Vietnam's Communist Party meets in secret to pick new leaders
Vietnam's ruling Communist Party opened an eight-day congress to name the country's new set of leaders, who will decide the pace of critical economic reforms.
The fight against corruption and relations with key trading allies, China and the United States will also be high on their agenda.
Held every five years, the Communist Party of Vietnam's 12th Congress has brought together 1,510 delegates representing Vietnam's 63 provinces, ministries, and other party organisations.
It ends on January 28 when the names of the general secretary, the prime minister, the president, the chairman of the National Assembly and other top functionaries will be announced.
The general secretary is the senior leader, and Nguyen Phu Trong, who is expected to retain his post, said "big opportunities have opened up, however, there remain many difficulties and challenges".
He said the country faces four main challenges, including the "danger of being left further behind economically," the degradation of communist ideology, corruption, red tape and wastefulness.
Vietnam is one of the last remaining communist nations in the world, with a party membership of 4.5 million, but like its ideological ally China, the government believes in a quasi-free market economy alongside a strictly controlled society that places severe restrictions on its 93 million people.
Over the next week, the congress will review and set national and party policies, and select a Central Committee, with it all being done behind closed doors as no media are allowed to cover the proceedings.