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Monday, 25 January 2016 09:32
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Creativeness in the Party’s foreign guideline in the renovation period

(LLCT) - One of the most striking characteristics of the renovation of the Party’s thoughts of foreign affairs was to thoroughly grasp, apply, and creatively develop Marxism - Leninism and Ho Chi Minh Thought regarding diplomacy.

After the historic Victory in the Spring of 1975, Vietnam was reunified; however, besides the obtained important achievement, the country’s socio-economic situation was very complicated, along with more and more difficulties and challenges in security and foreign affairs. By the mid-1980s, the revolutionary cause of the country was urgently required to find a way out of the socio-economic crisis and eliminate the embargo caried out by the hostile forces, and continue the target of advancing socialist construction.

Meeting the above requirements, the 6th Congress of the Party (1986) initiated comprehensive renovation, opening a new period in the country’s revolutionary history. In the field of foreign affairs, the Congress conducted a renovation in mind based on the guidelines drawn up in the Resolution 32/BCT of the Politburo of 5th tenure (July 1986) regarding opening a new context of struggle towards creating favorable international conditions for socialist construction and national defense, and for creating a firm foundation for focused economic development. The process of renovating the thinking of the Party and forming new foreign policy was increasingly improved and enriched with new viewpoints.

One of the most striking characteristics of the renovation of the Party’s thoughts of foreign affairs was to thoroughly grasp, apply, and creatively develop Marxism - Leninism and Ho Chi Minh Thought regarding diplomacy. From many angles, the Party’s renovation of thinking in foreign policies was coming back to the thinking based on Marxist - Leninist dialectical historical materialism and Ho Chi Minh’s sound strategic vision and foreign tactics. The essence of Ho Chi Minh’s diplomatic thoughts characterised by humanity, peace, openness, principle and flexibility became the theoretical foundation and ideological banner for Vietnam’s foreign affairs in the renovation period.

It can be noted that the creativeness of the Party in foreign guideline in the renovation period was clearly shown in many fields. First, the Party attached importance to renovating the perception and assessment of the world’s situation and development trends. Previously, when analyzing the world situation, due to the Cold War and harsh East - West confrontation, our awareness could often become “one-sided”. So the complex motions in the world situation, especially relationships between the powerful countries and the detente trend between them had been not fully realized, and those events unfavorable for the socialist system, especially from the late 1970s onwards, not foreseen. The 6th Congress put forth the issue of expanding the foreign relations in the face of development of the detente trend in the world, the trend of internationalization and economic cooperation between countries with different social systems. The Congress clearly showed that, in order to combine the strength of nation and the era, the country should join the international division of labor on the principle of equality and mutual benefit. This is one of the clearest manifestations of innovation of the Party’s thinking of foreign policy on the basis of application of Marxist-Leninist principles and Ho Chi Minh’s diplomacy, opening up the possibility of correct understanding of the relationship between national interests and international obligations, between security and development, between cooperation and struggle to implement two strategic missions of building and defending the Fatherland.

The creative breakthrough in the development of the foreign policy thinking, as well as the perception of the global situation and the trend of the era was started by Resolution 13 of the Politburo (May 1988), and after that it was enhanced by Resolution 6 of the Party Central Committee (March 1989). While highlighting the complex nature of the class struggle, the Party showed the possibility to repel the increasing threat of world war; as well as the growing trend of struggle and cooperation in peaceful coexistence between the countries with different social systems. Peace, stability and development had emerged as a major trend of the time. On this basis, the Party defined that firm maintenance of peace and economic development was the first priority in the foreign policy, emphasizing the strategy of “acquiring more friends and less enemies,” multilateralization of international relations on the principle of respecting sovereignty and mutual benefit, being determined and proactive in advancing towards struggle and cooperation in peaceful coexistence. Resolution 6 of the Party Central Committee also pointed out the need to strongly shift diplomatic activities from mainly political relations to political - economic ones and to expand foreign economic relations to serve the cause of national construction and defense. The breakthrough in the thinking on foreign affairs helped to shape the fundamental viewpoints of the Party’s foreign policy of independence, openness, diversification, multilateralization.

The most key point in renewing the thought of international relations is that the Party was aware more deeply of the huge shift in international relations, especially in the relations between the major countries from fierce political - military rivalry and economic localization to simultaneous fighting and cooperating in peaceful coexistence. Therefore, the Party formed perception which has increasingly proven correct and more close to the issue of rallying forces and handling international issues directly related to Vietnam. In the face of the new dynamics in the world since the mid-1980s, the Party’s thinking on international relations were adjusted and developed until they became more flexible and lively. Since the 6th Congress, the Party has tried to take advantage of the strong development of the scientific and technological revolution and internationalization trend and made use of our optimal position in the international division of labor to expand international cooperation, done away with economic and political embargo and isolation. The Party correctly and exactly defined the focal points to break with that embargo: solving the Cambodian problem, the normalization of relations with China, establishing relationships with ASEAN and improving contacts with the US in order to advance normalizing relations between the two countries. The choice of this “breakthrough” had laid the foundation for high priorities of the Party and State in developing relations with neighboring countries and the major countries after the era of the Cold War.

On the other hand, the Party placed more focus on renovating some radical problems of the modern time. In the face of extremely complex movements of the world, especially after the collapse of the socialist regime in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, the issues of the modern time became a hot agenda for ideological struggle and reasoning. However, thanks to the efforts to renovate the theoretical thinking, reviewing domestic and international realities, the Party has gradually completed its perception of the modern time. The approach became more close, appropriate and clear, importantly contributing to the formation of the concept of socialism and the path to socialism in Vietnam. The 6th Congress properly identified that Vietnam was in the first stage of the transitional period. At the same time, “due to effort to advance straight to socialism from a small-scale production, passing by the stage of developing capitalism”, the transition period in Vietnam woukd be long and very difficult.

The 7th Congress of the Party took place when the socialist regime in Eastern Europe collapsed and the Soviet Union deviated from the reform line and was facing risks of disintegration; the international communist movement fell into a deep crisis. However, based on reviewing the realities of the renovation and thorough analysis of the international situation, the Congress adopted the Program of National construction during the transitional period to socialism, which confirmed that “Socialism is facing many difficulties and challenges. The world history is undergoing the winding steps; but humanity will eventually advance to socialism because it is the objective law of historical evolution(1). This viewpoint continued to be thoroughly grasped and clarified in the Party’s documents after 1991. This highlights the firm and consistent stand of the Party for socialist ideals and Marxist - Leninist theory on the rules of historical evolution. At the same time, this is the scientific ground for orienting the Party’s internal and foreign policy at the turning points of the time. The most essential point in the Party’s developed perception of the era was the clear view that transition to socialism would be a long historical period passing through many stages and it would not be simple and easy, but harsh and complex. This awareness helped Vietnam to decisively break with the subjective and one-sided thinking on the movement of the era of transition to socialism caused by the non-realization of the whole tough and complex nature of this transition. The Party attached great importance to assessing fundamental contradictions of the era, and also additionally clarified the main features of the contemporary world, such as the role of the scientific and technological revolution, the trend of globalization and knowledge-based economy for the historical development tempo of nations.

The Party always focuses on identifying and clarifying the guiding ideology for foreign affairs on the basis of national interests and foreign policy goals. For Vietnam, the highest benefits and goals of foreign affairs, which have been defined by the Party, are firmly maintaining peace for development, i.e. creating a peaceful international environment conducive to renovation and socialist-orientated socio-economic development, implementing the goals of a wealthy people, a strong country, a democratic, equitable and civilised society, and firmly safeguarding national independence, sovereignty and security. Therefore, the guiding ideology for foreign affairs is keeping to the principles of independence, unity and socialism. At the same time, there must be creativity, dynamism and flexibility in accordance with the position, conditions and specific circumstances of Vietnam, as well as evolution of the world and regional situation, in accordance with each subject with whom we have relations. This is also the inheritance and creative application of the viewpoint: “Taking the immutable to cope with the mutable” keeping consistent with strategic principles, but being soft and flexible in tactics, which comes from Ho Chi Minh’s strategy of foreign thinking in the new situation.

Continuing to develop and deepening the guiding thinking on foreign affairs outlined at the previous Congresses, the 10th Congress of the Party affirmed the viewpoint: “Consistently implementing the foreign guideline of independence, peace, cooperation and development; and the foreign policy of openness, multilateralization and diversification of international relations. It is important to continue implementing proactive and intensified international economic integration while expanding international cooperation in other fields. Vietnam is a friend and reliable partner of all countries in the international community, actively participating in the international and regional cooperation process”(2). The viewpoint of the 10th Congress was succeeded, complemented, and more comprehensively developed by the 11th Congress which defined: “Consistently implementing the foreign guideline of independence, self-reliance, peace, cooperation and development; multilateralization and diversification of relations, carrying out proactive and intensidied international integration; enhancing the standing of the country; for national and state interests, for a socialist and prospering Vietnam; being a friend and reliable partner and responsible member of the international community, contributing to the cause of peace, national independence, democracy and social progress in the world”(3). Thoroughly grasping the steering viewpoints is an important factor to protect interests of the nation in the international integration process and first of all to maintain national independence, self-governance, sovereignty and socialist orientation. On the other hand, on that basis, Vietnam can continue to expand its foreign relations, enhance its international status, enlist outside resources to serve economic construction and development and national defense. With the new position and strength of the country, the guiding ideology of the Party emphasizes not only proactivity and activeness  in international integration, but also shows  a sense of high responsibility of the country in handling world and regional issues, contributing to peace, cooperation and development.

While consistent with the goals of the line of independence, peace, cooperation and development of the foreign policy of openness, multilateralization and diversification, the Party has always defined the main task for foreign affairs during the whole renovation period. This task is further confirming and developing the 11th Congress. That is: “maintaining the peaceful and favourable environment conducive to intensified industrialization and modernization, firmly safeguarding national independence, sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity; enhancing the standing of the country; positively contributing to the struggle for peace, national independence, democracy and social progress”(4). The foreign task of primary importance is to strive to protect national interests, creating a peaceful environment for the cause of building and defending the Fatherland. The Foreign policy must be derived from the supreme interests of the nation which is to build a Vietnam as a wealthy people, a strong country with a democratic, equitable and civilized society, and to create conditions favorable international conditions for the sake of those benefits. However, the hightliting of national interests does not mean an abandonment or neglect of the genuine internationalism; we shall contribute to implement the Party’s international obligations in such conditions and promote the progressive revolutionary forces in the world, fighting for the lofty goals of the time are: peace, national independence, democracy and social progress.

The Party’s creativity in foreign policy is also reflected by the putting forward and implementing the mottos for handling international affairs. That are: successfully constructing and firmly defending the socialist Fatherland is the highest guaranty of national interests; combining patriotism with genuine internationalism of the working class; mastering both aspects of struggling and cooperating in international relations, promoting two sides of struggle and cooperation to cooperate and to avoid direct confrontation and to avoid being pushed into isolation; firmly maintaining independence, self-reliance, pushing up diversification and multilateralization of diplomatic relations; attaching importance to regional cooperation, at the same time, expanding relations with all countries, including highlighting relations with the major powers; proactively participating in multilateral organizations in the region and the world.

By carrying out the renovated creative and correct foreign guideline, Vietnam has recorded important achievements, sustaining the peaceful environment; the external relations have been constantly expanded and the country’s recognition has been increasingly enhanced on the international arena. The foreign line has made many worthy contributions to the cause of building and defending the Fatherland. Vietnam has more proactively and positively integrated into the world in many fields, contributing to consolidate the trend of peace, cooperation and development in the region and the world.

Vietnam has established diplomatic relations with 177 countries, including all major countries, and has trade relations with 220 countries and territories, while being a official member of all large international organizations and major commercial, financial organizations of the region and the world. Vietnam has dynamically expanded relations of friendship and comprehensive cooperation with neighboring countries; has proactively promoted relations with the major countries and industrialized, developed countries, creating a positive step in the process of strengthening and building frameworks of strategic partnership, comprehensive partnership, cooperation and developing partnership. Vietnam has attached great importance to strengthening and developing relationships with traditional friendly partners and with the developing countries of Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

Foreign activities for the sake of economic development have been paid particular attention. Up to now, Vietnam has attracted more than 17 thousand FDI projects with a total registered capital of more than $170 billion. The international business and donor community has shown clear confidence in the renovation cause, continuing to commit to provide funds and assistance to Vietnam. Besides the main markets, which are Japan, ASEAN, China, South Korea, the European Union (EU), the United States, and Australia, Vietnamese goods have sharply surged up on other markets such as Russia, the Middle East, Latin America and Africa. Thus, given the difficult context of the current global economy, Vietnam has enlisted external resources, practically contributing to overcoming the economic downturn. The foreign affairs sector has accompanied and joined hands with the whole nation, contributing to its socio - economic development. Vietnam remains an attractive destination to foreign investors.

Cultural diplomacy has been identified as one of the three pillars of modern diplomacy of Vietnam along with political diplomacy and economic diplomacy. With the focused motto of “spreading, making contacts, opening roads, moving and absorbing” cultural diplomacy attaches importance to promoting the  image and potential of the country with abundance of diverse activities, which have made good impression on and won the international community sympathy. With its unique and traditional cultural assets, Vietnam is more confidently and dynamically rising to a new height in exchange and integration with the region and the world.

The well-balanced and effective coordination of the Party’s foreign affairs, people-to-people diplomacy  and  State foreign affairs  has created the diverse outlooks and rich contents and forms of the Vietnamese foreign affairs sector in the integration process. Relations of the Party with the communist parties, the workers’ or  leftist parties, and the democratic social progress movements are continuing to be strengthened and developed. Thereby, there is practical coordination of actions among the parties, meeting interests of each party at bilateral relations and multilateral forums. The Party also attaches importance to proactively expanding its relations with ruling parties, especially with those in the neighboring countries and in the region, contributing to increasing diplomatic relations of states. People-to-people diplomacy is continueing its comprehensive innovation with the participation of more and more numerous forces, sectors and partners. Working with foreign non-governmental organizations has managed to attract funding sources, practically contributing to socio-economic development of the country. Mobilization of international opinions and information - communication about our foreign affairs have been increasingly innovated in both content and form. Vietnam has enlisted the support of many countries and non-governmental organizations in the struggle of opinions regarding sensitive political issues, as well as regarding the unreasonable impositions on Vietnamese enterprises in international economic trade relations in recent times.

The multilateral diplomacy of Vietnam has strongly developed and made great progress. At international and regional forums, Vietnam has cooperated with many countries to struggle for peace and to protect the fundamental principles of international law and the Charter of the United Nations. Vietnam was elected member and has fulfilled the important responsibility of a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for the 2008 - 2009 term. Vietnam has skillfully handed complex issues and proactively proposed many important initiatives. In particular, in July 2008 and October 2009, twice in the capacity of Chairman of the UN Security Council, Vietnam clearly showed its proactiveness and flexibility in forming rational working agendas, selecting and promoting the discussions on the issues concerning the international community. Among them, the largest impression to be mentioned was the hosting by Vietnam of two successful expanded plenary discussion sessions of the UN Security Council on the topic of “Children and armed conflict” (CAAC) and “Meeting the needs of women’s and young girls in post-conflict period”. The countries and international organizations participating in these sessions highly appreciated the topics selected by Vietnam, which were purposeful and had high and profound humanitarian impact - protecting children and women who suffer to the utmost in conflicts and wars. Participating in the Security Council with the responsibility of a non-permanent member, Vietnam had favorable conditions for taking part in solving socio-political problems, solving directly or indirectly-related problems of international security, and at the same time, more positively contributing to the efforts to maintain peace, stability and development in the world.

It can be said that never have the foreign relations of Vietnam been as expanded and developed, as they are now. The foreign affairs sector in the renovation period has recorded great achievements. Firstly, it has contributed to maintaining a peaceful environment, well-enlisting external resources for the goal of national development; secondly, it  has become more confident and is striving to rapidly grow to maturity, taking advantage of opportunities, overcoming challenges and contributing to raising the national standing on the international stage. These achievements are the most vivid expression of the creativity and soundness of the Party’s renovated foreign guideline. 


Assoc. Prof., Dr. Nguyen Tat Giap

Vice President

Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics

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