Vietnam Social Situation and Social Classes

By | May 24, 2021

As recent studies make clear, the Vietnamese population as a whole has benefited from the economic reforms of recent years. The poverty rate fell from 60% in the early 1990’s to 9.8% in 2016. At the same time, the economic reforms, especially in the cities, have created a middle class and a class of consumer-oriented nouveau riche who have been driving sales of private cars and luxury goods in Vietnam for a long time let rise. This also includes extremely expensive prestigious luxury cars like Rolls-Royce. New status symbols are not only expensive cars, but also noble breeds of dogs that are kept as pets. These status symbols are also important for the “super rich”, whose number (estimated 142/2019) is increasing as quickly in no other country as in Vietnam.

There are also women among the extremely successful business people.

The nouveau riche can also afford a bowl of “Pho” with imported Japanese beef for 35 dollars in a hotel restaurant in Hanoi, while the Vietnamese national soup is usually the equivalent of one dollar.

According to naturegnosis, eating is an important part of life in Vietnam anyway. Since the beginning of the reform policy, many Vietnamese have also made up in terms of nutrition, which they had to miss in the hard times before. This also includes the enjoyment of Thuringian sausages and doner kebabs, which have also found their way into Vietnam in the wake of globalization.

Expensive branded products such as designer clothing are spreading more and more among the children of the nouveau riche. The social differentiation of Vietnamese society is already evident in school.

In addition to the newly rich Vietnamese who indulge in consumption and often live in “gated communities”, many Vietnamese still exist at the subsistence level.

The transformation process in Vietnam thus also brought about an expansion of social differences. While Vietnamese society was relatively egalitarian in the “pre-reform period”, extreme social differences can be observed today. Although rural regions have also benefited from the economic upturn since the reform process began, the urban-rural divide is still very pronounced. Internal migration in today’s Vietnam has also increased due to the greater mobility of society.

Many of the peasants looking for work in the cities have to work as day laborers or work in factories for low wages. Migrants are often excluded from social services in cities or have to pay more for them if they do not have the appropriate registration (ho khau). However, this registration is made more difficult for those brought in by the state.

The face of the cities in Vietnam is changing at a rapid pace. In the course of migration, cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are expanding more and more – new residential areas with high-rise buildings are emerging on the outskirts and commercial buildings are displacing old colonial buildings in the city center of the former Saigon. However, the associated construction projects sometimes lead to conflicts with the population. For example, some citizens in Ho Chi Minh City are refusing to make room for the construction of high-rise office buildings and apartments to be built on the banks of the Saigon River.

Many of the parks, etc. advertised as “green spaces” were and are being used for the construction of hotels and other lucrative construction projects in the cities of Vietnam. When part of Thong Nhat Park, the former Lenin Park, was to give way to a hotel in the heart of Hanoi, protests were so violent that the Vietnamese Prime Minister stopped the construction project.

At the beginning of 2017, the city council of Ho Chi Minh City announced the plan to create an “image of Singapore” from District 1 in the center of the city – specifically, the sidewalks should be systematically cleared. In January 2018, the deputy chairman of the district people’s committee finally resigned because his ambitious project had failed.

Land conflicts are also widespread in rural areas. In the last three years alone, there have been 700,000 petitions regarding inadequate compensation payments for land. The background to this is often the unclear legal situation, which is exploited by civil servants. At the beginning of January 2012, near Haiphong, farmer Doan Van Vuon and family members even used gun violence to resist the occupation of his property. The case only came to court in early April 2013. Doan Van Vuon was sentenced to five years in prison and three of his relatives were sentenced to between two and five years in prison. In another trial, the court spoke against the deputy district chief Tien Lang, where the case took place, was sentenced to 30 months in prison for “destroying property”.

Another land conflict occurred in April 2012 in Hung Yen Province near the capital, where a new satellite city called “EcoPark” is to be built. Protesting farmers who complained about inadequate compensation payments for their land met with a large number of police.

It is questioned whether the new land law can solve the structural problems.

The explosive nature of the problem became apparent in September 2013 than in the province of Thai Binh in the Red River Delta a farmer who resisted the confiscation of his country, first a local land registry officers shot and then turned the gun on himself.

A new land conflict broke out in Dong Tam, a village near Hanoi, in April 2017. Villagers who opposed the confiscation and use of land by Viettel, a Department of Defense telecommunications company, initially held nearly 40 police officers and cadres hostage, some of whom were soon released. After negotiations with the Hanoi People’s Committee, the other hostages were also released. The much less confrontational approach the state authorities – in the past, massive security forces were used to break the resistance at the local level – could set an example. Contrary to the promises of the Hanoi People’s Committee, it was announced in June 2017 that some villagers of Dong Tam are to be brought to justice. The last word in this land conflict was not yet spoken. The dispute continued and broke out again in January 2020: three police officers and an elderly villager died in a clash between security forces and village residents. The Vietnamese authorities have been trying to report the incident since the incidentmonopolize the incident and suppress the dissemination of independent information. The exact sequence of events is still not entirely clear, but a few weeks after the clash, facts came to light that contradict the official version and once again make it clear that this was a typical, in this case particularly massive, land conflict between farmers and the Vietnamese state.

In September 2020, 29 residents of Dong Tam in Hanoi were tried. The sentences were drastic: two death sentences, one life sentence and further prison sentences.

While there was massive public protest in Vietnam against the granting of licenses to Chinese companies to mine bauxite in the central highlands, the activities of Vietnamese companies that have obtained logging concessions in neighboring Laos and Cambodia are not similar in Vietnam itself Elicited reactions.

Golf shop in Hanoi