Cablegate: Cpv Wraps Up 8th Plenum -- Defense, Salary

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

REF: A. FBIS SEP20030714000009 B. HANOI 1756

- C. HANOI 0175

1. (U) The Communist Party of Vietnam's (CPV) Ninth
Central Committee held its eighth plenum in Hanoi July 2-12,
with major addresses by General Secretary Nong Duc Manh and
issuance of a formal communiqu. (Ref a provides
translation.) The major themes, which CPV insiders said had
been determined months -- perhaps even years -- in advance,
were national defense strategy as well as salary and social
insurance issues. (Ref c reported on the CPV's seventh
plenum, which focused on land, minorities, and religion.)

2. (SBU) The full text of the resolution on national
defense strategy has yet to be made public, but the
communiqu described its contents at length. It repeatedly
noted the need to reassess national defense "in the new
situation," while highlighting successes in protecting
national sovereignty, the leadership of the Party, and the
socialist regime over the past decade. When asked where the
CPV viewed new threats arising, one Vietnamese newspaper
editor privately admitted to Pol/C that they were "from
inside," not from external forces. According to the plenum
communiqu, the Central Committee also highlighted that
"strengthening the Party is the key task" along with
upholding the Party's "absolute and direct leadership" in
ensuring national defense and security. It noted as well
the importance of a favorable international environment and
the "core task of economic development" in pursuing
Vietnam's goals.

3. (SBU) Embassy contacts indicated a lively debate on
salary and allowances issues, with some stiff resistance to
CPV proposals to abolish subsidized and/or free housing and
to diminish perks like automobiles for senior cadres. The
communiqu made no explicit reference to these issues, but
cited past progress in "eliminating the system of paying
wage and allowance in kind and replacing it with cash" and
set the goal of "overcoming the subsidization practice."
The communiqu also admitted the need to make salaries more
attractive, to reward productive service, and to discourage
"earning through illegal and irrational means." According
to one contact, the policy on housing will be gradually
implemented over the next decade, accompanied by increased
salaries to offset these new expenses.

4. (SBU) Comment: Embassy will continue to try to obtain
further insights into the contents and significance of the
plenum and its decisions, although CPV contacts are often
quite close-mouthed about such "internal" issues. Sources
robustly denied that any major personnel deliberations had
been in the works at this plenum, as suggested in ref b.
The twin themes were a rather odd mix, but reflect both CPV
sensitivity to perceived threats to its leadership and a
recognition of the need to update its handling of cadres in
light of current economic realities, which increasingly have
lent themselves to corruption and a corresponding weakening
of the CPV's prestige and legitimacy.

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