Vietnam's Principled and Constructive Foreign Policy
Philip Fernandez -
Foreign Relations Conference for the Implementation of the Resolution
of the 13th National Party Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam
(CPV) was held in December 2021. This was the first-ever National
Foreign Relations Conference held by the CPV to discuss Vietnam's
foreign policy. It was organized by the Politburo and the Secretariat
of the CPV's Central Committee specifically for implementation of the
guidelines on external affairs adopted at its 13th Congress.
13th Congress of the CPV resolved to implement an ambitious program.
Among other things, it set that by 2030 -- the centenary of the Party
-- Vietnam will be a developing country with a modern-oriented
industrial base and upper-middle income; and by 2045 -- the centenary
of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, which preceded the Socialist
Republic of Vietnam -- it will be a developed, high-income, socialist
The guidelines adopted at the 13th
Congress on external affairs:
- stressed that
Vietnam would continue to implement its longstanding foreign policy
doctrine of independence, self-reliance, diversification, and
- reaffirmed Vietnam's
commitment to continue being a trusted friend and partner, and a
responsible and proactive member of the international community;
- highlighted the key role and important contributions of
external affairs to national construction, defence and development; and
- recognized the diplomatic sector's pioneering role, with
three main objectives:
1) creating and maintaining
a peaceful and stable environment;
outside resources to develop the country; and
improving Vietnam's position and prestige.
approach taken by the 13th Congress of putting the foreign diplomacy
concerns and priorities of the nation on the agenda of the Party and
the entire nation is a compelling refutation of the propaganda we hear
from ruling circles equating communism and communist parties with
authoritarianism. It stands in stark contrast to countries based on the
Westminster parliamentary system, called representative, where matters
as serious as war and peace are matters of state secrecy over which
even elected members of parliament have no say. In these countries
external affairs also have a close link to the economy, not in a manner
based on mutual benefit, but one that serves narrow private interests
and is used to justify aggression and war.
Secretary of the CPV Phu Trong Nguyen addresses the conference.
his remarks to the Conference in December 2021, General Secretary of
the CPV Phu Trong Nguyen said, "The Conference today is of great
significance (and as some comrades have put it, an historic one) as it
is the first-ever National Foreign Relations Conference held under the
direct instruction of the Politburo and Secretariat in order to discuss
Party external relations, State diplomacy, people-to-people diplomacy
and the whole political system."
He said the
Conference was taking place at a time "when the entire Party, people
and army are redoubling our efforts to translate the Resolution of the
13th National Party Congress into reality;" when "our country is
presented with many opportunities and advantages, and at the same time
confronted with new, fiercer hardships and challenges than we had
"The requirements of the
nation-building and national defence mission are extremely high in the
new era." This Conference he said, "will also be an opportunity for the
various levels, sectors, localities and the diplomatic sector to grasp
a better understanding of Vietnam's current landscape and standing vis-à-vis
the region and the world, and how significant and important foreign
relations are within the overall strategy for nation-building and
defence, and bring about renewed spirit, determination and driving
force for the entire political system, all levels, sectors, each and
every organization and individual involved in foreign relations."
Foreign Affairs Policy Richly Imbued with National Identity
General Secretary Nguyen emphasized that Vietnam's foreign
policy is deeply steeped in the history and thought material of the
Vietnamese people. He said, "Throughout our people's history over
thousands of years, independence, self-reliance and maximizing the
interest of the nation-state have always been an unchangeable principle
and the overarching line in our every action."
has ever been resorted to to prevent and ward off war, or to put an end
to war in as advantageous a position as possible. It must always be in
service of domestic policies, nation-building and national development.
These philosophies of our forefathers are well ahead of their time and
eternally relevant," he added.
traditions and virtues have been further built on and advanced and
shine brightly in the Ho Chi Minh era, and evolved into a modern
Vietnamese diplomatic service richly imbued with the national
identity," he said. "President Ho Chi Minh laid the foundation and
directly led and guided the development of the Vietnamese revolutionary
"The fundamental elements of
Ho Chi Minh Diplomatic Thought stem from the philosophy and tradition
of diplomacy employed by our forefathers, and it was President Ho Chi
Minh himself who developed these values to a higher level, seamlessly
combining patriotism, national culture and Vietnamese diplomatic
traditions with the quintessence of world culture and diplomatic
experience," he pointed out.
"President Ho Chi Minh
never wished for Vietnam to suffer war, nor did he wish war upon
others," the General Secretary said. "It is this humanistic and
humanitarian philosophy of President Ho Chi Minh, in which justice and
truth are upheld in the interest of peace, independence, freedom and
happiness to all peoples and all nations, that is the embodiment of the
seamless combination between the culture of our nation and that of
"Over the past 35 years of Doi
Moi [Renewal], inheriting and building upon the prideworthy
diplomatic traditions of the nation, especially the philosophy of
President Ho Chi Minh, who paved the way for Vietnamese diplomacy in
the Ho Chi Minh era, our Party has taken upon itself to continually add
to, cultivate and augment the foreign policy orientations of
independence, self-reliance and openness in the interest of peace,
cooperation and development. Our foreign policy is multilateralization,
diversification, and active and proactive international integration,"
the General Secretary said.
Ambassador Dang Dinh Quy, Permanent
Representative of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam to the UN speaking
on the need to reform the UN Security Council at UN meeting
November 24, 2021.
Nguyen pointed out that this historic legacy laid down by Ho Chi Minh,
has propelled Vietnam's diplomatic service as "a trailblazer, a builder
of new paths, a pioneer in breaking out of isolation and embargo, and
the forerunner in opening up relations with many partners and bringing
about a new landscape for the processes of Doi Moi,
international integration, nation-building and national defence."
The accomplishments speak for themselves:
Vietnam enjoys diplomatic relations with 189 of the 193 members of the
- Vietnam is an active and
responsible member of more than 70 international organizations and
forums of importance, such as the United Nations, Association of
Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation
(APEC), Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) and World Trade Organization (WTO),
to name a few.
- The CPV has forged ties with 247
political parties, including 90 Communist and Workers' parties all over
the world, ruling parties and politically active parties.
Vietnam's National Assembly enjoys parliamentary relations with its
counterparts in 140 countries, and is an active participant at many
important international parliamentarian forums.
The diplomatic work conducted by the Vietnamese government across the
political, defence, security, economic and socio-cultural pillars has
- Mass friendship organizations have
also engaged in foreign relations in a concrete way, enriching the
friendship between the Vietnamese people and the peoples of the world.
- Vietnam has created an international environment and
mustered resources from outside conducive to accelerating
industrialization, modernization and socio-economic development.
- Vietnam has been able to call on the international community
for support in terms of vaccines, medical supplies and treatment drugs,
a key contribution to the fight against the pandemic and socio-economic
recovery and development. More than 172.7 million doses of COVID-19
vaccine have been administered in the country to date, with 73.9 per
cent of the population fully vaccinated.
just 30 years ago Vietnam had economic and trade ties with only some 30
countries and territories, today the number is 230.
Total foreign trade turnover this year is approximately U.S.$600
billion, about 120 times the figure of the early years of Doi
- Vietnam's international standing
and prestige in the region and the world are constantly on the rise,
and Vietnam makes active and very responsible contributions to the
maintenance of peace and cooperation for development and progress in
These are but a few of the
accomplishments of Vietnam. The General Secretary emphasized: "These
gains and achievements are thanks to the correct, wise, measured and
conscious leadership of the Party Central Committee and the direct
guidance of the Politburo and Secretariat; the active and flexible
administration of the State, the consensus, solidarity and support of
the entirety of our people."
General Secretary Nguyen then
went on to discuss the international climate within which Vietnam is
charting its course.
"In the upcoming years, we
project that the situation in the world and region will continue to
witness very rapid, complex and unpredictable changes. Peace,
cooperation and development remain the major trends, yet they will also
face many obstacles, difficulties and challenges. Globalization and
international integration will continue to move forward, yet they will
also be threatened by the emergence of extreme nationalism, and fierce
strategic rivalries, economic competition and trade war.
to the COVID-19 pandemic, the world is falling into a serious crisis in
many regards. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is developing robustly,
creating breakthroughs in many areas, thus bringing about both
opportunities and challenges to every nation. Countries are adjusting
their development strategies and methods in order to adapt to the new
reality. The Asia-Pacific continues to become an all the more important
and strategic area. In Southeast Asia, the security environment and
sovereignty disputes in the East Sea will continue to develop in
Bearing these conditions in mind,
General Secretary Nguyen elaborated six areas of work the Party has
identified as of particular importance to the realization of the
foreign policy guidelines adopted at the 13th Congress.
The importance of paying attention to and developing a proper
understanding of unfolding global events, which in the words of General
Secretary Nguyen have "gone beyond the parameters of conventional
2. To implement Vietnam's foreign
policy based on independence, self-reliance, peace, cooperation and
development to ensure political stability within the country as well as
safeguard Vietnam's sovereignty and territorial integrity.
To continue building on Vietnam's active participation in multilateral
and international organizations, including the UN, ASEAN and other fora.
4. To expand and develop the effectiveness of Vietnam's
economic, cultural, political, security and defence cooperation with
other countries starting with neighbours, as well as with major powers.
Vietnam will give priority to expanding market access for Vietnamese
goods, services and workers and to attracting financing, technology,
managerial expertise and direct foreign investment.
relations with the close to 5 million Vietnamese in the diaspora is
important to Vietnam's nation-building project. Vietnam also works to
secure their well-being in their countries of residence and provides
assistance to maintain their Vietnamese language, heritage and identity.
5. Improve Vietnam's ability to assess the impetus of the
Fourth Industrial Revolution and digital transformation which is
driving enormous changes. Factors such as global epidemic and climate
change will also be closely monitored.
requirements for strategic research and forecasting are extremely
important. The General Secretary called on the delegates to pay close
attention to the content of the complexities as events unfold. He
stated: "As I usually say: ‘The only thing to fear is not
knowing; once we know, there is no fear.’"
Finally, recognizing the importance of foreign diplomacy to realizing
the nation-building work set by the 13th Congress, close attention is
paid to selection and ideological training of cadre and personnel
involved in diplomatic affairs and Foreign Service.
Secretary Nguyen concluded his remarks recognizing that the world is
changing rapidly. While hardship remains on our country's path, he
said, our prospect is very bright. Our entire Party, people and army
are standing together, with the highest resolve, to realize the
Resolution of the 13th National Party Congress. Every Vietnamese,
whether at home or abroad, desires our country to grow mighty and
prosperous, to stand side-by-side with the peoples of the five
continents, as was the aspiration of President Ho Chi Minh.
This article was published in
Volume 52 Number 2 - February 6, 2022