An American church delegation emerged yesterday after two weeks in Vietnam with eyewitness accounts of that nation's escalating foreign conflicts and internal problems.
"We saw burned homes, bridges that had been destroyed, troops along the roads and in the fields. Ninety to 100,000 Vietnamese have already been evacuated from along the Cambodian border," the Rev. Paul F. McCleary said.
"The Vietnamese are quite concerned about Chinese intentions," he continued. "We had a long interview with the prime minister, Pham Van Dong, and with other senior ministers in Hanoi."
Cora Weiss, who was prominent in the American antiwar movement, condemned refugees who have fled Vietnam over the last three years.
"Every country is entitled to its own people," she said. "The people are a basic resource that belongs to the country."
Weiss said that in Hanoi, "I went looking for a Chinese restaurant. There used to be many. But several that I tried were closed."
She said that restaurants and other businesses in Cholon, the Chinese quarter of Ho Chi Minh City, were also closed down.
Harvey Schmidt, a Kansas farmer who accompanied the delegation, said that Vietnamese agriculture was "deficient in the use of fertilizer."
The Americans represented Church World Service, an organ of the National Council of Churches of Christ, U.S.A. They went to Vietnam to deliver a donation of 10,000 tons of wheat valued at $2 million.
Rev. McCleary said, "There have been drastic reductions in the allotments of rations made available. It is as low as nine kilograms (20 pounds) of basic grains per person per month."
"But cadre (Communist Party officials) get 12," Weiss interjected.
"Vietnam is very anxious to trade with the United States, and to have relations with the United States," Weiss said. "But the Vietnamese cannot back down and will not back down on the need for some commitment of reconstruction aid."
Rev. McCleary said that "Vietnam wants to balance off Chinese and Soviet influence" through relations with the United States.