Communist Review - In 2022, the international landscape continued to evolve more rapidly and in a more complicated manner than anticipated. In response to the Party and State’s correct foreign policy and along with the nation’s growing fortune, potential, position, and prestige, Vietnam’s diplomacy, imbued with the "Vietnamese bamboo" identity, received substantial recognition and recorded important and comprehensive achievements, contributing to the overall national development.
World enters new phase
Looking back at 2022, the world experienced significant, complex, and unprecedented developments. The desire for peace, cooperation, and connectivity for development, which was shared by many nations, faced numerous challenges. Strategic competition among world powers intensified. The Russia-Ukraine conflict had a profound impact on the world’s security, politics, and economy, triggering an arms race in many countries.
Cooperation and disagreement at multilateral forums, combined with the intertwined gathering of forces, became increasingly complex. In addition to traditional security challenges like armed conflicts, ethnic conflicts, political-social instability and territorial disputes, non-traditional security challenges, particularly climate change and epidemics, emerged more forcefully.
The world shifted from coping with the COVID-19 pandemic to controlling and safely adapting to it. International trade, and political and socio-economic activities basically returned to normal. However, the recovery process was met with a great many challenges due to the prolonged aftermath of the pandemic. The global economy in general and the economies of many countries in particular struggled with difficulties such as slow growth coupled with high inflation. Global supply chains were yet to fully recover and the need for energy security and food security faced various challenges.
Most countries reopened, creating favorable conditions for international exchanges and cooperation. Economic connectivity, particularly at the regional and sub-regional levels, were enhanced to promote economic recovery post-COVID. The restructuring of the global economy was accelerated by the Fourth Industrial Revolution, strategic competition between major countries, and urgent demands for sustainable and inclusive development. Notably, wide-ranging strategic autonomy, digital transformation, green growth, and supply chain shifts were taking place.
The international situation in 2022, marked by both advantages and challenges, had multidimensional impacts on Vietnam, posing more demanding and complex tasks for the country’s foreign affairs and diplomacy.
Vietnam's diplomacy achieves new successes with significant impacts
First, a favorable foreign relations landscape was maintained for national development and Homeland protection.
Important external activities, well-timed and aligned with appropriate policies, helped solidify political trust, deepen friendships, and generate new momentum for deeper relationships between Vietnam and various partners, including neighboring countries, key partners, traditional friends, and potential partners.
In 2022, Vietnamese Party and State leaders visited or held phone talks with the leaders of numerous countries including China, Laos, Cambodia, ASEAN member states, the United States, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Australia, and the Netherlands. Vietnam was also active in important international organizations and forums such as the United Nations, ASEAN, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), and the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA), and hosted leaders of many countries(1). All these activities demonstrated a dynamic presence on the diplomatic front, capturing the attention and support of both domestic and international communities. These are the results of the vigorous implementation of the foreign policy outlined by the 13th National Party Congress, contributing to consolidating a peaceful and stable environment, facilitating socio-economic development, and strengthening the role, position, and reputation of Vietnam in the international arena.
With profound awareness of the policy of safeguarding the Homeland early and from afar, the diplomatic sector appropriately and promptly addressed border and territorial issues and persistently promoted dialogue and negotiations, leading to crucial outcomes in border demarcation and border marker planting on the basis of respect for international law. This has helped strengthen the border of peace, friendship, cooperation, and development, creating favorable conditions for maintaining Vietnam’s peace and development.
In addition, the diplomatic sector closely coordinated with relevant agencies and branches at all levels to resolutely and persistently protect the Party’s ideological foundation, combating activities against the Party and the State on the external communication front. It also promoted dialogue and cooperation to ensure the international community correctly understands Vietnam's orientations, policies, and achievements in the areas of democracy, human rights, and religion.
Second, economic diplomacy contributed significantly to socio-economic recovery and development.
Adhering to the policy of taking economic diplomacy as the core of Vietnam's foreign affairs, the diplomatic sector has closely collaborated with ministries, other sectors, and localities to actively and proactively promote economic affairs in diplomatic activities, particularly in high-level diplomacy. As a result, many important agreements and cooperative projects were signed, producing significant benefits to socio-economic development.
Economic diplomacy was closely coordinated with the government's socio-economic policies, helping Vietnam seize opportunities as countries reopened, and make full use of signed Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and emerging global development trends to expand and deepen economic cooperation with various partners. It also helped Vietnamese localities and businesses enhance external economic activities and accelerate international economic integration with the motto "placing the people, localities, and businesses at the center of service."
Economic diplomacy made substantial contributions to macroeconomic stability and economic recovery and development. In 2022, Vietnam’s GDP growth exceeded 8%, foreign direct investment disbursement surpassed 22 billion USD, and total trade turnover hit a record 732 billion USD, keeping Vietnam among the top 25 economies in terms of trade. These significant achievements held multiple implications amid the global economic downturn and reduced global trade and investment.
Third, Vietnam's international standing and reputation continued to rise on the global stage.
Implementing the foreign policy of independence, self-reliance, peace, friendship, cooperation, and development, Vietnam actively and proactively contributed to the collective efforts of the international community, particularly peacekeeping, climate change response, epidemic prevention and control, and sustainable development. Vietnam demonstrated active engagement in addressing important international issues. Its viewpoints, initiatives, and rational approaches and solutions in the spirit of equality, peace and respect for international law, have garnered widespread support from the international community. As a result, Vietnam continues to be entrusted with important roles in various international organizations. It was elected to the UN Human Rights Council for the 2023-2025 term, served as Deputy President of the UN General Assembly's 77th session, and won a seat on the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage for the 2022-2026 term. This is the second time Vietnam has been elected to the UN Human Rights Council.
Fourth, foreign affairs research, forecasting, and consultancy were accelerated with improved quality.
In 2022, the diplomatic sector completed numerous significant projects to implement and cement the foreign policy outlined at the 13th National Party Congress, which put forth major and long-term directions and measures for external relations and within the diplomatic sector. The diplomatic sector closely coordinated with relevant ministries and other sectors to provide timely advice to help formulate appropriate policies and measures in response to complex international issues. This approach helped the sector ensure the highest national interests, seize opportunities for enhanced cooperation, and minimize the adverse impact of global uncertainties.
Fifth, cultural diplomacy effectively combined with economic diplomacy and dissemination of external information to continue promoting extensively the image of Vietnam, its land, people, culture, and developmental achievements globally.
In 2022, Vietnam organized a number of activities abroad to honor President Ho Chi Minh and successfully persuaded the international community to recognize various cultural heritages of Vietnam(2). Adhering to the policy of strengthening great national unity, overseas Vietnamese affairs were vigorously promoted. Many programs were held to connect the Vietnamese diaspora and encourage them to contribute to national development as well as facilitate conditions for their own development. Citizen protection efforts were timely and effective, including the safe evacuation of thousands of Vietnamese people in Ukraine and protecting fishermen, fishing vessels, and the legitimate rights and interests of Vietnamese citizens abroad.
Promoting “Vietnamese bamboo” diplomacy
Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong said Vietnam's foreign affairs and diplomacy stand out as a “bright spot”(3) in the country's overall accomplishments in 2022. These achievements were attributed to the correct foreign policy of the Party and the State, along with the fortune, potential, position, and prestige Vietnam has accumulated over more than 35 years of renewal. They reflected the consensus and efforts of the entire Party, people, army, and political system in diplomatic endeavors, including the dedication and contributions of the diplomatic sector to national development.
The achievements Vietnam gained in foreign affairs and diplomacy in 2022, as well as since the 13th National Party Congress, proved that “Vietnamese bamboo” diplomacy, which rests on Ho Chi Minh’s diplomatic ideology and the nation’s traditions, cultural identity, and peaceful diplomacy, is suitable for Vietnam's specific conditions and meets the requirements for national development in the current period. Confronting an unpredictable international environment, "Vietnamese bamboo" diplomacy stood firm and resilient, thanks to its “solid root”: the steadfast pursuit of independence, self-reliance, multilateralism, diversification, national interests, and advocacy of the fundamental principles of the UN Charter and international law, and equal and mutually beneficial cooperation, augmented by flexible and creative policies to adapt to the new situation with the motto "steadfast in objectives, flexible in implementation.”
"Vietnamese bamboo" diplomacy was reflected in each foreign relations activity, particularly in high-level engagements, and in interactions with each partner and within each specific multilateral mechanism and forum. This not only reaffirms a resilient, sincere, compassionate, loyal, trustworthy, and responsible Vietnam but also helps maintain a favorable external environment for national development and defense amid uncertainty and instability around the world.
Foreign affairs and diplomacy in 2022 shed more light on the valuable lessons, as highlighted by General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong at the National Conference on Foreign Affairs in December 2021, and added new lessons including:
1. Remaining calm and prudent in the face of complex developments, difficulties, and challenges, in order to skillfully and rationally handle foreign relations on the basis of maintaining independence, self-reliance, and ensuring the highest national interests while respecting international law.
2. Constantly innovating, adapting to new situations, actively exploring new approaches and areas, and turning challenges into opportunities.
3. Improving foreign affairs research, forecasting, and consultancy capabilities, accurately assessing the situations, and being flexible to respond and adapt to rapid and complicated regional and global developments.
4. Attaching special importance to comprehensive Party building and rectification within the diplomatic sector, from politics to ideology, ethics, organization, and personnel.
Continuing to build a pure, strong, professional, comprehensive, and modern diplomatic sector
2023 is a pivotal year in implementing the Resolution of the 13th National Party Congress. Despite significant achievements gained in the past year, Vietnam still faces considerable difficulties and challenges, particularly amid complicated and unpredictable geopolitical and socioeconomic developments in the region and the world.
The Resolution of the 13th National Party Congress outlines Vietnam’s consistent foreign policy of independence, self-reliance, peace, friendship, cooperation and development, multilateralization and diversification of foreign relations; active, proactive, comprehensive and extensive international integration; being a reliable friend and partner; and an active, responsible member of the international community(4).
To continue effectively implementing this consistent and accurate foreign policy and promoting the country’s new stature and strength, the diplomatic sector will strictly adhere to the resolutions, conclusions, and directives of the Party Central Committee, the Politburo, the Secretariat, the National Assembly, and the Government, and will closely coordinate with other sectors to successfully execute the set directions and tasks.
First, continue to strengthen the favorable foreign relations landscape to contribute to boosting national development, firmly protecting independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity, and maintaining peace and stability.
Party external relations, State diplomacy, people-to-people diplomacy, and external relations across all sectors and between the Central and local levels will be carefully combined to promote collective strength in implementing foreign activities (especially high-level diplomacy) to ensure in-depth, substantive, and effective foreign relations.
Efforts will be made to continue to comprehensively develop friendly and traditional cooperative relations with neighboring countries, while actively and proactively expanding and deepening relations with partners, especially strategic partners, comprehensive partners, traditional friends, and partners with high potential. It is imperative for the diplomatic sector to thoroughly fulfill international responsibilities and actively and responsibly contribute to important multilateral organizations and forums, particularly the United Nations, ASEAN, APEC, and the Mekong sub-region, among others, thereby reinforcing and improving the country's status and reputation. The diplomatic sector will continue to assert a stronger voice and a more proactive foreign policy stance, in line with the country's new stature and strength, especially in issues related to Vietnam’s core and strategic interests.
Second, comprehensively deploy and combine diplomatic pillars to make foreign affairs and diplomacy a powerful driving force that significantly contributes to rapid and sustainable national development.
Economic diplomacy will be effectively implemented to serve national development by 2030, focusing on expanding export markets and attracting investment associated with high technology. This in turn should be combined with domestic resources to renew the growth model and build an independent and self-reliant economy coupled with deep, extensive, and effective international integration. Other tasks include taking full advantage of existing agreements and effective free trade agreements (FTAs); proactively participating in multilateral initiatives on economic connectivity that align with Vietnam's interests and current conditions. Importance is attached to continuing to comprehensively and strongly promote cultural diplomacy, external information service, overseas Vietnamese affairs, citizen protection, and the safeguarding of the legitimate rights and interests of Vietnamese organizations and individuals in international integration.
Third, intensify external relations research, forecasting, and advice, improve their quality, and maintain proactivity in a dynamically changing world.
In addition to continuing to closely monitor the regional and global situation to provide timely advice to the Party and the State, it is necessary to focus on researching, evaluating, and forecasting changes in the global and regional landscape. This includes key partners’ policies and foreign relations trends, as well as major political, economic, socio-cultural, and scientific-technological trends worldwide (especially trends related to digital transformation, green transition, pandemic prevention, and environmental and climate change). This approach will serve as the foundation for the diplomatic sector to provide advice and work out appropriate foreign affairs strategies, policies, and steps.
Fourth, build a truly clean, strong, professional, comprehensive, and modern diplomatic sector.
Through comprehensive and coordinated measures, both immediate and long-term, regarding organizational structure, personnel, infrastructure, and operational methods, the diplomatic sector continues to vigorously implement and adhere to resolutions and conclusions of the Party Central Committee on Party building and rectification. It will resolutely prevent and push back on the degradation of political ideology, ethics, lifestyle, and manifestations of "self-evolution" and "self-transformation" within the organization. Greater efforts will be made to ensure a lean, efficient, and effective apparatus and improve the quality of personnel work, especially in recruitment, assignment, planning, rotation, training, development, and evaluation in order to build a contingent of diplomatic cadres with political, ideological, ethical, and intellectual competence and modern and professional work style and methods, gradually reaching regional and global standards.
Together with the nation, Vietnam's diplomatic sector is entering a new stage of development, which requires a strong commitment to innovation in both thinking and actions to make foreign affairs more effective. Embracing “Vietnamese bamboo” diplomacy and upholding the glorious tradition of revolutionary diplomacy and the spirit of serving the Party, the homeland, and the people, the diplomatic sector, with new momentum and the mettle honed through numerous challenges and difficulties and under the leadership of the Party, is determined to build a clean, strong, professional, comprehensive, and modern diplomatic apparatus, contributing significantly to national construction, development and defense.
(1) In 2022, Vietnam organized nearly 70 in-person, phone talk, and online foreign relations activities involving key leaders.
(2) In 2022, Cao Lanh City in Dong Thap Province was admitted to the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities while Ma Nhai (inscriptions) in Da Nang City and a collection of handwritten Chinese and Nom documents in Truong Luu village were recognized as part of documentary heritage in Asia and the Pacific.
(3) “Party General Secretary’s speech at Government meeting with localities”, January 3, 2023, https://www.vietnamplus.vn/phat-bieu-cua-tong-bi-thu-tai-hoi-nghi-chinh-phu-voi-dia-phuong/839295.vnp
(4) Documents of the 13th National Party Congress, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2021, Vol. I, p.p 161 - 162
This article was published in the Communist Review No. 1006 (January 2023)