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Cablegate: US Sees Microsoft as Helping to Impose Intellectual Monopolies in Vietnam

Posted in Asia, Cablegate, Microsoft at 5:44 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: How politicians view Microsoft’s signing of software deals with foreign governments

“Ministry of Posts and Telematics (MPT) may sign an agreement with Microsoft,” says the following Cablegate cable. “Microsoft is pushing to sign the agreement during a planned visit to Vietnam by its CEO, Steve Ballmer, before President Triet’s visit, but is uncertain if that would happen.”

Why are politicians so involved in this? Here is why: “this agreement would be an important symbol of Vietnam,s commitment to protect intellectual property rights and something they hope to include in a possible Joint Statement.”

Oh, that’s right. Also see:

The cable itself is very long and diverse.

DE RUEHHI #0898/01 1361126
P 161126Z MAY 07
Hide header
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 05 HANOI 000898 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/16/2017 
TAGS: ECON [Economic Conditions], ETRD [Foreign Trade], 
KIRF [International Religious Freedom], 
OVIP [Visits and Travel of Prominent Individuals and Leaders], 
PGOV [Internal Governmental Affairs], PHUM [Human Rights], 
PREL [External Political Relations], VM [Vietnam] 
Classified By: Ambassador Michael W. Marine, Reasons 1.4 (b/d) 
 1. (C) Summary:  At a May 15 dinner with Vice Foreign 
Minister (VFM) Le Van Bang and other MFA officials, the 
Ambassador stressed that time is short for the two sides to 
reach agreements on potential deliverables to ensure a 
successful visit by President Nguyen Minh Triet.  The two 
sides discussed human rights at length, with the Ambassador 
urging the GVN to take steps responsive to calls from the USG 
and others.  VFM Bang reported that Vietnam is considering 
several measures to reduce tensions in this area, including 
amnesty for Nguyen Vu Binh, a cessation of arrests and 
unspecified "action" on the case of Le Quoc Quan. 
¶2. (C) The Ambassador raised the items the USG would like as 
deliverables, including a TIFA, commercial deals, increased 
cooperation in law enforcement and rule of law/good 
governance programs.  Although making no specific 
commitments, the MFA officials acknowledged the need to make 
progress quickly, and as a first step, offered to prepare the 
initial draft of a Joint Statement.   The Ambassador also 
raised other bilateral issues such as the new embassy 
compound, adoptions and a bilateral work agreement.  End 
¶3. (C) At a May 15 dinner meeting, the Ambassador met with 
Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) Vice Minister Le Van Bang 
and Americas Department Director General Pham Van Que to 
discuss ways to advance preparations for President Nguyen 
Minh Triet's June visit to Washington.  Stressing that only 
five weeks remain before the visit, the Ambassador pressed 
VFM Bang for a list of Vietnam's priorities.  In response to 
Bang's discussion of a Joint Statement, the Ambassador said 
that a statement will require positive and concrete contents. 
 It will be important to address human rights concerns and to 
have a list of specific deliverables to ensure that our 
Presidents' meeting will be a success, he added. 
¶4. (C) VFM Bang began by reflecting on the progress in our 
bilateral relations over the past three years of the 
Ambassador's tenure, concluding by stating that our relations 
are at a "high mark" politically and diplomatically, our 
economic ties are expanding rapidly and the relationship has 
even grown to include cooperation on military and security 
issues.  He said that the Government of Vietnam (GVN) shares 
the desire to ensure a highly successful visit by President 
Triet (even more successful than the 2005 visit of then-PM 
Phan Van Khai, he hoped), and is "working hard" to conclude 
agreements on a list of deliverables - commercial and 
otherwise.  Vietnam expects this visit will continue to 
expand, deepen and broaden our relationship in the interest 
of both countries. 
Triet Visit Logistics 
¶5. (C) Vietnam is considering sending an advance team to 
Washington by the end of May to prepare for President Triet's 
visit.  The advance team would likely be headed by VFM Bang's 
probable successor, AFM Pham Binh Minh.  The MFA officials 
said the Embassy in Washington would be reaching out to the 
Department in the next day or two to discuss the possibility 
of an advance team. 
¶6. (C) While travel plans are not final, President Triet and 
his delegation intend to leave Hanoi for New York City on 
June 18 or 19.  They will remain in New York for one or two 
days, arriving in Washington on June 21.  Following Triet's 
June 22 meetings at the White House and elsewhere in 
Washington, he will depart late that evening or early June 23 
for a day of meetings in Los Angeles (the timing depends upon 
the scheduling of a requested meeting with the mayor).  Triet 
and the delegation will return to Hanoi from Los Angeles. 
Despite earlier considerations, Triet will not visit Canada 
on this trip.  The MFA officials do not yet have a final list 
of the delegation members, but offered to provide the USG 
with that list and a final schedule as soon as it is 
Joint Statement and Vietnam's Protocol Request 
--------------------------------------------- - 
¶7. (C) The MFA officials expressed hope that President Triet 
and President Bush's meeting would yield a "forward-looking" 
Joint Statement that builds upon the November Joint Statement 
and outlines the landscape for closer cooperation in coming 
years.  Noting that this would be the White House's call, the 
Ambassador emphasized that any Joint Statement must be 
HANOI 00000898  002 OF 005 
"robust" and underscored the importance of concluding 
agreements on deliverables now for inclusion in that possible 
Statement.  DG Que offered to provide a first draft this week 
as a jumping off point, and VFM Bang proposed that the two 
sides sit down "in the next week" to go through each 
potential deliverable in detail.  Bang added that, in 
addition to a positive Joint Statement, the GVN hopes that 
the White House will agree to allow President Triet to stay 
at Blair House. 
U.S. Deliverables 
¶8. (SBU) Both sides agreed that the signing of a Trade and 
Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) during the visit would 
be an important step forward in the relationship.  VFM Bang 
and the Ambassador each expressed confidence that the TIFA 
would be ready by the visit, as the two sides are close to an 
agreement.  The TIFA could be used as a platform to help 
Vietnam pursue possible participation in the Generalized 
System of Preferences (GSP) program, which DG Que 
acknowledged would be a long process and not something that 
could be announced during the June visit. 
¶9. (SBU) Noting that we are in a position to seal a number of 
high-profile, high-value commercial deals, the Ambassador 
pressed the MFA officials for progress on agreements with 
Boeing, AES (power plant), Alcoa, SSA Marine (ports) and 
Gannon (power plants), among others.  If Secretary Gutierrez 
is to preside over a signing ceremony in Washington, as he 
has indicated an interest in doing, we will need to know what 
contracts will be included.  Que assured the Ambassador that, 
at the direct order of the Prime Minister, the GVN is 
"working hard" to make a final determination on these deals. 
VFM Bang reported that the Prime Minister personally 
mentioned to him that Boeing had improved its loan offer to 
now be in line with the Airbus offer, which he described as 
an encouraging sign.  The officials could make no additional 
commitments beyond the assurance that the GVN continues to 
work these issues. 
¶10. (SBU) Recent discussions between the Embassy and the MFA 
have yielded some progress on amending an existing Letter of 
Agreement (LOA) to include intellectual property protection 
technical assistance to Vietnam's Customs Department, the 
Ambassador said.  The U.S. side would be coming back with 
amended language shortly, and signing the LOA would be ideal 
to mention in a possible Joint Statement, he said. 
¶11. (SBU) Agreement to expand cooperative law enforcement 
efforts would contribute to the success of the President's 
visit, the Ambassador continued.  Although cooperation 
between law enforcement agencies has improved, more work can 
be done in information sharing.  Anti-money laundering (AML) 
is one example where we can work together.  Upon request, the 
United States is willing to provide comments on Vietnam's 
existing AML law and work with Vietnam to make it more 
effective.  The USG also strongly supports Vietnam's interest 
in joining the Asia Pacific Group's Financial Action Task 
Force for Asia and encourages Vietnam to formalize its 
membership as soon as possible, the Ambassador said. 
¶12. (SBU) Some progress has also occurred on discussions to 
begin a Peace Corps program in Vietnam, the Ambassador noted. 
 It is clear that Vietnam has considered the Peace Corps' 
requests, and we have conveyed the GVN's latest ideas to 
Washington, the Ambassador explained.  We are now awaiting 
the response.  The Ambassador will meet with Minister of 
Finance Ninh this week, and will raise the question of 
immunities, privileges and taxes for Peace Corps volunteers. 
Vietnam's Deliverables 
¶13. (SBU) For its part, Vietnam is requesting assistance from 
the United States to set up a world-class university, VFM 
Bang said.  DG Que claimed that the Ministry of Education and 
Training (MOET) submitted a concept paper to Washington 
during DPM/FM Khiem's March visit.  GVN officials will be 
meeting with Harvard University during their trip to the 
United States.  Pursuing contacts with the private sector, 
including universities like Harvard, is the right approach, 
explained the Ambassador.  He agreed to note Vietnam's 
interest in including language on this issue in a possible 
Joint Statement and requested from Que a copy of MOET's 
concept paper to share with relevant USG agencies. 
¶14. (SBU) DG Que also raised the possibility that the 
HANOI 00000898  003 OF 005 
Ministry of Posts and Telematics (MPT) may sign an agreement 
with Microsoft in Washington to purchase licensed versions of 
Microsoft Office.  He noted that Microsoft is pushing to sign 
the agreement during a planned visit to Vietnam by its CEO, 
Steve Ballmer, before President Triet's visit, but is 
uncertain if that would happen.  In either case, this 
agreement would be an important symbol of Vietnam,s 
commitment to protect intellectual property rights and 
something they hope to include in a possible Joint Statement. 
¶15. (SBU) Vietnam's Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) 
has also made progress in its work with the U.S. Department 
of Energy on the use of nuclear technology for peaceful 
purposes.  Que underscored that MOST and DOE are happy with 
their cooperation, and this could also be an item for 
inclusion in the Joint Statement. 
¶16. (SBU) Vietnam would also like to build upon the dioxin 
language in the November joint statement by offering 
something new in June, VFM Bang said.  Language on new 
cooperation on de-mining and the clearance of unexploded 
ordinance would also be welcome, DG Que added. 
Human Rights 
¶17. (SBU) Introducing the main topic for discussion during 
the two-hour meeting, Ambassador Marine told VFM Bang that 
the economic progress and potential commercial deals 
notwithstanding, human rights issues are now attracting more 
attention in the United States than at any other point in his 
tenure in Vietnam.  The GVN should find a constructive way to 
address USG concerns over its recent crackdown, which will 
certainly be a significant topic of discussion during the 
Triet visit.  He pointed to the recent release of Phan Van 
Ban as evidence that the two sides can cooperate together. 
¶18. (SBU) VFM Bang recognized that the two sides view the 
issue from different perspectives, explaining that the recent 
arrests arose from concerns over Vietnam's security.  He 
raised the war legacy and the fear that former South Vietnam 
soldiers and others are working to organize groups or parties 
not only to change the way the GVN operates, but also to 
overthrow the government entirely.  This would "threaten the 
stability and security of Vietnam."  Vietnam looks to 
separatist movements and terrorist elements in other 
Southeast Asian nations and draws the strong lesson that its 
first priority must be safety and stability, and that any 
changes in its system of governance will have to come slowly 
and systematically to avoid political instability. 
¶19. (SBU) While the United States may view human rights as an 
important issue, Vietnam accords the matter less weight, 
viewing it as "only one of many" issues between our 
countries, Bang said.  He also requested that the United 
States consider religious freedom and human rights as two 
separate issues.  Vietnam would like to prevent human rights 
critics in the United States from using recent arrests to 
place Vietnam back on the List of Countries of Particular 
Concern (CPC), which would be unwarranted in its eyes given 
continuing progress on religious freedom issues.  The 
Ambassador agreed that Vietnam has made progress on the issue 
of religious freedom, and stated that he is unaware of any 
official consideration of putting Vietnam back on the CPC 
¶20. (SBU) The Ambassador said he understands ) but does not 
agree with - Vietnam's views of its security concerns, but 
emphasized that the USG has seen no evidence that any of the 
recently arrested dissidents have advocated violence.  We do 
not support those who promote the use of violence, he 
explained, and in fact want to work with Vietnam to counter 
those actions.  Rather, the United States views recent cases 
such as the convictions of lawyers Nguyen Van Dai and Le Thi 
Cong Nhan and others as freedom of speech issues, a 
fundamental value for the United States.  Not only do we 
disagree with the recent arrests of individuals who were 
peacefully expressing their political views, but believe that 
the sentences are harsh in proportion to the so-called 
"crime" of which they are accused, the Ambassador said. 
Given that the Party is firmly in power and under no threat, 
the USG views recent actions, and the reliance on Article 88 
(under which recent dissidents have been convicted), as 
attempts to stamp out freedom of speech and forestall any 
attempts to peacefully advocate for political change. 
¶21. The Ambassador noted that the two sides need to come to 
HANOI 00000898  004 OF 005 
some agreement about interactions with family members of 
jailed dissidents.  He expressed his surprise at a recent 
statement by MFA official Duong Chi Dzung (at the Human 
Rights Dialogue) that, "the Ambassador is able to meet 
whomever he likes."  This statement came one day after the 
Ambassador's second attempt to host the wives and mothers of 
several jailed dissidents (who themselves have not been 
accused of any crime) for tea.  He asked that the MFA 
officials share the view with others in the GVN that recent 
GVN steps against dissidents and actions to prevent the 
Ambassador and other Mission staff from meeting with family 
members and others only strengthen the groups overseas who 
are rallying support in opposition to the GVN and the 
bilateral relationship. 
¶22. (SBU) In the context of increased concerns over human 
rights, VFM Bang promised that Vietnam would "give 
ammunition" to counter criticism in the United States ) from 
Capitol Hill and elsewhere ) in the run-up to President 
Triet's visit.  For one thing, Bang said that the pace of 
arrests would likely slow down from now on (to which the 
Ambassador countered that many will believe that this is 
because there is no one left to arrest).  In addition to the 
recent release of Phan Van Ban, Vietnam is considering an 
amnesty "in the next several weeks" for Nguyen Vu Binh as a 
gesture by Vietnam tofulfill DPM/FM Khiem's promise to 
Secretary Ricelast November.  When pressed by the 
Ambassador, V Bang expressed confidence that this would 
happe before President Triet's visit and that the DPM/FM 
plans to write to the Secretary on this matter. 
¶23. (SBU) Vietnam is also considering how to deal with 
(former NED fellow) Le Quoc Quan; the GVN understands well 
the sensitivities surrounding this particular case and 
acknowledged receiving a letter from Senator McCain urging 
Quan's release.  Director General Que interjected that the 
GVN did not take action against Quan because of his 
connections to NED; rather, they are concerned about his 
alleged connections to the Viet Tan "terrorist group."  VM 
Bang could not commit to anything during the dinner, but 
informed the Ambassador that they are considering how to deal 
with the case in a way that will help the atmosphere between 
our two countries.  The Ambassador said that given concerns 
by U.S. political leaders over Mr. Quan's case, positive 
actions by the GVN would attract considerable attention. 
¶24. (SBU) For its part, the GVN is asking that the United 
States "tone down the rhetoric" surrounding human rights, 
explaining that this request has come from "the highest 
levels," VFM Bang said.  The Ambassador noted that recent 
arrests hurt Vietnam's image as it takes on a greater role 
internationally.  That being said, he stressed his 
determination to seek a way to work together to prevent this 
issue from overshadowing the visit, noting that amnesty for 
Mr. Binh and positive action on Mr. Quan's case could improve 
the atmosphere and inject additional momentum in preparations 
for the President's visit.  He also suggested that another 
way to demonstrate human rights progress would be through 
cooperative efforts in the area of strengthening rule of law, 
civil society and good governance, as Senator Leahy recently 
proposed to President Triet.  Should the sides reach an 
agreement on this issue, it could be highlighted during the 
President's June visit. 
Other Bilateral Issues 
¶25. (U) The Ambassador lamented that the two sides have still 
not reached an agreement on land for a New Embassy Compound 
in Hanoi.  He continues to hope that the two sides can reach 
agreement before he leaves Vietnam.  Progress on an agreement 
to open new consulates/American Presence Posts could also be 
included, in general terms, in a possible joint statement if 
Vietnam and the United States can reach some agreement on 
this, including an equitable arrangement on consular 
districts.  U.S. parents adopted more than 100 children in 
Vietnam last month, the Ambassador noted, but as this program 
expands, so too are the signs of fraud.  The Ambassador urged 
Vietnam to set a schedule of fees to avoid baby-buying and 
other problems, and added that he intends to raise this with 
Finance Minister Ninh this week.  Noting that our 
relationship is now mature enough, Ambassador Marine 
encouraged the MFA officials to respond to the draft 
Bilateral Work Agreement that the USG presented several 
months ago.  This agreement would clearly benefit both sides, 
he said. 
A/S Hill's Visit 
HANOI 00000898  005 OF 005 
¶26. (SBU) VFM Bang reported that the MFA has been making 
active preparations and is prepared to receive Assistant 
Secretary Hill during his May 23-24 visit to Hanoi.  VFM Bang 
himself will unfortunately be in Seoul during the Assistant 
Secretary's visit; at the same time, VFM Le Cong Phung has to 
travel to Europe and VFM Nguyen Phu Binh will be in Tokyo. 
VFM Vu Dzung is therefore planning to host and meet with A/S 
Hill.  Bang agreed that the Office of Government (OOG) 
Chairman Doan Manh Giao would also be a good interlocutor to 
discuss broad, cross-cutting issues. 

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A Single Comment

  1. kozmcrae said,

    September 14, 2011 at 7:36 pm


    The whole point of war is to subvert the enemy to your will. On that point Bill Gates has succeeded in Vietnam where general William Westmoreland failed.

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