Truong Tan Sang

Trương Tấn Sang is the president of Vietnam and one of the country's top leaders.

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Trương Tấn Sang (born 21 January 1949) is the president of Vietnam and one of the country's top leaders.[1] He became state president following a vote of the National Assembly in July 2011. The office is a ceremonial position, but Sang is also ranked second after General Secretary Nguyễn Phú Trọng on the party's Secretariat, a body which directs policy making. Sang has been a member of the Politburo, the executive committee of the Communist Party, since 1996. He was party secretary for Ho Chi Minh City from 1996 to 2000. He was promoted to the national party’s number two slot in October 2009.[2] There are reports of rivalry between Sang and Prime Minister Dũng, and each is backed by a faction within the party.


Sang was born 21 January 1949, in Mỹ Hạnh, Đức Hòa, Long An.[3]

Early career

He joined the Communist Party on 20 December 1969.[4] He was jailed by the South Vietnamese government in 1971 and held in prison at Phú Quốc. Hde was released under the Paris Peace Treaty in 1973. He holds a bachelor of law degree.[3]

From 1983–86, he headed Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC)'s Forestry Department, as well as the city's New Economic Zone Development Department. In 1986, he was promoted to the Standing Board of the city's Party Committee.[4] He became a member of the national party's Central Committee in 1991.[5] In 1992, he became chairman for HCMC, the number two position in the city government.[3] He joined the Politburo in 1996 as its 14th ranking member.[6] He was party secretary for HCMC, the top position in the city government, from 1996 to 2000.[3][7] He was promoted to 10th position in the national party at a congress in April 2001. He was also appointed head of the party’s economic commission at this time.

In 2003, he was reprimanded for failing to act in the Năm Cam corruption scandal when he headed the city government.[8] Sang was promoted to fifth position in the party at a congress in April 2006.[9] At this congress, he was also appointed executive secretary of the party's Secretariat, a position which supervises the membership and the internal structure of the party.[4]

Towards leadership

Sang was promoted to the party’s number two slot between congresses in October 2009.[2] His authority soon eclipsed that of General Secretary Nông Đức Mạnh, the only person nominally above Sang in the party hierarchy, according to a leaked diplomatic cable by U.S. Ambassador Michael Michalak.[10]

Sang "assumed many of Manh's normal responsibilities," Michalak wrote. At diplomatic meetings, Sang could "comment authoritatively, in detail and without notes," whereas Mạnh "appeared disengaged" while he read a 30-minute prepared statement "verbatim and in a monotone."[10] A BBC story described rivalry between Sang and Prime Minister Dũng and described their relationship as "stormy."[11] Michalak described both Sang and Dũng as “pragmatic” and “market-oriented.”[10] Both are southerners, but traditionally the party's top slot has gone to a northerner.[10] Nguyễn Phú Trọng, a northerner, was appointed general secretary at 11th National Congress held in Hanoi in January 2011.[12] The congress selected a list of Politburo members, and Sang is ranked first on this list. Following the congress, Trong was named the top ranking member of the party's Secretariat, Vietnam's most powerful decision-making body, while Sang is ranked second.[13]


The National Assembly elected Sang as state president on 25 July 2011 with 97.4 percent of the vote.[4] The term of office is five years. Sang told the Assembly that he would defend Vietnam’s independence and territorial integrity, and would resolve the Spratly Islands dispute with China peacefully.[14] As the new president, he will work to set a foundation that will allow Vietnam to be become an industrialized and modernized country by 2020, Sang told the Assembly.[14]

Under party regulations, the president is under the authority of Secretariat, so the position is ceremonial.[15] Sang's authority derives from his position as the senior member of the Politburo and as the second ranking member of the Secretariat.[13]


  1. (Vietnamese) Nghĩa Nhân, "Bộ Chính trị kiểm điểm thế nào?", Báo Pháp luật, 16 August 2012. The other "key leaders" are given as General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, Prime Minister Nguyễn Tấn Dũng, and National Assembly Chairman Nguyen Sinh Hung.
  2. (Vietnamese) "Ban Chấp hành trung ương, Bộ Chính trị, Ban Bí thư", Báo điện tử Đảng Cộng sản Việt Nam (Communist Party of Vietnam Online Newspaper).

    (Vietnamese) "Danh sách Bộ Chính trị Khoá X", Nhan Dan, 7 January 2011. This gives the Poliburo ranking immediately before the 2011 congress, with Sang second and Dũng fifth.

    "Vietnam profile", BBC, 15 January 2011. This describes Sang as No. 2 prior to the 2011 congress.
  3. Thông tấn xã Việt Nam, "Tiểu sử tóm tắt của đồng chí Trương Tấn Sang" Tiền Phong Online, 19 January 2011.
  4. Biography of State President Truong Tan Sang, VietnamPlus, 25 July 2011.
  5. (Vietnamese) "Danh sách Bộ Chính trị, Ban Chấp hành Trung ương Đảng khóa VII (1991-1996)" Nhan Dan, 7 January 2011. Sang is No. 104.
  6. (Vietnamese) "Danh sách Bộ Chính trị, Ban Chấp hành Trung ương Đảng khóa VIII (1996-2001)", Nhan Dan, 7 January 2011.
  7. Nghia M. Vo Saigon: A History 2011, p. 242: "In May 1995, the president of the People's Committee of Saigon-HCMC, Trương Tấn Sang, noted that corruption by city officials amounted to one million dollars.."
  8. Arthurs, Clare, "Vietnam's showcase trial", BBC News, 25 February 2003
  9. "Danh sách Ban lễ tang đồng chí Võ Văn Kiệt", Báo An ninh Thủ đô, 14 June 2008
  10. Michalak, Michael, US embassy cables: Vietnam picks its new leaders, The Guardian, 12 January 2011.
  11. Ông Trương Tấn Sang làm chủ tịch nước", BBC, 25 July 2011.
  12. "Nguyen Phu Trong elected Party General Secretary", Nhan Dan, 19 January 2011.

    "Nguyen Phu Trong elected Party Chief", VietnamPlus, 19 January 2011.

    "Party Congress announces CPVCC Politburo members", VGP News, 19 January 2011.
  13. "11th CPVCC Secretariat members named", Vietnam News Agency, 9 February 2011.

    (Vietnamese) "Ban Chấp hành trung ương, Bộ Chính trị, Ban Bí thư, Báo điện tử Đảng Cộng sản Việt Nam, 25 January 2011.
  14. (Vietnamese) Trương Tấn Sang, "Bài phát biểu nhận nhiệm vụ của tân Chủ tịch nước" (This is the full text of Sang's speech to the Assembly, as reported by VNA.)
  15. (Vietnamese) "Văn kiện đảng" (Party Documents), Báo điện tử Đảng Cộng sản Việt Nam (Newspaper of the Communist Party of Vietnam), 11 January 2011. Ban Bí thư giới thiệu các chức danh thuộc diện Ban Bí thư quản lý để Chủ tịch nước, Thủ tướng Chính phủ bổ nhiệm; Quốc hội, Mặt trận Tổ quốc và các đoàn thể chính trị - xã hội bầu. (The Secretariat nominates and directs the president, prime minister, National Assembly, and Fatherland Front, as well as the political elections).

    The Wall Street Journal describes the presidency as "ceremonial" here.