Nguyen Van Linh

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Nguyen Van Linh (1915-1998), a Vietnamese economist who was both a Communist and market-oriented, headed the Socialist Republic of Vietnam beginning in 1986, when Truong Chinh was forced into retirement over the Vietnamese economy. Linh was the architect of the new economic policy of doi moi.

Born Nguyen Van Cuc, he changed his name to avoid arrest as an early member of the Indochinese Communist Party in the 1930s. Nevertheless, the French imprisoned him from 1941 to 1945. Rising during the Indochinese revolution, he joined the Politburo in 1960, and had major responsibility for South Vietnam; he was a protege of Le Duan.[1]

He was a policymaker in the Vietnam War, especially in the political planning of the Tet Offensive proper; it is unclear how deeply he was involved in the grand strategic planning of the General Offensive-General Uprising. Leifer describes him as head of the Central Office for South Vietnam (COSVN), although several people have been identified in that role, possibly some as military and some as political leaders.

After the 1975 fall of South Vietnam, he was mayor of Saigon, which had been renamed Ho Chi Minh City, until he was purged for perceived slowness in converting the capitalist South to a Communist economy.

In a 1987 interview, he was frank about economic problems, and also encouraged improved relations with the United States. "I believe we are moving in the direction of the economic integration of Southeast Asia.", and urged international economic cooperation with "all countries, socialist or capitalist, on the basis of mutual benefits and without political conditions.... Many private companies have already established economic ties with Viet Nam. We want to see those expand." Linh spoke of past Vietnamese leaders as great men that were necessary to obtain independence, but Vietnam now faced different challenges. [2]

He retired in 1991, for reasons described as poor health.


  1. Leifer, Michael (2001), Dictionary of the Modern Politics of South-East Asia, Taylor & Francis, pp. 167-168
  2. Brelis, Dean (September 21, 1987), "An Interview with Viet Nam's Nguyen Van Linh", Time