Vietnam Faces Last-Minute Maneuvering for Communist Party Leadership

A banner in Hanoi, Vietnam, for the party congress set to begin Wednesday.

Aaron Joel Santos for The New York Times

HANOI, Vietnam — Soon after becoming the American ambassador to Vietnam in 2007, Michael W. Michalak approached Nguyen Tan Dung, the country’s new prime minister, at a gala dinner and mentioned that human rights were among the American government’s highest priorities in Vietnam.

“You could see his face just freeze,” Mr. Michalak, now the senior vice president of the U.S.-Asean Business Council, recalled with a chuckle. Mr. Michalak…

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