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In Vietnam, Discontent Lurks Under Surface of Economic Success

  • Vietnamese across the nation have protested legislation
  • Government officials seek to dissuade citizens from protests
Vietnamese protesters shout slogans against a proposal to grant companies lengthy land leases during a demonstration in Ho Chi Minh City on June 10, 2018.

Vietnamese protesters shout slogans against a proposal to grant companies lengthy land leases during a demonstration in Ho Chi Minh City on June 10, 2018.

Photographer: Kao Nguyen/AFP via Getty Images

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Vietnam boasts one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, optimistic citizens and a stable government. But below the surface of positive data points lies discontent that spilled over during recent protests across the country.

On Sunday, hundreds of anti-riot police blanketed central Ho Chi Minh City, the nation’s thriving commercial center, to prevent demonstrations after thousands of Vietnamese took to the streets across the nation the previous week. They were marching against proposed special economic zones with 99-year land leases they fear will lead to Chinese encroachment, as well as cybersecurity legislation they believe will curb online freedoms.