The United states is asking charities, international organizations and other nations to consider cutting off or reducing aid to Vietnam until Hanoi changes its refugge policy.
"Vietnamese policies have reached a point where other nations have to react," a State Department official said yesterday. "Now there's growing sense that the international community has to convince the Vietnamese they are irresponsible. On that basis we think the international community should review all its aid programs to Vietnam."
Targets of this sanction policy are the noncommunist countries, banks and international organizations that have promised to contribute or lend $1.7 billion in economic aid for Vietnam's current five -year plan. This accounts for roughly one-third of Vietnam's foreign aid.
American policymakers contend that nothing short of aid sanctions will "persuade the Vietnamese to treat their people more humanely."
The Vietnamese goverment has argued that a large number of the refugees are leaving their country because it is poor and in need of more international assistance. But this is belied by refugee testimony.
"There is no way you're going to get the international community to pay off the Vietnamese now," one American official said. "I know it's a difficult argument. If you beat them over the head you might push them closer to the Soviets but the Vietnamese are hard people to deal with, to continue talking to in a generous spirit when they're doing what they're doing now,"
Last month a record 65,000 Vietnamese boat people landed on other Southeast Asian shores. Many said they were forced to leave under a Vietnamese policy of selective discrimination against ethnic chinese. They also said they were forced to pay bribes of up to $3,000 each to leave Vietnam.
"It has simply gotten out of hand," and administration official said. "The Vietnamese have to be shown we are serious, that they can't continue this export of people."
The idea of aid sanctions apparently came up following the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia. Some countries like Australia, ended aid programs to protest that invasion while others like Malaysia, simply tabled plans for future aid.
Robert B. Oakley, deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asia, said that following the invasion the United States "told the World Bank it should be very, very careful when considering loans to Vietnam. . . given the preoccupations of the Vietnamese goverment with security and given that economic development had been pushed aside."
Since the Soviet Union alone provides $2.5 billion in economic aid, the effectiveness of an international boycott was questioned by some adminstration officials. "The Soviets are not going to allow them to starve," said one.
Sweden is the country the United States would most like to see change its aid policy toward Vietnam.