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Vietnam - at a Crossroad of Change or Retention of Times of Yore

That a nation could subtly undergo a profound social, economic and political change without any input from its 94 million people, is a phenomenon - it seldom occurs. Yet, in communist Vietnam, the Vietnamese people could awake tomorrow to find a greatly transforming nation - one willing to stand up to behemoth China, one that encourages and gets greater international investment, one that stands in uniformity with the global community and one that soon would inevitably offer a voice to all Vietnamese.

For as the ruling Communist Party in Vietnam continues its eight-day Congress this week where it will pick the rulers of the nation for the next five-years, there is a progressive hope that should present Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung be added to the ballot of possible future leaders, he could emerge as the transforming leader of Vietnam - set to lead the country out of the shadow of China and onto a position of healthy independence among the global community and eventually to inevitable democratic change.

Prime Minister Dung in recent years has been able to unhinged Vietnam from under the total dominance of its much larger communist brother, China. From rifts of sovereignty on the South China Sea to the affairs of China's deployment of a deep sea oil rig close to the dispute Spratly Islands, Dung has stood his ground against China despite sharing $90 billion in trade with that nation. Dung has also facilitated a better relationship with Washington, Manila and Tokyo. However, he was omitted from the original list of persons submitted to the Congress to lead Vietnam for the next five years. However, some maneuvering by his supporters have made it possible that his name could be added to the list today. 

Should Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung be denied entry onto the ballot, Vietnam could retain its shadow role under China as its has since Chinese Imperialists occupied the country before being ousted by a series of Vietnamese uprisings. China invaded Vietnam is 1979 in retaliation for the Vietnamese overthrow of the violent Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. Normal diplomatic relations between China and Vietnam were restored in 1991. 

The Communist Party has a constitutional right to rule in Vietnam even though just some 4.5 Vietnamese of the 94.3 million population are members. Yet, with very few heard voices, Vietnam could emerge from this week's Congress on a path to reforms and to having many voices very soon.