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A new breed of diplomat for Vietnam

21 Mar

March 21, 2012

A new breed of diplomat for Vietnam
By The Hanoist

When Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh speaks to international audiences, he usually does so without a translator. At 53 years old, Minh’s relative youth and proficiency in English set him apart from his predecessors.

But he is not unique among his present diplomatic colleagues. Hanoi’s current crop of senior diplomats, appointed following the 11th Congress of the Vietnamese Communist Party in January 2011, tend to be younger and more cosmopolitan than the dour communist officials who have historically been the face of the country.

This stylistic change reflects the coming of age of diplomats who studied in top American schools in the 1990s as Vietnam opened up. It also comes at a critical time in the country’s foreign relations. As the second-largest country (after Indonesia) in the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Vietnam is increasingly seen as a key player in regional issues. Continue reading