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Vietnam's new leadership up for grabs as Communist congress opens

All eyes on Trong, who might defy tradition by remaining as general secretary

HANOI -- Vietnam on Monday kicked off the political gathering that will chart the nation's course for the next five years, as the Southeast Asian country seeks to become a new regional hub for low-cost manufacturing and an alternative to neighboring China.

The National Congress, held roughly every five years by the Communist Party of Vietnam, will set diplomatic and economic policies for the one-party state through 2026 and decide the new leadership. Attention centers on the fate of 76-year-old Nguyen Phu Trong, the party's general secretary and country's president.

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