this situation, Linh concluded, “China should raise high the banner of socialism and stick to Marxism-Leninism.”20 A Sino-Vietnamese alliance to defend communism against the West was the foreign policy linchpin of the anti-imperialist grand strategy.
While the Party chief and the Defense Minister sought an alliance with China to oppose the West, Foreign Minister Thach favored a balanced position between the great powers. As Thach resisted Beijing’s attempt to force him to adopt Linh’s line, his relations with China deteriorated.21 A month later, the United States made an about-face in its Vietnam policy when announcing it would withdraw its recognition of the anti-Vietnamese Cambodian coalition and open talks with Hanoi on Cambodia. This raised Thach’s hope in a separate agreement with the United States, which would lead to both a settlement of the Cambodia crisis and the lifting of U.S. embargo against Vietnam. Washington’s policy change also triggered a turning point in China’s attitudes toward Vietnam. Beijing suddenly agreed to a high-level meeting between leaders of the two countries, an event that Hanoi had unsuccessfully requested in the past.22 This would be the Chengdu summit of September 3-4, 1990. On September 10, Washington also announced it agreed to discuss with the Vietnamese on normalization of relations between the two countries. As with the Chengdu summit with China, Thach’s meeting with U.S. Secretary of State James Baker did not bring what the Vietnamese had hoped.
At the Seventh Congress of the VCP in July 1991, Thach was dismissed from the all-powerful Politburo. He was seen as a main obstacle for closer relations between China and Vietnam.23 The Seventh Party Congress marked a triumph, though not absolute, of anti-imperialists over modernizers.24 The new permanent decision-making body at the top echelons of the Hanoi leadership now consisted of General Secretary Do Muoi, who was eclectic in calculation but anti-imperialist in instinct, and two ultra anti-
20 Ibid., p. 36.
21 Ibid., chs. 10 and 11. See also Carlyle A. Thayer, “Sino-Vietnamese Relations: The Interplay of Ideology and National Interest,” Asian Survey, Vol. 34, No. 6 (June 1994), p. 516.
22 Thayer, “Sino-Vietnamese Relations,” p. 516.
23 Co, “Memoirs,” p. 62.
24 Alexander L. Vuving, “The Two-Headed Grand Strategy: Vietnamese Foreign Policy since Doi Moi,” paper presented at the conference “Vietnam Update 2004: Strategic and Foreign Relations,” Singapore, November 25-26, 2004.