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Vietnam’s proactive and active international cultural integration in the overall context
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"Literature on Hue Royal Architecture" is listed as Document Heritage by the Memory of the World Committee in Asia-Pacific (MOWCAP)

Globalization and viewpoint of international integration of Vietnam

Globalization (in the most universal sense) is a social situation that has links across the planet in terms of economics, culture, politics, society, environment, and flows, narrowing the space and blurring national borders. On the other hand, globalization is a social change, a growing linkage between societies and its elements due to the process of cultural intermingling combined with the explosive growth of transport and communication technologies that promote international economic growth and cultural exchanges. Today, globalization has become an objective trend, a lively reality of the world, and each nation especially developing countries like Vietnam have come to face with great opportunities and challenges.

Like the concept of "globalization," "international integration" has generated different interpretations. Perhaps the most appropriate approach is to consider integration as a process of opening up and engaging in all aspects of international life as opposed to closure, isolation or less international exchanges. Accordingly, international integration is understood as a process in which countries carry out activities to enhance cohesion based on shared benefits, objectives, values, resources, authority (power to make policy) and comply with common "rules of the game" within the framework of international institutions or organizations.

Early grasping the idea of integration, since joining ASEAN in 1995, Vietnam has taken firm steps in both policy and practice, from co-operation to linkage, integration; from regional integration, inter-regional integration to global economic integration. Particularly, entering the 21st century, with the policy of "bringing into full play the internal strength while mobilizing external resources," on November 27, 2001, the Politburo issued Resolution No. 07-NQ/ TW "On international economic integration " with the objective of actively integrating into the global economy in order to expand market, take advantage of capital, technology and management knowledge to accelerate socialist-oriented industrialization and modernization, and make Vietnam a strong country with prosperous people, and equitable, democratic and civilized society.

The 11th Congress of the Communist Party in 2011 marked a new development in Vietnam’s international integration with the cultural foreign policy in the new development period which is "proactive and active international integration." From "international economic integration" to "comprehensive international integration" is an important shift in the Party's external relation thinking. This is not only a proactive, active integration in the field of economy or a specific field, but the active expansion of international integration on a comprehensive scale in the fields of economy, culture, society, national defense, and security.

By 2013, Vietnam has basically integrated into the global economy and achieved certain achievements. Building on the results, the Politburo issued Resolution No. 22-NQ/TW, on April 4, 2013, on international integration, upscaling Vietnam’s international integration, comprehensive integration in all spheres, focusing on economic integration to facilitate deeper and more effective economic integration to effectively and positively contribute to the economic development, construction and defense of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. This is further developed in Resolution No. 33-NQ/TW, on June 9, 2014, on Building and developing the Vietnamese culture and people to meet the requirements of sustainable development of the country and in the Political Report of the 12th Party Congress: "Proactively stepping up international cultural integration, and absorbing cultural quintessence of humanity.” Vietnam has proactively expanded cultural cooperation with other countries, diversified forms of external cultural activities, deepened international cultural relations and absorbed selective cultural quintessence of the world to enrich the national culture."(1)

With this guiding vision, Vietnam's National Strategy for External Cultural Relations until 2020, with a vision to 2030 has set the goal of proactive international cultural integration to promote Vietnam's cultural values to the world, absorb the cultural quintessence of humanity in order to comprehensively develop the Vietnamese culture and people thus elevating the nation’s international profile and ensuring sustainable development and national protection.

This is the right line and ideology, which reflects our Party's comprehensive strategic vision on this issue, because preserving the national cultural identity is to preserve national stuff to "integrate without dissolve." Thus, it can be seen that the process of international integration and globalization of Vietnam reflects creative and proactive spirit, cautiousness and prudence, with each firm step taken to propose lines as well as practical actions of our Party and State.

Vietnam's proactive and active role in international cultural integration over the past time

International cultural integration took place very early and has increasingly become more proactive and active when implementing Party lines and State policies. In the past time, aware of the importance of globalization and participation in the global playing field, Vietnam has actively participated in this process. It can be seen that in both policy and practice, international cultural integration of Vietnam consists of two parallel processes: first, introducing the Vietnamese culture abroad including introducing the good values, beauty and uniqueness of the Vietnamese culture, affirming with friends in the world about "a peace-loving and civilized people, a renewed, dynamic and continuously developing country." Second, selectively absorbing the quintessence of human culture, including scientific knowledge, cultural and educational ideas, experiences in solving social problems that arise in the development process, thus contributing to sustainable development of the country, and building a civilized, modern and humane society.

In recent years, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has been proactively and actively pushing the process of international cultural integration in line with the orientations of the Party and the State and gained important achievements.

Institutionally, the ministry has actively directed the review, revision and supplementation of national documents and international agreements on cultural cooperation. It has set out orientations for international cultural exchange activities for each period, each stage and each year, as well as identified and made decisions on priority fields and areas in international cooperation, and directed the relevant agencies to implement.

On that basis, Vietnam has increasingly promoted bilateral and multilateral cooperation, become an official member of many important international organizations, associations and forums, such as ASEAN, APEC, ASEM, WTO, UNESCO, among others, participated in cultural activities of international organizations, such as the International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF), the International Federation of Arts Councils and Culture Agencies (IFACCA), and participated in UNESCO conventions, such as the 1972 Convention, the 2003 Convention, the 2005 Convention. From 2016 to June 2017, the Ministry drafted, negotiated, evaluated and signed 21 documents on international specialized cooperation commitments. Vietnam has set up an international network of cultural cooperation in both scope and scale with a variety of cooperation forms through establishing cultural relations with about 60 countries.

Attention has been given to the promotion, and introduction of the Vietnamese culture abroad. Every year, Vietnam sends on an average of more than 350 delegations with thousands of people to carry out cultural exchanges with other countries in order to promote the image of a beautiful, peace-loving, dynamic Vietnam with a unique, diverse culture imbued with national identity to the world community. The culture, sports and tourism sector has actively harnessed Vietnam's values, knowledge, tangible and intangible cultural heritage as contribution to the development of the region and the world to enrich cultural treasure of humanity. Most recently, the Viet beliefs in the Mother Goddesses of Three Realms was inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, bringing the total number Vietnam’s heritage in UNESCO List to 25. The Literature on Hue Royal Architecture and the Woodblocks of Phuc Giang School were listed as Document Heritage by the Memory of the World Committee in Asia-Pacific (MOWCAP).

In cultural exchanges and international cooperation, Vietnam attached great importance to introducing typical cultural products, national icons, building models and modes of foreign cultural activities to promote Vietnamese cultural values to the world through "Cultural Days," "Vietnam Culture Weeks," cultural and tourist festivals, cultural and tourism promotion activities abroad, enhanced representation of Vietnam at major international cultural and art events, such as EXPO, Biennale, and famous film festivals.

In addition, Viet Nam has also developed a positive communication strategy in association with cultural activities, taking advantage of the cooperation of the overseas Vietnamese community for high impact on every cultural promotion activity.

Vietnam has established a number of cultural centers and establishments in key areas of the world to expand cultural and arts exchange and cooperation, such as the Vietnam Cultural Centers in Laos, and France. Currently, Vietnam is expediting the establishment of the Vietnam Cultural Centers in Cambodia, Japan, Russia and the United States, establishing a cultural attaché system at Vietnamese representative offices abroad.

In terms of absorbing cultural quintessence of humanity, Vietnam has mapped out policies, plans to acquire and introduce foreign culture into Vietnam in a holistic, systematic, long-term manner to introduce cultural achievements of humanity through cultural days, weeks and events. At present eight countries, namely Russia, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Japan, Korea and India have set up their cultural centers in Vietnam.

Viet Nam also enlisted financial assistance from governments, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, such as Japan, South Korea, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, France, the Ford Foundation, OIF, EU, ASEAN as well as the private sector for the development of Vietnam's cultural infrastructure; at the same time, it has also attracted many foreign projects and support for improving the capacity and professional skills of cultural management and operation staff.

In parallel with that process, Vietnam has also resolutely prevented the penetration of harmful, depraved and reactionary cultural products which are not suitable to the traditions of Vietnam, and thus enhanced resistance against cultural "invasion."

The training and retraining of human resources for external cultural affairs have also focused on strengthening the cooperation with other countries in training and fostering cultural and artistic talents, and highly qualified cadres.

These achievements demonstrate that Vietnam is truly engaged in international cultural integration and is joining the common orbit of globalization. However, despite these remarkable achievements, there remain much to be done and constraints to be overcome in cultural exchanges and cooperation activities for international integration and sustainable development.

Continuing proactive and active international cultural integration in the coming time

Globalization with its many complicated and unpredictable developments demands the cultural sector as well as the entire political system to make more efforts to proactively and actively integrate into the world in the future, implementing the following solutions:

First, implement the National Strategy for External Cultural Relations until 2020 with a vision to 2030" so that external cultural relations become a specially important component of the national culture, show the internal strength of the nation, play an active role in enhancing the country, people and culture’s profile in the international arena, thus create favorable conditions for the country's international integration by implementing short-term and long-term programs, concrete, effective and feasible plans, such as inter-sectoral regulations for the implementation of external cultural work, organizing training courses, communication and raising awareness on the role and position of external culture relations at various levels, socio-political organizations, central agencies, localities and enterprises, developing and implementing a project to introduce Vietnamese celebrities and national heroes to the international community.

Second, complete mechanisms and policies on finance and assistance to cultural and artistic exchange and cooperation including preferential tax, formulation of policy and law on donation and support to create a legal corridor for external cultural activities. Develop a policy of socialization and priority, facilitate and encourage domestic and foreign organizations, governmental and non-governmental organizations as well as the private sector to participate in external cultural activities in order to mobilize diversified resources for international cooperation activities.

Third, produce high-quality cultural products, introduce outstanding films at important international film festivals, and regularly send Vietnamese films to the international distribution network. Organize rotating art exhibitions in the 10 ASEAN countries every 2 years, 3 years and 5 years, and develop plans to organize exhibitions and exchanges of fine art collections, outstanding art works of Vietnam, attractive art performances imbued with Vietnamese cultural identities to the world.

Fourth, innovate the organization of "Cultural Day," "Culture Week," cultural and tourist festivals, events, cultural and artistic activities abroad, making them more active and attractive, creating an impression of a innovative, dynamic, creative, friendly Vietnam imbued with national identity. Increase Vietnam's representation at major international cultural and artistic events.

Fifth, improve the efficiency of cultural communication, introduce the titles of "Ambassador of Culture", "Ambassador of Tourism" of Vietnam in the world to promote the image of the country and people of Vietnam. Diversify products and forms of communication in foreign languages to suit different international markets. Produce publications and newspapers, electronic newspapers, specialized pages in foreign languages, television external services, use new forms of communication such as social networks to reach out to the community of overseas Vietnamese and international friends.

Sixth, develop the system of Vietnamese cultural centers in foreign countries in key localities in the world. Beside the two existing centers in Laos and France, between now and 2025, more cultural centers will be established in Cambodia, the United States, Russia and Japan. From 2020 to 2030, cultural centers in key locations in the world will be established in line with the requirements of the Party and the State’s policy on external relations in the new situation. Cultural centers should be "common houses" to promote the culture and image of the country and people of Vietnam, and to connect with the international community and overseas Vietnamese.

Seventh, step up the training and retraining of human resources to meet the requirements of international cultural integration. Human resources are always a "bottleneck" in many activities, especially in foreign affairs, so training and retraining of human resources is one of the important solutions to turn out a contingent of capable cadres to carry out the tasks of international exchange and integration.

Eight, facilitate and encourage non-governmental organizations, unions, businesses and freelance artists to engage in international cultural cooperation activities in order to diversify resources. By so doing, Vietnam has made up for lack of resources and weaknesses in implementing international exchange and cooperation activities. Moreover, external relation activities have become more lively and effective with multi-dimensional approach.

Nine, associate external cultural activities with the overseas Vietnamese community and students. Facilitate their access to information and healthy cultural products from the country, thus involve them in national construction, preservation and promotion of the Vietnamese cultural traditions in their families and communities. Expedite the program on teaching Vietnamese language to overseas Vietnamese community, and preserve the purity of the Vietnamese language. Bring into full play talents and enthusiasm of Vietnamese intellectuals and artists abroad, create aggregated strength and make contribution to the building and developing the Vietnamese culture and people, meeting the requirements of sustainable development in the context of globalization at present.

(1) The Communist Party of Vietnam, Documents of the 12th National Party Congress, Party Central Committee Office, Hanoi, 2016, p.130

Nguyen Ngoc Thien, PhDMember of the Party Central Committee, Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism