A Hanoi Interview
IN NOVEMBER 1976, I was privileged to spend ten days in Hanoi and nearby provinces as a guest of the Women's Union of Vietnam. It was an inspiring, heart-warming experience. Everywhere I went,, in factories, hospitals, museums, villages and agricultural cooperatives, I was struck by the dedication and sense of purpose among the people, their superb organization, their deep love of their country and care for each other and for their natural surroundings, their zest for life and sense of fun, their optimism and their gentleness. Everywhere, I found amazing progress being made in postwar reconstruction and in the new expansion of industry, agriculture, building, transport, and cultural activities. Two events in particular were being anticipated with great excitement: the rebuilding of the railway from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) which was finally completed on 6 December, and the fourth congress of the Vietnam Workers^ Party, which took place in Hanoi from 10 to 20 December.
One of the highlights of my visit was an interview with Comrade Hoang Tung, member of the central committee of the Workers' Party and editor of the daily newspaper, jYhdn Ddn, I had sought this interview because I wanted to hear from an authoritative source about the process of socialist construction in Vietnam and about the Vietnamese stand on certain ideological issues in the socialist world. On some of these questions, especially those involving events in China, the Soviet Union and other countries, Hoang Tung was unwilling to give an official opinion;
what little he did say was off the record. On questions relating to Vietnam, however, he spoke freely and shed light on the Vietnamese effort to carve out their own path to socialism. What follows is a rough translation of this part of the interview, as given by my interpreter.
The interview opened with Hoang Tung asking me about several Canadian comrades and sending his best wishes. He asked if I had been in Vietnam before. I said no, nor in any socialist country. He then said:
Actually, we cannot say that Vietnam is a socialist society. At present we cannot even say that it is a just society. I would like to talk