In a bizarre vestige of Cold War intrigue, an unknown author has fabricated a document purporting to be a Los Angeles Times news article quoting the Vietnamese ambassador to the United Nations as sharply criticizing his own government.
The document, which at first glance appears to be a copy of an article published in The Times' Orange County Edition, quotes Ambassador Trinh Xuan Lang as saying Hanoi's recent political and economic reforms are "unrealistic, shortsighted approaches" that "cannot repair a mismanaged economy."
No such article appeared in any edition of The Times, nor did The Times carry any coverage of the April 22 symposium in San Francisco where Lang purportedly made the remarks in a keynote speech.
Lang said he obtained a copy of the fake article by fax from the foreign ministry in Hanoi. It is not known how widely it has been distributed.
"I believe that document is a pure and simple and rather crude fabrication by ultra-reactionaries in the Vietnamese expatriate community in the U.S.," Lang said Friday in a telephone interview from New York. "Their motivation would be to create confusion in their community and in Vietnam."
"I'm inclined to think this is an effort by the old guard who are in competition with the reformers and the free-market economists," said Douglas Pike, director of the Indochina Studies Project at UC Berkeley's Institute of East Asia Studies.
Pike said the bogus clipping was most likely fabricated in Hanoi. It was riddled with spelling errors and awkward grammar.