Home · Articles · News · NikeLeaks Cables: Asia · HCMC SCENE SETTER FOR VISIT OF CODEL HAGEL
December 14th, 2011 WW Staff | NikeLeaks Cables: Asia
 

HCMC SCENE SETTER FOR VISIT OF CODEL HAGEL

     
Tags:

Reference ID: 06HOCHIMINHCITY1066
Created: 2006-09-20 05:21
Released: 2011-08-30 01:44
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Origin: Consulate Ho Chi Minh City

VZCZCXRO8170
PP RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHNH
DE RUEHHM #1066/01 2630521
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 200521Z SEP 06
FM AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1481
INFO RUEHHI/AMEMBASSY HANOI PRIORITY 1041
RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE
RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY 1551

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HO CHI MINH CITY 001066
 
SIPDIS
 
SENSITIVE
SIPDIS
 
FROM THE CONSUL GENERAL
PLEASE PASS REXON RYU IN OFFICE OF SENATOR HAGEL
 
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OVIP PHUM PGOV SOCI ECON KIRF VM
SUBJECT: HCMC SCENE SETTER FOR VISIT OF CODEL HAGEL
 
HO CHI MIN 00001066  001.2 OF 002
 
 
1. (SBU)        Senator Hagel: It is my pleasure to welcome you and
your delegation to Ho Chi Minh City on October 5.  The city has
changed enormously since your last visit here in 1999.  There is
a new, modern satellite city to the south, extensive new
construction in the center and a commercial and convention
center complex planned for an area that was Viet Cong swampland
when you served here in 1968.  The process of change and
modernization is accelerating as this region spearheads
Vietnam's integration into the global economy.
 
2. (SBU)  In your official meetings with the HCMC leadership and
your visits around town, you will see a vibrant city that
epitomizes the development challenges and opportunities that
Vietnam faces: the youthfulness, hustle and entrepreneurial
spirit of its people, the growing importance of U.S. and other
foreign investors, the threat of HIV/AIDS, and the subtle but
real challenges to one-party rule from the Internet, nascent
civil society, the inflow of ideas from overseas and the
incremental expansion of personal freedoms.
 
3. (SBU) Ho Chi Minh City and its neighboring provinces are the
economic and financial heart of Vietnam.  With roughly 15
percent of the population, this region accounts for over a third
of GDP and national tax revenue and is home to over 40 percent
of the country's foreign direct investment.  At least 50 percent
of Vietnam's $3 to $7 billion in remittances flow into the HCMC
area.  The city's importance as Vietnam's premier banking and
financial center will continue to grow as foreign funds and
domestic investors build up the HCMC Stock Exchange.
 
4. (SBU) HCMC Communist Party Secretary Le Thanh Hai is the
senior-most politician in the city and a recent appointee to the
Politburo.  He is a savvy politician and a pragmatist.  Along
with President Nguyen Minh Triet -- who earlier held Hai's
current position -- Hai is one of the architects of HCMC's
growth.  It is leadership helps explain why HCMC and some
neighboring provinces are growing quickly -- up to double the
national growth rate.  Political leaders in the region are
determined to create a government culture more responsive to
private business needs.  For example, in 2005, HCMC was dinged
in a prestigious national survey (sponsored by USAID) of local
government efficiency.  The city held roundtables with business
and internal meetings to work on shortcomings.  The following
year, Ho Chi Minh City jumped from 17th to seventh.  Neighboring
Binh Duong province was ranked first and Dong Nai province --
another key industrial neighbor -- was ranked fifth.
 
5. (SBU) These same leaders also have been relatively
progressive in handling religious freedom and human rights
issues.  HCMC has partnered with the Catholic Church to combat
HIV/AIDS, the first such faith-based partnership in Vietnam.  As
Vietnam moves to legalize the operations of its many Protestant
groups, HCMC has been the pacesetter for the nation.  However,
leaders of the staunchly anti-Communist United Buddhist Church
of Vietnam remain under tight control, as does the city's
dissident community; the authorities view them as threats to the
regime.
 
6. (SBU) In your meetings with Party Secretary Hai and Chairman
of the HCMC People's Committee Le Hoang Quan, I recommend that
you stress that greater individual freedoms, financial and
capital market reform and strengthening of rule of law are
needed to prevent HCMC's growth from sputtering, particularly in
a WTO environment.
 
7. (SBU) Following the signing of our Bilateral Trade Agreement
with Vietnam, the United States has become Vietnam's largest
export market.  Intel is the latest U.S. Fortune 500 corporation
to join Nike, ConocoPhillips, Citibank and other private
American entrepreneurs -- many from the Vietnamese-American
community -- in HCMC.  Foreign investors see Vietnam as a
cost-effective hedge to China, especially in lower volume but
higher quality products such as knitwear and fine furniture.
 
8. (SBU) HCMC negotiated hard for the $300 million Intel
investment.  This investment showcases the city leadership's
determination to push into the software and technology sectors,
with U.S. business helping to lead the way.  U.S. business also
is playing a key role in infrastructure development; the HCMC
region urgently needs to upgrade its inadequate infrastructure
-- roads, ports and airports -- lest this become a bottleneck to
growth.
 
9. (SBU) Local U.S. business leaders likely will tell you that
they are bullish on Vietnam's potential but will express
frustration over how the government is implementing some
WTO-linked reforms.  They worry that regulatory uncertainty and
lack of transparency could hamper business and trade
 
HO CHI MIN 00001066  002.2 OF 002
 
 
development.  They likely will press for the earliest possible
Congressional approval of Permanent Normal Trading Relations
(PNTR) with Vietnam, fearing that U.S. business would lose out
to Japanese and European competitors should PNTR be delayed.
You may also hear complaints that Vietnam's over-reliance on
Official Development Assistance is hampering the development of
efficient financial markets.  You will be able to focus more
intensively on this latter issue in your visit to the young and
frothy HCMC stock exchange; the exchange is up by 65 percent
since the beginning of 2006.
 
10. (SBU) HCMC welcomes Americans and American goods.  Its
people are future-oriented.  Made in America has real cachet
here.  HCMC also has the country's most progressive media.  The
city's elite and its growing middle class look to the United
States as the center of choice to which to send their sons and
daughters to study.
 
11. (SBU) HCMC Party leaders know that their legitimacy rests in
part on satisfying the economic demands of the average
Vietnamese.  They know that Vietnam needs to create close to 1.5
million jobs a year to keep pace with new entrants into the
workforce.  Many of these jobs will be in HCMC and other
rapidly-urbanizing areas of southern Vietnam.  Communist Party
officials struggle to balance this need to modernize and grow
the economy -- which requires a freer society and a more robust
private sector -- with their desire to protect the power and
patronage that allows them to dominate Vietnamese society.  Some
HCMC Party officials also have expressed some anxiety about the
growth in influence and power of China.  The struggle between
reform and control helps explain many of the actions and
decisions of HCMC's leaders and is the subtext for much of the
ongoing debate -- sometimes echoed in HCMC's increasingly robust
press -- between modernists and hardliners in the Communist
Party.
WINNICK

 
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 
 
 

 

 

Web Design for magazines

Close
Close
Close