“He was regarded as an elder statesman whose hard-line views had softened with the cessation of the war that unified Vietnam. He supported economic reform and closer relations with the United States while publicly warning of the spread of Chinese influence and the environmental costs of industrialization. [….]
In his final years, General Giap was an avuncular host to foreign visitors to his villa in Hanoi, where he read extensively in Western literature, enjoyed Beethoven and Liszt and became a convert to pursuing socialism through free-market reforms.
‘In the past, our greatest challenge was the invasion of our nation by foreigners,’ he told an interviewer. ‘Now that Vietnam is independent and united, we can address our biggest challenge. That challenge is poverty and economic backwardness.’
Addressing that challenge had long been deferred, he told the journalist Neil Sheehan in 1989. ‘Our country is like an ill person who has suffered for a long time,’ he said. ‘The countries around us made a lot of progress. We were at war.’”