Implementing the foreign policy of independence, self-reliance, cooperation and development, multilateralization and diversification of relations, and active international integration, which was initiated by the 11th National Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam, party external affairs have over the last 3 years been boosted and expanded with the aim of consolidating a political foundation for state-to-state and people-to-people relations and creating a proactive position in international relations to conform to the rapid changing world; party external affairs together with state and people-to-people diplomacy has contributed significantly to Vietnam’s diplomatic victory and the construction and defense of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
World situation and external affairs of the Communist Party of Vietnam
Recent developments in the region and the world have indicated that remarks made at the 11th National Party Congress are accurate and valid. Peace, cooperation and development remain the major trends, but civil wars, religious and sectarian conflicts, separatism, terrorism, political and social instability, and sovereign and territorial disputes occur in many places and are very complex; a multi-polar world has become salient, democratization of international life continues to develop, and major countries have been manipulating international relations.
On the other hand, the world over the last few years has seen new, complicated developments. The global financial crisis has lasted longer than predicted. The trend of multi-polarization has become more noticeable but its nature remains unchanged; major countries adjusted their policies, mustered their forces and boosted strategic competitiveness; economic links have been strengthened. Political developments in the Middle East-North Africa region have led to major political changes in many countries and across the entire region but instability and their consequences will continue. Major countries such as the United States, China, Russia, Japan, and France have seen post-election changes (2012) and a transfer of leadership, which resulted in adjustments to both domestic and foreign policies. The Asia-Pacific region continues to see dynamic growth and has become an area of fierce strategic competition among major countries, particularly in the context of the US deploying its policy of pivoting to Asia. Disputes in the East Sea and East China Sea and the situation on the Korean peninsula have worsened and no effective mechanism has been created to prevent possible conflicts. In Southeast Asia, efforts to build the ASEAN Community have been stepped up despite new, complicated political developments in some member countries.
The current situation in the region and the world poses a considerable challenge to Vietnam’s diplomacy and party external affairs. Ho Chi Minh’s principle of “firm in objectives, flexible in strategies and tactics” has been the guideline for the external affairs of the Communist Party of Vietnam in recent years to ensure national interests and contribute to the global struggle for peace, national independence, democracy, and social progress.
Since the 11th National Party Congress, party external affairs have been implemented effectively and with a clear focus. As a result, external relations of the Communist Party of Vietnam have continued to be strengthened and expanded. Vietnam has established relations with 200 political parties in 114 countries, of which more than 100 are communist and workers’ parties, nearly 50 ruling parties, and close to 80 parties involved in parliaments. The Communist Party of Vietnam focuses its external relations on:
Firstly, increasing relations with communist, ruling parties in socialist countries and bordering countries, deepening relations through diverse and practical measures. The Communist Party of Vietnam has held high-level visits and exchanges with other parties across the world. Such meetings and exchanges have helped to foster solidarity and develop major directions and measures to boost all round cooperation and people-to-people relations between Vietnam and other countries. Through high-level visits, Vietnam has resolved pending or arising issues in its relations with other countries, maintaining a peaceful and stable environment for national development. From another perspective, the Communist Party of Vietnam and other countries’ parties have paid due attention to extensive cooperative models such as theoretical seminars, discussions, research, and personnel training. Such practical activities have helped to increase the knowledge, theoretical background, and experience of members of the Communist Party of Vietnam and parties in other countries, contributing to each nation’s construction and development.
Secondly, proactively establishing and increasing relations with ruling parties, political parties and potential parties in regional countries and Vietnam’s important partner countries. This can be considered a breakthrough in the external relations of the Communist Party of Vietnam in accordance with the Conclusion of the Party Politburo to “Increase party external relations in the new situation”, helping to diversify external relations for the Communist Party of Vietnam and create the best possible conditions for state diplomacy and people-to-people diplomacy. Over the last 2 years, the Communist Party of Vietnam has established relations with another 10 ruling parties, bringing the number of relationships with ruling and political parties to 50. Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong visited Singapore (September 2012), Thailand (June 2013), the European Union and Belgium, the UK(3), and also paid state visits to Italy (January 2013) and India (November 2013). These visits helped to establish or upgrade relations with those countries. During these visits, Vietnam established strategic partnerships with Italy and Thailand, agreed to develop a strategic partnership with Singapore(1), and diversified and strengthened strategic partnerships with the UK and India).
The Communist Party of Vietnam has also expanded relations with ruling and political parties in Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, the US, France, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Mozambique, and Angola. Cooperation methods between the Communist Party of Vietnam and other countries’ parties have become more diverse and practical including high-level visit exchanges, signing of cooperative agreements (with the United Russia Party, Ukraine’s Party of Regions, the New Azerbaijan Party, and Mozambique’s Frelimo Party), personnel training (with Singapore’s People’s Action Party, exchange of guests of honor (with India), political dialogue (with Germany's Social Democratic Party)(2). The ruling and political parties in those countries have become more aware of the role of the Communist Party of Vietnam as the sole ruling party in Vietnam. They have praised the leadership of the Communist Party of Vietnam in maintaining political stability and socio-economic development. The Communist Party of Vietnam has learned from the experience of other countries’ parties in ruling the country, resolving socio-economic issues, and diversifying party leadership to formulate its guidelines and policies in the new situation.
Thirdly, continuing to improve solidarity and mutual support with communist, workers’, and leftist parties and national independence, revolutionary, and progressive movements. Despite facing certain difficulties, and with a spirit of solidarity, the Communist Party of Vietnam has sent many delegations to congresses, conferences and seminars of other communist, workers’ and leftist parties (the 48th Congress of Bulgaria’s Socialist Party, the 19th Congress of Portugal’s Communist Party, the 13th Congress of South Africa’s Communist Party, the 14th Congress of Peru’s Communist Party, the 10th Congress of Bangladesh’s Communist Party, and a seminar to mark the 90th anniversary of Brazil’s Communist Party) and has received many high-level party delegations which came to Vietnam to visit, research and exchange theories and experiences in party building and national development (the President of Japan’s Communist Party, the President of the Czech Republic’s Communist Party Morava, the First Secretary of Bulgaria’s Communist Party, and the General Secretary of Mexico’s Labor Party). The Communist Party of Vietnam held theoretical discussions with Japan’s Communist Party and for the first time held a seminar with France’s Communist Party; signed agreements and cooperative programs with a number of parties (Poland’s Democratic Left Alliance, Mexico’s Labor Party, Brazil’s Communist Party, Domonica’s United Left Movement). Through these activities, Vietnam helped international friends understand more about its renewal process and its path to socialism while making the most of international support for national construction and defense and learning from other parties’ experiences.
Fourthly, active participation in political parties’ multilateral forums. Over the last 3 years, to implement the foreign policy set out by the 11th National Congress, the Communist Party of Vietnam has participated in and made theoretical and practical contributions to many forums of communist, workers’ and leftist parties in the world and forums of regional parties such as the International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties (IMCWP), the International Communist Seminar (ICS), the Sao Paulo Forum (SPF), the international seminar “Political parties and a new society”, and the International Conference of Asian Political Parties. With such contributions, the Communist Party of Vietnam was elected to the Advisory Body of the ICS, the Work Group of IMCWP, and the standing committee of ICAPP; and was nominated many times to host important events at political parties’ forums. In April 2013, the Communist Party of Vietnam for the first time hosted the conference of the ICAPP’s standing committee. Together with bilateral relations, political parties’ multilateral activities have created the conditions for the Communist Party of Vietnam to be directly involved in addressing regional and global issues, contributing to the international communist and workers’ movements and the global struggle for peace, national independence, democracy and social progress while improving its international role and prestige.
After nearly 3 years of implementing the resolution of the 11th National Party Congress, the external relations of the Communist Party of Vietnam have been strengthened and expanded, particularly with communist parties and ruling parties in other socialist countries and neighboring countries as well as political and ruling parties in the region and important partner countries. This has laid a firm political foundation to foster state-to-state and people-to-people relations, boost national construction and defense, and raise the international status of the Vietnamese Party and State while contributing to international communist and workers’ movements for peace, national independence, democracy, and social progress in the world.
Directions, tasks of party external affairs in the coming years
The world situation in the coming years will continue to see complicated and unpredictable developments. Peace and cooperation will continue to be a major trend but competition among countries to control and approach natural resources and competition in trade, finance-currency, information-technology, information and in the military sphere will be fiercer. The Asia-Pacific region will continue to be a dynamic region and the center of strategic competition among world powers with increased connectivity and maritime disputes, which will bring both opportunities and challenges.
The current context will require closer cooperation among political parties so it will be important to increase the position and role of party external affairs in the new situation in accordance to Conclusion 73 of the Politburo of the 11th Party Central Committee. It is essential to deepen relations with communist, workers’ and leftist parties around the world. It is also of great importance to reinforce relations with ruling parties, political parties that play an important role in formulating and implementing other countries’ policies with Vietnam, opposition parties but have a political future; effectively take part in the multilateral forums of political parties; deepen the Communist Party of Vietnam’s external relations; observe, research and predict the situations of political parties in other countries and party relations in international relations.
Amid major developments in the world, party external affairs and their management at all levels need to be improved in order to serve national interests, safeguard national independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, maintain a peaceful environment, and make the most of international political support for national construction and defense and the raising of Vietnam’s global status. At the same time, this will help to unite and reform international communist and workers’ movements, contributing to the global struggle for peace, national independence, democracy, and social progress.
The most important issue now is to increase the effectiveness and practicality of external affairs, particularly delegation exchanges; accelerate the implementation of cooperative programs with foreign parties and partners; finalize coordination mechanisms to ensure close cooperation in guiding and supervising the implementation of external affairs at all levels; pay attention to selecting and training external relations officers with political will, enthusiasm and the best qualifications.
The three pillars of Vietnam’s diplomacy are party diplomacy, state diplomacy and people-to-people diplomacy, which have been coordinated effectively to enhance the aggregated strength of the political system on the diplomatic front. It is, therefore, of paramount importance to research, forecast, propose foreign policies, and formulate periodical agendas and specific plans to implement external affairs. It is also important to reform and fine-tune the functions and operational mechanisms of central steering committees for external relations to respond rapidly to regional and global fluctuations and to effectively implement regulations on the unified management of external affairs issued by the Party Politburo with periodical reviews; and fine-tune cooperative mechanisms among central agencies in the management of external affairs./.
(1) One year after the Singapore visit by General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Nguyen Phu Trong, Vietnam and Singapore established a strategic partnership during a visit to Vietnam by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong
(2) The Communist Party of Vietnam and SPD have carried out 3 annual political dialogues: the first dialogue was in Hanoi, (November, 2011) on the theme of sustainable development; the second was in Berlin (September, 2012) on the theme of human resource development; the third was in Hanoi (May 2013) on the theme of challenges and solutions to sustainable political and social policy for the people of Vietnam and Germany