While recognising the significance of political actors in policy transfer, research focuses more on the role of political elites than on political parties and is dominated by studies about Western democracies rather than authoritarian states. This article examines how the ruling party shapes merit-based policy transfer in authoritarian Vietnam. It finds that with the combined developmental and political motivation, the ruling party takes comprehensive control over the transfer process through their authority to initiate, navigate, and approve. The one-party structure has both facilitating and constraining effects, allowing the ruling party to adopt a selective policy transfer approach that results in meritocracy without neutral competence. The study shows the dialectical relationship between structure and agency in policy transfer. It also challenges the assumption that the separation of political and bureaucratic careers can be applicable in authoritarianism by showing that a politically neutral civil service is impossible in the context of highly politicised merit-based policy transfer.