INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: Vietnamese Grassroots Communism - Ambassador

Published: Mon 6 May 2002 09:36 AM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
060936Z May 02
2002HOCHI00471 - UNCLASSIFIED
UNCLASSIFIED PTQ1596
PAGE 01 HO CHI 00471 01 OF 02 061031Z
ACTION EAP-00
INFO LOG-00 NP-00 ACQ-00 CIAE-00 DODE-00 DS-00 FBIE-00
UTED-00 VC-00 TEDE-00 INR-00 IO-00 L-00 VCE-00
NSAE-00 PER-00 TEST-00 USIE-00 IIP-00 DSCC-00 NFAT-00
SAS-00 /000W
------------------AA71F8 061032Z /38
FM AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 6315
INFO AMEMBASSY HANOI
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HO CHI MINH CITY 000471
SIPDIS
DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/BCLTV
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL VM BTA DPOL
SUBJECT: VIETNAMESE GRASSROOTS COMMUNISM - AMBASSADOR
MEETS HCMC PARTY SECRETARY
1. SUMMARY: IN A CORDIAL FIRST MEETING, AMBASSADOR
BURGHARDT AND HCMC COMMUNIST PARTY SECRETARY NGUYEN
MINH TRIET DISCUSSED THE ROLE OF THE VIETNAMESE
COMMUNIST PARTY, CORRUPTION, INVESTMENT AND THE BTA,
AND THE DIRECTION OF THE BILATERAL RELATIONSHIP. TRIET
STRESSED THE GRASSROOTS NATURE OF VIETNAMESE COMMUNISM.
BESIDES SERVING AS THE HCMC PARTY CHIEF, TRIET IS THE
FOURTH-RANKING MEMBER OF VIETNAM'S CENTRAL COMMUNIST
UNCLASSIFIED
PAGE 02 HO CHI 00471 01 OF 02 061031Z
PARTY POLITBURO. END SUMMARY.
GRASSROOTS DECISION MAKING
--------------------------
2. HCMC COMMUNIST PARTY SECRETARY NGUYEN MINH TRIET
WELCOMED AMBASSADOR BURGHARDT (ACCOMPANIED BY CG, DPO,
AND CONOFFS/NOTETAKERS) TO HCMC PARTY HEADQUARTERS,
LOCATED IN THE FORMER U.S. DCM'S RESIDENCE. OPENING THE
DISCUSSION, THE AMBASSADOR NOTED THAT HE KNOWS TRIET
LIKES TO SPEAK FRANKLY ON BIG ISSUES, AND ASKED TRIET
TO DISCUSS THE ROLE OF THE VIETNAMESE COMMUNIST PARTY
(CPV) VIS-A-VIS THAT OF THE GOVERNMENT. TRIET STATED
THREE IMPORTANT ROLES FOR THE CENTRAL PARTY COMMITTEE:
TO PLAN PROVINCIAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, MONITOR THE
VIETNAMESE GOVERNMENT'S POLICY IMPLEMENTATION, AND
ENSURE THE CPV FUNCTIONS ACCORDING TO ITS OWN RULES. HE
NOTED SIMILARITIES WITH THE CHINESE COMMUNIST PARTY
STRUCTURE, BUT EMPHASIZED THE ROLE OF LOCAL LEADERSHIP
AS A KEY PART OF CPV DECISION MAKING IN VIETNAM. THE
PARTY COMMITTEE PLANS OVERALL POLICIES FOR THE
PROVINCES AND LOCALITIES, BUT LOCAL DECISIONS ARE BASED
ON GRASSROOTS OPINION. THE PARTY COMMITTEE RESPONDS TO
LOCAL CONCERNS AND WILL INSPECT THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT
STRUCTURE IF PEOPLE ARE NOT HAPPY WITH ITS DECISIONS.
THE PARTY COMMITTEE MONITORS MEMBERS' ACTIVITIES TO
ENSURE ADHERENCE TO CPV TENETS, AND THE CPV PUNISHES
CORRUPTION AND BRIBERY IN THE VIETNAMESE GOVERNMENT.
3. THE AMBASSADOR ASKED TRIET ABOUT CORRUPTION IN
VIETNAM. HE SUGGESTED THAT ASIAN COUNTRIES HAVE FOUND
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PAGE 03 HO CHI 00471 01 OF 02 061031Z
THAT THE WAY TO BEGIN TO COMBAT CORRUPTION IS BY PAYING
GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS DECENT SALARIES AND ENSURING CLEAR
PUNISHMENT FOR VIOLATIONS. THE HARD PART IS EXPOSING
CORRUPTION. IN THE U.S., A FREE PRESS AND INDEPENDENT
ORGANIZATIONS ACT AS WATCHDOGS, BUT IN A HIGHLY
REGULATED SOCIETY, THERE ARE MORE OPPORTUNITIES FOR
CORRUPTION.
4. TRIET ACKNOWLEDGED CORRUPTION IN VIETNAM AND CITED
LOW SALARIES AS ONE REASON. STILL THERE WAS A LIMIT AS
TO HOW FAR THE GOVERNMENT COULD GO IN RAISING
GOVERNMENT SALARIES, AS THERE WOULD BE NOTHING LEFT FOR
INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT AND STIMULATING THE ECONOMY.
HE DESCRIBED THE GRASSROOTS ROLE OF THE CPV, AS WELL AS
ORGANIZATIONS LIKE THE FATHERLAND FRONT, IN PROTECTING
CITIZENS' RIGHTS AND FIGHTING CORRUPTION. THE CPV SENDS
OUT "EVALUATION FORMS" FOR NEIGHBORHOODS TO COMMENT ON
THEIR LOCAL PARTY LEADERS - EVEN A PARTY LEADER'S
SPOUSE AND CHILDREN ARE FAIR GAME. ORGANIZATIONS LIKE
THE FATHERLAND FRONT MEET WITH NEIGHBORHOOD RESIDENTS
ON THE UPCOMING NATIONAL ASSEMBLY ELECTIONS TO LISTEN
TO THEIR CRITICISMS AND CONCERNS. IN HIS ONLY
HISTORICAL ASIDE, TRIET NOTED THAT VIETNAM LACKS
EXPERIENCE IN GOOD GOVERNANCE "DUE TO THE LONG WAR,"
BUT ADDED THE COUNTRY WANTS TO LEARN GOOD GOVERNANCE
TACTICS FROM THE WEST.
BTA - A STRONG ECONOMIC CONNECTION WILL HELP THE
BILATERAL RELATIONSHIP
--------------------------------------------- ---
UNCLASSIFIED
PAGE 04 HO CHI 00471 01 OF 02 061031Z
5. TURNING TO THE BILATERAL TRADE AGREEMENT (BTA), THE
AMBASSADOR EMPHASIZED BTA IMPLEMENTATION AS ONE OF HIS
PRIORITIES. HE NOTED THAT AMERICAN COMPANIES IN CHINA
PLAYED AN ADVOCACY ROLE FOR CONGRESSIONAL LEGISLATION
TO BENEFIT THEIR BUSINESSES. BY COMPARISON, THERE ARE
FEW U.S. COMPANIES IN VIETNAM WHO WOULD TRY TO
INFLUENCE CONGRESSIONAL LEGISLATION REGARDING VIETNAM.
6. TRIET NOTED THAT CHINA HAD BEEN INDEPENDENT LONGER,
SO ITS ECONOMIC RELATIONSHIP WITH THE U.S. WAS
NATURALLY MORE MATURE. HE SAID A STRONG ECONOMIC
RELATIONSHIP WITH THE U.S., LED BY THE BTA, WILL PAVE
THE WAY FOR VIETNAM'S ENTRY INTO THE WORLD TRADE
ORGANIZATION. HOWEVER, WITH THE "NEGATIVE REACTION" OF
SOME OVERSEAS VIETNAMESE TO THE BTA, THE U.S. HAS A
"RESPONSIBILITY AND DUTY" TO EXPLAIN THE NEW BILATERAL
RELATIONSHIP TO THEM, AND TO CURB THEIR "COUNTER-
REVOLUTIONARY ACTIVITIES". THE AMBASSADOR EMPHASIZED
DEVELOPMENT OF THE DOMESTIC PRIVATE SECTOR AS THE BEST
WAY TO ATTRACT FDI. TRIET ADDED THAT THE PARTY CENTRAL
COMMITTEE HAD PLANNED FOR YEARS TO DEVELOP THE PRIVATE
SECTOR AND HAD CONFIRMED THE POLITICAL CORRECTNESS OF
HCMC'S RAPID PRIVATE SECTOR DEVELOPMENT.
ROOM FOR GROWTH IN THE BILATERAL RELATIONSHIP
---------------------------------------------
7. THE AMBASSADOR MENTIONED THAT MUCH WORK REMAINED TO
BE DONE IN THE BILATERAL RELATIONSHIP, WHICH WAS STILL
NOT TOTALLY NORMALIZED IN MANY RESPECTS. DISTRUST
STILL EXISTS ON BOTH SIDES, HAMPERING COORDINATION
UNCLASSIFIED
PAGE 02 HO CHI 00471 02 OF 02 061031Z
BETWEEN LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES AND IMPROVEMENT IN THE
MILITARY-TO-MILITARY RELATIONSHIP. TRIET AGREED THAT
THERE WERE MANY POSITIVE ASPECTS TO THE RELATIONSHIP,
BUT THE HISTORICAL LEGACY REMAINED AN OBSTACLE.
8. THE AMBASSADOR AND TRIET AGREED TO MEET AGAIN FOR A
FRANK AND CANDID DISCUSSION, WITH TRIET CALLING THE
AMBASSADOR A "BRIDGE BETWEEN THE U.S. AND VIETNAM."
9. COMMENT: TRIET IS A MODERN POLITBURO MEMBER WHO
BELIEVES IN TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT AND THE
IMPORTANCE OF VIETNAM'S ECONOMIC INTEGRATION INTO THE
WORLD MARKET. WIDELY BELIEVED TO BE A FRONTRUNNER FOR
VIETNAM'S NEXT PRIME MINISTER, HIS EMPHASIS ON THE
GRASSROOTS NATURE OF THE CPV'S DECISION-MAKING PROCESS
APPEARED TO BE AN ATTEMPT TO CAST THE CPV AS A
DEMOCRATIC BODY RATHER THAN AS THE UNYIELDING, OPAQUE
STRUCTURE THAT IT IS. END COMMENT. YAMAUCHI
UNCLASSIFIED
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