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Diplomacy of Vietnam: proactively, creatively, effectively and successfully implement the Resolution of the 12th Party Congress
9/11/2018 14:43' Send Print
Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Binh Minh delivers the closing speech at the 30th Diplomatic Conference. Photo: VNA

In that flow of history, the organization of the 30 Diplomatic Conferences (from 1957 to now) has become a fine tradition. The events which highly promote wisdom of the entire sector aim at a single goal, that is to promote and ensure national interests. The Diplomatic Conference is a very important political activity of the entire diplomatic sector to fully grasp and successfully implement the Party’s foreign lines.

The 30th Diplomatic Conference takes place from 13-17 August at a critical time, when the entire Party, people and army are making mid-term review of the implementation of the tasks set by the 12th National Party Congress. Vietnam is entering an important stage, which is accelerating comprehensively and synchronously the renewal process, bringing into play all resources for rapid and sustainable national development. Therefore, the diplomatic sector must concentrate and maximize all capabilities to best serve national interests, focusing on effective implementation of the Resolution of the 12th Party Congress, the Socio-Economic Development Strategy 2011-2020, consolidation and facilitation national development.

A world of full of changes

In the last 20 years, besides advantages rapid, complicated and unpredictable changes took place in the international and regional situation, resulting in challenges to the country’s strategic environment, directly affecting security and development of Vietnam.

Ten years after the 2008-2009 global financial-economic crisis, the world economy has recovered and entered a new development cycle. Global economic growth in 2017 reached 3.6% and will possibly increase in 2018; global trade rises to 4.6%, the highest since 2011. However, financial risks, protectionism and trade war “ghost” have a negative impact on the development of the world and Vietnam’s economy.

The fourth industrial revolution and science and technology have become direct production forces, playing an important role in knowledge economy with many new forms such as shared, digital, and circular economies. This is a chance for Vietnam to make a breakthrough and shorten development gap. On the other hand, technological development trends and new economic forms pose unprecedented challenges. Failing to catch up with new developments, Vietnam will run the risk of lagging behind.

There are changes in the world political-security situation. Policy adjustment of countries, increasing populism, and pragmatism have resulted in increasingly precarious regional security. Interest differences between members of G7, G20, the European Union (EU) and the role of multilateral mechanisms have been affected. The situation in the Asia-Pacific region and the Korean peninsula have become better after tensions, but faced potential uncertainties. Complicated developments in the East Sea, particularly massive works and militarization of islands have threatened peace, security and stability in the region, as well as the legitimate rights and interests of many countries including Vietnam.

Consolidation and creation of a peaceful environment for development

Adhering to the foreign policy of the 12th Party Congress, the diplomatic sector has been persistent in principle, consistent in goal, proactively and flexibly in implementing tasks and have made important achievements, contributed to protecting national sovereignty, maintaining a peaceful and stable environment for development, international integration and enhancement of the country’s position.

In the context of a volatile international situation, special attention has been paid to policy advisory and the realization the 12th Party Congress’ guidelines. Over the past two years, the diplomatic sector has submitted to the Party Central Committee, the Politburo, the Party Secretariat and the Government a number of major projects on foreign affairs, including the one on effective economic integration and upscaling of multilateral foreign relations. These are important guidelines to ensure the synchronous implementation of the Resolution of the 12th Party Congress.

Viet Nam has proactively promoted and deepened relations with neighboring countries, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), big countries, strategic and comprehensive partners, and traditional friends. High-level diplomatic activities play a pivotal role, focusing on building and consolidating trust, deepening and creating a breakthrough in relations with other countries. To date, Vietnam has established diplomatic relations with 188 countries, a network of 27 strategic partners and comprehensive partners, including five full member countries of the UN Security Council. This extensive relationship has not only contributed to enhancing the position of Vietnam, but also served as an important basis for national defense and development.

Building upon this reliable political foundation, the diplomatic sector has fulfilled its role to connect, and promote international economic integration, expand market, increase intertwined interests and development. Viet Nam has developed free trade frameworks with 60 countries which account for 59% of the world population, 61% of the world GDP and 68% of the world trade, approved 16 Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), including new generation FTAs such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), and the Vietnam-EU Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA). At the local level, from 2016, with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, localities have actively implemented international integration, signing 420 international agreements in all fields, bringing into play the strength of each region, domain, and each production line. These are the important premise to create new impetus for the country to enter a new stage of more sustainable growth.

Vietnam has taken advantage of multilateral mechanisms to protect the country’s rights and interests as well as address common challenges of the international community. Multilateral external relations have shifted from "active participation" to "proactive contribution, shaping multilateral institutions." As the host country of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in 2017, prompted by the interests of the people and businesses, we chose the theme and priorities suitable to common concern, solving differences, and helping reach a common consensus, thereby contributing positively to orienting new development in the region with the "APEC Vision 2020." Amid rigorous emergence of populism and protectionism, APEC 2017 did not only maintain momentum but also promoted linkage, connectivity and free trade in the region. Also in the APEC High-Level Week, ministries, agencies, localities and enterprises of Vietnam signed 121 cooperation agreements worth more than US$20 billion with partners. The success of APEC 2017 shows that, though not a big country, Vietnam is in a prestigious position to think big and take big action, especially when it comes to safeguarding national interests.

In addition, Vietnam has proved to be a "responsible member" in ASEAN, the United Nations, the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), the Human Rights Council, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and Mekong sub-regional mechanisms, among others.

Defending sovereignty and territorial integrity has always been a primary and cross-cutting task of the diplomatic service. In the past years, the diplomatic sector has worked closely with ministries, sectors and localities and other countries to strive to build a peaceful, friendly and stable border for cooperation.

On the East Sea issues, although there are still many complicated developments with potential unpredictable threats of international concern, Vietnam has resolutely persisted in and implemented many measures to effectively deal with violations, safeguard sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the sea, continental shelf and islands in accordance with international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. Vietnam, together with ASEAN and China, is accelerating negotiations for an effective, binding and substantial Code of Conduct for Parties in the East Sea (COC). At the same time, Vietnam has also actively expanded its maritime cooperation with other countries inside and outside the region, exchanged and negotiated to narrow differences, and strengthened trust building.

Protecting the interests of Vietnamese citizens, and overseas Vietnamese is always an extremely important task in foreign affairs. Since 2016, the sector has provided protection of more than 16,000 Vietnamese abroad and more than Vietnamese 5,000 fishermen. Guidelines and policies on assisting overseas Vietnamese have been implemented synchronously, contributing to consolidating the great national unity bloc, mobilizing more resources from 4.5 million overseas Vietnamese for the country.

Vietnam has attached importance to preserving and promoting national cultural identity in the process of comprehensive international integration, raising its posture and increasing its "soft power." Cultural diplomacy has been effectively rolled out with the key project "Honoring President Ho Chi Minh, a National Liberation Hero, an Outstanding Man of Culture in foreign countries." Since 2016, another eight heritage have been listed by UNESCO, raising the total number of listed heritage to 38 which contribute to promoting Vietnam’s profile, attracting tourism, strengthening the foundation for sustainable development of many localities. External information has popularized guidelines and policies of the Party, and State and development achievements of the country.

Toward a modern, proactive, creative and effective diplomacy

The above-mentioned achievements have positively contributed to building and defending the country and are also important conditions for Vietnam to enter a new and key phase of development. It must be noted, however, that we have not yet taken full advantage of opportunities to contribute more effectively to national construction and defense. International integration and the development of science and technology have brought about opportunities for us to make breakthroughs, as well as challenges to be resolved.

This situation requires the diplomatic sector in particular to continue exerting efforts, thinking proactively and creatively, modernizing way of doing things, focusing on effectiveness to successfully realizing Party’s lines and resolutions. Therefore, the 30th Diplomatic Conference on "Diplomacy of Viet Nam: proactive, creative, effective implementation of the Resolution of the 12th Party Congress" will focus on the following key tasks:

First, continue to study and review the implementation of the 12th Party Congress’ Resolution on foreign affairs in the past time and put forth measures, closely coordinate with levels, sectors and forces working on external relations to promote synergy for successful implementation of the 12th Party Congress’ Resolution.

Second, forecast and assess the world and regional situation in the next 3-5 years with a 10-15 year vision to identify correctly in time opportunities and challenges facing the country; step by step study new strategic contents on foreign affairs in anticipation of the 13th Party Congress on par with the country’s stature, posture and strength.

Third, continue to discuss overall measures and ways of implementation in order to deepen international integration, especially to enhance multilateral diplomatic activities in the coming time in addition to strengthening relations with other countries, and consolidate the peaceful and stable environment for national development.

Fourth, complete the organizational apparatus and build a modern and efficient contingent of cadres for the diplomatic sector on par with the tasks in the spirit of the 6th and 7th Plenums of the Party Central Committee.

To fulfill the tasks entrusted by the Party, State and people, the 30th Diplomatic Conference will demonstrate proactiveness, creativeness and effectiveness in order to better contribute to the cause of national construction and defense.


This article was published in the Communist Review No. 911 (September 2018)

Pham Binh MinhMember of Politburo, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs