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Expatriates Plan Business Trip to Vietnam : Trade: The delegation expects to meet president. News of tour angers some Vietnamese Americans.

August 19, 1994|LILY DIZON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

WESTMINSTER — Orange County's Vietnamese Chamber of Commerce plans to sponsor a delegation that will travel to Vietnam in September for a meeting on business opportunities with President Le Duc Anh and other top government officials, chamber officials announced Thursday.

The 10-day trip, which will mark the first time that top leaders of the Vietnamese government have received a delegation organized by Vietnamese American expatriates, immediately sparked protests from Vietnamese Americans who steadfastly oppose closer ties with the Communist regime.

The U.S. delegation will include only a few Vietnamese Americans, along with other business representatives eager to improve trade between the two countries.

"This is historic in that as far as we know, no other Vietnamese groups have been able to set up something of this magnitude with Vietnam," said Hien Phan, executive director of the Vietnamese Chamber of Commerce.

Wary of hostile reaction from Vietnamese Americans opposed to any dealings with the Communist regime, chamber officials, who said they have been planning the trip for several months, attempted to keep the trip a secret.

But news of the tour was leaked in the Vietnamese press Thursday, and one of the largest organized Vietnamese American groups in the Southland announced that it would protest at a Vietnamese Chamber business seminar Saturday.

"We don't want anything to do with the Communists, and we don't want anything to do with people who support them or do business with them," said Quyen Van Le, president of the Vietnamese Community of Southern California.

The trip, scheduled Sept. 30 to Oct. 9, is co-sponsored by the Asian Business League of Southern California. About 25 people--including bankers, developers, academics, immigration attorneys and representatives from medical, trading and industrial companies--have verbally committed to go, Phan said.

According to the chamber itinerary, delegates would visit Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon. In Hanoi, they are scheduled to meet Oct. 3 with President Le Duc Anh, Communist Party General Secretary Do Muoi, Prime Minister Vo Van Kiet and Deputy Prime Minister Phan Van Khai.

They are also scheduled to talk with Minister of Foreign Affairs Nguyen Manh Cam and officials of the Hanoi People's Committee, which governs the city. In Ho Chi Minh City, delegates would meet with officials of the People's Committee of Ho Chi Minh City.

According to chamber literature, the "fact-finding" mission will seek to "promote goodwill" between the two nations, expose the American business community to the Vietnamese investment process and help build relationships.

Co Pham, president of the Westminster-based Vietnamese Chamber of Commerce, said he has received many verbal assurances that the delegation will meet with President Anh and other top Vietnamese officials.

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