Tuesday, 23/5/2017
Building strategic, comprehensive partnerships - Viet Nam’s soft power
6/5/2014 21:29' Send Print
Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairsr Pham Binh Minh. Picture: dangcongsan.vn

Global search for guarantee of peace and development continues

When the Cold War ended, policy researchers and makers were quite optimistic and hopeful about stable, long-lasting world peace and that humanity’s resources would be mobilized to develop and consolidate long-lasting peace. Nevertheless, there remained huge arsenals, risks of nuclear disasters, and ethnic and religious hostilities around the world. In particular, sovereignty and territorial disputes arose in the 21st century, hindering cooperation and development. At the regional or bilateral level, Cold War issues have not been settled. During 23 years from 1990 to 2013, the number of wars, conflicts, and civil wars equaled that of 44 years ago (1945 -1989) (1).

The situation is getting more complicated as non-traditional security and development issues become more urgent; international law and multilateral mechanisms are being threatened by violent and authoritarian unilateralism and have shown signs of being abused despite international protest. Terrorism has become one of the salient risks challenging global security. Transnational and cyber crime has become more sophisticated and prevalent. Disputes over trade and resources are becoming increasingly difficult to resolve. To cope with climate change and environmental pollution requires the concerted effort of all nations.

World civilization has advanced with tangible and intangible values, the highest ever in history. Peace to protect human civilization and provide stability to boost cooperation for development has become a common goal of all nations. International relations are witnessing formidable and profound changes. The world is quickly becoming multi-polar and democratized with major and small countries having the same rights; the voice of smaller countries has been heard; major countries are building their image with greater responsibility for global peace. The trend of globalization, multilateralization of foreign relations, and international integration has been widespread. In this context, countries are accelerating flexible, useful foreign policies for the sake of national interests. Diversify foreign relations and establishing new relationship frameworks to deal with the new situation more effectively has become a trend, essential to the development process.

Strategic, comprehensive partnerships - new cooperation instrument among nations in the 21st century

Blocs involved in the Cold War were lined up as socialist, capitalist or developing non-aligned countries. When the Cold War ended, these blocs were broken up. Major and smaller countries began to seek new cooperation linkage models.

Economically, the international labor division and linkage model which was formed during the Cold War has continued to develop in the form of bilateral, regional, and inter-regional economic linkages (BTA, FTA), and the World Trade Organization (WTO) has been the highest product of global economic linkages since the Cold War.

In political and security relations, blocs of forces have seen certain changes. Relations such as alliances against common enemies have become outdated because the concept of enemies has changed, while global threats, humanity’s common enemies, have become more salient namely, the risk of lagging behind economically, climate change, poverty and hunger, food insecurity, terrorism, and nuclear risk. At global forums such as the United Nations, “blocs” have been replaced by alignments of interests - the highest common denominator.

The idea of establishing strategic and comprehensive partnerships emerged in the 1990s in relations of major countries such as the US, Russia, or China with other countries. This relationship covers all aspects of dealings between nations, including cooperation in security, peace, economics, and culture. In finding a new cooperation model since the Cold War, countries have avoided establishing a Cold War-like limitary alliance. They want a flexible and multilateral environment to achieve stability and development. During the Cold War, countries exhausted their resources in arms races and neglected their development needs. Until the end of the 20th century, this new linkage model remained just an idea because its content had not been developed.

In the early 21st century, countries accelerated the establishment of strategic and comprehensive partnerships; countries quickly applied these models to their foreign relations strategies. The position and contents of strategic and comprehensive partnerships were gradually being clarified in the system of levels of foreign relations (2). Strategic partnership is understood as a form of foreign relations in which parties acknowledge the need to increase cooperation with greater attention to each other’s strategic interests with extensive cooperation and shared interests toward strategic trust. Strategic partnerships differ from alliance relations in terms of cooperation targets as both countries focus on building close cooperative ties in all areas, including politics, economics, culture, national defense, and security. Strategic and comprehensive partnerships often adhere to a principle of not against a third country, which means the partners do not define enemy targets (define or presume) or risks to be attacked (define or presume) from which to define cooperation or alliances against that enemy (define or presume). In alliance relations, allies have a responsibility to act when one party’s interests are threatened or affected. Comprehensive partnerships are at a level lower than strategic partnerships and higher than conventional friendly cooperation. Some areas of cooperation in comprehensive partnerships reach the strategic level but the connectivity and attention to each other’s strategic interests in other areas are not high. This framework stresses broad cooperation to consolidate trust toward the future. However, in reality the definitions of these terms are somewhat variable. In some cases, a strategic partnership between two countries may be lower than a comprehensive partnership between two others. This can happen even in relations between one country and different partners.

Strategic and comprehensive partnerships are an important foundation for the establishment of many close bilateral mechanisms such as strategic dialogue on politics, security, national defense, and economics. These mechanisms are important and effective channels for sharing information, viewpoints, and measures to encourage trust while minimizing negative impacts of disagreements or differences.

Strategic and comprehensive partnerships always involve shared interests but do not avoid differences if there are any. Consequently, what matters about these relationship frameworks is how they address issues toward fostering cooperation and minimizing differences. During specific periods or on specific issues, differences sometimes overwhelm similarities, but this is not a consequence of strategic and comprehensive partnerships. That’s the challenge partners face when using trust, the need for strategic cooperation, one another’s development interests, and common interests as the basis for measures to effectively and appropriately settle differences through dialogue, understanding, and sharing in compliance with international law and related agreements.

Viet Nam’s implementation of strategic and comprehensive partnerships

Viet Nam’s diplomatic thinking about partnerships was formed very early. After the establishment of the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam, President Ho Chi Minh, a man with strategic vision, stressed the need to establish partnerships and cooperation with other countries around the world. In his appeal to the United Nations in 1946, President Ho said: “With democratic countries, Viet Nam is ready to implement the policy of openness and cooperation in all areas”(3). He also said that “Viet Nam will cooperate with countries that are willing to cooperate with Viet Nam in an honest and equal manner”(4), “Viet Nam... is a friend to all democratic countries and does not create hatred or hostility against anyone”(5). President Ho Chi Minh’s principle of peaceful dialogue has been the guideline for the foreign policy of the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam and the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam through different periods of time.

During the first years of the renewal process, based on the principle of independence and self-reliance, Viet Nam formulated a foreign policy in the spirit of “more friends, less enemies” in a bid to escape embargo and blockade and expand international relations. This spirit was stipulated in the Document of the 7th National Congress of the Communist Party of Viet Nam “Viet Nam wants to be a friend to all countries in the international community striving for peace, independence, and development”(6) and was enhanced and developed through the 8th, 9th, and 10th National Party Congresses. At the 11th National Party Congress, Viet Nam’s foreign policy was developed to a new level: a consistent foreign policy of independence, self-reliance, peace, cooperation, and development; multilateralization and diversification of foreign relations; proactive international integration; being a friend, a reliable partner and a responsible member of the international community for the sake of national interests and for a strong and prosperous Socialist Viet Nam. Viet Nam’s establishment of strategic, comprehensive partnerships has followed these firm foreign relation principles in order to boost the policy of cooperation for development and peace of the Party and State of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam.

In establishing a strategic partnership with Russia in 2001, Viet Nam became one of the first 5 countries to have established strategic partnerships (7). So far, Viet Nam has established strategic partnerships with 13 countries, strategic partnerships in certain areas with 2 countries and comprehensive partnerships with 11 countries (8). The implementation of strategic and comprehensive partnerships has followed an active and positive roadmap with a particular focus on traditional friends Russia and India, neighbors in the region (China, Japan, the Republic of Korea) and major European countries (Britain, Germany, France), and other important partners. By 2013, Viet Nam had established strategic, comprehensive partnerships with all 5 permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. Together with traditional, special relations with neighboring countries Laos, Cambodia, and other ASEAN members, these relationship frameworks have contributed significantly to Viet Nam’s multifaceted cooperation with other countries around the world.

Outcome of the implementation of strategic, comprehensive partnerships

1- Strategic contributions

By establishing strategic, comprehensive partnerships with its important partners, Viet Nam has basically established its position in the foreign policies of major, neighboring countries, laying an important foundation for the development of stable, practical and effective relations between Viet Nam and its partners in the medium and long run. The system of strategic and comprehensive partnerships guarantees international support for Viet Nam’s peaceful and responsible foreign policy, which is stipulated in strategic partnerships between Viet Nam and other countries. For example, in strategic partnerships, the 90 million Vietnamese people have high-level relationship frameworks with 3.5 billion people and market relations with 13 strategic partners with a total GDP of 33,489 billion USD (200 times higher than the GDP of Viet Nam) (10). The establishment of a network of high level relations has contributed a great deal to stabilizing Viet Nam’s security-foreign relations environment and developing partner trust.

In addition to establishing its own position in the international arena, Viet Nam has raised its status in equal relations with these partners and the international community has recognized Viet Nam, its role and influence in the region. Based on the positive results of 12 years of implementing their strategic partnership, Russia elevated its relations with Viet Nam to the level of comprehensive strategic partnership (2012) and considers Viet Nam to be an important partner in its Asia-Pacific Strategy, just after Russia’s immediate neighbors (11). Viet Nam has an important place in the foreign policies of China, India, the US, the UK, Germany, France, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Australia, as well as other countries in the Asia-Pacific region, at the United Nations and international and non-governmental organizations. Viet Nam’s role and position have been praised in Southeast Asia, Asia, and beyond.

Strategic and comprehensive partnerships have increased the trend of cooperation and political commitments at the highest level, respecting Viet Nam’s choice of political institution and contributing to the safeguarding of the Party and the socialist regime. In 2013, Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong paid historic visits to the UK, Thailand, Italy, and the Vatican. The party leader and leaders of Italy and Thailand issued joint statements on the establishment of strategic partnerships between Viet Nam and Italy and Viet Nam and Thailand. President Truong Tan Sang and the Indonesian President issued a joint statement on the establishment of a strategic partnership between the two countries. Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and French leaders established a Vietnamese-French strategic partnership. The US promised to respect Viet Nam’s “political institution” in a joint statement on the comprehensive partnership between the two countries in July, 2013.

As strategic and comprehensive partners, Viet Nam and other countries have many opportunities to strengthen cooperation, develop mutual understanding, increase areas of cooperation, and narrow differences. Newly-established relationship frameworks have increased the trend of dialogue, helping to clarify differences while reducing causes of strategic misunderstanding. At the same time, new partnership frameworks have opened a channel for Viet Nam to deal with conspiracies, fabrications, and the abuse of differences to interfere in Viet Nam’s internal affairs. Most of Viet Nam’s strategic and comprehensive partners recently voted in favor of Viet Nam’s nomination to the UN Human Rights Council.

Trust with strategic partners and reliability with comprehensive partners have been consolidated and increased. Within the new relationship frameworks, being closer to each other creates a premise for increased high-level exchanges, meetings and contacts. 2013 was a busy and effective year for Vietnamese diplomacy. Viet Nam exchanged delegations at the highest level with all 13 strategic partners and leaders of some of these countries chose Viet Nam to be their first foreign destination after they assumed power (12). Cooperation in multilateral and regional forums was boosted; dialogue mechanisms were established and consolidated (13); defense and security cooperation and dialogue were enhanced, helping to consolidate and increase political trust.

Strategic, comprehensive partnerships with other countries have created for Viet Nam a system of close partners with intertwined and connected interests at all levels in Southeast Asia, Asia and globally. Viet Nam has relations with all 5 permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. Viet Nam’s strategic, comprehensive partnerships target cooperation for peace and stability to develop, contributing to peace and prosperity in the region and the development of all nations around the world. That’s the message conveyed in Viet Nam’s peaceful foreign policy, which has been supported and acknowledged by the international community.

Strategic and comprehensive partners support and praise Viet Nam’s contributions to resolving international issues. At regional and global forums, Viet Nam’s contributions as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council (2008 - 2009) are evidence of Viet Nam’s capability in joining other members of the UN Security Council to deal with international issues for peace, stability, and development. Strategic and comprehensive partners supported Viet Nam in joining the UN Human Rights Council, encouraging their own partners to vote for Viet Nam (184/193 votes). In addition to political, security, and human rights forums, strategic and comprehensive partners have voiced their support for Viet Nam’s nominations to international organizations and special multilateral cultural forums. For the first time in 37 years as a member of UNESCO, Viet Nam has become a member of its World Heritage Committee (November 2013) (14). These strategic and comprehensive partners have also supported the recognition of world heritages in Viet Nam (15).

So, the establishment of strategic, comprehensive partnerships has been a sharp, proactive, and flexible diplomatic measure to implement the guidelines of the Party and State to deepen Viet Nam’s relations with its partners for their common interests. Cooperation in these relationship frameworks has brought about strategic results and has been an important foundation to boost cooperation and development in other areas. The establishment and implementation of strategic, comprehensive partnerships have been undertaken in the spirit of diversification and multilateralization; Viet Nam is consistent in its foreign policy of independence, self-reliance, non-alignment with one country against another, not provoking skepticism or negative reactions from other countries, and not getting caught up in issues between nations, particularly competition between major countries.

2- Contributions to development

Strategic and comprehensive partnership frameworks have created opportunities for Viet Nam and its partners to take advantage and increase cooperation for development. Viet Nam has effectively implemented strategic and comprehensive partnerships and made the most of investment sources and foreign aid to enhance its inner strength and form spearhead sectors. Trade value has increased considerably, helping to boost economic restructuring toward increasing the proportions of industry, services and high value-added products.

Direct investment by strategic and comprehensive partners including the US has been an important source of growth and sustainable development in Viet Nam. Amid global economic difficulties, reliability affects investment calculations and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) from strategic partners and the US continued growing to reach 8.35 billion USD in the first 9 months of 2013 (16), accounting for 91% of Viet Nam’s total FDI. Most of Viet Nam’s key national projects are cooperation projects with one of its strategic partners (nuclear power plant 1 with Russia, nuclear power plant 2 with Japan; the Viet Nam - Republic of Korea Institute of Science and Technology.) (17).

Oil and gas cooperation with Russia has been considered a symbol of success in bilateral cooperation in the new stage, contributing to mutual development. Vietsopetro’s annual contributions to the state budget are considerable. This joint venture has brought Russia significant revenues. Based on this positive outcome, the two countries have established additional joint ventures between Petrovietnam and Zarubeznhep, Gazprom, and Roznhep to deploy oil and gas exploitation projects in Russia and third countries, opening new propects for long-term development and international integration for Viet Nam’s oil and gas sector.

The People’s Republic of China is Viet Nam’s major friend and neighbor with a shared border, which also pursues socialism building under the leadership of the Communist Party. The People’s Republic of China and the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam are actively narrowing differences and increasing cooperation within the framework of their strategic partnership to boost development and improve the lives of both nations’ people. China has had 913 investment projects in Viet Nam with a total registered capital of approximately 4.7 billion USD. China is Viet Nam’s main infrastructure contractor (in the form of Engineering - Procurement -Construction EPC), 24% of all projects and 48% of all project value (roughly 5 billion USD). Both nations are accelerating 5 major infrastructure projects: Ha Noi - Hai Phong - Lang Son express railway, Lang Son - Ha Noi expressway; Mong Cai - Ha Long expressway, Ta Lung bridge 2, and Bac Luan bridge (18).

Official Development Assistance (ODA) from Viet Nam’s strategic and comprehensive partners plays an important role in the development of infrastructure and spearhead sectors with long-term strategic orientations. Viet Nam has been a lower-middle-income country since 2010 but its strategic and comprehensive partners have maintained and some have even increased their ODA for Viet Nam (19). Total committed ODA for Viet Nam from 1993 to 2013 was 78 billion USD, 63 billion of which was signed and 42 billion disbursed. Japan’s ODA accounted for 30% of the total ODA for Viet Nam. In 2013 alone, Japan’s committed ODA for Viet Nam was 1.4 billion USD. In addition to ODA for infrastructure development, ODA from strategic partners for other strategic sectors important to Viet Nam’s long-term development has increased. As a strategic partner in certain areas, Denmark provided Viet Nam with 33 million USD (20) for the 2012 - 2014 period in the areas of climate change response, the environment, energy, and green growth.

Viet Nam’s trade with its strategic and comprehensive partners constitutes a large part of its total trade turnover and has been increasing steadily. Viet Nam’s total trade value with its 13 strategic partners in the first 9 months of 2013 was 148 billion USD, 76.7% of Viet Nam’s import-export turnover(21). The establishment of strategic partnerships helped to increase Viet Nam’s trade value with these countries 130 to 160%(22). The US considers Viet Nam one of its 11 priority countries for trade development. Two-way trade between Viet Nam and the US in 2013 was 50 times the 451 million USD in trade in 1995 when bilateral relations were normalized.

Deepening relations with important partners creates the conditions for Viet Nam to enter negotiations on a number of significant bilateral and regional free trade agreements, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP); the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) and Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations with the EU; negotiations within the framework of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP); FTA negotiations with the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan; and negotiations with the Republic of Korea. With the 8 effective FTAs, Viet Nam has for the first time established a network of 56 FTA partners as the foundation for relations with all leading economic centers in the world. 8 of Viet Nam’s 13 strategic partners have recognized its full market economy status (23). This has created a widespread ripple effect in the effort to lobby for other countries’ recognition of Viet Nam’s market economy status.

Viet Nam and its strategic and comprehensive partners are promoting people-to-people exchanges, cultural linkages, labor cooperation, overseas remittance attraction, and the protection of the legitimate rights and interests of Vietnamese people at home and abroad. Tourists from the 13 strategic partners visiting Viet Nam in the first 11 months of 2013 totaled 4.2 million, 61% of the total number of Viet Nam’s foreign tourists. These partners have actively cooperated with Viet Nam to organize Vietnamese Culture Week/Day abroad as well as international cultural events (24) in Viet Nam. Some strategic partners, such as (Japan and the Republic of Korea) have received additional Vietnamese workers (25) and issued regulations and policies to help Vietnamese people integrate into the local community. Viet Nam has cooperated with its partners in Europe, particularly Russia, Germany, and the UK, to establish and consolidate the legal status of Vietnamese people there. This has strengthened the bonds between overseas Vietnamese and the homeland, resulting in increasing annual remittances (26).

It’s obvious that the results of strategic cooperation in politics-diplomacy have spread to other areas, particularly economics, trade, and investment. The network of 13 strategic partners, 2 strategic partners in certain areas, and 11 comprehensive partners and the network of 56 FTA partners are an important foundation for Viet Nam and other countries to bolster development cooperation for mutual benefit. Businesses now have more opportunities to expand their markets, make the most of capital sources, improve their competitiveness, and increase their efficiency. This is a driving force and an important orientation for Viet Nam to restructure its economy and enhance its competitive advantages.

Working out measures to achieve long-term stability, settle sovereignty disputes, and protect territorial integrity. Sovereignty and territorial borders have been an issue in relations between neighbors. It is a difficult issue for the parties concerned to resolve and a sensitive issue for countries not directly involved. However, within the strategic, comprehensive partnership frameworks Viet Nam and its partners, concerned about with regional peace and stability, have been working together to find long-term measures to address sovereignty and border issues and settle differences in accordance with international law.

Within the framework of the Vietnamese-Chinese comprehensive strategic partnership, in 2008 the two countries completed negotiations on border demarcation and marker planting along their shared land border and signed and implemented 3 border and border gate management agreements; and in 2009 completed land border delineation and marker planting. After 35 years of negotiations, this has been a victory for both nations and an important historical event as there is now a clear borderline. This, together with the completion in 2000 of the delineation of the Tonkin Gulf means Viet Nam and China have resolved 2 of their 3 historical territorial issues. While jointly maintaining regional stability on land and in the Tonkin Gulf, the two countries have coordinated efforts on emerging issues and measures to support fishermen exploiting marine resources. Both nations’ marine economies in the Tonkin Gulf have been part of a long-term development strategy. Many ideas about linkage and cooperation for development in the Tonkin Gulf have taken shape. This has helped to build trust within the framework of their strategic partnership.

The East Sea appears to be much more complicated as there are many issues involved, but the comprehensive strategic partnership has been effective in creating trust, the basis for dialogue and negotiations to find the best possible solutions in line with international law. In the search for long-term solutions to bilateral issues, Viet Nam and China have worked closely together to address emerging issues, ease tensions, and prevent conflicts through a number of important measures including: 1- signing an agreement on basic principles guiding the settlement of sea-related issues; 2- establishing 3 more mechanisms: negotiations on the area outside the Tonkin Gulf, cooperation in less sensitive areas and discussions of cooperation for mutual development (under the mechanism of government-level negotiations); 3- establishing and implementing 4 “hotlines” to defuse crises between the two countries (27).

Differences over the East Sea concern many countries as it is one of the world’s most important international sea routes. All of these countries need to contribute to the maintenance of peace and stability in the region. The East Sea is a shared concern of many countries and a frequent topic of discussion at regional and global forums. Different countries have expressed different viewpoints but all advocate restraint and the peaceful resolution of disputes through dialogue based on international law, the UN Charter, and the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. They have urged serious implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) and expressed their readiness to support a Code of Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (COC). A number of important partners have been actively cooperating with Viet Nam in oil and gas exploration and exploitation in Viet Nam’s special economic zones and continental shelf. Viet Nam’s strategic and comprehensive partners have also been important partners in defense and security cooperation including capacity building in sea protection, control and management (28), helping Viet Nam prepare to join the UN peacekeeping force.

Major lessons drawn from the implementation of Viet Nam’s strategic, comprehensive partnerships

As a developing nation which has been a pioneer in establishing strategic and comprehensive partnerships, Viet Nam has drawn valuable lessons from the last 12 years.

First, independence and self-reliance are consistent preconditions; proactively apprehending global trends and flexibly grasping opportunities to adjust foreign policy is an important factor in ensuring effective implementation of strategic and comprehensive partnerships.

Second, all kinds of relationships have areas of cooperation or advantage and areas of difference. The most important thing within these frameworks is a willingness to cooperate and promote common interests while minimizing differences calmly and patiently. Flexible deployment to ensure national interests helps to realize the policy of developing effective partnerships to serve everyone’s interests.

Third, each step of establishing strategic and comprehensive partnerships must be calculated carefully in the long term with strategies suitable to the nation’s conditions and requirements and carefully selected areas in which to create breakthroughs.

Fourth, when harmonizing interests, Viet Nam should avoid becoming dependent on one or several partners or becoming mired in relations among partners.

Fifth, Viet Nam should be careful when making commitments and insistent in implementation that specific cooperative results are achieved.

Sixth, the involvement of the entire political system and all social strata including businesses and localities under the unified leadership of the Party and State is important for maximizing the effectiveness of Viet Nam’s strategic and comprehensive partnerships.

Amid increasing globalization, in addition to strengthening relations with traditional brother countries, Viet Nam has been flexible in seeking and applying foreign relations solutions suitable to an era of diversification and multilateralization, making its partnerships more practical and effective. Viet Nam’s network of relationships continues to play an important role in strengthening Viet Nam’s relations with its neighbors and partners around the world. This source of soft power helps Viet Nam establish and develop its global status, make the most of opportunities and sources for national construction and defense, and contribute to the maintenance of peace, stability, and development in Southeast Asia and the world./.

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Notes:

(1) During the 44 years from 1945 to 1989, mankind witnessed some 120 civil wars and conflicts between nations; In the 23 years from 1990 to 2013 the world saw 101 conflicts, wars and civil wars

(2) Level 1: no diplomatic relations, confrontation or war; Level 2: diplomatic relations for mutual recognition but no specific cooperative relations; Level 3: friendly and cooperative relations in several areas - this is the most common level in foreign relations. Above this level, countries more carefully calculate relationship frameworks; Level 4: comprehensive partnership; Level 5: strategic partnership; Level 6: alliance relationship and special relationship frameworks

(3) Hồ Chí Minh: Complete works, National Political Publishing House, Hà Nội, 2002, vol 4, p. 470

(4), (5) Hồ Chí Minh: Op.cit, vol 5, p. 676, 220

(6) Research materials of the 11th National Party Congress, National Political Publishing House, Hà Nội, 2001, p. 215

(7) Except for an alliance of the US and several other major countries established after World War 2 and during the Cold War, China, Russia, Egypt, Viet Nam, and Venezuela were the first 5 countries to pioneer strategic partnerships. In 1999, Egypt established a strategic partnership toward the 21st century with China, Viet Nam established a strategic partnership with Russia in March, 2001. And Venezuela established a strategic partnership with China in May, 2001.

(8) Strategic partnerships with Russia, China, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the UK, Germany, France, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Spain, and Italy. Strategic partnerships in certain areas with the Netherlands and Denmark. Comprehensive partnerships with the US, Australia, Malaysia, Venezuela, Ukraine, Brazil, Chile, New Zealand, Argentina, South Africa, and Denmark.

(9) Currently, Viet Nam and its 13 strategic partners have 954 effective agreements or memoranda of understanding, accounting for 30% of the total number of Viet Nam’s agreements with other countries.

(10) Based on statistics reported by the WTO, IMF (www.imf.org)

(11) Pursuant to the Decree on implementing the foreign policy signed by President V. Putin on May 7, 2012. After 11 years implementing their “strategic partnership”, Viet Nam and Russia lifted bilateral ties to “comprehensive strategic partnership”.

(12) Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe selected Viet Nam for his first foreign trip; Republic of Korea President Park Geun-hye chose Viet Nam to be the third leg of her first foreign trip after the US and China; Russian President V. Putin visited Viet Nam 3 times in 9 years as President and Prime Minister; Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang visited Viet Nam. Viet Nam’s Party General Secretary visited India, the UK, Belgium, the EU, Italy, and Thailand; the Vietnamese President visited China, Indonesia, the US, Hungary, and Denmark; the Vietnamese Prime Minister visited Russia, France, and Japan; the Vietnamese National Assembly Chairman visited Russia, Germany, Poland, and the Republic of Korea.

(13) Viet Nam has dialogue mechanisms at the deputy defense minister level with China, India, Japan, France, and the UK and 9 dialogue mechanisms at the deputy minister level with the US. Within the framework of the Vietnamese-Chinese comprehensive strategic partnership, the two countries have established 4 “hotlines” (between senior officials, the two Foreign Ministries, the two Defense Ministries, and fisheries agencies)

(14) The 21-member committee is authorized to recognize world tangible and intangible cultural heritages. The 190 members of UNESCO vote directly to elect one third of the committee’s members instead of election in geographical regions. Viet Nam has nominated itself to UNESCO but has failed many times due to fierce competition to enter this organization.

(15) Viet Nam has 7 tangible heritages, 7 intangible heritages, 8 world biosphere reserves and 1 geological park. Japan, China, France, Spain, Italy, the UK, and Germany have an important role and influence in UNESCO in recognizing these titles

(16) Foreign direct investment projects in Viet Nam licensed between January 1 and September 20, 2013 totaled 9.3 billion USD.

(17) Sam Sung, LG of the Republic of Korea chose Viet Nam to be a “stronghold”; Sam Sung factory in Vinh Phuc employs 40,000 Vietnamese workers; Italy’s Vespa’s project in Viet Nam not only produces and assembles but also performs research on machinery manufacturing.

(18) After Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang’s visit to Viet Nam in October, 2013

(19) Spain committed 265 euro in ODA to Viet Nam for the 2008 - 2015 period; the UK and Viet Nam signed a development support agreement from 2011 to 2015 worth 74 million pounds. The Republic of Korea’s ODA for Viet Nam between 2012 and 2015 was 1.2 billion USD (250 million USD/year compared to the previous level of 150 million USD).

(20) Denmark provided 165 million krones

(21) According to statistics from the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Viet Nam’s import-export value in the first 9 months of 2013 was 193 billion USD.

(22) Two-way trade between Viet Nam and Russia increased 500% between 2000 and 2013, between Viet Nam and India 300% from 2006 to 2012, between Viet Nam and China 250% from 2007 to 2012, between Viet Nam and the Republic of Korea 140% from 2008 to 2013, between Viet Nam and Japan 33% from 2008 to 2013, between Viet Nam and the UK 110% from 2010 to 2013, between Viet Nam and Germany 60% from 2010 to 2013, between Viet Nam and Spain 80% from 2008 to 2013

(23) 43 countries have recognized Viet Nam’s market economy status. The 8 strategic partners that have recognized Viet Nam’s market economy status include China (2004), Russia (2007), the Republic of Korea (2009), India (2009), Japan (2011), Singapore, Indonesia, and Thailand (2007, within ASEAN framework)

(24) Ha Long, Hue, Da Nang, Da Lat festivals

(25) During Park Geun-hye’s visit, the Republic of Korea agreed to re-employ more than 10,000 Vietnamese workers who have completed all necessary procedures and learned Korean. Japan has offered jobs for nurses and orderlies from Viet Nam.

(26) 8 billion USD in 2010, 9 billion USD in 2011, 10 billion USD in 2012, and the figure is expected to be 11 billion USD in 2013 (Viet Nam ranks 9th among the world’s biggest remittance recipients)

(27) Between the two countries’ senior officials, Foreign Ministries, Defense Ministries, and fisheries agencies

(28) Worth noting is cooperation in defense-security and coordinated viewpoints with Russia, China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, India, Singapore, and Thailand. Russia has sold Viet Nam 6 Kilo 636 class submarines, new generation Su-khoi aircraft and helped Viet Nam train military personnel and submarine crews. Viet Nam has held joint patrols and exchanges with China, Indonesia, Thailand, and others.

Phạm Bình MinhMember of the Party Central Committee, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs