Communist Review - Viet Nam is endowed with various cultural values, which are precious endogenous resources resulted from thousands of years of national construction and defense. To flexibly and effectively respond to current complex and unpredictable challenges, it is of paramount importance for Viet Nam to combine cultural resources with socio-economic development, which strengthens cultural soft power, thus promoting sustainable development.
Potentials and opportunities of Viet Nam's cultural resources
Long history and diverse culture
Viet Nam is a country of rich history and cultural diversity. In the past, Vietnamese feudal dynasties were soon aware of cultural strength. Therefore, Viet Nam has always encountered and defeated invaders of much stronger military and economic resources. It is visible that the strength of the Vietnamese culture is partly attributed to its beauty. Among potential cultural resources for economic and social development cited by researchers are a long history and cultural diversity.
The Vietnamese culture is both unified and diverse. On the one hand, cultural diversity is a long-standing feature of Viet Nam as a result of its wet-rice agriculture, high sense of community, and long history fighting against nature and invasion. On the other hand, influenced by world’s civilizations such as India, China and the West, Viet Nam not only absorbs, but also modifies the world's cultural quintessence to suit its conditions. Therefore, the Vietnamese culture is, originally, a diverse one.
Being exposed to the Indian and Chinese cultures for a long time and in numerous ways has significantly influenced the Vietnamese culture. However, the Vietnamese still retain their own cultural identity on several aspects, including religion, belief, worldview, social norm, architecture, language, daily routine, etc. Viet Nam has a diverse and rich culture, in which one major culture, the Viet culture, forms the basis for minority cultural communities. This promotes the nation's endogenous factors, forms the strength of unity among ethnic fraternal communities during national construction and defense, as well as makes the Vietnamese culture attractive and persuasive in previous and current socio-economic development.
It is the diverse cultural communities that form Vietnamese ethnic communities as well as the relation between Viet Nam and other nations special. Cultural exchange has always been the prerequisite for communities and nations to show and foster their unique creativity in creating new cutural materials and spiritual values. Nowadays, intercultural dialogue is the fundamental requirement for the world’s sustainable development. Globalization and international integration also pose the risk of identity loss to cultures around the world. In other words, all cultural values can be confined to a particular pattern.
The diversity of cultures and cultural communities in Viet Nam contributes to solidarity and cohesion among communities. Although each ethnic group has its own culture and features, to fight against natural disasters, protect life and defeat invaders, and due to cultural exchange and integration, all the Vietnamese hold a stable value system in common. This value system includes patriotism, self-reliance, solidarity, tolerence, flexiblity, open-mindedness and peace-loving spirit, etc.
This combination of diversity and unity is among important factors for Viet Nam’s sustainable cultural development. In terms of national security and defense, cultural diversity is an effective source of soft power to promote and ensure political security as well as protect the unity and territorial integrity. Ethnic communities scattering all over Viet Nam and its borders are chiefly ethnic minority communities. The preservation of cultural values helps each community to further unify and develop sustainably. Maintaining good relations between regional ethnic minority communities can effectively ensure national political security and territorial integrity.
The world is amidst an enormous development and integration process. Integration fosters the exchange and introduction of cultures around the world. This has not only diversified regional cultures but also created numerous conflicts since collisions and differences between cultures occur. Countries have found the key to peaceful and stable development in the face of deepening integration, which includes understanding, respect and tolerance towards all differences of other cultures. Therefore, Viet Nam’s international integration can capitalize on the preservation and promotion of the inherent cultural diversity.
Rich heritage, diverse and potential natural resources
The thousand-year long history gives rise to Viet Nam’s rich and diverse cultural heritage and natural resources. By the end of 2018, Viet Nam had approximately 3,500 national relics and 107 special national relics. Viet Nam is home to various natural world heritage sites (Ha Long Bay, Phong Nha - Ke Bang National Park), natural and cultural heritage (Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex, Global Geopark – Dong Van Karst Plateau) tangible and intangible cultural heritage (Hue Imperial Citadel, Hoi An Ancient Town, My Son Sanctuary, Central Sector of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, Citadel of the Ho Dynasty, Imperial Court Music, Space of Gong Culture, Quan Ho Bac Ninh folk songs, Ca Tru singing, Giong Festival in Phu Dong and Soc temples, Xoan singing in Phu Tho, Worship of Hung Kings, Art of Don ca tài tử music and song in southern Viet Nam, Giam folk songs, Nghe Tinh Vi Giam folk songs, the Art of Bai Choi in Central Viet Nam, Rituals and games of tug of war, Practices related to the Viet beliefs in the Mother Goddesses of Three Realms, Art of Xòe dance of the Tai people in Viet Nam, etc.); the world’s documentary heritage (Woodblocks of the Nguyen Dynasty, Stone Stele Records of Royal Examinations of the Le and Mac Dynasties, Buddhist Sutra Woodblocks at Vinh Nghiem Pagoda, Imperial Archives of Nguyen Dynasty, Royal Literature on Hue Royal Architecture).
Moreover, 54 ethnic groups of Viet Nam produce tens of thousands of tangible cultural heritages, over 3 million valuable relics and antiques (which are preserved and displayed at 166 museums)(1) and a wide variety of festivals (7,966 festivals, including 7,039 national festivals), customs, practices, performing arts, craft villages , culinary culture, costumes, etc., which are well distributed among regions(2).
An open culture and attractive cultural values
The Vietnamese culture is open one.
Historical ups and downs have justified that the Vietnamese culture has never been closed, narrow and discriminatory. Otherwise, it has always been respectful of and open to the beauty of world’ cultures in order to enrich itself. The creative absorption of Chinese, Indian and Western thought, scholarship, religion, literature, art, writing, etc. can be taken as brilliant examples. Selectively absorbing the quintessence of human culture, Viet Nam has perfected its culture. It receives the universal values of humanity without being extreme or divisive. This attitude enables Viet Nam to integrate into the world culture and be recognized internationally.
Some cultural values of Vietnamese people are convincing to the world.
Viet Nam has long been known and supported for its cause of national liberation, of which core values are patriotism, heroism, courage, resilience, solidarity, peace loving, benevolence, and altruism. The tradition of humanity, solidarity and altruism lays the groundwork for friendly relations with many countries in the world.
Vietnamese people have high creativity and adaptability.
Having experienced picks and troughs of history, the Vietnamese are highly adaptive and good at cultural exchange, acculturation and especially global connection. In addition, there have been remarkable improvements in information and communication infrastructure in Viet Nam. The level of internet coverage and digitization in Viet Nam has skyrocketted. This important scientific - technological basis creates favorable conditions for cultural exchange and communication.
To sum up, there are advantages, opportunities and favorable conditions for Viet Nam to build its culture towards modernity, sustainability and international integration.
Ways to capitalize on cultural resources in line with sustainable socio-economic development
In the world, it is the countries succeeding in transforming cultural resources into soft power to support other development pillars which always have solid premise for development and international integration. They can also effectively respond to traditional and non-traditional security challenges in the development process.
Currently, Viet Nam has 8 major soft power pillars of culture: 1- Intangible cultural heritage (spiritual products of historical, cultural, scientific value, such as, traditional arts, crafts, skills, festivals, culinary culture, traditional costumes, etc.); 2- Tangible cultural heritage; 3- World natural heritage; 4- Modern festivals and cultural events; 5- Products and services of the cultural industry; 6- Cultural values and great personalities; 7- Grassroots community culture; 8- Cultural facilities and space.
In order to put the above-mentioned cultural resources to good use to support socio-economic development, it is of great importance for Viet Nam to implement the followings:
Firstly, continuing to carry out research and raising people’s cultural awareness in line with the 13th National Party Congress Resolution, Resolution No. 33-NQ/TW, dated June 9, 2014 Resolution 33-NQ/TW of the 9th Plenum of the 11th Party Central Committee “On building and developing Vietnamese culture and people meeting the demand of national sustainable development”, Conclusion No. 76-KL/TW, dated June 4 2020, “On continuing to implement Resolution No. 33-NQ/TW of the 11th Party Central Committee on building and developing Vietnamese culture and people meeting the demand of national sustainable development” and the National Culture Conference on implementing the 13th Party Congress Resolution on November 24, 2021, at, first of all, cultural state agencies. Accordingly, culture is as important as economy and politics. Furthermore, culture is a foundation for social development, a goal and a driving force for the country's sustainable development.
Secondly, developing institutions, policies and legal frameworks to effectively transform cultural resources into cultural soft power, thus increasing national strength and competitiveness. In the period from 2021 to 2025 and to 2030, focusing on counselling and proposing cultural laws and decrees(3).
Thirdly, building a healthy cultural environment, thus fostering economic and social development and international integration.
Building a healthy cultural environment, in which everyone can develop their creativity. Prioritizing building culture in politics, training cadres and civil servants to be virtuous and to respect the law. Building cultural villages, hamlets, neighborhoods, agencies, units, and families. Promoting the role of families, communities and the society in constructing the cultural environment; therefore, culture can foster the transcendental of truth, goodness and beauty.
Building institutions, in which culture and economic, political and social development are combined, is fundamental to form an ecosystem capable of diversifying cultural expressions, fostering cooperation and communication of advanced cultural values imbued with Viet Nam's national identity to the world. As a result, cultural soft power will be increased and the "national brand" will be identified. This contributes to the enhancement of national position in the international arena, the construction of a peaceful and friendly environment among nations and the protection of national independence and sovereignty.
Fourthly, improving the market mechanism in the cultural sector, prioritizing the development of some cultural industries, gradually making the cultural industry a spearheaded economic sector, thus raising people’s standard of living.
Implementing the Strategy for Viet Nam's Cultural Development to 2030 with 3 pillars, namely increase in investment, innovation and institutional breakthrough, in order to bind the cultural pillar with the economic, political and social pillars for sustainable development. Innovatively mobilizing cultural resources and people’s creativity, especially artists’ and writers’, to create more valuable cultural, literature and art works to form and perfect Vietnamese personality. Being respectful to the unique rule of art. Issuing proper policies to encourage and support artists to give birth to timeless masterpieces.
Promoting cultural industries with focus on some main fields(4) to promote the soft power of the Vietnamese culture. Making the most of creativity, science - technology and intellectual copyright, aiming to raise the cultural industries revenue to 7% of GDP by 2030. Combining cultural development with tourism, making it a spearheaded economic sector. At the same time, preserving cultural resources for future generations.
Fifthly, effectively utilizing cultural investment, including state budget on culture and promoting public-private partnership. Building an appropriate tax incentive, exemption and reduction mechanism, which is domestically and internationally attractive to culture and art investment, thus developing cultural industries.
Sixthly, actively integrating, cooperating and promoting cultural trade.
Optimizing the communication of country and people image. Diversifying cultural products and cultural communication in foreign languages to suit different international markets. Renovating and optimizing the organization of "Culture Days", "Culture Weeks", cultural-tourism festivals in Viet Nam, cultural events and programs abroad. Regularly taking part in major international cultural and artistic events, namely EXPO, world art exhibitions, and international film festivals, including Cannes, Berlin, Busan, Oscar and Tokyo. Developing the system of overseas Vietnamese cultural centers in key areas around the world; thereby increasing the national "soft power" in the process of international integration.
It is essential for Viet Nam to make the most of its rich cultural resources, with the help of proper policies, to unlock and promote cultural resources in line with socio-economic development. /.
(1) The Department of Cultural Heritage, Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, 2018.
(2) The Tourist Information Center, Viet Nam National Administration of Tourism, 2015
(3) Viet Nam’s Law on Cinematography (amended), Law on domestic violence prevention and control (amended), Law on Cultural Heritage (amended), etc. especially laws in professional fields that have sufficient grounds for theory and practice, such as Law on Performing Arts, Law on Fine Arts, Photography and Exhibitions
(4) Cinema, fashion, advertising, performing arts, cultural tourism
This article was published in the Communist Review No. 994 (July 2022)