretary of State spoke to some businessmen in Hanoi and said that in the past decade, the United States The trade volume of Vietnam increased by more than 8000%, and the concept of the Vietnamese model has since become popular again.

(But) Trump's government is only general, letting scholars and observers define the meaning of the 'Vietnamese model'. He told the news.

Jiang Lin, a professor at Jilin University, believes that after the Third Plenary Session of the Seventh Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea announced on April 27 last year that the domestic development strategy was transferred to economic development, Kim Jong-un visited the economic development achievements of the two countries during China and Singapore. The US official gradually believes that the Vietnamese model can be a reference for North Korea's future development.

The judgment of the United States is comprehensive. He told the news.

According to the report of the Yonhap News Agency at the end of last year, more than 70% of North Korea's top leader Kim Jong-un's 2018 public activities were related to economic and foreign affairs.

It took more than 20 years for the US-Vietnam relationship to be normalized

In the view of Le Hong Hiep, a former Vietnamese diplomat and researcher at the ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute, North Korea seems to be very interested in the Vietnamese model.

Because of the 'Renovation and Opening' policy in Vietnam (Doi Moi), there are some similarities with the current North Korea: just like Vietnam in the 1980s, the North Korean economy was a command economy controlled by state-owned enterprises. Universal poverty and unemployment. He told the news that North Korea was also subject to long-term economic sanctions, just like Vietnam.

In 1986, Vietnam introduced the policy of reform and opening up (Đổi Mới); in 1996, the Eighth National Congress of the Communist Party of China proposed to vigorously promote national industrialization and modernization; in 2001, the 9th National Congress of the Communist Party of China decided to establish a socialist oriented market economic system; The Tenth National Congress proposed to comprehensively promote the cause of innovation.

Vietnam proposed that when it was reformed and opened up, it was isolated by the international community because of the invasion of Cambodia in the late 1970s, and it was unable to obtain international financial support for a long time. This background is quite similar to the current sanctions imposed by North Korea for the development of nuclear weapons.

After Vietnam's withdrawal, especially the promotion of reform and opening up, Vietnam's per capita national income has grown rapidly from less than 95 US dollars in 1990 to 2,342 US dollars in 2017. The achievement of this remarkable achievement is closely related to the price advantage of the Vietnamese manufacturing industry and the export-oriented economy established on this basis.

Vietnam's smaller economy and population size mean that North Korea's imitation of Vietnam's policies is feasible. The pace of economic reform in Vietnam is more gradual and less radical, and may make North Korea feel more comfortable. Li Honghe further believes.

At the same time, the easing of relations between Vietnam and the outside world has also risen with the economic take-off. In 2006, the new investment law introduced by Vietnam eliminated many restrictions on foreign investment, and the country successfully joined the World Trade Organization early next year. According to the Vietnam Economic Times, as of July 2018, Vietnam has attracted foreign investment of US$333.03 billion, of which manufacturing is the largest area of ​​attracting foreign investment.

The improvement of relations with the United States is particularly critical and quite tortuous. In 1995, Vietnam and the United States formally established diplomatic relations, but until 2016, more than 20 years later, the then US President Barack Obama became the first US president to visit Vietnam.

In Hanoi, Obama announced that he would fully liberalize the ban on weapons of destruction against Vietnam, take the initiative to join the TPP, establish Fulbright University, and add military, economic, and social pillars to the US-Vietnam comprehensive partnership framework.

After the United States and Vietnam achieved normalization of diplomatic relations, the relationship developed rapidly. Today Vietnam has become a close military partner and trading partner of the United States. Wang Sheng added.

But it is not easy to complete this step. In 2013, just five days after the successful visit of Vietnamese President Zhang Jinchuang to the United States and the announcement of a comprehensive cooperative partnership between the two countries, the US House of Representatives passed the 2013 Vietnam Human Rights Act, which greatly criticized the human rights situation in Vietnam and the fundamentals of the development of bilateral relations. Sexual contradictions have not yet been eliminated.

On the diplomatic front, Vietnam's experience in improving relations with the United States is also closer to North Korea. Li Honghe said.

At present, the United States and its East Asian allies South Korea and Japan are among the top five trading partners of Vietnam.

Vietnamese mode or Korean mode?

But even within the US policy research community, there are many differences as to whether North Korea will catch a cold with the Vietnamese model of the US Secretary of State.

Daniel Sneider, a North Korean expert at Stanford University's Asia Pacific Research Center, told the news that North Korean officials have visited Vietnam many times, including very recent, North Korean top leaders do not have to go to Vietnam to learn about the country's market economy. .

After a long time, North Korea did not implement any of the measures (visited by Vietnam). Therefore, we do not know to what extent the promotion of the 'Vietnamese model' can make a change in North Korea because the previous contacts did not work. Hu Qiuping of the National University of Malaysia said.

Bradley Babson, an expert on North Korea and a former director of the Korea Economic Forum at the Johns Hopkins University's US-South Korea Institute, recently wrote that he is actively seeking foreigners after Vietnam's reform and opening up. Compared with the views of domestic economic strategy and policy choices, North Korea has been reluctant to engage in high-level economic policy dialogue with foreign participants, but instead follows the policy of economic management in our own way.

The latest report by Bloomberg also compares the similarities and differences between the two countries' national conditions, the environment of the times and the opportunities for development. The report believes that North Korea and the international community have been separated far longer than Vietnam at the time, which makes it more difficult to integrate into the world economy; in addition, at the technical level, the Peterson Institute for International Economics reports that when Vietnam was in the last century 80 When the reform process began, the agricultural labor force exceeded 70%, while the current North Korean agricultural labor force accounted for only about half.

On the other hand, it is worth noting that Vietnam, which has a fairly high degree of economic openness, is heavily dependent on trade, and its total import and export volume has reached 1.85 times of GDP, making it vulnerable to positive or negative global economic, trade and investment trends. influences. This also adds uncertainty to North Korea's replication of the Vietnamese model.

North Korea has always advocated 'subjective consciousness'. Therefore, it will not completely replicate which country's development model, but will draw on the strengths of each family and adopt a 'model' that suits North Korea's national conditions. Wang Sheng said.

Professor Wang specifically said that North Korea may play its position as the bridgehead of the important Eurasian Continental Bridge in the regional cooperation in Northeast Asia, relying on the strategic location of the trade port and the transportation hub and financial center. To develop the economy.

The Singaporean Cai Youjin, who has been in North Korea for many times and is committed to the North Korean exchange program, is more optimistic about the North Korean model. After 20 years, what everyone is talking about will be 'What is the Korean model?' He told the news on the eve of the first summit of the US and North Korean leaders.

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