Development of the Party’s theoretical thinking on cadre building in the Doi Moi period

Colonel, Faculty of History of the Communist Party of Viet Nam, Academy of Politics, Ministry of National Defense
Wednesday, May 24, 2023 14:18

Communist Review - Cadres is the key factor to bring about the success in planning, supplementing and organizing the implementation of the Party's line, the State's policies and laws, as well as each locality, agency and unit’s tasks. Building a strong contingent of cadres is always the Party’s most crucial task, which is stated right in its theoretical thinking.

Secretary-General Nguyen Phu Trong (2nd from left) meeting with officials and voters in Dong Da district, Hanoi _Photo: VNA

Theoretical thinking on cadre building from 6th to 10th Party Congress

The period between the 6th and the 10th Party Congress witnessed a very significant shift in the CPV’s thinking on cadre building.

Being deeply aware of cadres’ key role in planning and organizing the realization of the Doi Moi policy, the 6th Party Congress (December 1986) proposed renewing the cadre work and consolidating leadership and management agencies. Although cadre work as a crucial factor in Party-building work had not been officially stated at the event, its importance was clearly reflected in the guiding thought that "Renewing the selection of leaders at all levels serves as the most important link, of which our Party must have a firm grasp to accelerate its revolutionary reforms"(1).

Renewing the cadre and cadre work, as viewed by the 6th Party Congress, involves evaluating, selecting and arranging cadres along with training and fostering them so that they are equipped with leadership qualities and capacities as required. Once a person in charge of cadre work is of either poor morals or calculation, sooner or later the process will prove wrong. Such a person cannot help the Party select and build virtuous and talented cadres up to the task. "Prior to renewing the contingent of cadres, we must renew the cadre work and officers in charge"(2).

To renew cadre work, the document of the 6th Party Congress clearly states:

Regarding the directing viewpoint, cadres must be selected fairly and pursuant to the Party’s cadre policy for the sake of the revolution. All manifestations of individualism, localism and bureaucracy in cadre work have a negative impact on the fulfilment of political tasks and the unity within the Party.

Regarding the solution, the Congress advocated(3):

1- "Renewing includes rejuvenating. Only if there is no more feudal concept of class and hierarchy left in the modern society, can we spot and promote outstanding young cadres”.

2- "Preparing the successive team proves to be a regular task of the party organs and must follow the planning. Talents are not natural products, they are spotted and elaborately fostered. Many of them can be lost in oblivion if not spotted and used in the right place and at the right time.”

3- "Fighting bureaucracy and authoritarianism in selecting and arranging cadres".

4- "Buiding a proper mechanism of cadre management so that the assessment can be accurate to select and promote well-deverved cadres as well as replace bad and weak ones.

Facing the very complicated changes in the world in the 1980s and 1990s, the increasingly demanding requirements of the Doi Moi course, the 7th Party Congress (June 1991) stressed the importance of Party-building work on cadres, especially experienced and capable leadership positions, which was regarded as a critical task for the innovation course to go on the right track for the future development, avoiding mistakes and failures.

The 7th Party Congress clearly stated: "Doi Moi cause acts as an opportunity to screen and test cadres". Therefore, "The Party must be wise with an objective and comprehensive view and properly evaluate cadres through their practical activities and work performance. It must also timely spot potential young cadres and know how to effectively use older, experienced ones. The relationship between generations of cadres must be harmonized, which both meets the current demands for renovation and well prepares for the nation’s future development”(4).

With Doi Moi as a new course, cadre work should be supported by a new mindset that requires assessment, experience drawing, studying, fostering and developing theoretical thinking and practical leadership capacity. With the truth-based viewpoint, the 7th Mid-term National Conference (January 1994) clearly pointed out: “Cadre work still proves a weak stage of which appointees generally do not meet the task requirements. Many places still see shortage or confusion in the arrangement of the leadership nucleus. Such areas as party work and state management are short of good cadres and leading experts. To solve this situation, the conference advocated adopting various measures at the same time with "first and foremost renewing conceptions and methods in evaluating, selecting, and arranging cadres, especially the key ones". The next step is “surveying and re-evaluating the whole contingent of current staff as a basis to develop a planning”, “democratizing cadre work”; "training and fostering cadres as planned"; “cadres regularly training themseves”; “improving affirmative action policies for cadres”(5).

Cadre work over 10 years of renovation (1986 - 1996) acted as a key factor to drive the country out of the socio-economic crisis, officially entering a new development period of increased industrialization and modernization. At the 8th Congress (June 1996), the Party affirmed that the new situation and tasks impose multiple requirements on cadre work. For the first time in the Doi Moi period, it advocated "Early building a cadre strategy for the new era"(6).

The Party was also more fully aware of the objects and scale in cadre work that involves not only building cadres in Party organs and agencies, but also "planning cadres for all fields in the whole political system". The Party unified cadre work leadership and cadre management, and increased the responsibility of member bodies in charge of cadre work in the political system. The congress emphasized: “The arrangement and use of cadres must ensure the right standards and forte, together with timely promotion, appointment, righ assignment and especially "timely replacement when required". The 8th Congress was also the first that advocated "the fixed-term appointment" and "affirmative action for cadres who resign or withdraw to get more suitable jobs"(7).

To concretize the 8th Congress’s political detemination on building cadres, the 3rd Plenary Session of the 8th Party Central Committee (June 1997) issued the Strategy for cadres in the period of increased industrialization and modernization, affirming that "Cadres is a key stage in the Party-building work"(8). That recognition showed the Party's elevated thinking on cadre work and paved the way for its theoretical work to dig deep into on cadres and cadre work in the new context.

Approaching the cadre building in the relationship between economic renovation and political renovation, together with the policy of developing a socialist-oriented market economy and actively integrating into the international economy, the 9th Congress (April 2001) set the goal of cadre building with first and foremost leadership and management cadres at all levels who are politically firm, ethically exemplary, clean-living, intelligent, knowledgeable and capable, having experienced practical activities and attached to the masses. Regarding the main criteria for cadre evaluation, while task completion results were regarded by the 7th Congress as the main measure, a very significant point was added at the 9th Congress: "Work efficiency and people-based trust act as the main measure”(9).

With those goals and criteria in mind, the 10th Congress (April 2006) assessed that, besides a part of pioneering, exemplary, dedicated and trusted cadres, there still existed "a large number of cadres and party members, including some key cadre at all levels, who have low qualities and skills, lack a spirit to fight and defend the Party's views and lines, violate the Party's organizational and operational principles, and even the state laws, show deteriorating politics, ideology, morality and lifestyle as well as bureaucracy, corruption, wastefulness, harassment of the people, all of which reduce the people's trust in the Party". The 10th Congress assessed: "It has a risky impact on the survival of the Party and the regime" (10).

Therefore, the 10th Congress stressed in its summary on Party building over the 20 years of Doi Moi that "The Party must equip cadres and party members with required political courage and quality, practical knowlegde and capacity to fulfil their assigned tasks. A real and synchronous change is really needed in cadre work including assessment, planning, training, fostering, rotation, arrangement, use and policies with great importance attached to building key cadres and respecting talents”(11).

The 10th Congress added criteria for cadres in the new period emphasizing that apart from the known criteria, cadres must “resolutely fight corruption and wastefulness, have innovative and creative thinking, respect the collective, stick to the people, dare to think, dare to do, dare to take responsibility"(12). The congress affirmed that the most crucial task is to build leadership cadres, first and foremost the ones at the strategic level and heads at all levels and branches in the whole political system. A new feature is the policy of promoting the right to nomination and self-nomination, introduce different personnel options in elections and cadre appointments, and "develop a mechanism for party members and the masses to supervise cadres and cadre work” (13).

Development of theoretical thinking on cadres building from the 11th Party Congress to the present

In the wake of the 11th Congress, the Party's thinking on cadre building saw further development in key areas, notably planning, training, appointing, vote of confidence, and replacing cadres at the strategic level and key officials at all levels to suit the period of increased industrialization, modernization, a socialist-oriented market economy development and international integration.

The cadre planning had been discussed in many congresses, but often understood as planning at each level to create sources for its own level and prepare sources for upper ones. At the 11th Congress (convened in January 2011), the new Party document officially issued the policy of "planning cadres at the strategic level"(14) which opens a new stage in the Party's cadre work in the new circumstance.

Regarding the cadre appointment and replacement, considering cadres as a key stage in a series of key tasks, the 11th Congress vowed not to appoint immoral, unqualified and opportunistic ones. Another area that received special attention is cadre replacement and sanctions for handling cadres that goes "Timely replace cadres who are unqualified, fail to complete tasks, and lose prestige."(15)

With that policy in mind, when choosing three fundamental and urgent issues on Party building, the 4th Plenary Session of the 11th Party Central Committee (December 2011) listed cadres as a key issue on the agenda. The meeting advocated building a contingent of leaders and managers at all levels, especially at the central one, to meet the requirements of the industrialization, modernization and international integration cause. The conference emphasized "the planning of the Central Executive Committee, the Politburo, the Secretariat and the Party, the State’s key leadership positions in the 2016-2020 term, actively creating sources, planning and training consultants and experts at the strategic level” (16).

The session agreed that the personnel to be considered and appointed as leadership and management cadres at the upper level must hold the same position at their own level beforehand. For the first time at this meeting, the Central Executive Committee advocated holding a vote of confidence on the job holders elected or approved by the National Assembly or the People's Council, and an annual vote of confidence on the leading positions in Party, State organizations and social associations. Accordingly, "those who receive low trust and do not accomplish their tasks for two consecutive years should be dismissed from their positions even before either the end of their term or the end of their working age "(17).

The 12th Congress (January 2016) proposed to institutionalize eight principled relationships in cadre work, namely: first, between the political guidelines and the cadre guidelines; second, between class views and the policy of great solidarity in cadre work; third, between standards and structures; fourth, between virtue and talent; fifth, between inheritance and development; sixth, between the unified management of the Party and the promotion of agencies’ responsibilities in the political system; seventh, between individual and collective authority and responsibility; eighth, between decentralization and inspection, supervision, controlling to ensure unity and synchronization in the Party and the political system.

On the basis of scientific and objective assessment of cadre work after 30 years of renovation, despite affirming that very important progress had been made in this field, the 12th Congress pointed out: "No major breakthrough has been made in the renewal of cadre work. The cadre building at the central and strategic levels have not been focused. Inadequate attention to building of strategic advisors and consultants has been reported”(18). Accordingly, the Party emphasized the need to "equip cadres, especially those at the strategic level, with capabilities and qualities up to the task"(19). In that spirit, on May 19, 2018, the 7th Plenary Session of the 12th Party Central Committee issued Resolution No. 26-NQ/TW “on focusing on equipping cadres at all levels, especially at the strategic level, with capabilities and qualities up to the task" that saw new innovations and breakthroughs in cadre work.

A new point of the resolution is that it has defined the concept and clarified the position and role of cadres at the strategic level. These officials are under the management of Politburo and the Secretariat; play an extremely important role, deciding the success or failure of the revolution; prove to be the core and operator in the political system; propose new and creative ideas, strategic and long-term thinking; plan guidelines and policies for leadership and management at the national level. Accordingly, on January 2, 2020, the Politburo issued Regulation No. 214-QĐ/TW that stipulates “Framework of title standards and criteria for evaluating cadres under the management of the Central Committee, the Politburo and the Secretariat”.

The 13th Congress (January 2021) reaffirmed the focus on building strategic-level cadres along with building heads of organizations, agencies, localities and units. In addition to the general standards and specific ones stated in Regulation No. 214-QĐ/TW, the 13th Congress centred on a number of criteria for cadres at the strategic level.

In terms of political ideology: Strategic officers must have their will, "dare to think, dare to speak, dare to do, dare to take responsibility, dare to face difficulties and challenges, and be drastic in their actions for the common good"(20); resolutely and effectively fight opportunism, revisionism, dogmatism, conservatism, factionism, manifestations of internal degradation, "self-evolution", "self-transformation".

In terms of ethics and lifestyle: Cadres and party members, especially those at the strategic level, must clearly see their duties and responsibilities; always be firm in facing all difficulties and challenges and not be tempted by material things, money, and fame; effectively prevent, avoid and fight all manifestations of individualism, bureaucracy, opportunism, sectionalim, faction, and internal disunity; “raise their awareness of cultivating and practicing lifelong revolutionary ethics, regularly “self-examine” and “self-correct” and raise their  honor and boost their self-esteem”(21).

In terms of the selection and use of cadres, the 13th Congress stated: "Do not consider the cadres being unworthy, not meeting the standards, manifesting political opportunities and power ambitions for leadership and management positions at all levels, but also do not miss out really virtuous and talented cadres”(22), which must be carried out concurrently with the effective formulation and implementation of the national strategy on attracting and using talents as well as the national program on cadre training and fostering.

In terms of the fight against corruption and wastefulness, the Party regarded the former as an effective measure in building and screening cadres. The 13th Congress vowed to resolutely and persistently fight corruption, wastefulness and negativity within the Party and the political system, embrace the total strengths within the political system and the people, synchronously take political, ideological, organizational, administrative, economic and criminal measures in the fight against corruption and wastefulness. The Party affirmed to find out solutions for cadres "not to want", "not to be able", "not to dare" and "not to need" to be corrupt.

For "not to want", promoting education, raising awareness, and creating unity in cadres, party members and the people’s will and action in the fight against corruption and wastefulness, with first and foremost heads of Party committees, localities, agencies and units. Persevering in educating and training cadres, party members, civil servants and public employees for integrity, building a culture of thrift, no corruption and no wastefulness.

For "not to be able", "urgently formulating, perfecting the Party’s regulations and the State’s laws on socio-economic management and corruption, wastefulness prevention, promptly overcoming any shortcomings; especially regulations on power control, accountability to ensure democracy, openness and transparency. Clearly defining the heads’ responsibility for inspecting, detecting and handling corruption and wastefulness and protecting fighters against corruption and wastefulness; strictly handling those who exploit the corruption fight to slander, divide and disrupt internal unity. Effectively managing higher position holders’ assets and incomes; increasing non-cash payments; thereby building a strict prevention mechanism to stop corruption”(23).

For "not dare", increasing inspection, supervision, inspection and audit; stepping up investigation, prosecution, trial and judgment enforcement; early detecting and strictly handling corruption cases; and improving the efficiency in the recovery of corruption assets. “Timely handling and replacing leaders and managers who show manifestations of corruption and wastefulness; strictly handling officials who harass and trouble the people and businesses. Continuing to consolidate the organizational structrure, improve the capacity and efficiency in the operation of agencies and units specializing in the fight against corruption. Closely coordinating the State’s inspection and audit, the Party’s inspection with investigation, prosecution and adjudication” (24).

For "not need", “continuing to reform the salary policy, raise incomes and formulate a housing policy, ensure living standards so that cadres, civil servants and public employees show a dedication to their work (25).

The 5th Plenary Session of the 13th Party Central Committee approved the project to establish a Provincial Steering Committee on anti-corruption. The project had fully and accurately presented the necessity, bases, and principles supported by both theoretical and practical backgrounds; the committee’s functions, tasks, power, organizational structure, working relationship and drafted relevant documents. This decision directly increases the leadership for the drastic and synchronous implementation from the central to local levels and negativity, and reaffirms the Party’s political determination and drastic actions in the fight agaist corruption, wastefulness, and negativity.

Some directions for developing theoretical thinking on cadre building in the new context

The process of developing the Party's theoretical thinking on cadre building in the renovation period is of great significance in many aspects.

Firstly, it is regarded as the leading factor to ensure the righ direction and efficiency in the process of Party building and correcting; the very first guidelines for the Party Central Committee, the Politburo, the Secretariat, the Party committees, the Party organs and all cadres, party members throughout the Party to thoroughly grasp, concretize and apply to building cadres to suit to the characteristics in each period, field, locality, agency and unit.

Secondly, cadre building based on the new thinking directly improves the Party's leadership, fighting strength, purity and strength, deciding the victory of the renovation cause. “We have achieved great and historical achievements, stronger and more comprehensive development than prior to the renovation period. The nation’s opportunity, potential, position and international prestige has never been promising like today”(26).

Thirdly, the development of theoretical thinking associated with the reality of cadre building provides the basis for consolidating and maintaining the faith of cadres, party members and people in the Party and the regime, fighting the hostile and wrong views that deny the Party's leadership role in the renovation process. The people's faith in cadres and party members is expected to further increase the Party's strength, leadership and ruling capacity, and successfully complete crucial tasks of building and developing the country in the new era. The 13th Congress stated that the unity and solidarity bloc within the Party has continued to be strengthened; the people's faith in the Party has been raised, which builds a solid foundation for the rapid and sustainable national development in the coming years.

In order to continue developing the Party's theoretical thinking on cadre building in the new context, it is required to attach great importance to the following issues:

Firstly, promoting the roles and responsibilities of the whole political system and the whole people in renewing the Party's theoretical thinking on cadre building. Effectively and substantively organize the people's participation in monitoring and evaluating the operation of organizations in the political system as well as qualities and capacities of cadres and party members. "Regarding work efficiency, the people's satisfaction and trust as important criteria to evaluate the quality of the apparatus, cadres and party members"(27).

Secondly, renewing the theoretical thinking on cadre building must be persistent, cautious, regular and comprehensive with key focus in each period. Cadre building, which proves a particularly important and long-term task in Party building and political innovation, is very sensitive as it affects political thought, appratus and personnel within the Party and the whole political system. However, each stage must be associated with key focus and firmness. In the new context, it is needed to take breakthrough measures as follows: 1- Continuing to perfect the institutionalization of Party building and political system building, especially organizational and cadre work; 2- Promoting democracy, tightening disciplines together with creating an innovative environment in cadre work and building; 3- Resolutely fighting corruption, wastefulness, negativity and bureaucracy; increasing decentralization along with stepping up inspection, supervision and strictly controlling power(28).

Thirdly, associating the development of theoretical thinking on cadre building with the development of thinking on building a clean, strong party and a clean, strong political system as well. As a key task in the Party and the political system building, its success will form the basis and become a driving force to promote the construction and development of the Party's line, effectively perform ideological work and build a strong party organization and a strong political system that will help raise the prestige of the Party and the political system, impose requirements, assign tasks and create an environment for educating, training, and screening cadres. The Party clearly recognized and properly resolved these relationships in the renovation process and must fulfil this task better together with other ones in building the Party and the political system in Viet Nam./.


(1) Documents of the National Congress of Deputies in the Doi Moi period (Part I), National Politics Publishing House, Hanoi, 2010, p. 129

(2), (3), (4) Documents of the National Congress of Deputies in the Doi Moi period (Part I), Id., pp. 129 - 130, 130 - 131, 389 - 390

(5), (6), (7) Documents of the National Congress of Deputies in the Doi Moi period (Part I), Id., pp. 554 - 555, 721, 723

(8) Documents of the Third Plenary Session of the 8th Party Central Committee, National Politics Publishing House, Hanoi, 1997, p. 66

(9) Documents of the National Congress of Deputies in the Doi Moi period (Part II), Id., p. 111

(10), (11), (12), (13) Documents of the National Congress of Deputies in the Doi Moi period (Part II), Id., p. 487, 497, 508, 510

(14) Documents of the 11th National Congress of Deputies, Truth National Politics Publishing House, Hanoi, 2011, p. 261

(15) Documents of the 11th National Congress of Deputies, Id., 2011, p. 262

16), (17) Document of the Fourth Plenary Session of the 11th Central Committee, Truth National Politics Publishing House, Hanoi, 2012, p. 31, 32

(18), (19) Documents of the 12th National Congress of Deputies, Truth National Politics Publishing House, Hanoi, 2016, p. 194, 206

(20), (21), (22) Documents of the 13th National Congress of Deputies, Truth National Politics Publishing House, Hanoi, 2021, episode II, p. 230, 237, 244

(23), (24), (25) Documents of the 13th National Congress of Deputies, Id., 2021, episode II, p. 251 - 252, 252 - 253, 253

(26) Documents of the 13th National Congress of Deputies, Id., episode I, p. 25

(27) Documents of the 13th National Congress of Deputies, Id., episode. I, p. 192

(28) Documents of the 13th National Congress of Deputies, Id., episode II, p. 257

This article was published in the Communist Review No. 1001 (November 2022)