Diverging Reform in Elite Communist Political Institutions: A Comparison of the Chinese and Vietnamese Central Committees

By Luke Herman

This paper examines the different paths to reform taken by Vietnam and China. Although on the surface level both countries have had similar paths to reform, and experienced rapid economic growth as a result, there are major differences in the power of the Central Committee in each country. Whereas policy in Vietnam is made primarily in the Central Committee, which is made up of 175 regular members and 25 alternate members, policy in China is decided on by the Politburo, and particularly by the nine-member Politburo Standing Committee. This paper examines why this state of affairs came about and what impact these differences have had on policy in each country, as well as the future prospects for intra-party democracy in China.

About the author:
Mr. Herman is a second year Master’s student of International Politics with a regional focus on China and Southeast Asia at the University of California, San Diego’s School of International Relations and Pacific Studies. He received a BA in International Relations with a focus on East Asia from Boston University. Currently, he is a graduate fellow at the Boston University International History Institute as well as a Young Leader with the Center for Strategic and International Studies Pacific Forum.

Image courtesy of MadMurdoch .

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It would be interesting to see how these two nations will evolve from now on. I am thinking about making a research myself based on economical facts for my term paper. Do you have any advise on where would be the best starting point?


The differences between the two countries’ central committees, while
minor on paper, are much greater in practice.


Hey Luke,

Just wanted to let you know that you are doing a great job. Your articles are very interesting and informative and I just couldn't leave this site before telling you that. Have a great day.

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