US embassy cable - 00HANOI2480

VIETNAM WARILY LOOKS TO CHINA AS A MODEL FOR ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL REFORM

Identifier: 00HANOI2480
Wikileaks: View 00HANOI2480 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Hanoi
Created: 2000-11-10 05:39:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PGOV PREL ETRD ECON PINR VM CM CVR
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.

100539Z Nov 00

2000HANOI02480 - CONFIDENTIAL
 
 
 
                           CONFIDENTIAL     PTQ9432

PAGE 01        HANOI  02480  01 OF 06  100541Z 
ACTION EAP-00   

INFO  LOG-00   NP-00    AF-00    AGRE-00  AID-00   ACQ-00   CEA-01   
      CIAE-00  SMEC-00  CTME-00  INL-00   DINT-00  DOEE-00  SRPP-00  
      DS-00    EB-00    EUR-00   EXIM-01  E-00     FBIE-00  VC-00    
      FRB-00   H-01     TEDE-00  INR-00   IO-00    ITC-01   L-00     
      VCE-00   MOFM-04  MOF-03   AC-01    NSAE-00  OES-01   OIC-02   
      OMB-01   OPIC-01  PA-00    PM-00    PRS-00   ACE-00   P-00     
      SP-00    SSO-00   STR-00   USIE-00  SA-00    PMB-00   DSCC-00  
      DRL-02   G-00     NFAT-00  SAS-00     /019W
                  ------------------9D66A9  100542Z /38    
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1297
INFO NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
DEPTTREAS WASHDC PRIORITY
USDOC WASHDC PRIORITY
SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY BEIJING 
AMCONSUL HONG KONG 
AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU 
AMCONSUL SHANGHAI 
ASEAN COLLECTIVE
USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI//J5/FPA//
DIA WASHDC
AMEMBASSY TOKYO 
AMEMBASSY SEOUL 
AMEMBASSY PARIS 
                       CONFIDENTIAL    

PAGE 02        HANOI  02480  01 OF 06  100541Z 
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 06 HANOI 002480 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR EAP A/S ROTH AND DAS BOYCE 
STATE FOR EAP/BCLTV, EAP/CM, P, S/P, EB, IO/UNP, INR 
STATE PASS USTR FOR AMB BARSHEFSKY 
NSC FOR KEN LIEBERTHAL AND GENE CHRISTY 
WHITE HOUSE FOR OFFICE OF FIRST LADY 
WHITE HOUSE FOR NEC GENE SPERLING 
WHITE HOUSE FOR DEP/ASST TO POTUS LBRAINARD 
SECDEF FOR ISA/EAP LEW STERN 
USDOC FOR 4431/MAC/AP/OKSA/HPPHO 
USDA FOR FAA/AO/SHUETE 
PARIS FOR SUE BREMNER 
BEIJING PLEASE PASS CHENGDU 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/18/2015 
TAGS: PGOV, PREL, ETRD, ECON, PINR, VM, CM, CVR 
SUBJECT:  VIETNAM WARILY LOOKS TO CHINA AS A MODEL FOR ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL REFORM 
 
REF: A) HANOI 1114   B) HANOI 185 
 
1. (U) CLASSIFIED BY POLCOUNS JAMES BRUNO; 
REASONS 1.5 (B) AND (D). 
 
------- 
SUMMARY 
------- 
 
2. (C) A STEADY STREAM OF VIETNAMESE LEADERS VISITING 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 03        HANOI  02480  01 OF 06  100541Z 
CHINA, MOST RECENTLY PRIME MINISTER KHAI AND THE ARMY 
CHIEF OF STAFF, HIGHLIGHTS THE GREAT INTEREST HANOI 
PLACES ON ITS RELATIONS WITH BEIJING.  SINCE GENERAL 
SECRETARY PHIEU TRAVELED TO BEIJING IN FEBRUARY, SEVEN 
 
SIPDIS 
SEPARATE POLITBURO DELEGATIONS HAVE VISITED CHINA, AS 
WELL AS MORE THAN 100 OTHER OFFICIAL WORKING-LEVEL 
GROUPS.  WHILE THE VIETNAMESE ARE LOATH TO ADMIT IT, 
HANOI WATCHES THE PRC CLOSELY AS A MODEL FOR INTERNAL 
REFORM: HOW TO PURSUE RAPID ECONOMIC GROWTH WHILE 
MAINTAINING CENTRALIZED POLITICAL CONTROL.  AS 
RELATIONS BETWEEN THE TWO NEIGHBORS HAVE WARMED 
MODESTLY IN THE PAST TWO YEARS, AND AS PHIEU HAS 
CONSOLIDATED CONTROL WITHIN THE COMMUNIST PARTY, 
VIETNAM'S LEADERS HAVE SELECTIVELY BORROWED FROM THEIR 
CHINESE IDEOLOGICAL BRETHREN ON SEVERAL KEY ISSUES. 
THESE INCLUDE VIETNAM'S PREPARATIONS OF SEMINAL PARTY 
CONGRESS DOCUMENTS, THE REFORM OF STATE-OWNED 
ENTERPRISES, AND THE MERITS OF COMBINING THE POSITIONS 
OF PARTY GENERAL SECRETARY AND STATE PRESIDENT. 
 
3. (C) COMPLEX AND HIGHLY ASYMMETRICAL, THE VIETNAM- 
CHINA RELATIONSHIP HAS BEEN DESCRIBED BY ONE ANALYST 
AS CLASSICALLY CONFUCIAN.  ACCORDING TO THIS THESIS, 
"LITTLE BROTHER" VIETNAM LOOKS WITH CONFLICTING 
EMOTIONS -- SOMETIMES DEFERENCE, SOMETIMES ENVY, 
SOMETIMES REBELLIOUSNESS -- AT ITS "OLDER BROTHER" 
CHINA, WHOSE CULTURE, LANGUAGE AND WORLDVIEW SO 
PROFOUNDLY SHAPE VIETNAM.  WHATEVER THE METAPHOR, 
HANOI'S COMMUNIST LEADERS SEE THEIR COUNTERPARTS IN 
BEIJING WITH A TIGHTLY INTERWOVEN MIX OF ADMIRATION, 
FEAR AND MISTRUST.  BECAUSE OF THIS, VIETNAM'S FOREIGN 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 04        HANOI  02480  01 OF 06  100541Z 
POLICY WITH CHINA ARGUABLY CONTAINS AN ELEMENT OF 
APPEASEMENT, SINCE THE MILITARY AND COMMERCIAL THREAT 
FROM THE PRC ALWAYS LOOMS LARGE IN THE BACKGROUND. 
 
4. (C) FOR THE VIETNAMESE LEADERSHIP, THEIR PARAMOUNT 
GOAL IS PRESERVING THE COMMUNIST PARTY'S MONOPOLY ON 
POLITICAL POWER.  IN CHINA THEY SEE A HOPEFUL BUT 
CAUTIONARY CASE STUDY OF HOW TO COMBINE LARGE DOSES OF 
ECONOMIC REFORM WITH A VENEER OF IDEOLOGY IN ORDER TO 
BUILD A MORE PROSPEROUS AND, ULTIMATELY, THEY HOPE, 
STABLE SOCIETY THAT WILL PRESERVE THE PERKS OF POWER 
FOR THE RULING PARTY ELITE.  FROM OUR POINT OF VIEW, 
CHINA VIEWS VIETNAM, ON THE CONTRARY, AS BUT ONE OF A 
NUMBER OF NEIGHBORS ON ITS SOUTHERN BORDER.  WHILE NOT 
UNIMPORTANT AS BOTH A MARKET AND A POTENTIAL SECURITY 
HEADACHE, HANOI PLAYS A RELATIVELY SMALL PART ON THE 
BIGGER STAGE OF BEIJING'S STRATEGIC AND COMMERCIAL 
CALCULUS.  END SUMMARY. 
 
-------------------------------------------- 
A FLURRY OF VIETNAMESE LEADERS HEADING NORTH 
-------------------------------------------- 
 
5. (C) LOOKING BACK OVER THE PAST YEAR, THE STEADY 
STREAM OF HIGH-LEVEL VIETNAMESE DELEGATIONS TO CHINA 
IS STRIKING IN BOTH FREQUENCY AND PROMINENCE.  SINCE 
GENERAL SECRETARY LE KHA PHIEU BEGAN TO CONSOLIDATE 
HIS POLITICAL CONTROL LAST YEAR, THERE HAVE BEEN AT 
LEAST SEVEN DELEGATIONS OF COMMUNIST PARTY OF VIETNAM 
(CPV) LEADERS THAT HAVE TRAVELED TO CHINA, AND MORE 
THAN 100 OFFICIAL GVN WORKING-LEVEL DELEGATIONS, 
ACCORDING TO AN OFFICIAL OF A QUASI-OFFICIAL THINK 
TANK, THE CHINA STUDIES INSTITUTE. 
 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 03        HANOI  02480  02 OF 06  100542Z 
6. (C) A CHINESE EMBASSY OFFICER TOLD POLOFFS THAT AN 
ENHANCED LEVEL OF CONTACTS BETWEEN THE PARTIES BEGAN 
LAST DECEMBER, WHEN PHIEU TRAVELED SECRETLY TO NANNING 
TO MEET PRC PRESIDENT JIANG ZEMIN.  (IN DECEMBER 
CHINESE PREMIER ZHU RONGJI ALSO MADE AN OFFICIAL VISIT 
TO HANOI.)  PHIEU AND JIANG REPORTEDLY MET ONE 
AFTERNOON AND THE FOLLOWING MORNING, AND PHIEU SOUGHT 
JIANG'S VIEWS ON TWO ISSUES.  HE SOUGHT TO LEARN FROM 
THE PRC'S EXPERIENCE OF NEGOTIATING THE WTO ACCESSION 
AGREEMENT WITH THE U.S., WHICH WAS CONCLUDED IN 
NOVEMBER, AND HE WANTED TO DISCUSS THE BENEFITS AND 
PROBLEMS OF GLOBALIZATION WITH THE CHINESE. 
 
7. (C) ACCORDING TO THE CHINESE EMBOFF, PHIEU FOLLOWED 
UP HIS SECRET TRIP WITH HIS PUBLIC, OFFICIAL VISIT TO 
BEIJING IN FEBRUARY, WHEN HE MET JIANG AND OTHER 
SENIOR LEADERS.  THAT FEBRUARY TRIP, AS WELL AS THE 
FLURRY OF ENSUING VISITS THAT FOLLOWED, HAVE ALL BEEN 
OFFICIAL ONES AND PUBLICLY REPORTED.  FOREIGN MINISTER 
NIEN MADE HIS FIRST OFFICIAL TRIP ABROAD TO CHINA IN 
FEBRUARY.  NATIONAL ASSEMBLY SPEAKER NONG DUC MANH MET 
JIANG AND CHAIRMAN OF THE NATIONAL PEOPLE'S CONGRESS 
LI PENG IN BEIJING AND ALSO VISITED SHANGHAI AND THE 
SHENZHEN INDUSTRIAL AREA DURING HIS APRIL 4-10 VISIT. 
LIKE MANY OF THE OTHER POLITBURO DELEGATIONS, MANH 
FOCUSED ON HOW CHINA IS MANAGING REFORM OF STATE-OWNED 
ENTERPRISES (SOES), ACCORDING TO A NATIONAL ASSEMBLY 
OFFICIAL.  FROM MAY 10-12, DEPUTY PM NGUYEN MANH CAM 
ATTENDED A CONFERENCE IN BEIJING ON THE FUTURE OF ASIA 
AND MET WITH PREMIER ZHU. 
 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 04        HANOI  02480  02 OF 06  100542Z 
8. (C) FROM JUNE 13-14 NGUYEN DUC BINH, THE LONG-TIME 
HEAD OF THE HO CHI MINH ACADEMY (WHICH IS THE 
IDEOLOGICAL TRAINING CENTER FOR SENIOR CPV OFFICIALS), 
CO-CHAIRED A CONFERENCE IN BEIJING BETWEEN THE TWO 
COMMUNIST PARTIES ON IDEOLOGY.  PRC POLITBURO MEMBER 
AND HEAD OF THE CHINESE ACADEMY OF SOCIAL SCIENCES LI 
TIEYING WAS BINH'S HOST AND COUNTERPART.  THE 
VIETNAMESE ATTACHED GREAT IMPORTANCE TO THIS IDEOLOGY 
CONFERENCE, THE SECOND SUCH MEETING BETWEEN SENIOR 
COMMUNIST OFFICIALS; IN SEVERAL RECENT CPV MEETINGS, 
PARTY OFFICIALS HAVE CANDIDLY ASSESSED THAT CPV 
DIRECTIVES ARE SEEN AS INCREASINGLY IRRELEVANT TO THE 
VIETNAMESE PUBLIC AT LARGE.  AMONG OTHER MATTERS, BINH 
WAS TASKED WITH RESEARCHING CHINESE PERSPECTIVES ON 
VARIOUS IDEOLOGICAL QUESTIONS TREATED IN THE DRAFT 
POLITICAL REPORT BEING PREPARED FOR THE COMMUNIST 
PARTY'S NINTH PARTY CONGRESS IN MARCH 2001.  THE HEAD 
OF THE GOVERNMENT OFFICE ON RELIGION, LE QUANG VINH, 
WHO IS NOT A POLITBURO MEMBER, VISITED BEIJING FOR 
TALKS WITH HIS CHINESE COUNTERPARTS JUNE 20-27.  WHILE 
VINH IS NOT A SENIOR-LEVEL FIGURE, HIS VISIT ALSO 
DEMONSTRATES HOW VIETNAMESE AGENCIES TREATING 
SENSITIVE IDEOLOGICAL ISSUES SEEK TO COMPARE NOTES 
WITH THEIR CHINESE COUNTERPARTS. 
 
 
9. (C) IN EARLY JULY HO CHI MINH CITY PARTY CHIEF 
NGUYEN MINH TRIET HEADED A DELEGATION TO SHANGHAI, 
BEIJING, SHENYANG AND DALIAN.  ONE OF TRIET'S PURPOSES 
WAS TO LEARN MORE ABOUT SISTER CITY SHANGHAI'S 
EXPERIENCE IN OPERATING A STOCK EXCHANGE AND HOW THIS 
HAS HELPED SPUR CAPITAL INFLOWS AND INVESTMENT.  (HO 
CHI MINH CITY OPENED THE COUNTRY'S FIRST STOCK 
EXCHANGE IN JULY.)  TWO KEY POLITBURO MEMBERS FOCUSED 
ON SECURITY MATTERS ALSO TRAVELED TO CHINA IN SEPARATE 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 03        HANOI  02480  03 OF 06  100542Z 
VISITS IN JULY: MINISTER OF PUBLIC SECURITY LE MINH 
HUONG AND DEFENSE MINISTER PHAM VAN TRA.  THE ARMY 
CHIEF OF STAFF, CENTRAL COMMITTEE MEMBER LE VAN DUNG, 
FOLLOWED TRA WITH A VISIT TO BEIJING, SHANGHAI AND 
GUANGZHOU IN LATE OCTOBER.  (COMMENT: THOUGH THE TWO 
COUNTRIES LAST DECEMBER REACHED AGREEMENT DEMARCATING 
THEIR LAND BORDER AND CLAIM THEY ARE SLOWLY ADVANCING 
TOWARD RESOLUTION OF THEIR GULF OF TONKIN DISPUTE, 
MILITARY-TO-MILITARY RELATIONS ARE GENERALLY LIGHT ON 
SUBSTANCE AND, DESPITE GLOWING PUBLIC WORDS FROM BOTH 
SIDES, DEFINITELY NOT EQUAL OR FRIENDLY. END COMMENT.) 
 
10. (C) PM PHAN VAN KHAI VISITED CHINA SEPTEMBER 25- 
28, HOLDING TALKS WITH PRESIDENT JIANG, PREMIER ZHU, 
AND CHAIRMAN LI PENG (REPORTED FURTHER SEPTEL).  KHAI 
AND ZHU EMPHASIZED IN THEIR PUBLIC STATEMENTS THE 
DESIRE OF BOTH COUNTRIES TO EXPAND INVESTMENT AND 
TRADE, WITH THE GOAL OF $2 BILLION IN TWO-WAY TRADE BY 
YEAR'S END.  NOT STATED PUBLICLY, HOWEVER, WAS 
VIETNAM'S WORRY ABOUT THE CHINESE ECONOMIC COLOSSUS. 
CHINA RUNS A HUGE TRADE SURPLUS WITH VIETNAM, 
EXPORTING MORE THAN $843 MILLION IN GOODS AND 
IMPORTING $549 MILLION, ACCORDING TO PUBLISHED 
REPORTS, AND LIKELY HAS A MUCH LARGER SURPLUS WHEN 
SMUGGLED GOODS ARE FACTORED IN.  CHINA'S EXPORTS ARE 
WIDELY DIVERSIFIED, INCLUDING MOTORCYCLES (THE 
UBIQUITIOUS KNOCK-OFF "HONGDA"), CHEMICALS, TEXTILES, 
AND AGRICULTURAL AND MANUFACTURED GOODS.  BY CONTRAST, 
MOST OF VIETNAM'S EXPORTS TO CHINA ARE BASIC 
COMMODITIES SUCH AS COAL AND UNREFINED PETROLEUM. 
DIVERSE VIETNAMESE PRODUCERS -- OF FRESH FLOWERS, EGGS 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 04        HANOI  02480  03 OF 06  100542Z 
AND MOTORCYCLES -- HAVE COMPLAINED THAT CHINESE 
COMPETITORS MAY DRIVE THEM OUT OF BUSINESS BY 
UNDERCUTTING THEIR PRICES.  KHAI'S VISIT WAS FOCUSED 
IN PART ON PRESSING VIETNAM'S INTERESTS FOR MORE 
BALANCED TRADE. 
 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
COMPARING NOTES WITH THE CONFUCIAN "BIG BROTHER" 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
 
11. (C) THE FLURRY OF HIGH-LEVEL COMMUNIST PARTY 
VISITS GOING IN BOTH DIRECTIONS, BUT PARTICULARLY FROM 
VIETNAM TO CHINA, REVEALS THE STRONG INTEREST OF THE 
VIETNAMESE IN "COMPARING NOTES" AND BENEFITING FROM 
THE GREATER EXPERIENCE OF THE CHINESE IN ECONOMIC 
DEVELOPMENT.  AT ONE LEVEL, THIS IS UNSURPRISING. 
AFTER ALL, CHINA AND VIETNAM ARE THE WORLD'S TWO 
LARGEST REMAINING COMMUNIST STATES, AND HANOI SEEKS TO 
FOLLOW THE PRC IN DRAMATICALLY DEVELOPING ITS ECONOMY, 
WHILE MAINTAINING THE COMMUNIST LEADERSHIP UNRIVALED 
IN POLITICAL POWER. 
 
12. (C) BUT AT THE SAME TIME, THE PROUD VIETNAMESE ARE 
AMBIVALENT ABOUT AND CAUTIOUS IN THEIR DEALINGS WITH 
THE CHINESE.  VIETNAMESE ANALYSTS TELL US, ON THE ONE 
HAND, THEY ARE EAGER TO EMULATE CHINA'S RAPID ECONOMIC 
GROWTH AND MODERNIZATION; ON THE OTHER, THEY ARE LEERY 
OF THE UNDERCURRENTS OF UNREST IN CHINESE SOCIETY. 
THEY ARE QUICK TO POINT OUT THAT VIETNAM AND CHINA 
HISTORICALLY HAVE EYED EACH OTHER WARILY, WITH HANOI 
PARTICULARLY HAVING MEMORIES OF THE 1979 BORDER 
CONFLICT AND FALLING OUT OVER CAMBODIA.  THE 
VIETNAMESE THUS HAVE NO DESIRE TO BORROW WHOLESALE 
FROM A PRC "MODEL," BUT RATHER TO PICK AND CHOOSE 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 03        HANOI  02480  04 OF 06  100542Z 
BASED ON WHAT THEY BELIEVE WILL WORK FOR THEM.  FROM 
THEIR STATEMENTS, IT IS APPARENT THAT HANOI'S LEADERS, 
FAR FROM WANTING TO BE A VASSAL OR SUPPLICANT, BELIEVE 
THEY CAN BECOME STRONGER AND MORE INDEPENDENT FROM A 
SELECTIVE BORROWING OF THE CHINESE EXPERIENCE. 
 
13. (C) THE CHINESE EMBOFF TOLD US HE BELIEVES GENERAL 
SECRETARY PHIEU HAS SOUGHT OUT THE CHINESE, PARTLY 
 
SIPDIS 
BECAUSE OF IDEOLOGICAL REASONS AND PARTLY BECAUSE OF 
THE CULTURAL AFFINITY MANY VIETNAMESE FEEL TOWARD 
CHINESE.  (IN THIS REGARD, ONE MFA OFFICIAL TOLD US 
THE VIETNAMESE FEEL "COMFORTABLE" DEALING WITH THE 
CHINESE BECAUSE "WE KNOW HOW THEY THINK.")  THE 
CHINESE EMBOFF SAID THAT DURING THE VIETNAMESE NEW 
YEAR, PHIEU HOSTED A PRIVATE DINNER FOR THE CHINESE 
AMBASSADOR AND ONLY A HANDFUL OF HIS CLOSEST 
CONFIDANTS.  PHIEU TOLD THE CHINESE THIS WAS THE ONLY 
TIME HE HAD HOSTED AN AMBASSADOR FOR DINNER. 
ATTENDING WITH HIM WERE A KEY ASSISTANT, A CPV 
EXTERNAL RELATIONS OFFICIAL, AND TWO POLITBURO MEMBERS 
-- DEFENSE MINISTER PHAM VAN TRA AND THE ARMY 
POLITICAL COMMISSAR NGUYEN THANH NGAN.  ANOTHER SIGN 
OF THE IMPORTANCE OF THE CHINESE RELATIONSHIP WAS THAT 
PHIEU'S PREDECESSOR, NOW SENIOR ADVISOR DO MUOI, MET 
FIRST WITH THE CHINESE AMBASSADOR DURING TET, FOLLOWED 
BY AMBASSADOR PETERSON THE NEXT DAY.  (THE MEETINGS 
WERE FEATURED IN FRONT-PAGE PHOTOS IN VIETNAMESE MEDIA 
ON SUCCESSIVE DAYS.) 
 
14. (C) COLLECTIVELY, THE STREAM OF HIGH-LEVEL VISITS 
OVER THE PAST YEAR ADDS UP TO AN IMPORTANT ONGOING 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 04        HANOI  02480  04 OF 06  100542Z 
DIALOGUE, WHICH HELPS THE VIETNAMESE CRIB FROM CHINA'S 
EXPERIENCE IN ECONOMIC REFORM.  A VIETNAMESE THINK 
TANK OFFICIAL TOLD US THE TWO COMMUNIST PARTIES 
EXCHANGE EXPERIENCES ON STATE-OWNED ENTERPRISE REFORM, 
WORLD ECONOMIC INTEGRATION, BANKING AND FINANCIAL 
REFORMS, REDUCING UNEMPLOYMENT, AND "PRESERVING 
NATIONAL CULTURE DURING THE PROCESS OF GLOBALIZATION." 
IN THE RUN-UP TO THE SIGNING OF THE BILATERAL TRADE 
AGREEMENT (BTA) BETWEEN THE U.S. AND VIETNAM IN JULY, 
OUR REPORTING DOCUMENTED THE IMPORTANT ROLE THAT 
CHINA'S NEGOTIATIONS WITH THE U.S. ON WTO ACCESSION 
PLAYED IN VIETNAM'S CALCULUS.  VIETNAMESE OF~OMMENDED 
THAT VIETNAM WAIT UNTIL CHINA "WENT FIRST" BEFORE 
VIETNAM CONCLUDED ITS BTA DEAL. 
 
15. (C) THE CHINESE EMBOFF SAID THE FEBRUARY PHIEU 
VISIT AND THE JUNE BINH VISIT FOCUSED ON A NUMBER OF 
KEY QUESTIONS TO BE INCORPORATED IN THE DOCUMENTS OF 
THE NINTH PARTY CONGRESS.  THE CPV HAS CONSCIOUSLY 
BORROWED FROM THE CHINESE, HE SAID, REGARDING THE 
FORMULATION OF DIFFERENT ECONOMIC SECTORS AND 
OWNERSHIP QUESTIONS, WHICH WERE TREATED AT CHINA'S 
15TH PARTY CONGRESS.  LIKEWISE, A VIETNAMESE THINK 
TANK DIRECTOR TOLD POLOFF THAT SEVERAL VIETNAMESE 
DELEGATIONS HAD SOUGHT PRC ADVICE ON SOE REFORM. 
DEPUTY PM NGUYEN TAN DUNG, WHO VISITED CHINA IN 1999, 
HAD FOCUSED ON THIS QUESTION, AS HAD HCMC PARTY CHIEF 
TRIET, WHO DISCUSSED SOE REFORM IN DEPTH WITH LEADERS 
IN SHENYANG AND DALIAN DURING HIS JULY 2000 VISIT. 
 
16. (C) THE PRC EMBOFF ALSO SAID THE VIETNAMESE HAD 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 03        HANOI  02480  05 OF 06  100543Z 
INQUIRED WITH INTEREST ABOUT THE PRC'S EXPERIENCE OF 
HAVING ONE SENIOR LEADER OCCUPY THE TWO POSTS OF PARTY 
GENERAL SECRETARY AND STATE PRESIDENT.  AFTER TWO OF 
THE POLITBURO DELEGATIONS RETURNED FROM THE PRC, THEY 
REPORTEDLY NOTED FAVORABLY HOW THE CHINESE MODEL OF 
COMBINING THESE TWO SENIOR POSTS FUNCTIONS.  A 
VIETNAMESE SOURCE LIKEWISE CONFIRMED THAT DEPUTY PM 
DUNG REPORTED FAVORABLY ON JIANG'S DUAL ROLES. 
(COMMENT: THIS ISSUE REMAINS CONTENTIOUS AMONG THE CPV 
LEADERSHIP, AND IT IS UNCLEAR WHETHER PHIEU WILL BE 
SUCCESSFUL IN PUSHING THROUGH THIS REFORM TO ALLOW HIM 
GREATER CLOUT, A LA JIANG.  ARGUING AGAINST SUCH A 
CHANGE IS THE HISTORICALLY CONSENSUS-BASED DECISION- 
MAKING STYLE OF THE VIETNAMESE POLITBURO, WHICH IN 
CONTRAST TO THE PRC SYSTEM, HAS NOT GRANTED SUPREME 
POWER TO ONE LEADER, BUT INSTEAD HAS CAREFULLY SOUGHT 
TO BALANCE FACTIONS IN THE INTEREST OF PRESERVING 
STABILITY.  END COMMENT.) 
 
------- 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
17. (C) SINCE LE KHA PHIEU BEGAN TO CONSOLIDATE 
CONTROL WITHIN THE CPV LEADERSHIP LAST YEAR, A 
DEEPENING OF THE IDEOLOGICAL RELATIONSHIP WITH THE 
CHINESE HAS BECOME MORE AND MORE APPARENT.  VIEWED IN 
AGGREGATE, THE NUMBER AND FREQUENCY OF HIGH-LEVEL 
DELEGATIONS BETWEEN THE TWO COMMUNIST PARTIES AND 
GOVERNMENTS ARE STRIKING.  THIS OBVIOUSLY IS A FAR 
MORE IMPORTANT RELATIONSHIP FOR THE VIETNAMESE THAN 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 04        HANOI  02480  05 OF 06  100543Z 
FOR THE CHINESE, AND IT SEEMS THAT AS THE CPV PREPARES 
FOR ITS NINTH PARTY CONGRESS NEXT MARCH, THE 
VIETNAMESE ARE FEELING FREE TO BORROW, PERHAPS MORE SO 
THAN IN RECENT MEMORY, FROM THEIR CHINESE BRETHREN. 
 
18. (C) AT THE SAME TIME, PRC EMBOFFS GO TO GREAT 
LENGTHS TO DESCRIBE THE BILATERAL MILITARY-TO-MILITARY 
RELATIONSHIP AS HEAVY ON VACUOUS OFFICIAL VISITS AND 
LIGHT ON SUBSTANCE.  FOR REASONS OF THEIR OFTEN- 
CONFLICTIVE HISTORY, VIETNAM WILL CONTINUE TO REGARD 
CHINA WARILY.  ALL THE WHILE, HOWEVER, TRADE BETWEEN 
THE TWO COUNTRIES IS BOOMING, HAVING INCREASED 
OFFICIALLY BY MORE THAN 50 PERCENT IN THE PAST TWO 
YEARS.  BUT EVEN THIS IS A DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD FOR THE 
VIETNAMESE, SINCE THEY FEAR CHINESE MANUFACTURERS MAY 
DUMP GOODS ON THE VIETNAMESE MARKET AND DRIVE NASCENT 
VIETNAMESE INDUSTRIES OUT OF BUSINESS. 
 
19. (C) IN VIETNAM'S STRATEGIC CALCULUS, CHINA WILL 
CONTINUE TO LOOM LARGE -- AS COMPETITOR BUT ALSO AS 
MODEL.  IN ONE SENSE, HANOI HAS LITTLE CHOICE.  SINCE 
THE FALL OF THE SOVIET UNION, THE BOAT THAT THE 
WORLD'S FIVE REMAINING COMMUNIST COUNTRIES FIND 
THEMSELVES IN HAS GOTTEN SMALLER AND MORE RICKETY. 
 
WHETHER OUT OF DESPERATION OR INSPIRATION, VIETNAM 
FINDS LITTLE RECOURSE BUT TO LOOK TO CHINA -- THE 
LARGEST, MOST IMPORTANT AND MOST PROSPEROUS OF THE 
FIVE -- FOR IDEAS ON ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL REFORM. 
END COMMENT. 
PETERSON 
 
NOTE: NOT PASSED TO ABOVE ADDRESSEE(S) 
 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
 


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