Vietnam’s Anti-Graft Campaign Is Not a Factional Purge

Vietnam’s Anti-Graft Campaign Is Not a Factional Purge
Then-Vietnamese President Nguyen Xuan Phuc arrives to address the 76th Session of the U.N. General Assembly, Sept. 22, 2021 (pool photo by Eduardo Munoz via AP).

Vietnam’s years-long anti-corruption drive has reached the upper echelons of government as a result of prominent pandemic-related scandals. A series of recent high-profile resignations has led some to wonder where the campaign might lead next and how dramatically it will impact not only the country’s domestic politics, but also its international positioning. 

The anti-graft campaign, which began in 2016 and accelerated in recent years, has now jumped into high gear due to what at first seemed like a government success story. During the first two years of the coronavirus pandemic, Vietnam pursued an aggressive and effective zero-COVID policy, which involved completely closing the country’s borders and conducting rapid testing and tracing. But these strategies have now been linked to two of the most consequential corruption scandals in modern Vietnamese history. 

With international travel shut down, the government organized over 400 rescue flights to bring Vietnamese people stuck overseas back home. Though these repatriation flights were portrayed as a noble service to the country’s people, investigators have since determined that officials across numerous state ministries and agencies worked together to benefit handsomely from them. 

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