US embassy cable - 00HANOI1615

AVERAGE VIETNAMESE COMMENT ON ECONOMIC CHANGE IN TWO POOR HANOI NEIGHBORHOODS

Identifier: 00HANOI1615
Wikileaks: View 00HANOI1615 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Hanoi
Created: 2000-07-27 10:08:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Tags: SOCI PGOV PREL ECON VM
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.


2000HANOI01615 - UNCLASSIFIED
 
 
 
                           UNCLASSIFIED     PTO5784

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ACTION EAP-00   

INFO  LOG-00   NP-00    AID-00   ACQ-00   CEA-01   CIAE-00  CTME-00  
      ITCE-00  DOTE-00  SRPP-00  DS-00    EB-00    ED-01    EXME-00  
      E-00     FAAE-00  FBIE-00  UTED-00  VC-00    FRB-00   HHS-01   
      H-01     SSA-01   TEDE-00  INR-00   ITC-01   L-00     VCE-00   
      MOFM-04  MOF-03   AC-01    NSAE-00  NSCE-00  OMB-01   OPIC-01  
      PA-00    PM-00    PRS-00   ACE-00   P-00     SP-00    SSO-00   
      STR-00   USIE-00  PMB-00   DSCC-00  DRL-02   G-00     NFAT-00  
      SAS-00     /018W
                  ------------------7354D6  272041Z /75    
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0447
INFO ASEAN COLLECTIVE
AMCONSUL HONG KONG 
AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY 
DIA WASHDC
SECDEF WASHDC
USDOC WASHDC
USDA FAS WASHDC
USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI
DEPTTREAS WASHDC
UNCLAS HANOI 001615 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
STATE ALSO FOR EAP/BCLTV, EB, INR, EAP/CM, DRL 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 02        HANOI  01615  272040Z 
STATE ALSO FOR USAID 
BANGKOK ALSO FOR RMA/ODP 
MANILA FOR USAID/DAVIS 
SECDEF ALSO FOR ISA/EA/LSTERN 
USDOC ALSO FOR 4431/MAC/IEP/OKSA/HPPHO 
CINCPAC ALSO FOR FPA 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: SOCI, PGOV, PREL, ECON, VM 
SUBJECT: AVERAGE VIETNAMESE COMMENT ON ECONOMIC CHANGE IN TWO POOR HANOI NEIGHBORHOODS 
 
1.  (SBU) SUMMARY.  OUTLYING DISTRICTS OF HANOI ARE 
ATTRACTING LARGE NUMBERS OF "IMMIGRANTS" FROM DEPRESSED 
RURAL AREAS SEEKING EMPLOYMENT.  MANUFACTURING JOBS 
HERE, THOUGH MISERABLY PAID BY U.S. STANDARDS, 
NEVERTHELESS PAY FAR MORE THAN THE PEASANT FARMS THEY 
LEAVE BEHIND.  TO GET A FIRST HAND LOOK AT THIS 
PHENOMENON, POLOFF SPENT MOST OF A DAY MEETING 
RESIDENTS OF TWO SUCH DISTRICTS, DONG ANH AND SOC SON. 
THEY SPOKE OF PROBLEMS WITH YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT, THE 
DIFFICULTY OF OBTAINING GOVERNMENT JOBS, INSUFFICIENT 
BENEFITS, AND LONG WORK HOURS.  POLOFF ALSO VISITED A 
SHOP DOING BRISK SALES OF CHEAP "COUNTERFEIT" CHINESE 
MOTORBIKES TO THESE LOW-INCOME OUTSIDERS.  DESPITE 
THEIR ECONOMIC PROBLEMS, MANY RESIDENTS SAID THEY LIVE 
BETTER TODAY THAN FORMERLY BECAUSE OF VIETNAM'S MORE 
OPEN ECONOMY.  POLOFF WAS IMPRESSED TO LEARN THAT 
SEEMINGLY PENNILESS RESIDENTS HAVE NEVERTHELESS MANAGED 
TO SAVE ENOUGH FROM MEAGER INCOMES TO SEND CHILDREN TO 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 03        HANOI  01615  272040Z 
COLLEGE.  INDICATIONS ARE THAT THE BRIGHT LIGHTS OF 
HANOI WILL CONTINUE TO ATUT THE SOCIO- 
ECONOMIC CONSIDITIONS IN WHICH THEY LIVE.  WHILE NOT 
INTENDING TO BE SCIENTIFIC OR EXHAUSTIVE, WE HOPE TO 
GIVE READERS A CLEARER IMPRESSION OF HOW RESIDENTS OF 
VIETNAM'S CAPITAL AND SECOND LARGEST CITY FEEL ABOUT 
THEIR LIVES IN A COUNTRY UNDERGOING RAPID CHANGE.  THIS 
CABLE REPORTS CONVERSATIONS OF POLOFF AND FSN POLITICAL 
ASSISTANT WITH RESIDENTS OF TWO ADJACENT SEMI-RURAL, 
SEMI-INDUSTRIAL DISTRICTS, DONG ANH AND SOC SON, 
LOCATED AT THE EDGE OF HANOI ALONG ROUTE 3 LINKING 
HANOI TO THE PROVINCE OF THAI NGUYEN. 
 
A NOTE ON DONG ANH 
------------------ 
 
3.  (U) THE DISTRICT OF DONG ANH, POPULATION 258,400, 
IS LOCATED 23 KILOMETERS NORTH OF THE CITY OF HANOI. 
IT IS DIVIDED INTO 23 COMMUNES, WITH AN OVERALL 
POPULATION DENSITY OF 1,346 PERSONS PER SQUARE 
KILOMETER.  WITH SEVERAL LARGE ENTERPRISES AND FOREIGN 
JOINT VENTURES, IT OFFERS JOBS IN THE MANUFACTURING 
SECTOR WHICH HAVE ATTRACTED MANY OUTSIDERS.  ACCORDING 
TO GVN STATISTICS, ANNUAL PER CAPITA INCOME IS VND 
2,760,000 (USD 197.) 
 
GVN RETIREE: "TODAY, PRIVATE SECTRS. HANG, AT THE TEA STAND THEY 
OWN.  MR. HANG, 52, IS A RETIRED GOVERNMENT MECHANIC. 
MRS. HANG DOES MOST OF THE WORK RUNNING THE STAND. THEY 
COMMENTED ON ECONOMIC CHANGES THAT HAVE BEEN OCCURRING 
IN THEIR NEIGHBORHOOD. 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 04        HANOI  01615  272040Z 
 
5.  (SBU) THE HANGS SAID THE BEST-OFF EMPLOYEES IN 
THEIR AREA ARE THOSE WHO WORK AT THE LOCAL HANEL PLANT. 
ORION-HANEL IS A SOUTH KOREA-VIETNAM JOINT VENTURE 
WHICH MANUFACTURES TELEVISION PICTURE TUBES.  WORKERS 
AT THE HANEL FACTORY EARN VND 1 MILLION PER MONTH (USD 
71), ENOUGH TO BUILD INDIVIDUAL HOMES FOR THEIR 
FAMILIES.  THESE WORKERS ENJOY REAL JOB SECURITY, THE 
HANGS SAID, AND WITH LOCAL CONSUMERQRICES LOW, THEY 
LIVE RATHER WELL. 
 
6.  (SBU) THE SITUATION IS MORE PROBLEMATIC FOR THOSE 
EMPLOYED IN THE GOVERNMENT SECTOR.  MR. HANG RECEIVES A 
PENSION OF VND 400,000 PER MONTH (USD 28) FOR HIS YEARS 
OF SERVICE, "ENOUGH TO LIVE WELL AND LET MY KIDS TAKE 
CARE OF ME," HE SAID.  TODAY, HOWEVER, THE GOVERNMENT 
SO,BASIS RATHER THAN AS PERMANENT EMPLOYEES.  CONTRACT SALARIES, HE 
SAID, ARE NO BETTER THAN THOSE EARNED BY PERMANENT 
EMPLOYEES, BUT CONTRACTORS DON'T RECEIVE COMPARABLE 
BENEFITS.  FOR EXAMPLE, HE SAID, A CONTRACTOR WOULD NOT 
RECEIVE HIS SECURE PENSION. 
 
7.  (SBU) MRS. HANG ADDED THAT IT IS BECOMING EXTREMELY 
DIFFICULT TO GET A GOVERNMENT JOB.  INCREASINGLY, SHE 
SAID, YOUNG PEOPLE IN THE AREA "LAZE AROUND THE HOUSE" 
BECAUSE THEY HAVE NO JOBS.  IN MANY CASES, SHE SAID, 
THEY LACK BOTH THE CREDENTIALS TO OBTAIN JOBS AND THE 
WHEREWITHAL TO OFFER THE BRIBES NECESSARY TO OBTAIN 
THEM.  SHE EXPLAINED THAT OBTAINING A GOVERNMENT JOB 
USUALLY MEANT PROVIDING THE RELEVANT OFFICIAL A SUM OF 
MONEY OR A SUBSTANTIAL GIFT. 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 05        HANOI  01615  272040Z 
 
8.  (SBU) MRS. HANG SAID SHE ENJOYS GOOD RELATIONS WITH 
LOCAL OFFICIALS.  SHE BOASTED THAT BECAUSE HER TEA 
STAND EARNS ONLY A MODEST INCOME, THEY ALLOW HER TO RUN 
THE STAND WITHOUT PAYING TAXES, WHILE OTHERS MUST PAY. 
 
SUCCESSFUL YOUTH WORK SEVENTY HOURS A WEEK IN WORKSHOPS 
--------------------------------------------- ---------- 
 
9.  (SBU) IN THE NEIGHBORING DONG ANH VILLAGE OF DUC 
TU, POLOFF CHATTED WITH A GROUP OF MEN AT A MAKESHIFT 
OUTDOOR TEA GARDEN.  MOST WERE IN THEIR EARLY TWENTIES, 
ALTHOUGH TWO WERE IN THEIR FORTIES.  THE LEADER OF THE 
GROUP SEEMED TO BE MR. LAP, AGE 23. 
 
10.   (SBU) THE YOUNG MEN WORK AT A NEARBY STEEL 
FABRICATING WORKSHOP.  THESE WORKSHOPS HAVE BECOME A 
SPECIALTY OF THE VILLAGE, AND ONE SEES THEM ALMOST 
EVERYWHERE.  MR. LAP SAID THAT HE AND HIS COLLEAGUES, 
ALL OF WHOM HAVE EIGHTH GRADE EDUCATIONS, ARE HAPPY TO 
HAVE WELL-PAYING JOBS THERE (THEY EARN ABOUT VND 2 
MILLION A MONTH, ABOUT USD 142), BUT WORK VERY LONG 
HOURS FOR THEIR SALARIES: TEN HOURS A DAY, SEVEN DAYS A 
WEEK.  STILL, THEY CONSIDER THEMSELVES PARTICULARLY 
SUCCESSFUL BECAUSE MOST OF THEIR PARENTS ARE RURAL 
PEASANTS WHO EARN LESS IN ONE YEAR THAN THEY EARN IN A 
MONTH.  MR. LAP, LIKE MOST OF HIS COHORTS, IS SINGLE 
SINCE HE HAS NOT YET REACHED THE AGE OF 25, CONSIDERED 
THE IDEAL MARRIAGE AGE FOR A MAN IN SEMI-RURAL DUC TU. 
(NOTE: THE IDEAL MARRIAGE AGE FOR A WOMAN IN THIS AREA 
IS CONSIDERED TO BE ABOUT 18.  END NOTE.) 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 06        HANOI  01615  272040Z 
 
11.  (SBU) ABOUT HALF THE LOCAL WORKERS ARE FROM DUC TU 
ITSELF, BUT THE OTHER HALF HAIL FROM STILL POORER 
NEARBY VILLAGES, OR FROM THE NEIGHBORING PROVINCE OF 
THAI NGUYEN, SAID THE WORKERS. THERE ARE ALSO SOME 
TRAINED TECHNICIANS FROM SAIGON AT THE VARIOUS 
WORKSHOPS, THEY ADDED.  THESE OUTSIDERS ARE WELCOMED 
BECAUSE THE WORKSHOPS NEED LABOR.  SEVERAL OUTSIDERS 
HAVE MARRIED WOMEN FROM THE VILLAGE.  STILL, ALTHOUGH 
THEY ARE WELCOMED, THEY ARE STILL CONSIDERED OUTSIDERS 
WHO WERE NOT BORN IN DUC TU. 
 
12. (SBU) THESE YOUNG MEN SEEMED HAPPY ABOUT THEIR 
CURRENT ECONOMIC CONDITIONS, FAR BETTER THAN THOSE OF 
THEIR PARENTS.  BUT AMONG THE GROUP WERE TWO OLDER MEN 
WHO WERE MORE CIRCUMSPECT, BOTH WAR VETERANS IN THEIR 
FORTIES WHO ARE TOO OLD OR WEAK TO WORK AT THE STEEL 
WORKSHOPS.  ONE OF THE VETS, IN HIS MID-FORTIES, HAD 
BEEN STATIONED WITH NORTH VIETNAMESE FORCES FOR FIVE 
YEARS IN THE AREA AROUND THE THEN-U.S. BASE AT BIEN HOA 
(FORMER SOUTH VIETNAM).  THE OTHER, IN HIS LATE 
FORTIES, HAD SERVED AS A NORTH VIETNAMESE SOLDIER 
PRIMARILY IN THE SOUTHERN PROVINCE OF TAY NINH.  THE 
SECOND VET CANNOT WORK IN THE STEEL WORKSHOPS BECAUSE 
HE HAS A BRAIN CONDITION STEMMING FROM THE WAR.  HE 
SAID A U.S. BULLET ENTERED HIS TEMPLE DURING COMBAT 
NEAR THE CAMBODIAN BORDER, SHOWING POLOFF THE STILL- 
VISIBLE SCAR.  HE CARRIES SHRAPNEL INSIDE HIS HEAD. 
CHANGES IN THE WEATHER, HE SAID, CAN CAUSE DEBILITATING 
PAIN.  THEREFORE, HE WORKS AS A MOTORBIKE DRIVER, AND 
EARNS NO MORE THAN VND 10,000 TO 15,000 (U.S. 70 CENTS 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 07        HANOI  01615  272040Z 
TO ONE DOLLAR) PER DAY. 
 
WILL UNIVERSITY STUDENT SON GRADUATE TO UNEMPLOYMENT? 
--------------------------------------------- -------- 
 
13.  (SBU) DASHING INTO A TINY STAND FOR BEEF NOODLE 
SOUP, POLOFF MET THE OWNER, MR. DUY.  MR. DUY EARNS VND 
700,000-800,000 (USD 50-57) PER MONTH FROM THE STAND, 
BUT ALSO EARNS ABOUT VND ONE MILLION (USD 71) PER MONTH 
FROM A SIDE JOB AS A MOTOR SCOOTER REPAIRMAN.  HE SAID 
THE LOCAL ECONOMY IS DOING WELL, BUT HIS STAND IS 
SUFFERING.  IT USED TO BE THE ONLY ONE IN THE AREA, BUT 
WITH SO MANY OUTSIDERS MOVING IN FOR JOBS, ESPECIALLY 
FROM THAI NGUYEN, OTHER SOUP STANDS HAVE OPENED UP TO 
COMPETE WITH HIS. 
 
14.  (SBU) HE SAID THAT DOING BUSINESS IS EASIER IN 
VIETNAM TODAY THAN EVER BEFORE, WITH FEWER RESTRICTIONS 
ON BUYING AND SELLING.  BUT THE BIG PROBLEM IS 
UNEMPLOYMENT, ESPECIALLY AMONG YOUTH.  HE OFFERED HIS 
SON AS AN EXAMPLE.  HIS SON IS CURRENTLY STUDYING 
EDUCATION AT THE UNIVERSITY IN HANOI (MR. DUY HIMSELF 
IS NOT COLLEGE-EDUCATED). BUT HE BELIEVES JOBS ARE 
SCARCE IN EDUCATION IN THE HANOI AREA.  HE EXPECTS HIS 
SON TO BE UNEMPLOYED WHEN HE GETS HIS DIPLOMA. 
 
A NOTE ON SOC SON 
----------------- 
 
15.  (U) SOC SON, LOCATED ABOUT 40 KILOMETERS NORTH OF 
THE CITY OF HANOI, IS CONSIDERED HANOI'S POOREST 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 08        HANOI  01615  272040Z 
SUBURBAN DISTRICT.  IT IS BELIEVED TO CONTAIN THE 
HIGHEST NUMBER OF POOR FAMILIES OF ANY HANOI DISTRICT. 
ITS 243,300 RESIDENTS LIVE IN 25 COMMUNES ON A TOTAL 
AREA OF 306 SQUARE KILOMETERS.  JOBS ARE PROVIDED BY 
1,850 PRIVATE INDUSTRIES, AS WELL AS BY THE INDUSTRIAL 
ZONF HANOI'S 
LABORING CLASS.  ACCORDING TO GVN STATISTICS, ANNUAL 
PER CAPITA INCOME IS VND 1,700,000 (USD 121). 
 
WOULD YOU BUY A "HONG DA" DREAM? 
-------------------------------- 
 
16.  (SBU) PASSING DOWN HIGHWAY 3 TOWARDS SOC SON, 
POLOFF STOPPED OFF AT THE SMALL MOTORSCOOTER SALES LOT 
OF MRS. HUONG.  THE TWENTY OR SO MOTORBIKES ON DISPLAY 
ALL LOOK LIKE HONDA DREAMS AND HONDA WAVES AT FIRST 
GLANCE.  BUT CLOSER INSPECTION REVEALS SHODDY 
WORKMANSHIP, AND TRADEMARKS THAT SAY "HONG DA" OR 
"HUNDA" RATHER THAN "HONDA," "DREAMY" RATHER THAN 
"DREAM," "WAVY" RATHER THAN "WAVE." 
 
17.  (SBU) MRS. HUONG EXPLAINED THAT THE BIKES WERE 
MADE IN CHINA.  PURCHASED NEW, THEY SELL FOR ABOUT VND 
11,000,000 (USD 785), VERSUS THE VND 33,000,000 (USD 
2,400) NECESSARY TO BUY A NEW HONDA DREAM, THE MOST 
POPULAR MOTORBIKE IN VIETNAM.  SHE OPENED HER LOT ON 
THE FIRST OF THE YEAR, AND, SHE SAID, SALES HAVE BEEN 
BRISK, ABOUT 15-20 BIKES A MONTH, FROM WHICH SHE MAKES 
ABOUT VND 100,000 (USD 7) PROFIT ON EACH ONE. THEY ARE 
SOLD MOSTLY TO THE OUTSIDERS WHO HAVE BEEN MOVING IN 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 09        HANOI  01615  272040Z 
FROM POOR RURAL AREAS.  SHE SAID THAT SHE PAYS ABOUT 
VND 300,000-400,000 (USD $21 TO 28) A MONTH IN TAXES. 
 
18.  (SBU) AREN'T YOU BREAKING THE LAW BY SELLING THESE 
COUNTERFEIT CHINESE-MADE KNOCKOFFS?, ASKED POLOFF.  NOT 
AT ALL, REPLIED MRS. HUONG.  THEY ARE CLEARLY LABELED 
AS "HUNDA" OR "HONG DA", NOT "HONDA," SO NO LAW IS 
BROKEN, SHE ASSERTED.  (NOTE: CUSTOMERS ARE AWARE THAT 
 
19.  (SBU) FURTHER DOWN THE ROAD IN THE VILLAGE OF PHU 
LO, A "TUC TUC" (THREE-WHEELED MOTOR CAB) DRIVER AT A 
TEA STALL SAID THAT THE KIM ANH TEA PROCESSING PLANT 
OPENED IN 1990 HAD ATTRACTED "A LOT" OF LOCALS TO THE 
AREA, ESPECIALLY FROM NEARBY THAI NGUYEN.  HE SAID THE 
THAI NGUYEN WORKERS SOMETIMES RETURNED TO THEIR 
PROVINCE FOR WORK DURING THE VARIOUS HARVEST SEASONS. 
HE SAID THE LOCAL ECONOMY TOOK A NOSE DIVE SOME YEARS 
AGO FROM WHICH IT IS STILL RECOVERING DUE TO THE 
PRESENCE OF THE TEA PROCESSING INDUSTRY: THE RAPIDLY 
URBANIZING AREA USED TO BE A CENTER FOR TOBACCO 
CULTIVATION.  BUT WITH THE GOVERNMENT'S ANTI-SMOKING 
CAMPAIGN, THE DEMAND FOR TOBACCO DIMINISHED AND LOCAL 
PEASANTS WERE LEFT WITH NO LIVELIHOOD UNTIL THE KIM ANH 
PLANT OPENED. 
 
PEASANT FAMILY OF EIGHT LIVES ON 17 DOLLARS A YEAR 
--------------------------------------------- ----- 
 
20.  (SBU) ALTHOUGH THE SOC SON AREA, LOCATED CLOSE TO 
NOI BAI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, IS RAPIDLY URBANIZING, 
THERE IS STILL CONSIDERABLE AGRICULTURAL ACTFRUIT OFF THE 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 10        HANOI  01615  272040Z 
VINES, WHICH HE SAID HAD BEEN ATTACKED BY MICE. 
ALTHOUGH MR. BAO'S MELON PLOT IS 450 SQUARE METERS IN 
AREA, HE SAID HIS EIGHT MEMBER FAMILY HAS BEEN 
ALLOCATED A TOTAL OF 3,500 SQUARE METERS OF 
AGRICULTURAL LAND OVERALL.  MOST OF THE REST IS DEVOTED 
TO PADDY RICE. 
 
21.  (SBU) MR. BAO SAID THAT IN RETURN FOR THE LAND, HE 
MUST PAY THE LOCAL COMMUNE 30 KILOGRAMS OF RICE PER 
YEAR.  HE GETS A BETTER RETURN FROM HIS MELON PLOT THAN 
FROM HIS RICE PADDIES, ABOUT VND 250,000 (USD 17) PER 
HARVEST.  DURING THE SECOND HARVEST, HE PLANTS 
CUCUMBERS. 
 
22.  (SBU) MR. BAO SAID THAT THE LAND HE HAS UNDER 
CULTIVATION BRINGS IN ABOUT VND 650,000 (USD 45) PER 
YEAR TOTAL, OF WHICH VND 400,000 (USD 28) MUST BE PAID 
OUT IN TAXES.  (NOTE: WE BELIEVE BAO AND HIS FAMILY 
HAVE ADDITIONAL SOURCES OF INCOME, BEYOND THE USD 17 
PER YEAR WE CALCULATE THIS LEAVES HIM FROM AGRICULTURAL 
SOURCES.  END NOTE).  HE SAID GOOD WEATHER IN RECENT 
YEARS LED TO GOOD HARVESTS AND MORE INCOME.  HE HAS 
ALSO BORROWED ABOUT VND 2-3 MILLION (USD 142-214) IN 
VARIOUS LOANS AT 15-20 PERCENT INTEREST. 
 
LOTS OF BUSINESS REPAIRING CARS 
------------------------------- 
 
23.  (SBU) IN SOC SON, POLOFF VISITED A CAR REPAIR SHOP 
OWNED BY MR. SON.  HE AND HIS STAFF WERE WORKING ON 
PAINTING A 1989 HONDA FROM BLACK TO WHITE.  MR. SON'S 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 11        HANOI  01615  272040Z 
SHOP EMPLOYS NINE MEN, MOST OF THEM LOCALS BUT A FEW 
WHO HAVE "IMMIGRATED" HERE FROM NAM DINH. 
 
24.  (SBU) MR. SON SAID HIS SHOP IS VERY BUSY BECAUSE 
TAXI SERVICES AT NEARBY NOI BAI AIRPORT NEED TO KEEP 
THEIR CARS IN LIKE-NEW CONDITION.  HE SAID HE IS NOT 
AWARE OF MANY PEOPLE MOVING INTO THE AREA BECAUSE 
THERE IS ALREADY CONSIDERABLE UNEMPLOYMENT AMONG AREA 
TAXI DRIVERS.  HE SAID THAT HE PAYS OUT ABOUT VND 
100,000 (USD 7) A MONTH IN TAXES, WHICH, HE SAID, IS 
LOW BECAUSE THE LOCAL TAX AUTHORITY GIVES FAMILY-OWNED 
BUSINESSES SUCH AS HIS PREFERENTIAL TREATMENT.  HE SAID 
THAT MANY HANOI CAR OWNERS, SUCH AS THE OWNER OF THE 
HONDA HE WAS PAINTING, COME OUT HERE FOR REPAIRS 
BECAUSE PRICES ARE CHEAPER THAN IN THE CITY. 
 
WILL ELECTRICIAN SON LEAVE THE FARM FOR HANOI? 
--------------------------------------------- - 
 
25.  (SBU) WHILE EATING LUNCH AT A RUSTIC RICE SHOP, 
POLOFF STRUCK UP A CONVERSATION WITH MR. LUONG.  MR. 
LUONG IS A PROVINCE OF NGHE AN RICE FARMER UP FOR A FEW 
DAYS TO ACCOMPANY HIS SON WHILE HE TAKES AN EXAM.  MR. 
LUONG'S SON WANTS TO ENTER ELECTRONIC SCHOOL NUMBER ONE 
IN SOC SON, ONE OF ONLY TWO VOCATIONAL SCHOOLS IN THE 
COUNTRY TO TRAIN ELECTRICIANS. (THE OTHER IS IN HO CHI 
MINH CITY).  TO DO SO, HE MUST PASS AN ALL DAY TEST IN 
MATH AND PHYSICS. 
 
26.  (SBU) IF HIS SON PASSES THE EXAM, HE WILL ENTER A 
TH~ THE 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 12        HANOI  01615  272040Z 
MONEY?  "YES, I'VE BEEN SAVING MONEY ALL MY LIFE FROM 
THE SALE OF CHICKENS AND DUCKS ON THE SIDE OF RICE 
CULTIVATION."  LUONG IS A CATHOLIC, AND IS PROUD THAT 
HIS SON MAY BE GETTING THIS ADVANCED EDUCATION, 
SOMETHING FEW NORTHERN CATHOLICS OF HIS GENERATION 
COULD OBTAIN. 
 
27.  (SBU) COMMENT.  WHILE THE INCOME AMOUNTS CITED 
ABOVE APPEAR IMPOSSIBLY MEAGER BY U.S. STANDARDS, THEY 
ARE CONSIDERABLY HIGHER THAN WHAT THE MAJORITY OF THE 
VIETNAMESE, A MOSTLY AGRARIAN PEOPLE, EARN.  THIS IS 
WHY AREAS LIKE DONG ANH AND SOC SON ARE FILLING UP WITH 
"IMMIGRANTS."  SOME FOREIGNERS AND VIETNAMESE 
INTELLECTUALS WAX NOSTALGIC FOR THE SMALL, QUIET HANOI 
OF YESTERYEAR.  BUT THAT HANOI HELD LITTLE ATTRACTION 
FOR POOR FARMERS FROM THE HINTERLAND, SINCE THERE WERE 
FEW JOBS.  TODAY, WITH GOVERNMENT CONTROLS ON INTERNAL 
MIGRATION PRACTICALLY A DEAD LETTER, IT IS HARDER FOR 
THE RURAL POOR TO RESIST THE ALLURE OF A HIGHER INCOME 
IN THE BIG CITY.  END COMMENT. 
 
HARTER 

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