Given recent US Congressional comments about giving aid to Kampuchean rebels, Vietnam announces a significant change of foreign policy, releasing the bodies of twenty-six US servicemen from the war. They also establish a government commission to investigate nearly 2,600 missing US personnel. Vietnamese Foreign Minister Nguyen Co Thach states that Vietnam has won the war in Kampuchea and is now prepared to discuss a power-sharing arrangement between their puppet regime in Phnom Penh and former head of state, Prince Norodom Sihanouk.
General Secretary Le Duan of the Vietnamese Communist Party dies in Hanoi, making way for the nomination of reformist Nguyen Van Linh to seize power in a political coup. Among those cleared out by the new administration will be President Truong Chinh, in a general housecleaning of conservatives in preparation for the Sixth Party Congress later this year.
Vietnam General Secretary Truong Ching and Prime Minister Pham Van Dong are both forced to retire. New Secretary General Nguyen van Linh announces the adoption of widespread economic reform in line with Chinese and Soviet policies. The program will be known as doi moi.
Vietnamese President Nguyen van Linh announces the largest reshuffle of the Cabinet since the Communist Party took power in 1975. Dozens of government officials are “relieved”, with their inability to proceed effectively with economic reform expressed as the fundamental reason for their dismissal.
Vietnamese Secretary General Nguyen van Linh announces the election of a new National Assembly, with the new representatives coming from grass-roots organisations selected at public meetings. All but two of the 496 members endorse Linh’s call for “greater democracy and economic innovation”.
Vietnamese Secretary General Nguyen van Linh calls for a restoration of diplomatic relations with the United States, denies that there are any surviving POW’s and states that recent leadership changes represent a significant change in Vietnam itself. He pledges that economic and democratic reforms are necessary for the nation’s viability but that the country will remain allied with the USSR. He also defends the continuing occupation of Cambodia, stating that he will not allow the Khmer Rouge to re-establish any foothold in that country.
Just a week over his most public outing, Vietnamese Secretary General Nguyen van Linh announces the release of the overwhelming majority of prisoners held in re-education camps. In the largest mass pardon in Vietnamese history, over 94% of its inmates, including military and civilian officials of the former US-backed Saigon government, are freed. It is estimated that this reduced total prisoners from above 100,000 to below 7,000.
Vietnamese Secretary General Nguyen van Linh announces the release of eighteen bodies positively identified as having belonged to US servicemen. He also announces the recovery of 52 bodies, which are unidentifiable, but he offers them to Washington in the hope that US scientists may have better technology. He states that he cannot rule out that there are Americans still alive in Indochina from the era, but insists that there are no prisoners or any knowledge of locations. He pledges that he will allow US investigators free access to his country and citizens to complete any research required in order that diplomatic relations may be restored.
The Vietnamese Secretary General, Nguyen van Linh, states that all provisions will be lifted on the emigration of Vietnamese people and announces that his nation will seek an immediate bilateral commercial agreement with the United States. He claims that the United States has been neglecting to enforce its embargo for some time and points to videocassette recorders, cameras and video game systems as banned American products currently being sold in Vietnam. “It is a trade of $200 million each year,” van Linh states, “and we should recognise the arrival of a new tolerance”.
A rumour circulates the international community that Vietnam is to move its capital from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City. It is mainly prompted by the preference of current Secretary General Nguyen van Linh for the city and official work related to potential need to evacuate the city, and is later proven to be false.