Hanoi must yield to change
THE visit to Vietnam by French President Francois Mitterrand once again brings into the spotlight the issue of whether the United States should or should not lift the economic embargo against Vietnam. Legislative Councillor, Mr Martin Barrow, (South China Morning Post, February 18) also joined in the call for the US to lift the embargo and normalise ties with Vietnam. From the humanitarian point of view, one can only agree with that idea. Once the embargo is lifted, Vietnam will be able to fully access the World Bank and the IMF. This move would surely rid Hongkong of the Vietnamese asylum-seeker problem. In the long run it will also bring prosperity to Vietnam, and then, the communist government may decide to allow some political and social reforms to take place.
But one needs to view this situation in its real light.
The embargo was imposed on North Vietnam in 1964 and later extended to the unified but still communist Vietnam. The reasons why the embargo was imposed have not changed. The Vietnamese Government with its dictatorial and oppressive policies still deprives its people of the most basic freedoms and continues to have an impressive record of human rights violations.
If Hongkong had a similar political system, it would have to send all the Vietnamese back to their country to make room in the detention centres for the likes of Martin Lee Chu-ming and the Legislative Councillors who dared not support the Governor's blueprint to democratise Hongkong, not to mention the Cathay Pacific attendants who dared to ''disturb the peace'' in their peaceful demonstration to demand that their rights be respected.
The embargo must be lifted. But Hanoi will have to cease its repressive policies, and act responsibly not only towards the world community, but also towards its people. D. NGUYEN Lantau