imperialists, President Le Duc Anh and Dao Duy Tung, with General Anh supervising defense, security, and foreign affairs. To further marginalize the Foreign Ministry, where modernizers were in the majority, the Party decided that the Chinese ambassador to Hanoi would replace the Vietnamese embassy in Beijing as the main nexus of communications from Vietnam to China. Explaining this strange manner, Anh said it was done at China’s request.25
Return to the Regional Matrix, 1992-1998
Vietnam’s deference to China was rewarded by the normalization of relations between the two countries, which was formally announced at the visit of the Vietnamese Party and Government chiefs to Beijing in November 1991. Hanoi’s request to include security guarantees or a form of military alliance was, however, rejected. Beijing declared that the two could be “comrades but not allies.” While the summit was conducted on Chinese terms, Vietnam refused to yield to China’s wishes in issues such as the return of ethnic Chinese who fled Vietnam for southern China in the late 1970s, territorial disputes, and repayment of outstanding Vietnamese debts.26
As the anti-imperialist proposal was discredited, the modernizer’s agenda regained momentum. Before the Beijing summit and immediately after the Paris Peace Accord on Cambodia, Premier Vo Van Kiet had visited Indonesia, Thailand, and Singapore, the three leading ASEAN states. The visits opened a new and friendly chapter in Vietnam’s relations with the regional countries. In March 1992, the Party theoretical journal published an article entitled “Vietnam in the Common Trend of the Asia-Pacific” by Deputy Foreign Minister Dinh Nho Liem. The article argued that Vietnam’s national security and socio-economic development required the country make its relations with the Asia-Pacific a priority of its foreign policy. It concluded that Vietnam would “become a deserving member of the peaceful, independent, and developed Asia-Pacific.”27 In June
25 Co, “Memoirs,” p. 62.
26 Thayer, “Sino-Vietnamese Relations,” p. 523.
27 Dinh Nho Liem, “Viet Nam trong xu the chung cua chau A-Thai Binh Duong” [Vietnam in the Common Trend of the Asia-Pacific], Tap chi Cong san, No. 3 (March 1992): 60-61.