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2009-11-12 08:00:00
Embassy Hanoi
Cable title:  

Internal CPV directive warns of U.S.-led "peaceful

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DE RUEHHI #0899/01 3160800
O R 120800Z NOV 09
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 HANOI 000899 


E.O. 12958: DECL: 2019/11/12
SUBJECT: Internal CPV directive warns of U.S.-led "peaceful
evolution," provides insights into hardliners' thinking

REF: HANOI 820, HANOI 330, HANOI 809, HANOI 537, HCMC 606

HANOI 00000899 001.2 OF 004

CLASSIFIED BY: Virginia Palmer, Charge D'Affaires; REASON: 1.4(B),

1. (C) SUMMARY: An internal CPV directive briefly posted online
warns that "hostile forces" are infiltrating Vietnamese society and
threaten to destroy Vietnam's socialist system. USG-sponsored
programs in education and governance, and organizations such as
USAID, Peace Corps, and Fulbright, are listed by name and cited as
"threats" to Vietnam. Penned by the Party's Propaganda and
Education Commission, Decision 34-CT/CW offers a cautionary
reminder that important elements in Vietnam's Party/state apparatus
remain deeply suspicious of U.S. intentions. In terms of internal
politics, the Decision also reflects a growing elite-level divide
between the traditionally influential Central Committee commissions
and those associated with PM Dung who seek to shift more power to
the government. The rhetoric, tone, and intent of Decision 34
closely resembles those associated with the televised "confessions"
of Le Cong Dinh (ref A). Infuriating, to be sure -- but there is
also less here than meets the eye: broadsides such as these are not
uncommon, particularly in the run-up to a Party Congress. In some
instances -- the treatment of international NGOs -- Decree 34 is
considerably less strident than previous documents. Despite the
decree, the bilateral relationship continues to expand across a
broad range of issues. Our challenge is to continue to push the
relationship forward, consistent with our interests and values,
mindful that some U.S. initiatives will continue to be met with
deep suspicion or outright hostility by some within the Party base
and leadership. END SUMMARY.



2. (C) Decision (or Decree) 34-CT/CW was drafted by the CPV's
committee on ideology headed by Vietnam's newest Politburo member
To Huy Rua and formally approved for issuance to all party units by
the Secretariat of the Central Committee of the CPV headed by
Politburo member and CPV Standing Secretary Truong Tan Sang on
April 24, 2009. It is an internal document that conveys official
guidance to all CPV members and units. A small provincial
Communist Party newsletter posted the Decree on its website,
apparently by mistake, and removed it shortly after it appeared,
but not before several bloggers had circulated and commented on it.
It is an open secret that the CPV's propaganda apparatus has for
years produced internal party documents of this sort, instructing
Party members to exercise extreme caution in their interactions
with U.S. programs and Mission Vietnam personnel and that the
rhetoric typically heats up in advance of a Party Congress. These
documents reflect more public, official statements about the

threats posed by U.S.-led efforts at "peaceful evolution" and, more
recently, "self-evolution" (ref. B), but provide more specific
"guidance" for Party cells. Courtesy of a clerk's error, we have
the document in hand.



3. (SBU) Decision 34-CT/CW's preamble reviews efforts by the Party
to combat "peaceful evolution," citing a 1998 Politburo resolution,
resolutions from the 2001 Party Congress, and Central Committee
Decisions 94-CT/TW (2002), which established a special interagency
"steering committee" on the issue, and 05-CT/TW (2006). Despite
these efforts, "hostile forces" have intensified their "ideological
and cultural conspiracies and plots." The preamble devotes its
strongest language to criticizing the very serious ideological
"debasement" affecting "not a small segment" of CPV Cadre:
"self-evolution." But the critique is also directed outward, at
conspiracies to promote "political pluralism" and "a multi-party
system." The document states that these "hostile forces" not only
intend to "wipe out the socialist regime" but also "Vietnamese
cultural identity."

HANOI 00000899 002.2 OF 004

4. (SBU) In its discussion of external enemies, the ten-page
document cites specific organizations. In every case where a
specific culprit is identified, it is the USG. The Peace Corps,
for example, is described as an organization that specializes in
overthrowing governments, while the USAID governance assessment is
cited as proof that the United States aims to promote a "color
revolution" in Vietnam. Fulbright and Vietnam Education Foundation
are elements of a U.S.-sponsored "human strategy" to train a "U.S.
and Western-oriented" core group to "transform" Vietnam. The
United States is described as "frantically" establishing American
Corners in Vietnam "to promote American images of lifestyles for
youth." Most conspiratorially perhaps, the document refers to a
"four-step roadmap" culminating in efforts to encourage U.S.
universities to "open institutions in Vietnam."

5. (SBU) The sections on media and religion are more scatter-shot
and do not target U.S. programs, but the language is equally
paranoid. "Hostile forces," for example, are described as
implementing "wicked schemes" to brainwash "free-thinking"
reporters into practicing an overly critical brand of
"Western-style journalism." Decision 34 criticizes land-use
protests by Catholic parishioners in Hanoi and Quang Tri province
and condemns "reactionaries and religious fanatics" as plotting to
form a "religious coalition to oppose Communism." The development
of "abnormal Protestantism" and other "strange religions" in ethnic
minority areas in the Northwest Highlands is blamed for spreading



6. (SBU) International NGOs come in for surprisingly light
treatment. Decision 34 refers, almost as an afterthought, to
"hostile forces" that use INGOs to further their (the hostile
forces') own "political end." Previous internal documents of this
type have been much more strident and much more specific in naming
individual NGOs, according to one contact who has been involved
intensively in NGO work and legal reform in Vietnam for more than
fifteen years. No NGOs are mentioned by name. While the document
mentions plots to "establish contacts, recruit, have agents
infiltrate organizations and collect information while they
propagandize and popularize Western-style democracy and human
rights," the document ties this to activities in ethnic minority
areas only and specifically states that this is only true of a
subset of the 550 international NGOs active in Vietnam.



7. (SBU) After enumerating the plots of "hostile forces," the
final six pages of Decision 34 review efforts within the party to
ensure ideological rectitude, assesses the impact within the CPV
itself, and presents "guiding opinions, tasks, and essential
solutions" for all party members and units to combat the threats
enumerated above. Most of the instructions are vague calls for
increased control and vigilance over organizations susceptible to
influence by "hostile forces" such as the press. Party organs
dealing with culture and arts likewise should "encourage works of
art with good content and prohibit those with deviant viewpoints."
The document concludes with a list of ten instructions ("essential
solutions and task") directing CPV members to intensify ideological
education and "learn from the example of Ho Chi Minh, more
effectively counter "hostile viewpoints," and improve outreach,
including to overseas Vietnamese. Interestingly, the list includes
calls to combat corruption and improve the efficiency of government
operations in order to undercut the arguments of those who

HANOI 00000899 003.2 OF 004

criticize the CPV and GVN. In contrast to the preamble and first
sections, the call to action is almost entirely inward-looking and
does not mention any U.S. or Western organizations.



8. (C) There is, of course, an irony here. Top GVN/CPV leaders
have repeatedly and publicly asked for many of the programs that
Decision 34 characterizes as hostile assaults on Vietnam. One of
the centerpieces of PM Nguyen Tan Dung's 2008 visit to Washington
was an agreement to boost educational cooperation, in particular by
encouraging U.S. universities to establish a presence in Vietnam,
and DPM Nhan (a Fulbright alum) is currently in the United States
on a high-profile visit to drum up U.S. support. In this light,
the document represents an attack by the CPV's most conservative
wing, represented by the Commission on Ideology and Progaganda, on
what hard liners such as To Huy Rua perceive as the "dangerous
excesses" of reform. Ideology aside, though, it is equally a
reflection of the growing divide within the Party between those
involved in the day-to-day functioning of government (PM Dung and
those around him) and the traditional centers of influence in the
CPV Commissions (headed by CPV Secretariat Chair Sang) who resent
Dung's efforts to consolidate power through the Office of
Government, the ministries, and control over key state-owned

9. (C) This interpretation is not inconsistent with the fact that
the Decree was issued as an official product of the Central
Committee. For a document of this type, the approval process goes
directly from Rua's commission to the Secretariat of the Central
Committee headed by PM Dung's primary competitor for the position
of General Secretary in 2011, Truong Tan Sang (ref C). At the end
of the day, there is not much that separates Dung and Sang in terms
of ideology or their approach to the United States -- both are
economic pragmatists, are unsympathetic to political dissent, and
favor incremental advances in bilateral relations with the United
States. But they sit on opposite sides of the isle, so to speak.
And just as bauxite emerged as a proxy for internal Party wrangling
(ref D), so too can ideological documents such as 34-Ct/CW be used
as non-ideological political cudgels.



10. (C) Decision 34 is a formal CPV document that, in principle,
provides binding guidance for CPV members. However, the guidance
is vague and -- as with all edicts of this sort -- subject to
"interpretation" by Party cells in the ministries and by CPV
functionaries at the provincial and local level. Within the
Ministry of Justice, for example, the decree was slapped up on a
bulletin board and was covered in a rather cursory fashion as a
single item among several in internal Party meetings. The Decree's
effects are also likely to vary widely at the provincial and local
levels. More hidebound officials are likely to take Decision 34 as
explicit sanction for the type of actions they would take anyway,
while progressive officials such as in Binh Duong Province and
Danang (ref E) will pay lip service to Decision 34 and continue to
engage us as before. It is at the margins -- with officials who
are undecided or politically insecure -- that Decision 34 is likely
to have its most negative consequences as authorities err on the
side of caution. The fact, for example, that private university
projects are having difficulty despite support from PM Dung and
DPM/Minister of Education Nhan suggests that lower-level officials
may be wary of facilitating projects, even if they were sanctioned
in general terms by top GVN officials. Similarly, Decision 34 puts
into perspective frustrations that we have had implementing the
International Visitor (IV) and Humphrey Fellows programs, ConGen

HANOI 00000899 004.2 OF 004

HCMC's speaker program for college students, and a training on
reporting on financial markets.



11. (C) While the language in Decision 34 is exasperating, we
should not attribute our frustrations in staging public outreach
programs and moving forward on governance projects to this document
alone. These frustrations have been around for years and tend to
ebb and flow over time. Decision 34 reflects the mindset of CPV's
most conservative wing. It is difficult to discern precisely the
influence this thinking has on the Party cadre or state bureaucracy
charged with carrying out the U.S.-Vietnam relationship. That
said, Decision 34 is important as a reminder that there remains a
powerful bloc within the Party, and with whom we deal much less
frequently, that actively opposes deepening engagement. While we
should not ignore Decision 34, we should also not overreact. And,
in fact, beneath the inflammatory rhetoric the authors of Decision
34 have a point. While the USG is not plotting a "color
revolution" in Vietnam, we do promote more democratic governance,
as well as increased respect for what the authors of Document 34
deride as "Western-style human rights." In this respect, Decision
34 can be viewed as evidence that hard-line elements agree with us
that good governance and rule of law will, in the long term, lead
to fundamental political change.

12. (U) This cable was drafted by ConGen HCMC and coordinated with
Embassy Hanoi.