Vietnam's Principled and Constructive Foreign Policy

The National 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.

The 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 society.

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 multilateralization;

- 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;

2) mobilizing outside resources to develop the country; and

3) improving Vietnam's position and prestige.

This 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.

General Secretary of the CPV Phu Trong Nguyen addresses the conference.

In 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 previously predicted."

"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."

"Diplomacy 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.

"These excellent 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 diplomatic service."

"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 mankind."

"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.

Doi Moi Era

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.

General Secretary 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 United Nations.

- 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 been advanced.

- 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.

- While 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 Moi.

- 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 the world.

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."

Guidelines for Today's Conditions

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.

"Due 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 complex ways."

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.

1. 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 forecasting."

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.

3. 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.

Strengthening 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.

Ensuring the 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.’"

6. 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.

General 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.

(Edited slightly for publication. Photos: VNA, Baoqoucte)

This article was published in

Volume 52 Number 2 - February 6, 2022

Article Link:


Website:   Email: