Motorists wear face masks to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus next to a poster marking the 45th anniversary of the fall of Saigon, in Hanoi on April 29, 2020, a day before the commemoration as authorities halted any public events due to the pandemic. Photo: AFP/Nhac Nguyen

In 2013, the General Secretary of Vietnam’s ruling Communist Party made an honest admission. “The rich-poor divide only shows signs of getting worse,” said Nguyen Phu Trong, a committed socialist ideologue.

That divide, which did indeed worsen after 2013, is now likely to widen further because of economic interruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. It may also cause the Communist Party to rethink how it views social welfare and its own role in society.

Hanoi can rightly boast about successfully guiding the country through the health crisis, with only 370 confirmed cases and zero deaths to date, according to official data.

In large part this was due to the government’s competent and uncharacteristically transparent handling of affairs, from early border closures to adequate track-and-tracing and effective shutdowns.