Cablegate: Ambassador's September 1 Farewell Call On

Published: Mon 6 Sep 2004 11:53 PM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Ambassador's September 1 Farewell Call on
Politburo Member Phan Dien
1. (SBU) Summary: During his September 1 farewell call on
Politburo member Phan Dien, the Ambassador underlined the
importance of 2005 in U.S.-Vietnam relations and, although
there had been good progress over the past three years,
stressed that much work remained in bilateral relations,
such as in law enforcement cooperation. In response to the
Ambassador's question about preparations for the (early
2006) tenth Party Congress, Dien said that the Congress
would seek to pursue Vietnam's "doi moi" (renovation) policy
"on a deeper level and more broadly." In response to the
Ambassador's question about "peaceful evolution," Dien said
that concerns about peaceful evolution were directed towards
officials and party members who were in danger of losing the
respect of the people as they "learned to love money" during
Vietnam's transformation into a market economy. End
2. (SBU) The Ambassador, accompanied by Pol/C, paid a
farewell call September 1 on Politburo member Phan Dien.
(Note: Dien, ranked sixth in the Politburo, is a standing
member of the CPV Central Committee's Secretariat and bears
responsibility for ideology-related issues. End note.) The
Ambassador opened by noting the progress over the past three
years to deepen and broaden the bilateral relationship,
which of course happened because both the United States and
Vietnam so desired. Since June 2003, there had been much
success in normalizing military-to-military relations,
expanding humanitarian cooperation, and establishing a much
better strategic dialogue between the two countries'
leaders. The United States was well aware that CPV
leadership was critical in making decisions to advance the
relationship, and the Ambassador congratulated Dien and his
colleagues for the strategic vision required to do this.
3. (SBU) The United States hoped to continue to normalize
its ties with Vietnam, particularly in areas such as law
enforcement cooperation, the Ambassador said. We also
needed to have more high-level visits. 2005 would be an
important year for the relationship, and we were already
planning major events to commemorate the tenth anniversary
of establishing diplomatic relations, including the visit to
the United States of Prime Minister Phan Van Khai. In fact,
we still hoped that Dien would be able to reschedule his own
visit to the United States. The Embassy had been in touch
with MFA regarding a number of actions that could ensure a
successful visit by the PM, which we had discussed in a
previous conversation with Dien. The other important event
in 2005 would be a Congressional vote on permanent normal
trade relations as a part of Vietnam's WTO accession
process, the Ambassador said.
4. (SBU) Dien said that the Ambassador's three years in
Vietnam were closely tied to the continuing process of
normalizing bilateral relations, and there had been many
great achievements. For example, thanks to the
contributions of the Ambassador, the WTO accession
negotiations had been advanced. In the area of trade and
investment, however, the level of U.S. foreign direct
investment was still low, but Vietnam hoped that, with the
support of the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council and others, FSI
would increase. Regarding political cooperation, there had
been much improvement over the past three years, and there
had been good visits between both countries. Vietnam hoped
to have good visits next year as well. If the Prime
Minister's visit were realized, it would be a good chance to
push the relationship forward even more, Dien said.
5. (SBU) Thanking the Ambassador for all of his
contributions to advancing the relationship, Dien agreed
that bilateral ties could and should be further developed.
High-level visits were a good way to do this. As for the
specific issues remaining between the United States and
Vietnam -- which the Ambassador had raised in separate
meetings with the leadership of Vietnam -- Dien said he was
aware of them and hoped that some recommendations "will be
realized." The key point was that relations between the
United States and Vietnam had much room for improvement.
Vietnam shared this view, and, although there had been the
"disadvantage of history," Vietnam and the United States
should be able to overcome this. Dien expressed his hope
that, during the Ambassador's time in Vietnam, he had been
able to understand the "psychology" of the Vietnamese
6. (SBU) The Ambassador noted that there was much interest
in the United States in Vietnam's 10th Party Congress
(scheduled for early 2006) and its ongoing preparations. Of
particular interest was what the Congress would mean for
Vietnam and its bilateral relationship with the United
States. As the preparations moved forward, the Ambassador
asked Dien for his thoughts on what the Congress would mean
for the CPV's role in Vietnam, the role of a market economy,
and the relationship between the state and private sectors.
Dien replied that all of these issues were still under
discussion and being "prepared," but that, broadly speaking,
the discussions and decisions of the Congress would be based
on twenty years of "doi moi" (renovation), particularly
lessons learned and how to make the next ten to twenty years
"consistent" and "integrated," Dien said.
7. (SBU) Regarding the economy, Dien continued, the Congress
would reflect Vietnam's continued commitment to the process
of transforming into a market economy. To do this, Vietnam
had to develop other market components. In terms of the
state sector, the two most important things were the state
sector's efficiency and Vietnam's need to mobilize all of
society's economic resources. On politics, Dien said that
the Congress would work to ensure the continuing role of the
party, the further "democratization" of society, and the
strengthened solidarity of all the nation's people. The
previous (ninth) Party Congress had had important language
regarding solidarity, and the tenth Congress would help to
concretize this, bringing together all in society,
regardless of religion or ethnicity, for example.
Unfortunately, Vietnam had yet to implement well all the
economic-related commitments of the previous Congress, and
the upcoming conclave would be an important benchmark for
progress in this area. Regarding foreign policy, the tenth
Party Congress would continue to push forward Vietnam's
integration into the world economy. Vietnam's policy would
continue to be friendly relations with all nations on the
basis of respect for independence and sovereignty. In sum,
the next Party Congress would seek to implement "doi moi" on
a "deeper level and more broadly," Dien said.
8. (SBU) In the United States, the Ambassador noted, during
the presidential election season, political debate was
lively and open for the whole world to see. In Vietnam, as
the Ambassador and Dien had observed during their last
meeting, there was also much debate, but it took place
"behind the screen." We did sometimes pick up indicators of
this debate, however, and heard that sometimes older,
retired party members still had opinions about things. In
short, it was an interesting period, the Ambassador said.
Dien responded that if one closely read the news, then it
was possible to learn much.
9. (SBU) Turning to the subject of "peaceful evolution," the
Ambassador said that, now and again, it was possible to see
in the press references to "peaceful evolution," and it
seemed that now was another wave of emphasis on this
subject. In fact, there was recently an article about a
conference for Vietnam's press on this subject. Those in
the West saw peaceful evolution as a fantasy -- something
not real -- and it was worrisome when we observed people
worrying about something that did not exist. For example,
there was something in the press about how a Vietnamese
official described programs to bring Vietnamese students
overseas as an attempt to "turn their minds" against the
system. Because we read Vietnam's press and respected it,
we wondered how seriously the Vietnamese believed these
things, the Ambassador said.
10. (SBU) Dien replied that, as far as he knew, there was
"nothing special" that had happened recently. It was true,
however, that there were concerns regarding peaceful
evolution. But, one had to understand peaceful evolution in
the right way. As Vietnam continued to move in the
direction of a market economy, officials and party members
would learn to love making money, and there was the danger
that they would lose their "morals and credibility." In the
past, party members had sacrificed much for national
independence and, as a result, had credibility with the
people. In the new situation of today, the party had to
educate people how not to let themselves be "destroyed or
devalued." If that happened, officials and party members
would lose the respect and credibility of the people. In
the first, peaceful evolution was referring to Vietnam and
the Vietnamese themselves. Vietnam had to emphasize the
fight against decadence and the change in the quality of
party members and officials. Turning to the example the
Ambassador raised, Vietnam encouraged students to study
abroad, and Dien could not understand the origin of the
criticism of study abroad programs.
11. (SBU) Quoting Deng Xiaoping, the Ambassador said that,
if one opened the window, flies and mosquitoes would come
in. Originally, President Nixon had used the phrase
"peaceful evolution," saying it was not a government
strategy or policy, but something that would just happen.
Dien agreed with the Ambassador that now was a fascinating
time to live in Vietnam as it transformed, and the
Ambassador concluded by expressing his hope that the United
States would continue to play a role in Vietnam's process of
View as: DESKTOP | MOBILE © Scoop Media