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Being proactive and active in international integration, ensuring national defense, security and rapid and sustainable development in Vietnam
1/2/2018 8:58' Send Print
President Tran Dai Quang exchanges views with heads of delegations to the 25th APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting. Photo: VNA

In current world situation, globalization with unprecedented impact of the science and technology revolution has drawn all countries in the process of international integration which has become an objective imperative. Integration to develop, and to develop it is necessary we must integrate. However, the process of international integration always contains opportunities and challenges. International integration in a fiercely competitive, political and economic environment dominated by big powers and complicated and unpredictable developments in the world requires firm defense of independence, self-reliance, and protection of national sovereignty and territorial integrity. Thus, international integration is both an objective requirement of the times, and the need for existence of each country. Every country and every class in power has pursued different objectives and interests, even contradictory ones. Therefore, the stronger and deeper the international integration is, the more complex the cooperation and competition become.

The Communist Party of Vietnam has always paid great attention to analyzing international context, closely following development of mankind, taking advantage of national strength and power of the times, leading the country through difficulties and challenges, achieving sustainable development while ensuring security, national defense, and maintaining national independence, self-reliance and socialist orientation. In order to do so, it is necessary to identify the two-fold impacts of international integration and to set out appropriate orientations and policies.

International integration and its impacts on ensuring national defense, security and rapid and sustainable development

International integration is a process when countries engage in international cooperation and linkage in economic and other fields, facilitating the effective combination of domestic and international resources, expanding space and environment for development, and holding appropriate positions in international relations. The process of international integration takes place at different levels and in different ways. Integration is found at many levels, from low to high, from bilateral to multilateral; integration is carried at the same time in many areas with multiple levels. It can be said that the world is in the peak of international integration at increasing speed and fields, leading to growing interdependence. Therefore, international integration is a complex process that contains many advantages and disadvantages. Considering the two most important areas in the objectives of international integration of countries, including Vietnam, which are ensuring security and national defense and rapid and sustainable, it is possible to see the two-way impacts of international integration

Impact on ensuring security and national defense

Proactive, active, deep and effective international integration is the best way to transform external into internal force, international into national strength, thereby enhancing and facilitating national security and defense and maintaining national independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity. This is reflected in several aspects:

First, proactive and active international integration creates opportunities, and a peaceful and stable environment for national development, and on that basis, ensuring security and defense. Extensive international integration will open up a coordinated and unified mechanism between countries and regions to limit and reverse the threat of terrorism, ethnic conflict, and separatism.

Second, international integration helps to leverage and mobilize external resources beside domestic resources. These are technical conditions, equipment for national defense and security, and valuable international experiences.

Third, through international integration, it is possible to see the common benefits in relations with other countries to promote cooperation as well as different benefits in partnership to adopt relevant policies.

Fourth, international integration will help establish beneficial relations for the country to participate in common institutions and achieve balance of interests, and balance with big powers. It helps rally peace-loving force in the world to prevent schemes and acts of infringement upon the sovereignty of the country.

International integration, however, has also caused unfavorable effects on national defense and security. The world has witnessed the interdependence of countries that can be transformed into dependence to a specific partner. Poor and underdeveloped countries is prone to dependence on the outside world when realizing international integration. Integration can easily lead to cultural manipulation, erosion of national cultural identity, loss of spiritual support for defense and security, and increase of threats to security, political situation, law and order. Attention should also be paid to compromises of interests between the big countries, which negatively affect security and defense of other countries.

Impacts on rapid, sustainable development

International integration creates favorable conditions for Vietnam to attract resources to develop, strengthen synergy, and develop the country rapidly and sustainably. It is demonstrated in the following aspects:

First, international integration helps Vietnam engage deeper in international economic institutions, such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), the World Bank (WB) , the Monetary Fund (IMF), and the Asia Development Bank (ADB). The participation in these financial and economic institutions creates conditions for Vietnam to share experiences, ways and strategies for development, contributing to risk reduction.

Second, international integration helps attract investment capital, techniques, advanced technologies, especially governance, and adjust the role of the State in line with the market mechanism. The State shall concentrate on macro management and execution, facilitate development and promote democracy in the social life. The mobilization and allocation of resources are associated with strategies, planning, socio-economic development plans, contributing to administrative reform. Through international integration, capacity and experience in managing the market economy are improved and more effective. Hence, the State sets out development orientation, feasible measures to "take steps ahead," and accelerate socio-economic development.

Third, international integration creates a driving force for managers, entrepreneurs and businessmen to enhance their competitiveness through strengthening administration, technological innovation and ways of doing business. The implementation of integration commitments helps enterprises reduce input costs, simplify processes and procedures, access to capital, technology and business and management methods to increase competitiveness.

Apart from positive impacts, international integration also causes negative impacts on rapid and sustainable development. Weak economies are vulnerable and more likely to depend on outside. In an environment of deep integration, unfavorable economic changes in the world and the region will negatively impact the domestic economy. The opening up of the market in the context of weak competitiveness will run the risk of being taken over, thus many businesses loose right on their ground. Even when attracting foreign direct investment, if careful consideration and control are not paid attention to, it is likely to receive backward technologies that pollute the environment and directly affect the rapid and sustainable development.

Viewpoint of the Communist Party of Vietnam on international integration

At the 6th Party Congress, which started the country's renovation, the Communist Party of Vietnam maintained that the scientific and technological revolution increasingly developed and played an growingly important role in the socio-economic life. At the same time, the Congress put forth the line of economic and scientific-technical cooperation with other countries. At the 7th Congress, the Party set the direction of diversifying relations with other countries and economic organizations. During the 8th Congress, the term "integration" was initially mentioned in the Party's documents: "Building an open economy, integrating into the region and the world." The document of the 9th National Party Congress emphasized: "To proactively integrate into the international and regional economy in the spirit of maximizing internal strength, enhancing the efficiency of international cooperation, ensuring independence, self-reliance and socialist orientation." At the 10th Congress, the Party pointed to the line "proactively and actively integrate into the international economy while expanding cooperation in other fields." The 11th Congress emphasized the "proactive and active international integration (not only economic integration), enhancement of international integration efficiency, contribution to building an independent, rapidly developing and sustainable economy." The 12th Congress of the Party continued to affirm: "Strongly implement the strategy of proactive and active international integration. Ensure that international integration is the cause of the entire people and political system; accelerate integration on the basis of maximizing internal strength, closely link and promote synergy and competitiveness of the country; economic integration is central, integration in other fields must facilitate economic integration; integration is the process of cooperation, struggle, proactive prediction, flexible handling of all situations, and avoid falling into passive, confrontation and, disadvantage position." (1)

In addition to defining the guidelines for international integration as reflected in the documents of the Party congresses, the 10th Party Central Committee issued Resolution No. 08-NQ/TW on 5 February 2007 "On a number of lines and policies for rapid and sustainable economy development when Vietnam is a member of the World Trade Organization." Later, the 11th Politburo issued Resolution No. 22-NQ/TW on 4 April 2013 "On International Integration." After the 12th Congress, the Fourth Plenum of the Party Central Committee, 12 Tenure issued the Resolution "Effectively implementing international integration, maintaining political and social stability in the context of Vietnam’s joining the new generation free trade agreements."

Thus, international integration is a consistent line, the big strategic orientation of the Communist Party of Vietnam to carry out the task of building and defending the socialist Vietnam. Resolution No. 22-NQ/TW of the 11th Politburo stated that "International integration must aim at strengthening the peaceful environment, maximizing favorable international conditions for rapid and sustainable development of the country, improving people's life; maintaining national independence, sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity and firmly defending the Fatherland of the socialist Vietnam, enhancing the image of Vietnam, preserving and promoting national identity, strengthening national synergy, raising the country's prestige and position, contributing actively to the cause of peace, national independence, democracy and social progress in the world." The consistent viewpoint of the Party is: proactively and actively carry out international integration on the basis of firmly defending national independence, self-reliance, national interests, for peace, cooperation and development, and realizing open foreign policy, multilateralism, diversification of international relations. International integration is the cause of the entire people and of the whole political system under the leadership of the Party and the management of the State. International integration on the basis of maximizing internal resources, taking advantage of external forces, actively contributing to economic development, and consolidation of national defense and security. International integration aims to implement the country's rapid and sustainable development goals and ensure national defense and security; boost the dialectical relations between ensuring defense and security with rapid and sustainable development. At the same time, when the country develops rapidly and sustainably, national defense and security are guaranteed, international integration will be deepened with higher effectiveness.

Initial results and experience

On integration and defense and security

In concretizing and implementing the Party's guiding principles for international integration in service of national defense and security, over the past years, Vietnam has made fundamental shift from expanding relations with other countries to deepening and stabilizing relations. Vietnam has continued to deepen bilateral relations, especially with neighboring, regional countries, big powers, traditional friendly countries and potential partners. In cooperation with countries, much attention is given to national defense and security, such as military-security professional and skill training; coordination in prevention and combat of transnational crimes and drug, and defense of traditional and non-traditional security. In addition to participating in most regional security forums, Vietnam has been expanding its military cooperation activities, such as exchanging high-level military delegations, receiving naval ships from other countries on goodwill visits, conducting joint patrols with the navy forces of some other countries. To date, Vietnam has had defense and security relations with 80 countries, including all members of the United Nations Security Council. Defense and security relations through international integration do not only enhance Vietnam's political stance in the international arena, but also increase military potential and strength, ensuring national defense and security and helping to maintain a peaceful environment in the region and the world.

International integration for rapid and sustainable development

Implementing the Party’s viewpoints, and building on the international action plan for the 21st century, on 17 August 2004, the Prime Minister of Vietnam issued the "Strategic Orientation for Sustainable Development of Vietnam" (Agenda 21 of Vietnam). The rapid and sustainable development orientation in Vietnam highlights issues in the three economic, social and environmental aspects that Vietnam have to face. The strategic orientation sets out viewpoints, lines, policies, legal basis and tasks. It is clearly states that the orientation for sustainable development in Vietnam does not replace the existing strategies, master plans and development plans, but aims to serve as theoretical and practical basis to materialize long-term socio-economic development strategies of Vietnam. Economic, cultural and environmental development indicators have been set out to help sectors and localities in making plans in order to achieve harmony between economic development and social justice, environmental protection, and stability.

Concerning the specific tasks to develop rapidly and sustainably, the 12th Party Congress clearly stated: "Achieve rapid and sustainable economic development; economic growth is higher than the previous 5 years on the basis of maintaining macroeconomic stability, reforming the growth model, restructuring the economy; accelerate industrialization and modernization, attach importance to industrialization and modernization of agriculture and rural areas in association with the construction of new rural areas; develop knowledge economy, raise the scientific and technological level of branches and domains; raise productivity, quality, efficiency and competitiveness of the economy; build an independent, self-reliant economy to effectively join the global production network and value chain." (2)

In fact, international integration has helped boost Vietnam's rapid and sustainable development which can be seen in some aspects:

First, international integration, participation in international division and cooperation help Vietnam’s economy join the global production network and value chain, identify their position, on that basis, find solutions to accelerate industrialization, go straight into modernization, thereby reducing development gap with other countries.

Second, international integration helps attract capital and technology from outside to increase overall resources, contributing considerably to GDP growth. Up to now, the country boasts 23,594 FDI projects with a total registered capital of US$306.3 billion.

Third full international and regional economic integration helps Vietnam share management experiences, development investment strategies, risk mitigation, and removal of difficulties due to external negative impacts, such as economic crisis, and protection tendency.

Fourth, international integration creates conditions for Vietnamese enterprises to invest abroad in order to increase their competitiveness, raise the managerial level and transfer science and technology.

Fifth, international integration creates favorable conditions for the export of labor so that laborers can learn the working style and methods of production organization. This does not only help create jobs, minimize unemployment but also turn out high-quality human resources as well as increase laborers’ incomes and revenue for the state budget.

Sixth, international integration in culture, education, science and technology helps Vietnam absorb the quintessence of human culture, bring about positive changes in education, health and social management, natural disaster prevention, response to climate change, and environmental protection. All these directly or indirectly contribute to promote rapid and sustainable socio-economic development.

Initial lessons learnt

Initial lessons learnt can be identified from the implementation of the Party's strategic lines on proactive and active international integration.

First, when implementing international integration, careful consideration must be given to the long-term impacts and consequences of globalization on the socio-economic development. It is necessary to link rapid and sustainable development strategies and concrete steps in the country with the rapid changes of the world economy to harmonize commitments and agreements in the framework of bilateral, sub-regional, inter-regional and global cooperation and avoid contradictions.

Second, in order to avert social disturbances, it is necessary to always ensure a proper balance between national renewal with proactive international integration; between proactive and active international integration with maintenance of independence and self-reliance; between interests and obligations of the country in integrating institutions; between the objectives of national socio-economic development and the requirements of the outside; and between issues in economy and trade with those of other sectors. There is a need to timely adapt, respond flexibly, create and enhance comparative advantages of the country in integration; firmly build an independent, self-reliant economy and protect the domestic market and environment.

Third, the common awareness and actions taken by the entire Party, people, and army help cadres and people enhance their resistance to adverse effects in the process of integration. Careful consideration in each specific field as well as the scope and level of integration must be made in line with the conditions in the country. We should embark on integration while pursuing national development orientation, protecting national interests, and security, and preserving national traditional values. We must identify integration as a process that brings about opportunities and challenges, both cooperation and struggle.

Fourth, international integration in the process of globalization is the objective basis of a correct and timely foreign policy that will promote integration in both width and depth. However, integration is not an objective, but an effective means to efficiently combine domestic and foreign resources, expand space and development environment, and increase the stature and strength of the country in the international arena.


(1) Document of the 12th National Party Congress, Office of the Party Central Committee, Hanoi, 2016, pp. 154, 155

(2) Ibid. p.77

This article was published on the Communist Review, No. 902 (December 2017)

Prof. Vu Van Hien. PhDVice Chairman of the Central Theoretical Council