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Monday, 26 July 2021 19:45
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Ho Chi Minh Thought on humanity to be applied to promoting Vietnam’s national power in the new era

(LLCT) - Vietnamese humanity strength is the traditional value of the nation that inherited and developed by the Party in the light of Marxist humanism and Ho Chi Minh Thought on humanity. These actions capture the hearts of the Vietnamese people throughout the history of national construction and defense, especially the victories of the Vietnamese revolution in the fight for independence and in the process of renovation. In the new era, promoting the human power of Vietnam in the light of Ho Chi Minh Thought is a key for the nation to increase internal power and mobilize external forces.

The Party’s “Vision toward 2030 (100 years of establishment of the Party) and up to 2045 (100 years of establishment of the country)”(1) has expressed the great aspirations of the Party and our people. To realize that vision, it is required for the entire Party, people, and the army to bring into full play national strength, combined with the power of the times.

Looking back on the long history of our national building and safeguarding, it can be said that promoting human values is one of the sources of Vietnamese strength. Particularly, under the leadership of the Party, thanks to the creative application of Marxism-Leninism and Ho Chi Minh Thought, together with noble human values, our nation has mobilized the highest strength of national solidarity, at the same time gathered international forces effectively in the 90-year journey of the Vietnamese revolution. Most recently, imbued with Ho Chi Minh Thought on humanity, the Party has identified the goals and methods of combating the Covid-19 epidemic early, clearly and correctly, arousing great national power as well as enhancing Vietnam’s reputation and international status. Like other great victories of the Vietnamese revolution, the success in the “war” against the Covid-19 epidemic shows that, in both theory and practice, the application of Ho Chi Minh Thought on humanity is “the golden key” for highly promoting the national strength along with gathering forces and mobilizing international support, or it can be said that “human power” is an important component of Vietnam’s strength.

1. The concept of national power

In human history, in order to survive and develop, each country and nation must effectively mobilize all national resources. The concept of national power varies from time to time and differs in terms of points of view. Although it is the central concept of the international relations field, “power” has not yet fully defined(2). There are various ways to define “power”, but the most common are the following two definitions: According to a targeted approach, power is defined as the ability to affect and influence other subjects, and thus as a means of achieving national security. According to a capacity approach, power is often quantified by a mix of national resources and capabilities, often by quantifiable indicators such as military strength, economy, diplomacy, and communication(3). Due to the strong dominance of the Realist theory in international relations research, “national power” is often understood as hard power resources. For example, according to John Mearsheimer, national power stems from material foundations, especially military power(4). Meanwhile, Joseph Nye introduced a broader concept of hard power as “the ability to use both the carrot and a stick of economic and political power to force other countries according to their will”(5). Thus, in the traditional sense, when it comes to national power, people often refer to the possibility of coercion through the threat or use of force, economic pressure or punishment, alliances policy, gunboat diplomacy, and other forms of intimidation.

Since the late 1980s, Chinese strategic researchers have introduced a concept called Comprehensive National Power (CNP), which includes the role of economy and technology within the national power. The CNP measures a nation’s strength through combined quantification of indicators, taking into account military, economic and cultural factors(6). From the early 21st century, in the study of international relations, there emerged J. Nye’s views on soft power. According to J. Nye, national power is composed of hard power and soft power. Besides the above definition of hard power, J. Nye defined soft power based on cultural attractiveness, political ideals, or the foreign policies of the country. In other words, the soft power of one country is understood as the attraction, manipulation, and influence over another country without being coercive. Under President Obama, the U.S. Secretary H. Clinton emphasized the application of smart power. Accordingly, “smart power is not really hard or soft power but it is the skillful application of both types”(7). In recent years, with the explosion of new communication and technology, the concept of sharp power has emerged. According to Christopher Walker and Jessica Ludwig, sharp power is the use of foreign, information and media policies to manipulate, influence and weaken the opponent’s political system(8).

However, history and practice show that nations with great powers have not been completely successful in using the aforementioned types of power to obtain the desired influence, or in other words, win “human heart”. On the other hand, there are countries that have succeeded in defending and developing the country, enhancing national status not necessarily because of the superiority of hard, soft, or sharp, smart strength, but through the upholds common values to mobilize the entire people and garner the support of the international community. These are often the basic values of humanity.

Humanity is a universal value, an ideal, and a goal that mankind always pursues throughout its development process. In the history of human thought, there have been humanitarian ideas expressed at different levels, approaching from different angles, but generally finding ways to explain and respond to the needs of humans. On the national level, humanity embodies the enduring values that help oppressed peoples survive, helping them to create strength to gain independence, freedom, and peace. In this respect, the United Nations Scientific, Educational and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) states that “peace based exclusively upon the political and economic arrangements of governments would not be a peace which could secure the unanimous, lasting and sincere support of the peoples of the world, and that the peace must therefore be founded, if it is not to fail, upon the intellectual and moral solidarity of mankind”(9). Since the beginning of the 21st century, UNESCO has promoted the concept of “a new humanism for the 21st century”, which emphasizes the respect for the cultural diversity of peoples and global cooperation to address common issues, ensuring human equality and sustainable development(10).

2. Promote Ho Chi Minh Thought on humanity in shaping Vietnam’s national power

According to UNESCO’s definition of humanity, it can be said that Vietnam is a typical case in human history of promoting human values in the cause of building and defending the country. Over thousands of years of history, the Vietnamese people have defended their independence, sovereignty, freedom, and cultural identity against the strongest and most violent enemies, in a very disparate force relationship. A fundamental cause of success is the promotion of human values. When facing enemies, the Vietnamese people always have “passionate patriotism” and always be resilient, indomitable, and rather sacrifice everything than lose the country. To balance force relations, the key issue is to mobilize power to unite the whole nation under the banner of independence and autonomy. Accordingly, patriotism, the desire for peace, independence, and freedom “combined into an extremely powerful, huge wave, passed through all dangers and difficulties, engulfed all internal and external enemies”(11). However, when winning, our ancestors always thought about preserving a sustainable peace through a friendly foreign policy, ready to reconcile, even supplying horses and wagons for enemies to return home, “better for the whole army and let the people be related”(12).

Founded and mentored by President Ho Chi Minh, under the light of Marxist humanism and Ho Chi Minh Thought on humanity, the Party has always raised the flag of peace, independence, and freedom for the people for the past 90 years. On that basis, the Party mobilized the strength of universal solidarity, even in the context of a disparate force relationship, to win power during the August Revolution, to create the glorious Dien Bien Phu victory, to win the long war against US imperialism. Thereby, the nation’s aspirations for peace, independence, and freedom have been realized. During the revolutionary struggle, the Party always upholds justice, aspirations for peace, and independence to create a front to support Vietnam, thereby maximizing the power of the era.

In peacetime, following President Ho Chi Minh’s humanistic thought: “It is not independent if there are people who die of hunger and cold”(13), the Party focuses on building the country according to socialist orientation. The Party has bravely conducted the renovation with the goal for the people, for a peaceful and prosperous socialist Vietnam. With the foreign policy of peace, independence, sovereignty, multilateralization, and diversification, being a reliable partner, a responsible member of the international community, contributing to global peace, stability, and development, Vietnam has become a bright spot in the Asia-Pacific region with political stability, dynamic economic development, preeminent social security policies, uncompromising protect and establish national sovereignty, and territorial integrity by peaceful means, in compliance with international law. Thus, the preservation and promotion of human values is the basis for mobilizing the entire people’s power, taking advantage of the power of the era to help the nation overcome all challenges in national building and protection.

The foundation of the Vietnamese traditional humanistic power is the cultural and historical values of the country, which can be summarized as the tradition of peace-loving, steadfastness but friendliness, and upholding independence but willing to be friendly, for the sake of the people. Under the leadership of the Party, those values are systematized, supplemented, and strengthened in the light of Marxism - Leninism and especially Ho Chi Minh Thought. Approaching Marxist humanism, President Ho Chi Minh applied creatively and scientifically developed Vietnamese human values, thereby forming Ho Chi Minh Thought on humanity. He said “Vietnamese people have long lived together with affectionate bonds. As from the leadership and guideline of the Party, this affection has become even more beautiful, becoming the affection among fellow countrymen, and comrades. Understanding Marxism - Leninism is to live together affectionately. If you learn by heart books but live without affection, how can you call it understanding Marxism - Leninism”(14).

On the basis of the traditional humanistic values of the nation, absorbing the quintessence of humanity and in the light of Marxism - Leninism, Ho Chi Minh Thought on humanity strives for national liberation, class emancipation, human liberation and always associated with the goal of national independence and socialism. According to President Ho Chi Minh, national independence is the basis for freedom and happiness to the people, is the condition and basis for the liberation of working people from all forms of oppression and exploitation. National independence must be associated with socialism for independence to be sustainable and the happiness of the people is true, working people are completely liberated. He said, “Even if we win freedom and independence, but there are people dying of hunger and cold, then such freedom and independence are meaningless. People only understand the value of freedom and independence when they are well fed and dressed”(15).

The strength in Ho Chi Minh Thought on humanity is also shown in his love for other peoples, his tolerance, and generosity. He not only loved all of his people but also showed compassion and forgiveness towards those who have lost their way, even prisoners. He persistently pursued the path of human liberation in order to build a social regime in which people would have conditions for comprehensive development and creative abilities. Right from the time he was in France, he showed his noble purpose for his newspaper as follows “Le Paria is ready to enter the war; the purpose of this newspaper will surely be achieved: that is liberation of humankind”(16). This is the key point that made his thoughts not only the flag of the Vietnamese people, other oppressed peoples, but also all of humanity. That is why his ideology and culture are considered “the culture of the future”.

On the basis of applying those fundamental human values, Ho Chi Minh successfully enlisted the support of international friends and progressive humanity towards the Vietnamese revolution. “Though there are differences in the practices of each nation, it is common to love the good and hate the bad”, President Ho Chi Minh said(17). Promoting the emotional similarities of peace, friendship, reason and morality of progressive humanity, with deep human love and “proletarian friendship”, President Ho Chi Minh “stirred up and strengthen solidarity, took advantage of the consent and support of the people from different countries, organizations, forces who love peace and justice in the world toward the national construction process of our people”(18). In the diplomatic front, he “not only focused on promoting international law but also upheld righteousness, applied the values of Vietnamese traditional culture and diplomacy as well as popular and progressive ideas of mankind, always paid attention to discovering similarities, upheld humanity and morality in international relations”(19).

Thus, it can be affirmed that the theoretical basis of Vietnam’s human power is the traditional humanistic values of the nation inherited and developed by the Party in the light of Marxist humanism and Ho Chi Minh Thought on humanity. Ho Chi Minh Thought on humanity includes the creative application of fundamental human values of progressive humanity. Therefore, theoretically, the promotion of noble human values in the process of fighting for independence, defending the Fatherland and building socialism is a work in accordance with the rules and national interests, the will of the people as well as values of humanity and the era.

The practical basis of Vietnam’s human power is the conduct of the Vietnamese people throughout the history of national construction and defense, especially the victories of the Vietnamese revolution in the struggle for independence, freedom, and renovation. During the resistance war against French colonialism, Vietnam became the embodiment of the desire for national independence, followed by oppressed peoples and colonies everywhere in overthrowing old colonialism. With the victory over US imperialism, Vietnam continued to be a source of encouragement for the oppressed peoples to fight against imperialism and new colonialism. Successfully implementing the renovation with the achievement of poverty reduction, early completion of the Millennium Development Goals, Vietnam is becoming a model of dynamic development, contributing actively and responsibly to the general affairs of the world.

The latest evidence that Vietnam has emerged as a “model of success” with human values is in the midst of humans confronted with the current Covid-19 pandemic. International friends appreciate our people’s confidence in the leadership of the Party, the direction of the Government, the unity, the passionate patriotism, the compatriots of the Vietnamese. At the same time, the international community is touched by the noble deeds of a nation, though still have difficulties, but ready to support friends and partners; they admire the sense of responsibility of ASEAN solidarity, multilateral cooperation, connecting countries to overcome the pandemic of the century. It can be boldly stated that Vietnam was the conscience of humanity in the war against the US, while Vietnam is currently a prominent humanistic symbol in the world. CNN, the leading US news agency, commented that “this is incredibly amazing”(20) with Vietnam’s rice ATM initiative. Foreigners in Vietnam expressed: “Thank you for your gesture, your sacrifices, your kindness” and “with your strength, we are not afraid of anything”(21).

The cause of this success, first of all, is the wise leadership of the Party, the ultimate humanistic goal, “all-for-the-people” thought. Success is based on the principle: “Our people have a tradition of patriotism and humanity. Whenever the country is in trouble, the tradition is multiplied”(22). Therefore, we have fully utilized the strength of national unity, the effective operation of the political system, the responsibility of a loyal nation with respect to friends and partners. Therefore, Vietnam has acquired international support, status, and prestige enhancement. Human strength is also shown in the appeal to the nation and fellow countrymen by General Secretary, State President Nguyen Phu Trong, the instructions of the Prime Minister, the role of the National Assembly, the directives of the Politburo, the ministries, and local government. That strength is also reflected in the front-line efforts of the medical forces, the military, the police; in the gestures towards the people at home and abroad and also foreigners in Vietnam. Vietnam’s humanitarian strength is also reflected in meaningful aid shipments to friends all over the world, in joining hands with the ASEAN community and the international community to call for multilateral cooperation in the fight against the pandemic.

Thus, in terms of theory and practice, it can be determined that the current Vietnamese human strength is promoted from both internal and external sources. Internally, it is to uphold the goal of prosperous people, a strong country, and a democratic, equitable, civilized society, the implementation of the State of the people, by the people, for the people, and socialist orientation. It is also the building of the Vietnamese human value system imbued with the traditional human values and Ho Chi Minh Thought on humanity. Externally, it is the persistence of a peaceful, independent, autonomous foreign policy, making friends with other countries, upholding the law, being a responsible member of the world community, participating in solving common problems of humankind. Thereby, the world recognizes Vietnam as a country with the goal of a prosperous people, a strong country, sustainable development for human beings, and nature conservation; a nation that makes a positive effort to contribute positively to the peace and development of mankind. International friends see Vietnamese people, firstly through leaders and diplomats, through the people, as the embodiment of those who are resilient but peace-loving, independent, autonomous but full of responsibility to the common issues of mankind. If the notions of power, including soft power, are meant to influence, make other nations follow, human power is for the sake of humanity, and so is the power to win humanity. One of the concrete examples is that in the early period of the Covid-19 pandemic, the world, especially Western countries, mainly praised such models as Korea and Singapore. They ignored Vietnam due to their stereotyped view on a socialist-oriented country. Even Reuter, doubting the great success of Vietnam, went to survey at cemeteries to verify the death toll in Vietnam. However, with the clear purpose of “all for the people”, the unique and creative way, with the power of the people, the persistent efforts of the entire Party, the entire people, and the entire army, we have acquired the belief of the international community.

In the new “post-pandemic” era, mankind will surely undergo profound changes. Vietnam will also endure changes in various aspects to suit the “new normal” situation, to promote our strengths, and to overcome shortcomings. However, no matter how the situation changes, promoting human power in the light of Ho Chi Minh Thought is a necessary way to increase our internal strength and mobilize external forces. For the nation, uplifting the goals of “independence, sovereignty, unity, territorial integrity”, “a prosperous people, a strong country, and a democratic, equitable, civilized society”, and sustainable development help practice combine and mobilize the strength of the great nation under the leadership of the Party, at the same time isolate the forces that want to destabilize, undermine national peace and independence. The Party calls the entire people with high humanistic goals to raise national aspirations and pride to gather all resources and create breakthroughs for development. At the same time, raising the humanistic value in the light of Marxism-Leninism and Ho Chi Minh Thought helps to clarify the way to transform to socialism, to fight with ambiguity disguised under the so-called “universal values”, or reactionary humanism.

For the international community, by upholding the humanistic message for peace and stability, building trust, sustainable development, and the rule of law, Vietnam can continue to expand external relations horizontally, at the same time bringing established relationships to depth for shared interests. With the appeal of peace, stability, safety, friendliness, and dynamic development, Vietnam continues to attract external resources for sustainable development. Upholding justice and resolving disputes by regional and global peace, security, stability contributes to convincing the international community to support Vietnam in resolving the challenge to its independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity. On the basis of common human values, Vietnam is also capable of gathering strength to deal with global issues and joining hands with other progressive forces in the world for the common cause of mankind.



(1) http://tulieuvankien.dangcongsan.vn/van-kien-tu-lieu-ve-dang/hoi-nghi-bch-trung-uong/khoa-xii/phat-bieu-cua-tong-bi-thu-chu-tich-nuoc-nguyen-phu-trong-khai-mac-hoi-nghi-lan-thu-muoi-mot-ban-chap-hanh-trung-uong-3503.

(2) Neorealism and Its Critics, Columbia University Press, New York, 1986. p.333.

(3) David A. Baldwin: Power and International Relations: A Conceptual Approach, Princeton University Press, 2016, p.9.

(4) John Mearsheimer: The Tragedy of Great Power Politics (Updated edition), W. W. Norton & Company, 2014, p.57.

(5) Joseph Nye: Propaganda Isn’t the Way: Soft Power, International Herald Tribune, 10-1-2003. 

(6) Jagannath P.Panda: China’s Path to Power, Strategic Analysis, 32:5 (2008), p.901-911.

(7) Richard L. Armitage and Joseph S. Nye, Jr: “A Smarter, more Secure America”, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), https://www.csis.org/analysis/smarter-more-secure-america.

(8) Walker C. and Ludwig J: The Meaning of Sharp Power, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/china/2017-11-16/meaning-sharp-power.

(9) Foreword in UNESCO’s manifesto http://www.en.unesco.org

(10) Irina Bokova: A New humanism for the 21st Century, https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000189775.

(11) CPV: Complete set of the documents of the Party, vol.12, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2001, p.33-34.

(12) Great proclamation upon the pacification of the Wu.

(13), (15), (17) Complete works of President Ho Chi Minh, vol. 4, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2011, p.175, 175, 397.

(14) Complete works of President Ho Chi Minh, vol.15, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2011, p.668.

(16) Complete works of President Ho Chi Minh, vol.1, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2011, p.491.

(18), (19) Nguyen Duy Nien: President Ho Chi Minh’s Thought on Diplomacy, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2008, p.219, 102.

(20) Alicia Lee: “Rice ATMs’ provide free rice for people out of work in Vietnam due to the coronavirus crisis”, https://edition.cnn.com/2020/04/13/world/coronavirus-vietnam-rice-atm-trnd/index.html.

(21) https://zingnews.vn/nguoi-nuoc-ngoai-dong-loat-nhan-cam-on-viet-nam-giua-mua-dich-post1074397.html.

(22) The Party General Secretary and State President Nguyen Phu Trong’s call for national solidarity to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic, http://dangcongsan.vn/tieu-diem/toan-the-dan-toc-viet-nam-chung-suc-dong-long-de-chien-thang-dai-dich-Covid-19-551590.html.

Dr. Le Hai Binh

Specialized Deputy Head,

National Steering Committee for External Information Affairs 


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