Nguyễn Văn Linh

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In this Vietnamese name, the family name is Nguyễn, but is often simplified to Nguyen in English-language text. According to Vietnamese custom, this person should properly be referred to by the given name Linh.
Nguyễn Văn Linh
Picture of Nguyen Van Linh.jpeg
General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam
In office
18 December 1986 – 27 June 1991
Preceded by Trường Chinh
Succeeded by Đỗ Mười
Secretary of the Central Military–Party Committee of the Communist Party
In office
18 December 1986 – 27 June 1991
Preceded by Trường Chinh
Succeeded by Đỗ Mười
Member of the Politburo
In office
June 1985 – 27 June 1991
In office
1976–1982
Member of the Secretariat
In office
1985 – 27 June 1991
In office
1976–1982
Personal details
Born (1915-07-01)1 July 1915
Duc Tan, Mộ Đức District, Quảng Ngãi Province, Indochina
Died 27 April 1998(1998-04-27) (aged 82)
Hanoi, Socialist Republic of Vietnam
Nationality Vietnamese
Political party Communist Party of Vietnam

Nguyễn Văn Linh (1 July 1915–27 April 1998) was a Vietnamese revolutionary and politician. He was the general secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam from 1986 to 1991 and a political leader of the Vietcong during the Vietnam War. During his time in office, Linh was a strong advocate of "Doi Moi" (renovation), an economic plan whose aim is to turn Vietnam economy to a socialist-oriented market economy. As such, Linh was often touted as the Vietnamese Gorbachev after the Soviet leader, who introduced Perestroika.[1]

Life[edit]

Linh was born in Hưng Yên, near Hanoi on July 1, 1915. Though this is unconfirmed, he is likely to have come from a bourgeois family. His original name was Nguyen Van Cuc, he would later adopt Nguyễn Văn Linh as his nom de guerre. At age 14, Linh became involved in underground communist movement against French colonial rule, joining the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union. In 1930 at the age of sixteen, Linh was arrested and incarcerated until 1936 for distributing leaflets directed against the French. After his release, he joined the Communist Party of Vietnam. He was sent to Saigon, in the southern part of the country to help establish party cells, causing him to be detained again from 1941 to 1945. In 1945, Vietnam declared its independence from French rule and the First Indochina War ensued. Meanwhile, Linh rose in the party hierarchy becoming a member of the Central Committee in 1960.

During the Vietnam War, he was the party secretary for the Vietcong in South Vietnam, which had seen him direct the guerrilla resistance against the American-allied government there, but most of his duties were organizational rather than military. He also specialized in propaganda, studying and attempting to influence American politics in favor of North Vietnam. He trained special undercover Vietcong spies who infiltrated government organizations in Saigon. In 1968, Linh directed the Tet Offensive against South Vietnam. This surprise attack throughout most South Vietnamese towns and cities was a turning point of the Vietnam War. After the end of the Vietnam War and the re-unification of Vietnam in 1975, Linh was inducted to the Communist Party's Politburo and became party chief of the capital Saigon. He favored a slow transformation of the formerly capitalist southern part of the country causing him to come into conflict with his party colleagues. In the late 1970s, though considered a promising party politician, he had repeated arguments with Lê Duẩn, Ho Chi Minh's successor as party leader, preventing him from rising further in the hierarchy. In 1982, he was even removed from the Politburo. According to his friends, Linh resigned after an argument over the future of South Vietnam, in which he defended private capital.[2][3][4]

In the mid-1980s the Vietnamese economy experienced crisis, making a more liberal, market-based economy more of a sensible option to many politicians. This led to Linh's being re-instated in the Politburo in 1985 (and Permanent Secretariat 1986), under the direction of General Secretary Trường Chinh draft political report and even being made party general secretary the following year. Immediately, he started reforming Vietnam's economy. He was[5] elected General Secretary in the immediate aftermath of the 6th National Congress. Renouncing the ideological decisions that he claimed had caused the problems, he allowed private enterprise and market prices and disbanded agricultural collectives. This change in policy was dubbed Doi Moi, a Vietnamese term meaning innovation. In the political sphere, Linh tried to improve relations with both the United States and China. In 1990, he secretly visited China, becoming the first Vietnamese leader to do so since the 1979 Sino-Vietnamese War. In 1989, he ordered the withdrawal of Vietnamese troops from Cambodia, where they had been sent to remove Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge regime. However, as far as domestic policy is concerned, Linh felt there was little need for change. "It is not objectively necessary to establish a political mechanism of pluralism and multiparty government," he stated, while always referring to Western-style democratic systems as "demagogic bourgeois democracies". He criticized the old communist policies, blaming them on corrupt leaders. Thus, Linh's policies were the constant target of criticism from the more conservative elements in the Communist Party. Linh stepped down as party leader in 1991 at the 7th National Congress, having announced his withdrawal a year before. His poor health was cited as the cause, as he had been hospitalized for what is suspected to have been a stroke in 1989, but political rivalries probably also played into his decision. He was succeeded by Đỗ Mười, a supporter of Linh's reforms.[2][3][6]

He was Advisor of the Party's Central Committee from 1991 to December 1997.[1][2]

Starting with a surprising speech at the 7th National Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam and then series of letters to the country's newspapers, Linh eventually renounced the effects of his own policies, accusing foreign investors of exploiting his native country and harming socialism. He attacked the growing gap between the rich and the poor and accused American companies of dumping goods on the country rather than helping it with investments and technology. He then wrote a regular newspaper column called "Things That Must Be Done Immediately" attacking corruption and incompetence among the Vietnamese political elite.[2][7] Linh died of liver cancer on April 27, 1998, in Ho Chi Minh City.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Stowe, Judy: "Obituary: Nguyễn Văn Linh". The Independent. April 28, 1998.
  2. ^ a b c d Shenon, Philip: "Nguyễn Văn Linh, Vietnam's Ex-Party Chief, Dies at 82.". New York Times. April 28, 1998.
  3. ^ a b "Nguyễn Văn Linh" in Encyclopedia of World Biography. ISBN 978-0-7876-2546-7.
  4. ^ Crossette, Barbara: "Vietnamese Chief Building Political Base in South". New York Times. February 3, 1989.
  5. ^ Vuong, Quan Hoang; Dam, Van Nhue; Van Houtte, Daniel; and Tran, Tri Dung (Dec 2011). "The entrepreneurial facets as precursor to Vietnam's economic renovation in 1986". The IUP Journal of Entrepreneurship Development VIII (4): 6–47. Retrieved 30 April 2014. 
  6. ^ "Like Ceausescu". The Economist. February 10, 1990.
    "Vietnam Communist Party head secretly visited China". Japan Economic Newswire. September 17, 1990.
    "March of the poor and friendless (Vietnamese Communist Party holds its 7th Congress)". The Economist. June 29, 1991.
    "Nguyễn Văn Linh to retire as party chief next year". Japan Economic Newswire. March 29, 1990.
    "Vietnamese leader Linh hospitalized". Japan Economic Newswire. November 29, 1989.
  7. ^ "Nguyễn Văn Linh". San Francisco Chronicle. April 28, 1998.
Party political offices
Preceded by
Trường Chinh
General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam
1986–1991
Succeeded by
Đỗ Mười