Viet Nam’s Traditional Diplomacy

In the country’s millennia-old history of national construction and defense, Viet Nam’s diplomacy has gradually been cultivated and fostered, combining national identities and mankind’s quintessence to form a distinctive style of diplomacy. Viet Nam’s traditional diplomacy is rooted in the Vietnamese people’s indomitable spirit for independence and freedom, desire for peace and friendship, fidelity and deep humanism. The national history of undaunted struggles against foreign aggression has offered valuable lessons and induced humanism into Viet Nam’s diplomacy crystallized in the spirit of “confronting barbarity with justice and fighting truculence with humanity.”

Ho Chi Minh’s Thoughts on Diplomacy

President Ho Chi Minh is a great leader of Viet Nam and also the founder of Viet Nam’s modern diplomacy and the State of the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam in 1945. Ho Chi Minh’s thoughts on diplomacy form an integral part of his thoughts on Viet Nam’s revolutionary lines. It is a system of theories, viewpoints and outlooks on the world and our times, international policy lines, diplomatic strategy and tactics. Ho Chi Minh’s thoughts combine Viet Nam’s traditional diplomacy and the quintessence of various cultures and diplomatic experience in the world. Ho Chi Minh’s thoughts view national independence and together with it socialism as the guiding principle of foreign policy. While upholding fundamental national rights, independence and self-reliance, Ho Chi Minh thoughts advocate the combination of the strength of the nation with that of the times, emphasizing the role of international solidarity and cooperation as manifested in Viet Nam’s desire to develop foreign relations characterized by openness, mutual interests and friendship with all democratic nations and freedom from animosity. This is also the guideline of Viet Nam’s diplomacy.

Foreign Policy

Since reunification in 1975 and particularly since Doi Moi in late 1980s, Viet Nam’s diplomacy has focused on maintaining a peaceful and stable environment, creating favorable international condition for Doi Moi, national industrialization and modernization, contributing to national construction and defense. Based on the strength of creative combination and application of Viet Nam’s traditional diplomacy and Ho Chi Minh’s thoughts on diplomacy, Viet Nam pursues a foreign policy guideline of independence, self-reliance, peace, cooperation and development and a foreign policy characterized by openness, diversification and multi-lateralization of international relations, pro-active integration into the world in the spirit of being a friend, a reliable partner and a responsible member of the international community in an endeavor for a powerful and wealthy socialist Viet Nam, thus contributing to peace, national independence, democracy and social progress the world over. Viet Nam also entertains the wish for equal and mutually beneficial friendly relations and cooperation with all countries, territories and international organizations on the basis of respecting each other’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity and the tenet of principles enshrined in the UN Charter and international laws. Furthermore, Viet Nam is willing to engage in dialogue with its partners on existing differences and advocates settlement of disputes through peaceful negotiation. To that end, in its external activities, Viet Nam promotes state-to-state relations between itself and partners, party-to-party relations of the Communist Party of Viet Nam and people-to-people relations to improve understanding, friendship and cooperation between the Vietnamese people and other peoples the world over. Viet Nam’s international relations have been expanded more than ever before. At present, Viet Nam has established diplomatic relations with 178 countries and economic, trade and investment ties with 224 countries and territories. Viet Nam is a member of the UN, ASEAN, ASEM, APEC, the WTO, the Francophone, the Non-Allied Movement and other regional and international organizations. To strengthen relations with neighbors and regional countries and move toward an ASEAN Community by 2015 Viet Nam always attaches importance to developing fine relations with neighboring and regional countries. On the strength of historical solidarity with Laos and Cambodia in the struggle for national liberation, Viet Nam is striving to strengthen the traditional friendship, special solidarity and comprehensive cooperation with the Lao People’s Democratic Republic and to further develop good-neighboring and traditionally friendly bilateral relations, comprehensive and durable cooperation with Cambodia. Along with strengthened political ties, Viet Nam’s relations with Laos and Cambodia relations have seen new development in all areas, notably economic cooperation. It is an important direction in Viet Nam’s foreign policy to establish comprehensive, strategic and cooperative partnership with China. The relations have been positively developed with numerous cooperation activities and exchanges between the two Parties and States, cooperation between ministries, agencies and localities, and contact and exchange between the two peoples. China is among Viet Nam’s top economic and trading partners. Viet Nam advocates settlement of remaining border and territory issues through peaceful negotiation in the spirit of friendship, good- neighborliness, mutual trust and the respect for each other’s interests and international laws. Viet Nam has completed land-border demarcation and marker plantation with China; Viet Nam is also increasing and renovating border markers with Laos and carrying out border demarcation and marker planting with Cambodia. Since Viet Nam joined ASEAN in 1995, a raft of bilateral cooperation frameworks and programs has been established and successfully implemented in Viet Nam and the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei and Myanmar. The country has also made positive contribution to and been a responsible member in ASEAN cooperation, helping build a peaceful, stable, prosperous ASEAN capable of playing a greater role in the world. As ASEAN Chair in 2010, Viet Nam has identified the following priorities: to translate ASEAN Charter into life, to promote cooperation, to enhance intra-ASEAN linkages towards an ASEAN Community by 2015, to enhance ASEAN’s international role, to expand and deepen comprehensive cooperative relations between ASEAN countries and external partners. To develop diverse and dynamic bilateral relations with all nations Viet Nam enjoys fine cooperative relations with all major powers, politico-economic centers, and industrialized countries. Viet Nam-Russia strategic partnership established in 1991 has been promoted and deepened in all fields. Major cooperation areas are trade, petroleum, energy, and education-training. Viet Nam-India strategic partnership was also established on the basis of traditional friendship and has recorded new political and economic development. Viet Nam and Japan are implementing strategic partnership in all sectors in the interests of peace and prosperity in Asia. Japan stands as the biggest bilateral donor, the 2nd largest trading partner and the 3rd largest foreign investor in Viet Nam. Viet Nam is also developing new relation frameworks with other important partners in Asia and the Pacific, establishing strategic cooperative partnership with the Republic of Korea and building comprehensive partnership with Australia and New Zealand. Viet Nam – US relations have seen important developments within the framework of friendly partnership, multi-faceted cooperation, mutual respect and mutual benefit. Political exchange and dialogue at various levels have been enhanced; two-way trade and US investment have vastly increased; notable achievements have been recorded in education and training, science, healthcare, environment and settlement of war consequences. Bilateral comprehensive and durable cooperation between Viet Nam and Canada has witnessed positive developments. The EU has always been Viet Nam’s major economic, trade and investment partner. Vietnam and the EU are negotiating a comprehensive partnership and cooperation agreement to establish a new framework for better bilateral relations. Positive developments have been seen in political area as well as trade, investment, development cooperation, culture, education and training, and science and technology. Viet Nam has improved its comprehensive cooperation with France, development partnership with the UK and Germany, strategic partnership toward the future with Spain, multi-faceted cooperation with Italy, traditional relations with Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxemburg, Austria, and cooperative relations with Greece, Ireland, Switzerland, Portugal, etc. Viet Nam attaches great importance to maintaining and developing relations with traditional friends, developing countries and other partners in Asia, Europe, Africa, Middle East and Latin America. Viet Nam continues to promote special traditional relations, solidarity, cooperation and mutual assistance with Cuba, and friendship and traditional cooperation with the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea and Mongolia. The country’s bilateral relations with CIS and Eastern European countries like Ukraine, Hungary, Poland, Czech, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Belarus, Kazakhstan, etc. have gained fresh momentum on the strength of their close traditional ties. In addition to strengthening fine political relations, Viet Nam advocates bilateral, trilateral and multilateral cooperation with African countries. Viet Nam is implementing agriculture, trade and economic projects in South Africa, Angola, Mozambique, Algeria, Libya, Sudan, Morocco, Nigeria, Tanzania, Senegal, Mali, Madagascar, etc. It has concluded new agreements on trade, financial, investment and labor cooperation with Qatar, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries. Relations with Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka also see potential for further cooperation. Bilateral cooperation has been strengthened with Chile, Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Mexico, Panama and other Latin American countries respectively in areas of mutual interests. Relations with developing countries have been further strengthened and enhanced within the framework of South-South cooperation, in the Non-Aligned Movement and at international fora. To integrate in both depth and breadth into the world and to participate actively and responsibly in multilateral fora and organizations Viet Nam advocates active participation in regional and international integration processes on the basis of bringing into fullest play its endogenous strength and enhancing effective international cooperation. Since joining the UN in 1977, Viet Nam has always been an active and responsible member of the world’s largest organization. The country’s cooperation with the UN specialized agencies has been extended to socio-economic development, population, environmental protection, peace and security, disarmament. Viet Nam has worked actively in the Social and Economic Council, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Human Rights Council, the Disarmament Conference. As a non-permanent member of the Security Council for 2008-2009, Viet Nam successfully fulfilled its role, making positive contribution to world peace and upholding the UN Charter and principles of international laws. The country has also received significant assistance from UN specialized agencies for national development. Viet Nam set an example of achieving the Millennium Development Goals and is currently participating in the “One-UN initiative”. The country became a full WTO member on January 11 2007. WTO membership enabled Viet Nam to integrate in depth into the global economy, promotes its economic ties, trade exchange, and investment cooperation with partners. It has delivered on its WTO commitments, which is highly valued by other members. Viet Nam has also participated in sub-regional, regional, inter-regional linkages and has been an active member in international economic cooperation fora. Along these lines, Viet Nam will host the East Asia’s World Economic Forum in 2010. It is among the 26 founding members of ASEM in 1996. Since then, Viet Nam has been actively engaged in Asia-Europe cooperation in all areas: namely political dialogue, economic cooperation and other cooperation activities. It is a country that utilizes most effectively assistance from ASEM Trust Fund. It successfully hosted the 5th ASEM Summit in 2004 and the 9th ASEM Foreign Ministerial Meeting in 2009. Other ASEM members value Viet Nam’s contribution to furthering ASEM cooperation. Viet Nam joined Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation in 1998. It has fulfilled its obligations like formulating and publishing Individual Action Plan and Collective Action Plan, participating in ECOTECH and in APEC working groups and committees. Its most significant contribution has been the successful hosting of APEC Year 2006 and most notably the 14th APEC Summit in November of the same year. Viet Nam has developed friendship and solidarity with the Non-Aligned Movement since early days. Since joining NAM in 1976, Viet Nam has been cooperating with NAM members to promote solidarity, uphold basic principles of NAM, and strive for peace, national independence, democracy and social progress. Viet Nam has always been an active and responsible member of the Francophone. As the host of the 7th Francophone Summit in 1997, Viet Nam contributed to the community’s institutional reform and now continues to promote Francophone political, economic, and cultural cooperation. Viet Nam is aware that global issues cannot be addressed by any individual country. It has been cooperating closely with countries, regions and international organizations, proposing initiatives and participating in international efforts to deal with the global economic-financial crisis, common challenges like climate change, epidemics, poverty, transnational crimes, environmental pollution, etc. Viet Nam is also engaged in international cooperation efforts against terrorism. Viet Nam supports and stands by the world people in the fight for peace and against the risks of war and armed race; contributing to the establishment of a democratic and equal international economic and political order. These efforts reflect Viet Nam’s sense of responsibility towards regional and international friends, contributing to the cause of peace, national independence, democracy, and social progress in the world.