When Mr Jiang sits down today in Hanoi with his former Vietnamese counterpart, Le Kha Phieu, he will come face to face with the complex realities dogging Beijing-Hanoi relations. A range of observers believe General Phieu's downfall as Communist Party general-secretary owes much to his strong relations with Beijing, a reflection of a relationship now much more complicated then when Mr Jiang first visited Hanoi in late 1994. The two countries are rapidly expanding economic links after mutual reforms as well as China's push into Southeast Asia, while growing party ties reflect their position as the two strongest remaining communist powers. Yet things are far from easy, as General Phieu's political down-fall suggests. It is the pair's first meeting since he was deposed at Hanoi's party congress in April last year, three years into a five-year term. General Phieu was unpopular for a host of reasons, but his specific dealings with China provided a key catalyst as Hanoi's political debates deepened. At issue was his role in approving two border agreements with Beijing. The one demarcating Vietnam's 1,400km land border with China remains secret, despite being signed and ratified. Then there is the Gulf of Tonkin agreement. Approved in Beijing by General Phieu without Politburo or Central Committee approval, it has yet to be fully ratified. 'The Gulf of Tonkin deal made many question Le Kha Phieu's relationship with China,' said Vietnamese analyst Zachary Abuza, of Boston's Simmons College. 'It was clear that suspicions of China are still very great and now can be very forcefully expressed . . . and he was simply seen as far too close to Beijing.' Such concerns mean that his successor, Nong Duc Manh, is already showing signs of a return to a more broad foreign policy, in which relations with China are balanced against a range of regional and international ties. Hoping to exploit that policy, both India and the US are eyeing naval access to the prized Cam Ranh Bay when Russia departs later this year - something Mr Jiang may be keen to scupper. 'This may be the reason Mr Jiang is choosing to meet with a leader who has no official position,' Mr Abuza added. 'Maybe he is hoping Le Kha Phieu still has some influence over the military and maybe even the party . . . but it is a move that carries its own risk.'