A report by Vietnam's Ministry of Science and Technology (MST) helps to show why innovation levels are so low - as IP Komodo has reported by the paucity of Vietnamese patent filings globally - see here.
MST says that about 2,000 organizations in Vietnam have R&D activities; in 2011 Vietnam had 134,780 R&D workers. Many are support staff with only 105,230 doing scientific research; half at universities where most are also lecturers. As such the real numbers on full time research are much lower at 67,223 - that is a ratio of 0.0007 per million people; a fraction of the 4,650 in the US (in 2007), 936 in China (2011), 5,451 in South Korea (2010), Singapore 6,307 (2010) and Malaysia 1,643 (2011).
Vietnam also spends less on R&D. Vietnam’s GERD (Gross domestic expenditure on research and development) was USD $0.25 billion - a ratio of expenditure on GDP of 0.21 percent. Again a fraction of the US - 2.77 percent in 2011 and China - 1.84 percent in 2011.
Patent filings do indeed appear to reflect reality.