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Tuesday, 24 August 2021 10:08
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Traditional special relationship between the French Communist Party and the Communist Party of Vietnam

(PTOJ) - The French Communist Party and the Communist Party of Vietnam have a special close relationship, President Ho Chi Minh - leader of the Communist Party of Vietnam is one of the founders of the French Communist Party. That the friendship between the two parties has been deeply strengthened is a testament to the international spirit of the communists struggle for the common cause. December of 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the French Communist Party, a good time to look back on the relationship between the two parties, to celebrate the friendship and solidarity between the French and Vietnamese revolutionaries.

The French Communist Party (Parti Communiste Français - PCF) - the vanguard of the French working class, is a political organization with a long history of revolutionary struggle and proletarian international spirit. Since its establishment, the Party has always upheld the ideology of freedom and equality; constantly fought against the oppression and exploitation of capitalists who manipulate laborers; resolutely fought against the aggressive polices by imperial and colonial forces towards colonial and dependent peoples; and fought for peace, democracy and social progress.

During the years the Communist Party of Vietnam led the people in the resistance war against the French colonialists and the American imperialists, the French revolutionaries always stood side by side with the Vietnamese people. Typically, even at the cost of life, loyal communist soldiers such as Mr. Léo Figuères, Ms. Raymonde Dien, Mr. Henri Martin, etc. were always at the forefront of the movement supporting the fight for freedom, peace and justice of the Vietnamese people.

With the aim of “finding the most reliable sources  for the French public to know about the real situation in Indochina and the spirit of the Vietnamese people”(1), Léo Figuères - a journalist, a French communist soldier - came to Vietnam to eyewitness the “civilization” that the French colonialists had been carrying out. His book Je reviens du Vietnam libre (I Return from the Free Vietnam) showed the world and the French the truth about the meaningless war that the colonialist French waged, at the same time called the French government to end the war in Vietnam. The actions of the French Communist Party member Raymonde Dien, disregarding her own safety, bravely lying on the rails “to prevent the train carrying weapons to kill people, because I hate war so badly”(2) represent the spirit of solidarity fighting for the cause of the French progressive classes. This event shocked the French public and sparked a movement to demonstrate solidarity with the Vietnamese people: porters at the ports of Marseille and Cherbourg refusing to transfer weapons to ships to Indochina; workers, employees, intellectuals and many people from all walks of life organizing strikes, rallies, and demonstrations in Paris, Bordeaux and many major cities. The slogans “Release Raymonde Dien!”, “Peace for Vietnam” were raised... The French communists always directed attention to Vietnam, stood side by side with the Vietnamese people in the war against French colonialism with the most sincere and natural sentiments because they clearly understood “this war is against justice” and “There is a need to end the dirty and unjust war in Vietnam”(3). They followed the urge to fight for the right, as Raymonde Dien’s simple and sincere words: “My responses were very natural at that time, I did not hesitate, I just did everything because of the peace for Vietnam”(4).

The French Communist Party, in order to support the Vietnamese revolution, organized movements involving a large number of democratic and peace loving people of different classes, demanding that the French government stop the war and give independence to Vietnam. The L’Humanité (Humanitarian) newspaper - the mouthpiece of the French Communist Party, on January 27, 1954 stated “The wish to end the war of Indochina today has become a claim of the entire French people”(5). In just 12 days (from 9 to 20 May 1954), 42 delegations of the French people with nearly 500 people from all walks of life (workers, peasants, intellectuals, young people, women, scientists, religious practitioners, prisoners’ families; families with children killed in battle in Indochina...), of whom many were communist members from all over France flocked to Geneva to display their love for peace and demanded that the French Government negotiate with the Government of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and end the war in Indochina. Across France, many strikes of workers and working people (notably the strike of 3,000 workers near the city of Lille) took place to generate pressure and demand the French National Assembly and Government to abandon the scheme to expand the war in Indochina, end the war and peacefully settle the Indochina issue. The enduring struggle of the working class and the French people under the leadership of the French Communist Party contributed to force the French government to sign the Geneva Agreement on July 21, 1954 ending the war in the Indochina. The French Communist Party also called on the French people’s fight for the French Government’s strict implementation of the Geneva Agreement, to establish a new relationship on an equal basis with the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia(6).

The solidarity between the French Communist Party and the Vietnamese Communist Party continued to be strengthened during the anti-US fight of the Vietnamese people. The French Communist Party repeatedly condemned the US imperial expansion of the war to invade Vietnam; supported the four-point stance of the Government of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the Political Platform of the National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam, considering it the right basis to resolve the Vietnam problem; resolutely insisted on the US Government unconditional termination of the bombings and all other war actions against the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, withdrawing all US troops and allies from South Vietnam, recognizing The National Front for Liberation of South Vietnam, letting the Vietnamese people to handle their own affairs(7). The movement of the French people against the American imperialists’ invasion of Vietnam took place actively through various forms of activities, becoming a strong mass movement, actively contributing to the global support to the Vietnamese people against the US invasion.

Highlighting the spirit of proletarianism and special affection for the Vietnamese people and working class, the French communists launched strikes, rallies, and demonstrations condemning the American imperial brutal crimes in Vietnam, at the same time expressed its solidarity with the Vietnamese people, such as  organizing “The day of the entire France fighting for the Vietnamese”, “Day of fighting for peace in Vietnam”, “Week of solidarity and support for the Vietnamese people to fight against the US invasion”,... Responding to the call of the French communists, thousands of French people and workers took to the streets to protest in front of the US Embassy (February 11, 1965) and raised the slogans “Do not touch Vietnam”, “American imperialism is the murderer”. More than 10,000 people took to the streets to protest in 125 cities across France (from March 25 to March 27, 1966) to support the Vietnamese people’s struggle against American imperialism; about 50,000 French women took part in the 600 “sleepless nights for peace in Vietnam” (March 1966) organized by the French Women’s Union; Seven thousand young men and women from all over France flocked to Paris (November 26, 1967) and raised the slogan “French youth support Vietnam”.  Eight thousand Paris people frantically took to the streets (February 13, 1968) despite the pouring rain, raised the red flag with a yellow star and the flag of the National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam, shouting “America must stop the invasion”; “Johnson is the killer”, “The Vietnamese people will definitely win”, etc. The initiative of the French Communist Party, the movement to donate money, medicines, gifts, etc. to help the Vietnamese people gained a great reputation and received enthusiastic support from people of all walks of life in France. The campaign to donate “A Train to Vietnam” in 1968 raised 400 million francs, doubling the amount originally proposed by the French Communist Party(8). The French communists also whole-heartedly helped the Vietnamese delegation during the Paris Pease Conference: providing accommodation, transportation, supplies, organizing demonstrations and press campaigns... L’Humanité newspaper published weekly statements of members of the Vietnamese delegation, such as Xuan Thuy, Nguyen Thi Binh, Nguyen Thanh Le. From May 1968 to January 1973, in 203 meetings of the Secretariat of the French Communist Party, there were 125 references to Vietnam and 29 references to the negotiations; in 171 meetings of the Politburo of the French Communist Party, there were 41 talks about Vietnam and 10 direct talks about the negotiations(9). These figures show the French Communist Party’s leaders’ deep concern about the national liberation revolution led by the Vietnamese Communist Party.

The support of the French communists and people for the righteous struggle of the Vietnamese people is also reflected in their firm belief in the victory of the Vietnamese revolution. Comrade G. Marchais, National Secretary of the French Communist Party affirmed: “Vietnam wants to live freely and peacefully. The country of Vietnam will achieve its will”(10). The material assistance and spiritual support of the communists and the French working people towards the Vietnamese people’s struggle for national liberation have become a typical example of international solidarity of the working people.

The revolutionary struggle nurtured the friendship between the two communist parties which have been closely attached since the very first days of their establishment. President Ho Chi Minh was one of the first members of the French Communist Party and also the founder of the Vietnamese Communist Party. The exchange, cooperation, and increased understanding between the two sides reinforce this special relationship. The visit to Vietnam from March 2 to November 1968 by the delegation of the French Communist Party led by J.Duclos, a member of the French Communist Party’s Politburo is a milestone in the two-party relationship, showing the sincerity and precious support of the French communists for the Vietnamese revolution.

The relationship between the two parties has continued to be strengthened and developed after Vietnam’s national unification. The two sides have given each other their frequent care and sincere sharing through visits, meetings, and delegation exchanges at all levels, marked by the visits to Vietnam by the high-ranking leaders of the French Communist Party, National Secretary G. Marais (1993), President of the National Council of R. Hue (1999), National Secretary Marie George Buffet (2008) and National Secretary Pierre Laurent (2011 and 2015). In addition, the two parties have also sent delegations to the congresses to express their solidarity and support; have updated contents and issues of interests, as well as have enhanced mutual understanding. The remarkable development in relations between the two states, especially the establishment of a strategic partnership between Vietnam and France in September 2013 created a momentum for the relationship between the French Communist Party and the Vietnamese Communist Party to upgrade to a new level.

Across all forums, the French Communist Party has consistently attached great importance to the relationship with the Vietnamese Communist Party, supporting the cause of building and defending the country of the Party, the State and the people of Vietnam, and supported the promotion of bilateral relations. The National Secretary of the French Communist Party Pierre Laurent stated “As a friend and a comrade, the French communists will actively contribute to building a positive policy towards Vietnam” “continue to unite, have aproactive voice in supporting the French Government’s policies towards Vietnam”(11).

On the Vietnamese side, the Vietnamese Communist Party affirms that it always attaches great importance to, and preserves the friendship and cooperation with the French Communist Party and the French people. Friendly visits of the high-ranking Vietnamese Communist Party leaders to France are significant events that contribute to strengthen and develop the relationship between the two countries. Thus, there were official visits to the French Republic by the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam, Le Kha Phieu (May 2000) at the invitation of President J.Chirac and the recent visit by Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong (March 2018) at the invitation of President Emmanuel Macron. The friendly visits and coordination in cooperation frameworks and forums have contributed to strengthening and developing relations between the two parties and the two states.

The Communist Party and people of Vietnam always respect and appreciate the support and assistance of the communists and the French people in the revolution of national liberation, the doi moi and national construction of Vietnam. General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong pointed out: “Although diplomatic relations between the two countries officially started in 1973, in reality, the relationship between the two peoples, communists of the two countries existed long before that. President Ho Chi Minh and many senior leaders of Vietnam joined the French communist and progressive movement and connected with the Vietnamese revolutionary movement very early. Many examples, comrades and French friends joined with the Vietnamese people to form a widespread anti-war movement, contributing to awakening the international community to the support for the people’s righteous struggle”(12).

The Vietnamese Communist Party always hails the achievements that the French Communist Party obtained in the resistance war against the fascists in World War II, along with its great contributions to the post-war reconstruction of France, protection of the rights and interests of French workers and people; the fight for peace and social progress of people of the world as well as the Party’s efforts to find the right direction and mode of operation in the new context to realize the goals in the struggle for people, democracy and social progress.

Faced with the marked changes of the international situation in the post-Cold War period, especially under the strong recent impact of the Industrial Revolution 4.0, new manifestations of the globalization, populism and the prevalence of the right wing in European politics, increasingly urgent global issues (such as the environment, epidemics...), the two parties have strengthened the information sharing and experiences exchange to improve their own competence in both theory and practice.

Up to now, the two parties have successfully organized three theoretical seminars with the participation of prestigious theorists, researchers, scholars, representatives of some French research organizations and the Vietnam - France Friendship Association. The first seminar “The current global financial-economic crisis and the problems posed to the countries” took place in Paris in November 2012. The seminar focused on analyzing urgent issues posing to countries, especially the movement to fight for justice, social security, as well as challenges in protecting the legitimate interests of the majority of people strongly affected by the global economic crisis and recession. The second workshop on “International integration and sustainable development” took place in Hanoi, in October, 2015 focusing on theoretical and practical issues in the process of regional and international integration of the two countries. It contributed to supplementing and enriching the system of theoretical points of view serving the planning of each party’s development path in general and foreign policy in particular in the context of regional and national integration with the goal of sustainable development. The third workshop took place in Paris in June, 2018 on “Main opportunities and challenges in the current period for the political role of the French Communist Party in Europe and for the innovation cause, country development of the Communist Party of Vietnam”. The workshop focused on analyzing the new features of the current international political setting, identifying opportunities and challenges posed by the two parties as revolutionary political forces in the fight for a world of peace, justice, democracy and progress. The regular organization of the theoretical discussion mechanism plays an important role in creating a collaborative theoretical research framework, serving as a bridge to exchange experiences, share information and deepen collaborative relationships between the two parties.

In addition, the two parties have also coordinated to organize many seminars and cultural activities to honor the friendship and traditional solidarity, considering it as the foundation for deepening the relationship between the two countries. Of which, some could be named such two talk shows “General Vo Nguyen Giap and 60 years of Dien Bien Phu victory (1954-2014)” in April 2014 and “Vietnam from the struggle for national liberation up to now” in April 2015 in the suburbs of Paris; the exhibition “Warriors for Vietnam peace” in June 2014 in Paris; display of the People’s Newspaper at the French Communist Party’s annual L’Humanité fair, and so on. The above activities are of great significance, promoting the development of practical and effective cooperation between the two parties; at the same time contribute to strengthening mutual understanding between the people of the two countries in the process of building and developing a strategic partnership between France and Vietnam.

The relationship between the French Communist Party and the Vietnamese Communist Party is based on the early days of its establishment and is nurtured through the history of revolutionary struggle, on the basis of friendship solidarity, faithful attachment, sincerity, frankness and mutual respect among the communists. Comrade Fabien Roussel, the National Secretary of the French Communist Party, affirmed: “Nothing can be compared with the link between the Communist Party of Vietnam and the French Communist Party. It is a special pride when it comes to the founding members of the French Communist Party, including President Ho Chi Minh, who led the struggle to liberate the Vietnamese people against colonialism and imperialism”. He emphasized “the international solidarity between the two Parties, the two countries and the people of the two countries have surpassed history and been sustainable”.  He pointed out that, at the time of the current great global upheavals, “it is necessary that we open a new phase for international solidarity and internationalism”(13).

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Endnotes:

(1), (2) Nguyen Thanh An: Three French soldiers fighting for Vietnam peace, http://ct.qdnd.vn/quoc-te/ba-chien-si-phap-dau-tranh-vi-hoa-binh-cho-viet-nam-517265, December 17, 2014.

(3) Alain Ruscio: Henri Martin, militant de la liberation humaine (Henri Martin, a soldier fighting for the liberation of humanity), L’Humanité (Humanitarian) February 18, 2015, https: //humanite.fr/henri-martin-militant-de-la-liberation-humaine-566012.

(4) http://www.vietnamplus.vn/ton-vinh-nhung-nguoi-ban-phap-dau-tranh-vi-hoa-binh-viet-nam/264263.vnp.

(5) Nhan Dan Newspaper, No. 172, dated March 16, 1954, p.3.

(6) See also: The new situation and the immediate tasks of the French Communist Party (Report (excerpt), Resolution, closing speech at the 16th Congress of the French Communist Party), Truth Publishing House, Hanoi , 1961, p.65, 66 ...

(7), (8) Nguyen Huu Chinh: Great Sentiments, Nhan Dan Newspaper, No. 5088, dated March 17, 1968, p.3.

(9) See also: French Communist Party and Negotiations in Paris, http://www.tgvn.com.vn/Item/VN/Hiepdinh/2013/1/83462AE6A05942BB.

(10) People, No. 6717, dated September 14, 1972, p.3.

(11), (12) VNA: General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong receives the National Secretary of the French Communist Party, http://hanoimoi.com.vn/Tin-tuc/Doi-ngoai/897055/tong-bi-thu -trans-in-the-next-to-the-national-is-to-be-in-the-state-of-the-art-san-phap, March 28, 2018.

 

(13) Central Theoretical Council: Main opportunities and challenges for the political role of the French Communist Party in Europe and for the renovation and national development of the Communist Party of Vietnam, Truth National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2019, p.112-114.

Nguyen Thi Minh Thao, MA

Institute of International Relations,

Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics

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