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editorial

Searching for a few good communists in Vietnam

Apparently, Vietnam just can’t find enough communists. As of last month, the government is now waiving university fees for students studying Marxism, Leninism, and the ideology of Ho Chi Minh.

Behind the offer? Market forces, ironically. As it turns out, majoring in subjects like English, communications, tourism, or international relations is a better path to employment for young Vietnamese than studying the philosophies of Vietnam’s Communist forefathers. As one local Facebook user quipped, “It is not difficult to find a job if you study those subjects — it’s impossible!”

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Vietnam is still ruled by a one-party Communist regime, but its leaders embraced doi moi, a series of free-market reforms, in the 1980s. Today, Vietnam’s economy stands out as one of Asia’s best performers at a time when the rest of the region’s emerging markets are being hobbled by China’s slowing growth.

Good jobs, however, are still hard to come by, and about 60 percent of the country’s 90 million people are under 30. Based on reactions from social media and elsewhere, even the fee exemption — which could amount to as much as $6,000 per year at a private college — doesn’t appear to be enough to dissuade many younger Vietnamese that capitalism is where the future lies. In a country with no visible political opposition, perhaps that’s dissent enough.

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