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Tuesday, 25 July 2017 10:49
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Refuting criticism to the Party’s foreign policy

(LLCT) - During the renovation process, independence, autonomy, diversification, and multi-lateralization frame the consistent foreign policy of the Communist Party of Vietnam. This policy has created a high level of consensus among the entire Party, people, and army and has gained support from the international community. Due to the implementation of the Party’s appropriate foreign policy, the work of foreign affairs and international integration has made significant progress, making a worthwhile contribution to the country’s historic achievements over the past 30 years.

Nevertheless, in face of complicated developments in the region and the world, especially those in the East Sea, self-proclaimed citizens, journalists, democrats, researchers, and patriots have flooded the social media to offer appeals, advice, challenges, proposals, and comments, criticizing and repudiating the current foreign policy. The main viewpoints include: (1) To preserve [our] independence and sovereignty, [we must] boycott Chinese goods and people and resist China; (2) Only by allying itself to a great military power can Vietnam preserve its sea and island sovereignty; (3) Not allying [ourselves] with one country to resist another means having [our] hands tied, and this is not realistic and therefore it must be changed; (4) If Vietnamese Party and State remains steadfast and insistently loyal to their “Three NOs” defense policy (no military alliances; no foreign military bases in Vietnam; and no relationship with any country to resist another), this means the Party goes against the people’s will.

So, what is the nature of such points of view? Are they just heartfelt comments which lack political sensitivity and discernment or are they malicious and opportunistic plots? Are they biased and underdeveloped opinions due to limited knowledge and understanding or are they pure distortions of facts? Are they debased, cunning and blatant words of reactionary and hostile forces carrying out their “peaceful evolution” for dark political purposes? Are they signs of political and ideological degeneration, signs of internal “self-evolution” and “self-transformation”, as pointed out in the Resolution of the 4th plenum of the 12th Party Congress? In our opinion, they are, in essence, inaccurate, distorted ideas and perspectives which seek to repudiate Vietnamese foreign policy. Below is our rebuttal to those opinions, grounded in the accuracy and science of the Party’s foreign policy.

First, rejection of the view that, in order to preserve our independence and sovereignty, we must boycott Chinese goods and people and resist China.

Vietnam and China are neighboring countries which share a good number of historical, cultural and political similarities. The friendship between these two countries has been built over generations and has become a precious asset for the two peoples. Despite numerous ups and downs, this relationship has basically remained the mainstream of cooperation and friendship. The Party, State, and people of Vietnam have always attached great importance to a neighborly, friendly, cooperative, equal, and mutually beneficial relationship with China. This remains one of Vietnam’s top foreign policy priorities toward a Vietnam - China comprehensive strategic partnership for wholesome, stable, and sustainable development(1). Given the agreements the two countries have signed and negotiated in recent years, they must patiently work out the East Sea issue on the basis of international laws, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) of 1982 and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC). Vietnam is determined to use all appropriate measures in accordance with Vietnamese and international laws to firmly protect its territorial, sea and island sovereignty; at the same time, it is determined to maintain a peaceful and stable environment for its own national development. This has always drawn strong support from the international community.

Obviously, those proposals and calls for boycotting Chinese goods, and policies refusing to receive Chinese tourists and resisting China, which have been circulating on news websites and social media, have agitated demonstrators, (as in the cases of Binh Duong and Vung Ang) and represent misguided and malicious ideas and actions which must be rejected. In fact, such ideas and actions go against the guidelines of the Party and State of Vietnam. They encourage anarchism and extreme nationalism, incite violence, warfare, and racial hatred. Such extreme behavior has not only damaged businesses and foreign investors in Vietnam (including those from China), but have also taken its toll on Vietnamese consumers, workers, manufacturers and business people. These activities have undermined security and social order. They have weakened the country from the inside and tarnished Vietnam’s image as peaceful, peace-loving, safe-and-attractive destination in international eyes, and by so doing, they have complicated the struggle to protect Vietnamese sea and island sovereignty(2). Like China’s acts in the East Sea, which defy the international law, Vietnamese extreme behavior has caused serious damage to the friendship between the people of Vietnam and China.

Second, rejection of the view that only by “shaking hands” with some developed country and allying itself to a military power can Vietnam preserve its sea and island sovereignty.

The current disputes in the East Sea do not concern only a handful of countries but directly affect the peace, stability, security, safety, and freedom of navigation (both at sea and air) in the region. This is a complicated, long-term issue which cannot be resolved in a day or two. The East Sea issue cannot be arranged or decided by a few powers, neither can it be resolved by the threat or the use of force. There will be no peace, stability and wholesome development in the East Sea if disputes and disagreements are solved chauvinistically. Past events show that it is those actions which defy the international law and militarize the East Sea that complicates an already-tense situation and make it even more difficult. Therefore, the East Sea issue must be solved by peaceful negotiations on multilateral bases and in accordance with the UNCLOS of 1982 and the DOC toward the formation of the East Sea Code of Conduct (COC).

In the actual context, protection of territorial sovereignty must be done through the use of collective strength on the basis of the international law, by combining domestic and foreign efficacy, by using the power of national solidarity and taking advantage of the international voice rather than relying solely on military alliance with individual countries. Moreover, as countries generally prioritize their own interests, it is unlikely that a developed country or power will protect the sovereignty of another country in an impartial, uncalculating manner. Therefore, reliance on a country, even if a developed country or power will not only fail to solve the issue but will also further aggravate and complicate it. Evidence shows that the United States, despite its alliance with Japan, has not been able to help Japan with its claims on the Senkaku (Diaoyu) Islands. In the case of Ukraine, although this country enjoys quite comprehensive patronage from the United States and European Union, it has failed to take Crimea from Russia.

Allying ourselves with a country in order to resist a third means we create an enemy for ourselves. The situation is even worse when we share a border with the country in question. History has taught Vietnam numerous and profound lessons on remaining independent beside a country which has always tried to assimilate it. Flexible foreign policies, developed by clear-sighted leaders and generals soon after each glorious victory over foreign invaders, protect country and people first. Moreover, in modern international relations, nations tend to cooperate and compete simultaneously with each other. The United States, China, India, Russia, and Japan are each other’s creditors and debtors, as well as arch-rivals and great partners. Therefore, calling for an alliance with a country to resist another for sovereignty protection is illusionary and childish.

To ally and rely on another country to protect sovereignty only reveals incapacity and weakness. This view is completely against Vietnam’s tradition of self-reliance. During the nation’s long history, independence, autonomy, and self-reliance have shaped the tradition, experience, strong spirit and uprightness. The late President HoChi Minh affirmed: Nothing was more precious than independence and freedom and that we had to liberate ourselves, using our own resources. The trends of the modern world are also peace, national independence, democracy, cooperation, and development; all nations give emphasis to independence and self-reliance. History also shows that when a country relies on another to protect or claim its own sovereignty, it loses its political independence and self-determination.

Third, critique of the notion that unless we ally ourselves with another country to resist a third, our hands will remain tied, which is unrealistic and must be changed.

Consistently carrying out foreign policies characterized by independence, autonomy, diversification, and multi-lateralization, has brought great victories to foreign activities and international integration of Vietnam over the past 30 years.

Vietnam has expanded its diplomatic relations, have preserved its independence and sovereignty, have broken the blockade in the early stages of the renovation cause, have normalized relations or established long-term relations with countries and territories around the world on the basis of respect for each other’s independence, sovereignty, unity, territorial integrity and political regime. To date, Vietnam has established diplomatic relations with more than 185 countries, trade and investment ties with more than 230 countries and territories, strategic partnerships with 16 countries, and comprehensive partnerships with 11, five of which are members of the United Nations Security Council. Vietnam is active and enthusiastic in the common cause of the international community as well as in forums and organizations, regional and international. Vietnam has promoted the position and actively and responsibly participated in international multilateral institutions such as the IMF, WB, WTO, the Non-Aligned Movement, and G77, as well as the United Nations and its affiliate organizations, in order to heighten its international position and take advantage of international support.

Vietnam has consolidated and strengthened the relations with its neighbors. The special relationship of friendship and solidarity between Vietnam and Laos has seen new developments while remaining strong, loyal and pure. The Vietnam - Cambodia relationship has experienced positive developments along the line of “good neighborhood, traditional friendship, comprehensive cooperation and long-term stability”. The Vietnam - China relationship has witnessed progress, especially in economics and trade. Given the complicated situation in the East Sea, Vietnam has patiently protected the national sovereignty, sovereign rights, national jurisdiction and national interests; maintained a peaceful and stable environment; continued friendly ties with Chinese people; while aiming to solve disputes by peaceful means on the basis of the international law. This attitude has won the people’s approval and the support from the international community.

Vietnam has also participated in and effectively contributed to the foundation and development of the ASEAN organization. The ASEAN system has placed Vietnam in a better position, increasing its strength in relation to other partners. Vietnam has participated actively and responsibly in regional connectivity in East Asia. The country has fostered harmonious relations with all countries in East Asia and assisted to the shaping of an open East Asian Economic Community.

The Vietnam - United States relationship has seen constant positive changes. Bilateral economic ties between the two countries have rapidly developed. Security and military ties are gradually taking shape. Cooperation in science, technology, education, and medicine has increased. The comprehensive partnership between Vietnam and Russia has become substantial, effective and mutually beneficial. The profound strategic partnership between Vietnam and Japan has been firmly promoted through specific actions. Vietnam has also actively strengthened cooperation with the EU and expanded its role as a bridge between the EU and Southeast Asia. It has fostered bilateral relations with many EU countries, adding depth, substance, and effectiveness to cooperative ties with the Union.

Thus, due to its foreign policy characterized by independence, autonomy, diversification, and multi-lateralization, and by not allying itself with any particular country in order to resist a third, Vietnam has managed to remain integrated and open while expanding international cooperation. It has preserved its independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity. It has contrived to maintain an atmosphere of peace, stability, renovation, and development and has become a middle-income developing country. Obviously, Vietnam’s foreign policy, characterized by independence, autonomy, diversification and multi-lateralization and, in particular, the “Three NOs” defense-foreign policy, is absolutely correct and appropriate for the reality in Vietnam.

Fourth, critique of the view that if Vietnamese Party and State remain steadfast and insistently loyal to their “ThreeNOs” defense policy, that means the Party goes against the people’s will.

Online forums circulated proposals to alter, change and abandon the “Three NOs” policy, which is evidence that some people either fail to understand the legal and practical bases of our the Party and State’s foreign policy or are opportunists, dissidents, and haters with evil, malicious plots. They are a very small group, and their voices do not represent the voice of self-reliant Vietnamese who wish to co-exist peacefully with their neighbors and international friends. If a party seeks only to cater to the masses and blindly listens to all of their proposals, especially those made by extremist, hateful and feeble-minded people, then that party cannot survive long enough to lead Vietnam.

The Party and State’s particular foreign policies are the crystallization of the intelligence, will, aspiration and determination of the entire Party, people, and army. They have strong theoretical, scientific, practical and legal bases and consult various walks of life in a democratic and public manner. Therefore, the party and state’s approach and policies are, in essence, the will and aspiration of the entire Vietnamese people. The Vietnamese love peace and are determined to protect their homeland and sacred sovereignty with all their strength, fervent patriotism, intelligence, and creativity under the Party’s precise and creative leadership.

In the documents of the 12th Congress, the Party has reiterated the need to “ensure the ultimate interests of the nation on the basis of the fundamental principles of the international law, equality and mutual benefits, consistently carry out the foreign policy of independence, autonomy, peace, cooperation and development; diversify and multi-laterize foreign activities; proactively and actively integrate into the international community; be a friend, reliable partner and responsible member of the international community. By cooperating and competing at the same time, foreign activities aim to sustain a peaceful, stable environment and make full use of external resources for national development and improvement of people’s living standards; resolutely and patiently fight for independence, sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of the homeland and protect the Party, State, people and the socialist regime; heighten the position and prestige of the country and contribute to the cause of peace, national independence, democracy and social progress in the world”(3). Obviously, in foreign activities and the defense-foreign policy, people’s will and the Party’s wishes are closely interconnected. Never will the Party goes against the people’s will, or there is no “ordinary people going one way, the Party going another” as has been distorted by hostile forces. Therefore, it is impossible to accept the proposal to change and abandon the “Three NOs” policy. On the contrary, Vietnam must be deeply aware that this is one of the Party and State’s fundamental aspects of the foreign policy of independence, autonomy, diversification, and multi-lateralization. Accordingly, Vietnam must contribute to the improvement and rectification of the Party according to the Resolution of the 4th plenum of the 11th and 12th Party Congresses; effectively prevent degeneration in political ideology, morality and lifestyle, as well as signs of internal self-evolution and self-transformation as far as defense and foreign activities are concerned.


(1) See: the Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in the People’s Republic of China: An overview of the Vietnamese - Chinese relationship.

(2) See: Nguyen Vu: Expressing patriotic sentiments alertly to avoid being abused

(3) CPV: Documents of the 12th National Party Congress, Central Party Committee Office, Hanoi, 2016, p.153. 

Assoc. Prof., Dr. Do Thi Thach

Dr. Nguyen Anh Tuan

Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics

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