Forget the image of stern-faced men in drab uniforms, wary of the trappings of the western world. Growing numbers of Vietnam's Communist Party are upbeat twentysomethings with mobile phones, fashionable clothes, and a commitment to the country's ongoing modernisation. More than 350,000 youths joined between 2000 and 2004, according to party statistics. They comprise 13.5 per cent of the 2.6 million members of the party, which has had unchallenged control since 1975. While a small proportion of Vietnam's 82 million people, the numbers are on the rise. Communist Party membership has grown 37 per cent since market reforms were introduced in 1986. Most of the newcomers are under 30. Four young members who gathered for an interview with party officials said they saw no contradiction between embracing both the party and the modern world. 'Mobile phones and computers do not reflect how modern we are,' said Vo Thinh Hien, 25, an accountant in a construction company. 'We are all equipped with the most advanced things. We are representatives of Vietnamese youth. 'The party renews itself every day, every hour, every minute and every second.' Family plays a role in drawing youth to the party. Three of the four said their parents were members. The exception, Ngo My Linh, joined one of the thousands of 'youth unions', which feed into the party, while at school. 'It was a good opportunity for me to better myself in terms of morality, lifestyle and study,' said Ms Linh, 22, now working as a secretary at a youth union. 'I was enlightened and started to want to become a party member.' They all said they embraced the shift to a market economy, denying it contradicts the party's Marxist-Leninist origins. 'The party wants to promote the traditional customs together with learning the best things of the modern time,' said Nguyen Tuan Ha, 29, also a youth union staffer. Foreign analysts say this hybrid is just the new face of communism in contemporary Vietnam. 'Some party members are the most reform-minded people in the system,' said a highly placed foreign official in Hanoi. Young party member Ms Hien said: 'Vietnam will become a powerful country in all fields, on a par with other powers all over the world.'