Promoting external relation achievements made in 25 years of comprehensive renovation, foreign affairs service has recorded numerous results in the past. Photo: vovworld.vn
The 11th Party Congress marked an important shift in foreign policy thinking. We advocate “synchronous, comprehensive, and effective external activities” in all bilateral and multilateral channels, building upon the close coordination between Party external relations, State diplomacy, parliamentary foreign affairs and people-to-people diplomacy. The 11th Party Congress set out the line of “proactive, and active international integration” which is concretized by Resolution No. 22-NQ/TW on 10 April 2013 of the Politburo on international integration. The resolution advocates for proactive and active participation in multilateral institutions, contribution to building equal and democratic political and economic order, prevention of wars, conflicts, consolidation of peace, and promotion of cooperation for mutual benefit.
Over the past five years (2011-2015), we have implemented Resolutions of the 11th Party Congress amid volatile, complex and unpredictable developments in the region and the world. The world economy has recovered slower than expected; a number of large partners have been facing economic problems; prices of some commodities, especially oil prices have dropped. Competition and rally of forces among powers have followed rapid and complicated patterns. Global issues such as climate change, international terrorism and epidemics tend to be more serious. A number of regional issues, especially territorial, sea, and island disputes have become more tense than the previous period.
Persistent in external relation target “in the interests of the country and nation for a strong and prosperous socialist Viet Nam,”(1) building upon the gradually-heightening position and strength of the country, promoting achievements in foreign relations gained over the past 25 years of comprehensive renovation, over the past 5 years, we have made numberous achievements in foreign affairs service. Most prominent are:
First, we have maintained an environment of peace, stability favourable for development, and substantially and effectively deepened external relations.
Peace and stability are prerequisites for sustainable development of the country. To guarantee such conditions, it is important to constantly consolidate friendly cooperation and deepen external relations, strengthen cross-cutting interests, promote similarities, and minimize differences in relations with each partner. Besides strengthening and developing ties with Laos, traditional friendly relations and comprehensive cooperation with Cambodia, relationships, solidarity, friendship and cooperation with socialist countries and traditional friends, we have completed the construction of the framework of partnership with almost all most influential countries in the region and the world. During the tenure of the 11th Party Congress, we have established strategic partnerships with 8 (2) out of 15 countries over the past 15 years (3), upgraded to comprehensive or extensive strategic partnership with 2 countries (4), established comprehensive partnership with 3 countries (5) out of 10 comprehensive partnership countries (6), including 5 Permanent members of the UN Security Councils. Building on the foundation of equality in relationship, respect for international law, political regime, independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity, we have promoted mutually beneficial cooperation. Those frameworks have helped stabilize relations with our partners, especially the leading partners, such as China, the US, Russia, Japan, the European Union (EU) and countries in the ASEAN Community while bringing about increasing economic, trade, investment, political, defense, security, cultural benefits. Amid complicated developments in the world, and difficulties in global and national economy, we have enlisted a network of partners to serve practical goals for maintaining peace, stability, economic restructuring, expansion of export markets, and attraction of foreign investment. The relationships with leading partners have been strengthened not only through the State and Government channels, but also through Party and National Assembly channels with many high-level activities of political importance and substantive and effective cooperation. This is a vivid manifestation of the consistent foreign policy of independence, self-reliance, diversification, multilateralization, with focus to achieve deepened, stable and sustainable partnership.
Second, foreign affairs service has contributed actively to the implementation of the objectives of socio-economic development.
Over the past five years, we have been more proactive and active in negotiations and signing of Free Trade Agreement (FTA), and deepened comprehensive integration into the economy in the region and the world. The period of 2013-2015 was the peak of Viet Nam’s negotiations and conclusion of FTAs. We have completed three bilateral FTAs with key partners, including the FTA with South Korea (May 2015), the FTA with Eurasian Economic Union (May 2015) and the FTA with the EU (December 2015). Up to now, Viet Nam has signed and joined 11 regional and bilateral FTAs of which 6 FTAs are within the framework of ASEAN cooperation. In particular, in the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), Viet Nam has actively taken priority measures to implement the Blueprint for the AEC. Viet Nam is considered as one of the member states with the highest rate of implementation of measures in the AEC roadmap. In October 2015, Viet Nam and other member countries concluded negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP). We have also continued to negotiate on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) to reach a comprehensive economic agreement appropriate to Viet Nam and ASEAN’s conditions. At the global level, at the Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in December 2013, Viet Nam together with other WTO member countries adopted the Bali package, making a breakthrough to the prolonged deadlock in the negotiations within the WTO framework.
As of mid-2015, we have established economic and trade relations with more than 220 countries and territories, attracting over US$ 250 billion of foreign direct investment (FDI). In 5 years, we lobbied 36 more new partners, bringing the total number of partners which officially recognize Viet Nam’s market economy to 59. The external economic activities have made positive contribution to the expansion and diversification of export markets, enhancing investment and official development assistance (ODA), and attracting tourists, combating commercial frauds, and imposed trade barriers detrimental to legitimate interests of Vietnamese enterprises and the State.
Third, foreign affairs service have contributed significantly to maintaining territorial, sea, and islands sovereignty, and protecting national security.
Over the past five years, progress has been made in work on borders with China, Laos, and Cambodia. With China, the two sides signed the Agreement on free travel of ships at the mouth of the Bac Luan River and the Agreement on cooperation in exploitation and protection of tourism resources in Ban Gioc waterfall area. We took initiative and actively maintained negotiations on waters off the Bac Bo Gulf, cooperation in less sensitive areas and discussion on cooperation for development. The two sides reached the Agreement on basic principles guiding the settlement of maritime issues. On 19 December 2015, the two sides launched joint survey in some agreed areas outside the Bac Bo Gulf, preparing to deploy a number of less sensitive projects in the sea to achieve delineation and cooperation for development in these waters. With Laos, the two sides completed increasing the number of border markers and achieved many agreements the borderline of peace and friendship. With Cambodia, both sides have cooperated to maintain security and order, resolved problems arising in the border areas, and continued demarcation and planting of markers on land (currently over 80%).
In face of the complex developments in the East Sea, foreign relation activities have been implemented in line the Party and State’s policies and guidance, flexibly and radically using political-diplomatic measures, dialogue channels, contacts at bilateral and multilateral, regional and international the levels, resolutely defending its sovereignty, territorial integrity, and actively seizing every opportunity to reduce tensions, restore confidence and promote friendly cooperation and dialogues to seek a fundamental and long-term solution to the East Sea issue. We have enlisted international public opinion supporting Viet Nam’s just stance, rejecting ridiculous claims, protesting against unilateral actions to change the status quo and violations of the international law of China, struggling to maintain peace, stability, security, safety and freedom of navigation and overflight in the East Sea and the region. In recent years, the East Sea has been the subject of concern which has been raised in many statements, documents of many organizations and multilateral forums, such as ASEAN, East Asia Summit (EAS), the 7 industrialized countries (G7), and the EU.
Fighting against forces which exploit the issues of democracy, human rights and religion to interfere in the internal affairs of the country, we have used various measures, resolutely defended the Party, the just cause, and values of Viet Nam. For 5 years, we have taken initiative to organize dialogues with other countries and international organizations on these issues. We have also provided information to the international community about the process of developing and implementation of the Party's lines and the State’s legislation in these fields. Foreign affairs activities have been closely coordinated with law enforcement to repel and neutralize the plots and actions against the Party and the State in democracy, human rights and religion. Cooperation with foreign countries and international organizations to share information, and enhance law-making capacity building and enforcement has been stepped up, hence partners have had better understanding of changes in policies and policy implementation in Viet Nam.
Fourth, Viet Nam’s position in the international arena has been enhanced through elevation of multilateral external relations from “active participation” to “proactively contribute to building and shaping the general rules of the game,” protecting and effective promoting strategic interests on security and development of Viet Nam, while reflecting the spirit of a “responsible member of the international community.”
Viet Nam has contributed many important initiatives at influential multilateral forums, such as the UN, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (APEC), the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), the Mekong sub-regional cooperation. The position of the country has been improved significantly given its successful hosting of the 132th General Assembly of Inter-parliamentary Union (IPU), contributions to building the 2013 Agenda on sustainable development of the United Nations, its election to the UN Council of Human Rights with a high number of votes for the 2014-2016 tenure, to the UN Socio-Economic Committee for the 2016-2018 tenure, to the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO for the 2013-2017 tenure, and its participation in the UN peacekeeping force (PKO) for the first time.
Achievements in foreign affairs have been conducive to the Party’s correct lines, and the close guidance of the Party and State leaders. These important achievement come as the result of national unity strength, efforts and creativity of the contingent of cadres realizing external relation work of the Party, State, National Assembly and people-to-people diplomacy, the close coordination of ministries, branches and localities, the creative and effective application of major lessons which are of epochal values in modern Viet Nam. They are combination of national strength with that of the time, consistency in principle, flexibility in strategy with the motto “unchanged principle, flexible actions.”
The 12th Party Congress adopted orientations and major tasks for foreign affairs in the next 5 years. They are to maintain and consolidate security and external economic environment deepen international integration, and strengthen the position of Viet Nam in the region and the world. These are important tasks for the entire Party and people. The completion of these tasks can face more difficulties and challenges when the situation in the region and the world are developing complicatedly and rapidly. With the position and strength of the country after 30 years of renovation, with steadfast determination to serve national interests, given the nation’s spirit of friendliness, consensus and unanimity within the Party, people and army, and attention to foster the foreign affairs cadres, Viet Nam’s external relations will increasingly develop and adapt quickly to the changes of the situation, continue to play its role as the forefronts in maintaining peaceful environment favorable for development and firm protection of the Socialist Viet Nam.
(1) Documents of the 12th National Party Congress, the National Political Publishing House. National-The Truth, Ha Noi, 2011, p. 236
(2) Including Germany, Italy, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, France, Malaysia, and the Philippines
(3) 15 countries have established strategic partnership with Viet Nam: Russia, India, China, Japan, South Korea, Spain, UK, Germany, Italy, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, France, Malaysia, and the Philippines
(4) Comprehensive Strategic Partnership with Russia, Extensive Strategic Partnership with Japan
(5) Ukraine, the US and Denmark
(6) 10 countries having Comprehensive Partnership with Viet Nam: the US, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Chile, Venezuela, Argentina, Ukraine, and South Africa
This article was published in Communist Review, No. 880 (February 2016)