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Applying foreign experience for the people's public security diplomacy for period of 1945 - 1975, meeting the requirements of the new era

(PTOJ) - The People's Public Security Force is led, educated, and trained by the Party and President Ho Chi Minh, becoming a "sacred sword" to protect the Party, the State, and the people. This article outlines the role of foreign affairs in the process of construction and development in the period of 1945-1975; overcoming difficulties, achieving important results, leving valuable lessons and experiences. Thereby, some solutions are to be proposed on applying these experiences to current practice.

The 39th ASEANAPOL opens in Hanoi on September, 2022 - Photo: bocongan.gov.vn 

1. People’s Public Security diplomacy contributed to the implementation of revolutionary tasks in the period 1945 - 1975

With the establishment of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (September 2, 1945) the Government had to face an extremely difficult situation. The country had to deal with internal and external enemies; at the same time, no country recognized its independence or established diplomatic relations with Vietnam. At this period, the resistance war for national salvation of the three peoples of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia shared a common enemy, the French colonialists, and the three Indochinese countries became a common battlefield. Therefore, in the initial stage of implementing foreign affairs, the People’s Public Security Forces (PPFS) had a relationship with only the Lao Police Force and the Cambodian Police Force.

In response to Vietnam’s desire and determination to “Make friends with all democratic countries and not cause enmity with anyone”(1), since 1950, the Governments of China, the Soviet Union, North Korea, Czechoslovakia, German Democratic Republic, Hungary, Romania, Poland, Bulgaria, etc., established diplomatic relations with the Democratic Republic of Vietnam State which had been internationally recognized as a sovereign state. From this point, the PPSF has conducted foreign affairs and international cooperation with the police forces of the socialist countries. In particular, the relationship and cooperation with Chinese Public Security must be mentioned.

With the consent of the Party Central Committee, the Central Public Security Bureau requested the Chinese Public Security to support the Vietnam People’s Public Security to focus on building its forces in many fields; in which, paying special attention to the construction of the security force. At that time, the Chinese Public Security sent experts to directly support the Central Public Security School’s leadership in compiling textbooks for teaching basic professional subjects in police work and directly teaching a number of topics on the police profession for students of the School.

The Police of Cao Bang province in collaboration with the Police of Guangxi province - China in combating reactionary forces in the border area, the two sides successfully carried out the the campaign of defeating and expelling these reactionary forces; At the same time, the Police of Cao Bang province sent many delegations to take part in professional exchanges with the Police of Guangxi province. Thus, in foreign relations, cooperation with the Chinese police during this time, on the one hand, shows effective cooperation with the counter party in the campaign of combating and expelling reactionary forces, while on the other hand, allowed for learned experience to improve professional skills of officers, contributing to the protection and security in the Northeast region of the country.

In order to gradually reinforce itself, the PPSF has taken advantage its international conditions and enlisted the help of the various PPSFs of the socialist countries in the fields of officers training, construction of facilities, and provision of professional means and techniques to the PPSF.

When the delegation of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam’s Government went to the Geneva Conference, the comrades sent to protect the delegation actively contacted the Ministry of Security of the German Democratic Republic to support in a number of technical means such as metal detectors and noise signal detectors, etc., These professional facilities effectively supported the PPSF in protecting the safety of members of the delegation, their residences and work, as well as the secret documents and negotiation advocates, preventing the enemy infiltrating and gathering information, and eavesdropping by technical means. At the same time, the force also contacted the Soviet’s security to help check the technique, promptly detecting and removing the eavesdropper tech placed on the phone in our delegation’s room by the enemy(2).

In the early years of implementing these initial foreign affairs, the PPSF broke through the enemy’s encirclement and isolation, contributing to the opening of the Vietnam-China border and ensuring the safety of receiving aid from China, the Soviet Union and the other socialist countries, for the Vietnamese revolution, and aid in the resistance war against the French colonialists.

After the Geneva Agreements, the North was at peace, and the intelligence and espionage forces of the imperialist countries increased their activities to sabotage the North of Vietnam by using many tricks and technical means. Meanwhile, the Vietnam PPSF still lacked a lot of experience, with the number of officers with formal training being minimal, and there were no professional technical means to prevent, detect and fight against the enemy’s counter-action.

The Vietnam PPSF was well aware that in order to build a force strong enough to meet the requirements of practical work, besides promoting internal factors, there were urgent requirements in the construction of the PPSF in order to equip the personel with professional knowledge, scientific knowledge, and technology for the officers. Since then, the Ministry of Public Security decided to enlist the help of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of some countries in the socialist side, especially the help of the Soviet Union, in order to gradually improve the professional qualifications of public security officers and to build the initial technical base for the field.

At the end of 1955, the cooperation and assistance relationship between the Vietnam and the Soviet police forces was officially established. The cooperation with the USSR Committee for State Security was determined to be of strategic importance. The USSR Committee for State Security helped build a comprehensive Vietnam PPSF, which focused on two key tasks: training staff and equipping materials, weapons, and technical means.

In the field of training officers, the Soviet Union helped the Vietnam PPSF train a force of qualified police officers to complete assigned tasks. With more than 40 years of experience in counterintelligence combat, the USSR Committee for State Security helped the Vietnam PPSF train a large number of officers, gradually consolidating its forces, developing a number of commands and charters, a working regime and building a system of curricula in police schools. In early 1959, the Soviet Union sent experts to assist the Central Public Security School in developing training content and programs, and at the same time to directly teach and train the school’s teachers and staffs. The teaching content was meticulously recorded by the staffs of the research departments as a basis for building and compiling into lectures for use in training at the school(3).

In 1960, a number of police officers who had experience in the resistance war against the French colonialists were sent by the Ministry of Public Security to supplement their professional skills in the Soviet Union. After the first professional refresher course, the Soviet Union helped train thousands of police officers. Most of the officers who were trained in the Soviet Union later became key leaders of the PPSF at all levels, such as Comrade Bui Thien Ngo - Former Politburo member, Minister of Home Affairs (now the Ministry of Public Security); Comrade Tran Quyet - Former Secretary of the Party Central Committee, Deputy Minister of Home Affairs; Comrade Pham Tam Long - Former Member of the Party Central Committee, Standing Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, etc(4).

During the period from the late 1970s to the mid-1980s, the Soviet security and interior agencies, especially the USSR Committee for State Security, helped Vietnam train 2,380 officers, including leaders from central to local levels and professional and technical staffs with specialties in counterintelligence, reconnaissance, security, ideological culture, ciphering, policing, professional technology(5); these officers are valuable human resources for the Vietnam PPSF.

With the help of the Soviet Union, Vietnam PPSF trained a team of officers with professional qualifications, in-depth expertise, and knowledge of high-level science and technology; with access to new knowledge and professional experience accumulated from decades of fighting against spies, contributing step by step to building a strong PPSF, meeting the requirements of revolutionary practice.

In parallel with the training of staff, the USSR National Security Committee also helped the Vietnam People’s Public Security to build a number of important scientific and technical projects such as 5 technical bases for radio testing used in professional work, assembled in 1957; project “Orient” for air reconnaissance which started construction in 1960 and was put into use in 1963; project 75810 (“Orient II”) for coding work, including Ha Dong Transmitter Center, Positioning Station in Quang Binh, Dien Bien Phu, with a total value of 17 million rubles; project 75812 (Security Officer School) with a scale of 1,000 students, worth 3.5 million rubles; project 75822 (College of Fire Prevention and Fighting) with a scale of 300 students, worth 1.36 million rubles; additional aid for the project 75391 (for technical reconnaissance); electronic computer center for information processing and aiding the Altai radio-telephone system to enhance communication capabilities of Vietnam PPSF, etc(6).

In addition to important scientific and professional works for long-term combat work, the Soviet Union also provided the Ministry of Public Security with many modern means and weapons to serve immediate and urgent combat requirements such as 125 communication vehicles of all kinds, 85 walkie-talkies, 65 5-KW generators, 30 10-digit field switchboards, 500km field telephone lines; 60 cars fitted with radio communication equipment, 100 ultra-short telephones(7), and so on.

Counting the number of fire fighting vehicles alone, according to the summary of the Vietnam Fire and Rescue Police Force, over 10 years (from 1965-1975) only 11 localities were equipped with 24 vehicles, and 10 fire pumps, gradually increase to 20 localities which were equipped with 166 vehicles and 128 fire pumps, including 19 types produced by 5 countries, most of which were from the Soviet Union(8).

The facilities and means of technical and professional equipment donated by the Soviet Union have contributed to increasing the combat strength of the Vietnam PPSF in the cause of fighting against the US, saving the country, defending the North, liberating the South, and the reunification of the country.

In addition, Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security also promotes cooperation with the PPSF of socialist countries such as the Ministry of Public Security of the German Democratic Republic, the Ministry of the Interior of Hungary, etc.. Through the leadership relationship, the PPSF has proposed from the counterparty to help to build many construction works and aid with many modern vehicles and weapons which effectively serve work and combat. Specifically: The German Democratic Republic supported the construction of the first mobile phone exchange of the PPSF; The Hungarian Ministry of Interior provides a lot of equipment for secret listening and secret listening detection, secret unlocking technology and photography, tools for censorship of letters and parcels, and a number of criminal science and technology tools, etc.

During the two resistance wars for national liberation from 1945 to 1975, closely following and creatively applying the foreign policy of the Party and the State, the PPSF promoted the synergy and strength of the entire people and took advantage of the enthusiastic and effective support of the security forces and internal affairs of socialist countries, contributing to building and strengthening the PPSF. From a force lacking almost all technical equipment and experience, the PPSF has been strengthened, becoming a force with a team of professional staff trained locally and abroad, with a technical basis with advanced equipment, capable of successfully completing assigned tasks.

The multi-faceted support of the Party, the Government, and people of other countries for Vietnam in general and for the PPSF in particular, is of great significance, contributing to building a truly strong and comprehensive PPSF. At a time when Vietnam was the leading flag in the anti-imperialist movement, the help of countries in the socialist system had an important influence on the victory of the Vietnamese revolution.

From the practical results of the People’s Public Security’s diplomacy during the two resistance wars for national liberation, we are left with the following lessons learned from this historical experience:

Firstly, we must always thoroughly grasp the lines and viewpoints of the Party and the State’s policies and apply them creatively to the reality of the tasks of the PPSF in diplomacy.

Secondly, identifying and attaching importance to international cooperation with neighboring countries, especially countries with shared borders, is an important and practical factor for the prevention of and the fight against hostile and criminal forces.

Thirdly, always be active and proactive in promoting foreign relations and international cooperation; at the same time, determining that cooperation must be focused in order result in high efficiency.

Fourthly, for the cooperation to be effective, in-depth, and helpful for leaders to understand all aspects of foreign affairs, it is necessary to have a specialized and in-depth organization for this work.

2. Applying the experience to People’s Public Security’s diplomacy in the new situation

In the current period, our country is entering the stage of deep international integration, with many opportunities and advantages intertwined with many risks and challenges in the process of developing, building, and protecting the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. The trend in the development of international relations developing in a very complicated way, directly affecting national interests and security. The orientation of foreign affairs in the new situation was emphasized by the 13th National Party Congress: “Continuing to implement the foreign policy of independence, self-reliance, multilateralization, comprehensive, extensive and effective diversification, and active international integration; maintaining a peaceful and stable environment, constantly improving Vietnam’s international position and prestige”(9).

Consistently implementing the Party’s foreign policy, the PPSF has been independent, self-reliant, open, multilateralized, diversified in its relations, and actively integrated into the world, thereby leading the Public Security’s diplomacy to become extensive and intensive, in fact in many fields, with many partners. Up to now, the Ministry of Public Security has cooperated with 194 member countries of the International Criminal Police Organization INTERPOL; in which it has set up official relations with 150 ministries, and ministerial-level agencies of 64 countries and territories, established multi-faceted relations with law enforcement agencies of the United Nations Permanent Security Council, participating in activities at 18 organizations, 13 forums and 12 cooperation mechanisms inside and outside the region.

Thoroughly grasping the Resolution of the 13th National Party Congress, appling experiences drawn from the history of PPSF’s diplomacy in the period 1945 - 1975, promoting the role of the People’s Public Security’s diplomacy, and meeting the requirements of the revolutionary tasks; the PPSF needs to focus on:

Firstly, thoroughly grasp and strictly implement the foreign policy and international integration guidelines of the Party and the State in the direction of “proactive and active international integration”, with the motto of “synchronously and comprehensive implementing” foreign affairs activities in the fields set out by the 13th National Party Congress. Combine external relation activities of the Party, State diplomacy, and specialized public security diplomacy in the implementation of foreign affairs; linking foreign affairs and international cooperation with the protection of national security, and maintaining peace and stability in the region and in the world.

Secondly, continue to consolidate, expand and develop cooperative relations related to foreign affairs with other countries and international organizations, gradually bringing cooperative relations to new depths, stability, sustainability, accuracy and focus. Actively seize opportunities, being aware of challenges, choosing the level of participation and actively initiating regional and international security linkage mechanisms, in line with the national security interests of Vietnam.

Thirdly, actively advise and propose amendments and supplements to perfect the legal system, and create a legal corridor to effectively serve foreign affairs and international cooperation. Continue to study, develop, negotiate, sign or submit to competent authorities for signing, approval, and ratification of bilateral and multilateral international treaties and agreements in order to create an appropriate legal framework, and meet the requirements of cooperation in protecting national security.

Fourthly, urgently review and arrange work tasks suitable to the capacity of the specialized force performing the People’s Public Security diplomacy tasks; attach importance to building, training, and fostering a contingent of officers engaged in diplomacy with solid political spirit, professional qualifications, and skills to meet the requirements of public security work in general and the tasks of PPSF’s foreign affairs and international cooperation in particular.

Fifthly, strengthen and improve the effectiveness of leadership in the direction of the initiative, responsibility, professionalism, and efficiency, contributing to the successful implementation of the “Strategy to protect the Fatherland in the new situation”, maintain political stability, protect sovereignty, serve sustainably and positivly develop, and proactively integrate into the international community of the country.

Excelling in diplomacy, the PPSF has created a solid position, enhancing the potential and the position of the Vietnam People’s Public Security. The political trust from security cooperation results has facilitated the expansion and development of cooperation in many fields, contributing to strengthening the relationship between Vietnam and other countries more deeply, comprehensively, and effectively.


Received: March 4, 2022; Revised: May 12, 2022; Approved for Publication: June 20, 2022.



(1) Ho Chi Minh: Complete Works, vol.5, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2011, p.256.

(2), (5) Ministry of Public Security: Proceedings of the Scientific Conference on History of the Vietnamese People’s Public Security in the cause of the resistance war against the US for national salvation, People’s Public Security Publishing House, Hanoi, 2010, p.133,136.

(3) People’s Security Academy: History of People’s Security Academy, internal circulation, Hanoi, 2006, p.55.

(4), (6), (7) Ministry of Public Security: Department of International Cooperation, Summary of the history of foreign affairs and international cooperation of the Vietnam People’s Public Security Forces (1950-2005), Ha Noi, 2007, p.12, 13, 19.

(8) Ministry of Public Security: History of Fire prevention, fighting and Rescue tasks of the Vietnam People’s Public Security Force (1961-2016), internal circulation, People’s Public Security Publishing House, Hanoi, 2016.

(9) Communist Party of Vietnam: Documents of the 13th National Party Congress, vol.II, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2021, p.331-332.


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