Y: Yang Rui, Presenter of the CCTV English Program Dialogue
N: Mr. Nguyen Thien Nhan, Vice Chairman of People's Committee of Ho Chi Minh City<注1>
Y: The relationship between China and Vietnam has significantly improved over the past decade. The guest speaker to our program today is Mr. Nguyen Thien Nhan, Vice Chairman of People's Committee of Ho Chi Minh City. He will talk about what's been happening in Vietnam in the recent years.
Y: We know Ho Chi Minh City is named after your late president and his name is very well known to the elder generation in China. Now, can you tell us briefly about the history and the present of the city?
N: The city used to be called Saigon. In the last century we were fighting against foreign occupation. Ho Chi Minh was the leader of our people in fighting for our national freedom. One of his wishes was to liberate the southern part of the country. And people in the south followed him in the cause. They wished to see him after the victory but he died before the country's reunification.<注2> So as a memory of his great contribution to our country, especially to the southern part of the country, the government decided to name the city after him. Today, in some of our institutions and agencies we still keep the name Saigon, for instance, the tourist agency in the city is called Saigon Tourist, because we want to combine both the old tradition and the recent history of the city. Ho Chi Minh City has now become the center of economy, science and culture of our country.
Y: What are the major changes that have taken place in Vietnam?
N: In 1986 we decided to give up the planned economy and turn to market economy. And since then, for 16 years, we have been operating in the market economy system. In this kind of economy we need international cooperation. So pupils in schools and students in universities are encouraged to learn foreign languages, such as English, French, Japanese, as well as Chinese. Although Chinese teaching and learning has been in decline for some years, 5 years ago we started to encourage people to learn Chinese.
Y: Is this to do with the normalization of our bilateral ties?<注3>
N: Yes. Also, we realize that China will be playing a more important role in the world. So it is of great necessity to develop the relationship with China insgroupsto respond to that new requirement.
Y: In the late 1970s, China began to open up to the world and implemented a series of reform. Did similar things happen in your country?
N: Yes. In 1986 we decided to give up the planned economy and in 1988 we passed the law on foreign direct investment because only with this new regulation we were able to attract investment. And since then we've made amendments<注4> to this law twice. Today international investment, especially foreign direct investment, accounts for about 40% of the investment in Vietnam.
Y: Do you have any laws to protect the development of private businesses in your country?
N: Of course we do. Without the participation of private businesses, you cannot have market economy. The proportion of private businesses increases every year.
Y: At the early age of economic development, our government worked out something which we called "double track system".<注5> It means that on one hand some of the prices of commodities are determined by the government. Well, it's part of the planned economy. On the other hand, some other prices are determined by the market. I wonder whether you experienced more or less the same kind of thing in your country?
N: No. Since we gave up the planned economy in 1986, we have been operating with the one price system.
Y: We call our current economic system "a market system with Chinese characteristics". How would you describe yours?
N: We call it "a market system with socialist orientation".
Y: Right after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Russian government adopted what they called "Shock Therapy", and what happened was the drastic devaluation of Russian rubles.<注6> In China we adopted a gradual approach. We put much more emphasis on economic reform. What is the situation like in your country?
N: In fact, we adopted reform policies similar to your version and we achieved political stability and economic results.
Y: Do you have the serious problem of corruption of government officials? And how do you crack down on<注7> corruption?
N: We do have cases of corruption of government officials. The media plays a good role in exposing corruption. Those who are charged with corruption will be put in jail. We also have death penalty.
Y: Now, I'm interested to know how you look at your relationship with America. The United States used to be the top enemy of your country because of the war in the 1960s. What's your current attitude towards America?
N: I believe that not all Americans supported the war during that time. And I believe that people in the world, including Vietnamese and Americans, have learned from the past history. What we believe is wrong we should not repeat in the future. We think because of the learning capability we would cooperate with each other. We try to look forward. Last year we signed an agreement with America on bilateral trade.
Y: Is there any scar left by the war?
N: I think so. You see the disproportion<注8> of men and women in each generation because many men died during the war. For us, we should not forget our history.
Y: What do you mean by not forgetting the history?
N: I mean we should educate our people and tell them that peace is not costless. We should make our people realize that international support is very important for a country like Vietnam to win a war. And we should make our people understand that international cooperation and solidarity<注9> not only worked for the past but also works for today.
Y: Are the younger generation in your country eager to learn from America? How do they react to American values such as their most often proclaimed<注10> notions of democracy and freedom?
N: I don't think those notions like freedom and democracy are anything new or strange to us. We have been always fighting for freedom and democracy. But I did learn about the good part of the American democracy when I was studying in the States.
Y: There was a major conflict between our two countries back in the 1970's. Do you think your people, the young and the elder generation, have forgotten that part of history? How do you look at the current relationship between Vietnam and China?
N: The conflict between Vietnam and China was only a short-lived one. If we look at the history of the last century, more than 90 years we were in peace and supporting relationship. And as I said, we have all learned from our history and benefited from mutual understanding. I believe Chinese people have seen that over the past 10 years the relationship between our two countries has developed to a much higher level than in the past. We see the mutual visit of the highest leaders of both countries.
Y: As you know, China is maintaining a high economic growth against the backdrop of economic slowdown around the world. Given this fact, China will attract more overseas investment, so do you think this will affect the foreign investment to your country?
N: I think it will and actually the impact has already been felt. But I think with China we do not only compete, we also learn to cooperate.
Y: I believe cooperation and competition should be the major components<注11> to characterize our bilateral relations in the future.-