Vietnam's ruling Communist Party is considering allowing private entrepreneurs to join its ranks, a senior official has said.
Vietnam has been keen to attract investors since the 1980s
Ta Huu Thanh, Deputy Chairman of the party's Central Economics Board, added that party members would be allowed to run private companies.
He said the moves had been approved by the central committee. They now need to be endorsed by the party's congress.
Mr Thanh said the proposals were aimed at encouraging foreign investment.
He told Phap Luat newspaper that those private entrepreneurs "who accept the Party's constitution and the state's regulations, will be considered for party membership like any other citizens".
Mr Thanh said: "When we relax the rules for the party members, foreign investors will recognise the party's open policy and are likely to invest more."
The BBC's Quynh Le says the suggestion that capitalists are model citizens who can be Communist Party members challenges the core concepts of class exploitation and class struggle.
The issue was raised by the party congress in 2001 - the year China's Communists opened up their own ranks to entrepreneurs.
However the Vietnamese party decided against a similar move at the time.
But now, our correspondent adds, it seems the party needs to gain the confidence of the private sector, which contributes about 60% of Vietnam's GDP.
The proposals will considered at the next party congress in 2006.