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Truong Chinh

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Truong Chinh (1907-1988) was one of the founders of the Indochinese Communist Party, with more of a focus on principally political dau tranh (struggle) than the more armed struggle of his internal rival, Vo Nguyen Giap. At various times, he was demoted, but later came back as a more powerful ideologist, in and out of the highest circles. Both he and Giap, however, were basically pro-Soviet, while their later rival, Le Duan, was more Chinese-oriented. His Soviet sympathies, however, were more Stalinist, not reflecting Nikita Khrushchev's caution at keeping wars of national liberation differentiated from wars between nation-states. [1]

Born as Dang Xuan Khu, he was an early revolutionary, jailed by the French from 1930 to 1936. Truong Chinh means "Long March"; it was his revolutionary alias but he changed his name to it in honor of Mao Zedong, perhaps another indication of his political rather than military bent. [2]

Going to China with Ho and Giap, he returned in 1946, and was chief of propaganda and ideology, ranking only behind Ho in the Party.[2] Giap's victory at Dien Bien Phu weakened him. From 1951 to 1956, he was secretary general of the Vietnam Workers Party, but dismissed over land reform. [3]

Land reform

After 1954, he created People's Agricultural Reform Tribunals, which were especially harsh on Catholic landholders that had not gone to the South. There were purges and an eventual insurrection in Ho's home province of Quang Ngai. The number of deaths is not known: 50,000 have been mentioned,[2] but Sheehan dismisses that as Central Intelligence Agency propaganda, although he agrees the deaths were in the thousands. Ho apologized in 1956, dismissed Chinh from his ministry (but retained him in the Politburo),[4] and Giap made a speech to a Central Committee meeting, saying there were unjust executions and terror. [5]


He published a theoretical book in 1958. [6] Gradually, he was rehabilitated into the the National Assembly in 1960. He opposed combat against U.S. ground troops, counseling political dau tranh: organization and guerrilla warfare.

Changing strategy toward the South

Still, he is associated with a December 1963 Politburo decision to change the general direction of strategy to the General Offensive-General Uprising. It recast the conflict as less the classic, protracted war of Maoist doctrine, and the destabilization of doctrine under Khrushchev, than a decision that it was possible to accelerate. "on the one hand we must thoroughly understand the guideline for a protracted struggle, but on the other hand we must seize the opportunities to win victories in a not too long a period of time...There is no contradiction in the concept of a protracted war and the concept of taking opportunities to gain victories in a short time."[7].

After the failure of the General Offensive-General Uprising

After the setbacks of late 1967 and 1968, Le Duan, weaker in political theory and more hard-line on military action, surpassed him 1969, becoming General Secretary.

Le Duan, who had not been known to write extensively, published a theoretical article in the party newspaper, Nhan Dan, on February 14, 1970, establishing the dominance of his line and making him more likely to succeed Ho.[8] Nevertheless, in 1979, Truong Chinh regained Politburo status.

In 1982, he headed a mission to Moscow, unsuccessfully requesting for Soviet economic assistance.[9] He served as General Secretary for six months in 1986, but was retired over loss of confidence in economic leadership, being replaced by Nguyen Van Linh, a market-oriented Communist whom Truong Chinh had purged in 1982.

After Ho's death in 1988, only three of Ho's closest associates remained:[2] Pham van Dong, Le Duc Tho and Vo Nguyen Giap, probably Truong Chinh's greatest rival.


  1. Palmer, Dave R. (1978), Summons of the Trumpet, Presidio Press, p. 63
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Fowler, Glenn (October 2, 1988), "Truong Chinh Dies in Hanoi at 80; Was in Ho Chi Minh's Inner Circle", New York Times
  3. Patti, Archimedes L. A. (1980). Why Viet Nam? Prelude to America's Albatross. University of California Press. , pp. 479-480
  4. Karnow, Stanley (1983), Vietnam, a History, Viking Press, p. 226
  5. Sheehan, Neil. (1988), A bright shining lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam, New Random House, p. 173
  6. Truong Chinh (1958), The August Revolution, Foreign Languages Publishing House
  7. Palmer, p. 63
  8. Radio Free Europe research staff (25 February 1970), Le Duan's Theoretical Treatise and the Problem of Succession in Hanoi
  9. Karnow, p. 32