chapter  3
Legal thought and legal development in the People’s Republic of China 1949–2008
Pages 27

China and Vietnam share much in common. In terms of the history of civilization, China, together with Korea and Vietnam, and also to some extent Japan, may be regarded as belonging to an East Asian Confucian cultural sphere. There is also a striking similarity between the history of communism in China and Vietnam in the modern era. In the choice of their model of development after the success of their indigenous communist revolutions, both countries were under the heavy influence of the Soviet Union, although Maoist China consciously chose to depart from the Soviet path after the 1950s. Again, in recent decades, both countries have embarked upon the road of economic reform towards privatization, marketization, and opening to the global economy and thereby achieved spectacular economic growth. In China, this journey began with the famous Third Plenum of the Eleventh Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party in December 1978, which adopted the new policy of gaige kaifang (reform and opening). In Vietnam, a journey in the same direction was marked by the new policy of doi moi (renovation) inaugurated by the Sixth National Congress of the Vietnamese Communist Party in December 1986. 1

The Chinese Communist Party and Government have given China’s new policy of development the label of “socialism with Chinese characteristics.” 2 However, “capitalism with Chinese characteristics” – the title of a recent book on China’s economic reform 3 – is probably a more realistic description. Similarly, there has emerged a new capitalism with Vietnamese characteristics. Both the Chinese and Vietnamese economies are now characterized by the simultaneous existence of state-owned enterprises and private firms financed by both domestic and foreign capital. The main “socialist” feature of the two nations is the monopoly of political power by the respective Communist Parties which have been in firm control of all organs of the state apparatus and important social organizations, and which have consistently tried their best to avoid any political liberalization that might lead to the introduction of Western-style multi-party democracy. Despite such rejection of fundamental political change, both China and Vietnam have embarked on legal reforms that are the subject of this book.