Building on the role of diplomacy in service of national development, striving for an affluent people, a wealthy nation, democracy, equality and civil

Update: 09:30 | 14/06/2021
Following is Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son's article entitled "Building on the role of diplomacy in service of national development, striving for an affluent people, a wealthy nation, democracy, equality and civilization".
Building on the role of diplomacy in service of national development, striving for an affluent people, a wealthy nation, democracy, equality and civil
Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son. (Photo: Tuan Anh)

In Viet Nam's history of nation-building and defense, beyond the military tactics and the resolute determination to defend our territory, reclaim and safeguard our national independence, our forefathers always attached great importance to external relations. This has forged the tradition and unique characteristics for the Vietnamese diplomacy that is imbued with courage, concord and humanism. Such virtuous tradition and characteristics have been further nurtured, promoted, and sparkled in the Ho Chi Minh era, contributing to the grand triumphs in national liberation, reunification, building and defense.

Throughout the Doi Moi process, Viet Nam has pursued the foreign policy of independence, self-reliance, openness, multilateralization and diversification, and innovatively applied the Ho Chi Minh diplomatic thoughts alongside the friendly tradition and nature of Vietnamese diplomacy. In that process, the Vietnamese foreign service always represents the seamless convergence of the Party, State and public diplomacy, and has made important contributions to the monumental and historic achievements of 35 years of Doi Moi. Indeed, as Comrade General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong said, and as enshrined in the Resolution of the 13th National Party Congress, “never ever before has our country boasted such fortune, strength, international standing and prestige as it does today”.

Viet Nam has embarked on a new chapter, endowed with new standing and strength after 35 years of Doi Moi. Illuminated by the directions charted by the 13th National Party Congress, Viet Nam is making all efforts to realize the aspiration and development goal of becoming a developed, socialist-oriented country by the mid-21st century. This will be a historic milestone for Viet Nam on the path towards an affluent people, a strong nation, democracy, equality and civilization. This noble goal requires the entire Party and nation to make the utmost effort in stepping up Doi Moi in a holistic and cohesive way. To this end, a critical task is “to cohesively, creatively and effectively conduct foreign relations, and actively engage in comprehensive and extensive international integration”, and “to continue building on the role of the foreign service as the vanguard in establishing and safeguarding a peaceful and stable environment, mobilizing external resources for national development, and enhancing the international profile and prestige of Viet Nam.”[1]

Peace, independence and freedom have always been the desire of our nation for countless generations. It would be impossible to develop our country and bring about wellbeing and happiness to our people without peace and stability. Accordingly, the vital and regular task for the foreign service is to cultivate and maintain a peaceful and stable environment conducive to nation-building and defense. In order to safeguard our nation “from early on and from afar while dangers are yet afield”, the foreign service must assume the pioneering role to broaden and deepen Viet Nam’s external relations. This will help consolidate Viet Nam’s relationships with all partners worldwide and bring about tangible outcomes (as of today, Viet Nam has established diplomatic relations with 189 countries, and Strategic Partnerships and Comprehensive Partnerships with 30 countries). In addition, the foreign service must also contribute to promoting dialogues, building on common grounds, narrowing differences and settling disputes on the basis of international law. The guideline of conducting foreign relations is to consistently implement the foreign policy of independence, self-reliance, peace, friendship, cooperation, development, multilateralization and diversification. Viet Nam is a trustworthy friend and partner, an active and responsible member of the international community. Viet Nam also wishes that all countries would be friends and partners of Viet Nam on the basis of equality, cooperation and mutual benefit. The principle and motto of Viet Nam’s foreign relations are to ensure the ultimate national interests on the basis of the fundamental principles of the UN Charter and international law. Diplomacy, together with the national defense and security front, will contribute tirelessly to defending national independence, sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity. Such endeavors need to be carried out flexibly and wisely, “remained firm in principles but flexible in their application” to maintain peace and stability for national development.

Being deeply aware that “socio-economic development is the central task”, the foreign service needs to be an important contributor to bolstering national strength, self-reliance, economic competitiveness and overall power. To that end, we must creatively apply the mantra of combining national power with the power of the times and make full use of conducive international conditions, especially the global development trends and achievements. It is also essential to effectively implement free trade agreements (as of today, Viet Nam has signed 15 FTAs and is negotiating the other two pacts), international agreements and commitments to expand market access and muster external resources for growth model transformation, economic restructuring, and more vigorous national industrialization and modernization on the basis of science, technology, innovation and a high-quality workforce. In this process, it is crucial to bear in mind that the Vietnamese people, localities, and businesses are the key beneficiaries. Accordingly, the foreign service must make full use of its specific advantages to facilitate the people, localities, and businesses in enhancing the effectiveness of their external economic activities, seizing the opportunities and maximizing the benefits brought about by international integration. Under the motto of “trailblazer – pathfinder”, “company” and “service”, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the overseas missions of Viet Nam have always been the home base and the reliable reference for the Vietnamese people, localities and businesses in search of cooperation and development opportunities.

President Ho Chi Minh once said: “national power is as a gong and diplomacy is its sound. Only when the gong is large shall its sound be loud”.

As such, it is vital to closely combine the status and strength of Viet Nam. This involves making full use of Viet Nam’s new stature to generate new resources and power while effectively capitalizing on the synergy to reinforce and enhance our national standing and prestige[2]. We need renewed efforts to promote and raise the profile of multilateral diplomacy, and advance Viet Nam's role at multilateral forums, especially at the ASEAN, UN, APEC, Mekong sub-regional cooperation framework, and other cooperation arrangements, and in matters of strategic importance in line with the need, ability and particular condition of our country.

In addition, it is also important to continue modernizing and enhancing cultural diplomacy, external communications, citizen protection and works concerning overseas Vietnamese. Such efforts will help bolster the standing and increase the “Vietnamese value” in the eyes of friends and peoples around the world. Given the comprehensive and extensive international integration, the foreign service needs to ensure that all Vietnamese people, both at home and abroad, can actively contribute to and benefit from the national development achievements, and that their lawful and legitimate rights and interests are well-protected.

To perform its missions and responsibilities, the foreign service - in addition to developing and implementing an effective overarching diplomatic strategy – needs to pay special attention to the “building of a comprehensive and modern diplomatic service with three pillars resting on the Party, State and public diplomacy”[3]. Comprehensive diplomacy is shown through its implementation scope, measures and subjects. This means a seamless and cohesive combination between Party, State and public diplomacy; between political, economic, cultural diplomacy and defense, security, socio-cultural aspects and environment, and science and technology fronts; and between bilateral and multilateral diplomacy. Modern diplomacy is exhibited through a streamlined and efficient apparatus operating within a cohesive, standardized and modern process and infrastructure. It is essential that we develop a body of diplomatic staff equipped with strong political mettle, who is unwaveringly loyal to the Party, Fatherland and the people, and who are highly talented, capable, professional and modern in style, who are innovative, sharp and proactive, in order to “go beyond the scope of the nation and achieve regional- and world-class”.[4]

The world is undergoing rapid and complex changes, with opportunities intermingling with challenges. States and nations worldwide are trying to seize every available chance. While adversities remain ahead, the future of Viet Nam's development is intensely bright. Under the able leadership of the Party and the effective management of the State, given the consensus and support of the people, and the close cooperation from every level and sector, the foreign service will continue making noteworthy contributions to the national development towards an affluent people, a wealthy nation, democracy, equality and civilization.

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[1] The Communist Party of Viet Nam: Documents of the 13th National Party Congress, vol. 1, pg. 161-162.

[2] We successfully hosted the APEC Year 2017, WEF ASEAN 2018, and the US-DPRK Summit 2019, fulfilled the 2020 ASEAN Chairmanship, and have done good work as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council for the 2020-2021 term.

[3] The Communist Party of Viet Nam: Documents of the 13th National Party Congress, vol. 1, pg. 162.

[4] General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, speech at the 30th Diplomatic Conference, August 2018.

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(TGVN)