US embassy cable - 01HANOI2985

PAO DISCUSSES COVERAGE OF ANTI-TERROR CAMPAIGN WITH SENIOR COMMUNIST PARTY PRESS OFFICIAL

Identifier: 01HANOI2985
Wikileaks: View 01HANOI2985 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Hanoi
Created: 2001-11-15 09:17:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Tags: KPAO PROP OIIP VM CWG
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.

150917Z Nov 01

2001HANOI02985 - UNCLASSIFIED
 
 
 
                           UNCLASSIFIED     PTQ7589

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ACTION EAP-00   

INFO  LOG-00   NP-00    AID-00   AMAD-00  A-00     CIAE-00  DODE-00  
      SRPP-00  FBIE-00  UTED-00  TEDE-00  INR-00   IO-00    LAB-01   
      DCP-01   NSAE-00  NSCE-00  OIC-02   PA-00    PC-01    PM-00    
      PRS-00   P-00     SP-00    TEST-00  IAP-00   USIE-00  R-00     
      IIP-00   PMB-00   PRM-00   DRL-02   SAS-00     /007W
                  ------------------3E8A4B  150920Z /38    
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 4691
INFO AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY 
ASEAN COLLECTIVE
USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI
DIA WASHDC
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HANOI 002985 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/PD MSPEER, EAP/BCLTV, EAP/PA 
HO CHI MINH CITY FOR PAO 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: KPAO, PROP, OIIP, VM, CWG-PD, CTERR 
SUBJECT: PAO DISCUSSES COVERAGE OF ANTI-TERROR CAMPAIGN WITH SENIOR COMMUNIST PARTY PRESS OFFICIAL 
 
REF:  HANOI 2834 
 
1.  THE HANOI PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICER PAID A VISIT NOVEMBER 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
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14 TO COMMUNIST PARTY HEADQUARTERS TO DISCUSS WITH DR. VU 
DUY THONG, DIRECTOR OF THE DEPARTMENT OF JOURNALISM AND 
PUBLISHING OF THE CENTRAL COMMISSION FOR IDEOLOGY AND 
CULTURE, THE VIETNAMESE MEDIA'S HANDLING OF POST-SEPTEMBER 
11 EVENTS.  ALSO PRESENT WERE MR. QUE LIEM, VICE DIRECTOR OF 
NEWSPAPER PUBLICATION, MS. MAI Y VAN, SPECIALIST, AND MS. 
NGUYEN THI QUYEN, SPECIALIST.  THE TONE OF THE ONE-HOUR 
MEETING WAS CORDIAL. 
 
2.  THE PAO SAID THAT THE U.S. APPRECIATED ACTIONS TAKEN BY 
VIETNAM IN SUPPORT OF THE ANTI-TERROR CAMPAIGN, INCLUDING 
ENHANCEMENT OF EMBASSY SECURITY, NAME CHECKS AT IMMIGRATION 
CHECKPOINTS, AND INSTRUCTIONS TO BANKS TO SEARCH FOR ASSETS 
BELONGING TO TERRORIST ORGANIZATIONS.  AT THE SAME TIME, THE 
U.S. IS CONCERNED THAT MEDIA COVERAGE IN VIETNAM, WHILE 
DRAWING ON WESTERN WIRE SERVICE AND TELEVISION REPORTS, HAS 
TENDED SELECTIVELY TO OVERPLAY STORIES OF CIVILIAN 
CASUALTIES BASED ON TALIBAN CLAIMS, AND HAS GIVEN A 
MISLEADING IMPRESSION, ESPECIALLY IN HEADLINES, THAT SMALL 
PROTEST DEMONSTRATIONS IN SOME COUNTRIES AGAINST COALITION 
MILITARY ACTION REPRESENT A MAJORITY OPINION ("WORLD REJECTS 
MILITARY CAMPAIGN").  THE PAO ASKED THAT THE VIETNAMESE 
MEDIA TAKE MORE CARE TO PRESENT A BALANCED PICTURE AND TO 
CREDIT THE U.S. AND ITS PARTNERS WITH SEEKING TO AVOID 
CIVILIAN CASUALTIES WHENEVER POSSIBLE, IN CONTRAST WITH OUR 
AL-QAEDA FOES, WHO DELIBERATELY TARGET CIVILIANS, AND THEIR 
TALIBAN PROTECTORS. 
 
3.  DR. THONG STATED THAT UNDER THE VIETNAMESE PRESS LAW, 
THE MEDIA ARE UNDER STATE MANAGEMENT BUT "FREE"; EACH EDITOR- 
IN-CHIEF MAY DECIDE WHAT TO COVER AND HOW, BUT IS 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
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RESPONSIBLE FOR OBSERVING THE LAW.  HAVING NO CORRESPONDENT 
IN REMOTE AND UNFAMILIAR AFGHANISTAN, THE VIETNAMESE MEDIA 
RELY LARGELY ON WESTERN WIRE SERVICES, CNN, AND OTHER 
FOREIGN NEWS SOURCES FOR THEIR REPORTING.  THE VIETNAMESE 
VALUE HUMAN LIFE HIGHLY, AND HAVE SUFFERED MUCH IN PAST 
WARS, HE NOTED.  THEY ARE COMMITTED TO FIGHTING TERRORISM, 
BUT WANT TO DO SO WITHOUT CAUSING HARM TO INNOCENT LIVES OR 
HUNGER AMONG THE POPULATION.  VIETNAM TOO IS A VICTIM OF 
TERRORISM, HE SAID, REFERRING TO RECENT INCIDENTS OF BOMBS 
PLANTED BY EXPATRIATE VIETNAMESE AT VIETNAMESE EMBASSIES IN 
SOUTHEAST ASIA (WHICH CAUSED NO CASUALTIES).  HE CALLED FOR 
GREATER INFORMATION EXCHANGE TO COUNTERACT THE NEGATIVE 
PICTURE OF VIETNAM PAINTED IN THE WEST BY EMBITTERED EXILES 
AND A FEW JOURNALISTS.  HE OBSERVED THAT PAS HO CHI MINH 
CITY WAS "PERMITTED" THAT MORNING TO HOLD A DIGITAL VIDEO 
CONFERENCE WITH A U.S. EXPERT ON TERRORISM FOR LOCAL 
EDITORS. 
 
4.  THE PAO RESPONDED THAT THE WAR ON TERRORISM DID NOT 
BEGIN ON SEPTEMBER 11, BUT DATES BACK AT LEAST TO THE FIRST 
WORLD TRADE CENTER BOMBING OF 1993; ALSO, OSAMA BIN LADEN 
AND HIS ACCOMPLICES WERE UNDER INDICTMENT FOR THE TWO 
EMBASSY BOMBINGS IN EAST AFRICA.  THE U.S. HAD TRIED BY NON- 
MILITARY MEANS SINCE LONG BEFORE SEPTEMBER 11 TO PERSUADE 
THE TALIBAN TO HAND OVER BIN LADEN TO FACE JUSTICE.  WHEN AL- 
QAEDA, WHICH WE KNOW HAS BEEN SEEKING WEAPONS OF MASS 
DESTRUCTION, PERPETRATED ITS BRUTAL SEPTEMBER ATTACK ON THE 
U.S., THE WORLD HAD NO CHOICE BUT TO FIGHT BACK AND DEFEAT 
THIS THREAT, OR FACE THE IMMINENT POSSIBILITY OF EVEN WORSE 
ATROCITIES.  WITH DR. THONG'S INFLUENTIAL ROLE REGARDING THE 
MEDIA, THE PAO HOPED THAT HE WOULD ENCOURAGE EDITORS TO 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
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CONSIDER THE WHOLE PICTURE AND BALANCE THEIR COVERAGE AND 
COMMENTARY FAIRLY.  FOR EXAMPLE, THEY SHOULD NOT 
UNCRITICALLY ACCEPT TALIBAN CASUALTY CLAIMS AND SHOULD 
CLEARLY REPORT THE EMPHATICALLY REPEATED U.S. POLICY NOT TO 
TARGET CIVILIANS.  AS FOR HUNGER IN AFGHANISTAN, THE U.S. 
HAS DONE AND CONTINUES TO DO MORE THAN ANY OTHER COUNTRY TO 
FEED THE AFGHAN PEOPLE.  REGARDING VIETNAM'S CLAIM TO BE A 
VICTIM OF TERRORISM, THE PAO SAID HE WAS GLAD THAT U.S. LAW 
ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES WERE ABLE TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE ARREST 
IN SOUTHEAST ASIA OF SUSPECTS IN THE RECENT INCIDENTS, AND 
TO ARREST ONE OF THEM IN CALIFORNIA. 
 
5.  THE PAO DEPARTED AFTER OFFERING TO SEND ALL FOUR PARTY 
OFFICIALS OUR LATEST INFORMATION IN VIETNAMESE ON THE ANTI- 
TERRORISM CAMPAIGN. 
 
6.  COMMENT:  IN THE WORLD OF VIETNAM'S IDEOLOGICALLY 
CONTROLLED MEDIA, DR. THONG, HIS STAFF, AND HIS SUPERIORS 
ARE THE ULTIMATE GATEKEEPERS.  WHEN HE TALKS, EDITORS 
LISTEN.  IT REMAINS TO BE SEEN WHETHER HE WILL ELECT TO 
STEER THEM TO A LESS SKEPTICAL VIEW OF THE ANTI-TERRORISM 
CAMPAIGN AND THE U.S. ROLE IN IT.  AN APPARENT SHIFT IN THE 
LAST DAY OR TWO AWAY FROM SOME OF THE HARSHER TONES IN 
VIETNAM'S MEDIA COVERAGE MIGHT OWE SOMETHING TO THE DESIRE 
TO AVOID SIDING WITH A LOSER AFTER THE PRECIPITOUS MILITARY 
COLLAPSE OF THE TALIBAN.   END COMMENT. 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
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7.  BIOGRAPHIC NOTE:  DR. THONG, WHO APPEARS TO BE ABOUT 
FIFTY YEARS OLD, SAID THAT HE HAD STUDIED IN RUSSIA FOR 
THREE YEARS, BUT DID NOT RESPOND IN KIND WHEN ADDRESSED IN 
RUSSIAN.  HE SAID HE ALSO SPENT SEVERAL YEARS IN CHINA.  HE 
SPEAKS LITTLE ENGLISH. 
PORTER 
 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 


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