HÀ NỘI — The following is the entire speech by Nguyễn Phú Trọng, General Secretary of the Communist Party of Việt Nam, as he addressed the first-ever National Foreign Relations Conference for the Implementation of the Resolution of the 13th National Party Congress held in Hà Nội on December 14, 2021.
BUILDING AND DEVELOPING MODERN VIETNAMESE FOREIGN RELATIONS AND A DIPLOMATIC SERVICE RICHLY IMBUED WITH THE NATIONAL IDENTITY
Comrade leaders of the Party, State and Viet Nam Fatherland Front,
Dear all comrades,
Today, I am very delighted to attend the National Foreign Relations Conference for the Implementation of the Resolution of the 13th National Party Congress. At the outset, allow me, on behalf of the comrade leaders of the Party and State, and with my own heart, to extend to all comrades, and all my brothers and sisters – officials, public servants and staff working in the field of foreign relations, both at home and abroad – my best greetings, my most earnest salutations, and my warmest congratulations. May the Conference today be a great success.
The Conference today is of great significance (and as some comrades may put it, a historic one) as it is the first-ever National Foreign Relations Conference held under the direct instruction of the Politburo and Secretariat in order to discuss Party external relations, State diplomacy, people-to-people diplomacy and the whole political system. The Conference takes place at the time when the entire Party, people and army are redoubling our efforts to translate the Resolution of the 13th National Party Congress into reality. Our country is presented with many opportunities and advantages, and at the same time confronted with new, fiercer hardships and challenges than we had previously predicted. The COVID-109 pandemic and its very complex developments and manifold impacts have caused immense losses to various countries and nations, including our own. Under the timely and correct leadership of the Party, through the cohesion and vigorous engagement of the entire political system, and thanks to the joint efforts of our compatriots and soldiers at home and the Vietnamese diaspora abroad, plus the assistance of our international friends, we have been able to contain the pandemic effectively and actively bring Viet Nam into a new normal of “safe, flexible adaptation and effective control of COVID-19” for socio-economic development. The requirements of the nation-building and national defence mission are extremely high in the new era. This demands us to intensely leverage our internal strengths in combination with external power, resolve to make use of every opportunity and advantage, and overcome all adversities and challenges in order to bring about rapid and sustainable development for our country. Ever since the success of the 13th National Party Congress, the 15th Legislature of the National Assembly has held two first sessions, and the 13th Government Cabinet, the Viet Nam Fatherland Front, and the branches of Internal Affairs, Culture and Party-Building have each in turn held their own National Conference to chart the implementation of the 13th National Party Congress Resolution. Every such National Conference has been organised with great meticulousness, professionalism and care, and has all been great success, as the sayings go: “Strong voice at front and retinue behind the core””, “One calls, a hundred respond”, “One mind top to bottom”, “Smooth coordination across the board”.
It is with this spirit that, at the National Foreign Relations Conference today, we shall review the implementation of the Resolution of the 13th National Party Congress with regard to foreign relations, internalise the spirit and letter of the 13th National Party Congress, and discuss measures to effectively implement the key missions set before the foreign service in the years to come. This will also be an opportunity for the various levels, sectors, localities and the diplomatic sector to grasp a better understanding of Việt Nam’s current landscape and standing vis-a-vis the region and the world, and how significant and important foreign relations is within the overall strategy for nation-building and defence, and bring about renewed spirit, determination and driving force for the entire political system, all levels, sectors, each and every organisation and individual involved in foreign relations.
Needless to say, any state and nation, throughout their formation and development, must address two fundamental matters: internal and external affairs. These two aspects are organically, dialectically and reciprocally related, and mutually reinforcing, as a bird’s two wings. Each would create power and momentum for the other, in an increasingly cohesive and coordinated way. This is all the truer against the backdrop of vigorous and intensive globalization today. Foreign relations today are not merely a continuation of domestic policies, but are a strong driver for the growth of states and nations in its own rights.
Throughout our people’s history over thousands of years, independence, self-reliance and maximising the interest of the nation-state have always been an unchangeable principle and the overarching line in our every action. In addition to the tenacious struggles to defend Việt Nam’s lands, independence and sovereignty, our forefathers always paid great attention to foreign relations. Through this process, they created Việt Nam’s own, unique traditions and identity in the conduct of diplomacy and foreign relations: full of heroism, humanism, amity and tolerance, and always hold truth, justice and righteousness in the greatest esteem: “Wield justice to defeat savagery, bring benevolence to supplant tyranny!”, “Extinguish forever the flames of war, usher in an eternity of peace!” (“Bình Ngô đại cáo” – Nguyễn Trãi). Diplomacy has even been resorted to prevent and ward off war, or to put an end to war in as advantageous a position as possible. It must always be in service of domestic policies, nation-building and national development. These philosophies of our forefathers are well ahead of their time and eternally relevant.
These excellent traditions and virtues have been further built on and advanced and shine brightly in the Hồ Chí Minh era, and evolved into a modern Vietnamese diplomatic service richly imbued with the national identity. As the first Foreign Minister of the Democratic Republic of Việt Nam established in the wake of the 1945 August Revolution, President Hồ Chí Minh laid the foundation and directly led and guided the development of the Vietnamese revolutionary diplomatic service. The fundamental elements of Hồ Chí Minh Diplomatic Thoughts stem from the philosophy and tradition of diplomacy employed by our forefather, and it was President Hồ Chí Minh himself who developed these values to a higher level, seamlessly combining patriotism, national culture and the Vietnamese diplomatic traditions with the quintessence of world culture and diplomatic experience. This school of thought always upholds the goal of national independence, tolerance and amity. Diplomacy is to be used to deter conflict, and it must be in accord with the world circumstances, so that Việt Nam may join in the flow of the time. President Hồ Chí Minh held that national independence must go hand-in-hand with socialism, self-reliance and self-dependence with international solidarity, and the development of national strengths with the strengths of the times. He found it necessary that friendship be cultivated with every country, especially our neighbours, traditional friends and the progressive, peace-loving people of the world. In the conduct of foreign relations, President Hồ Chí Minh always exercised a guiding principle of “We must look broad and think with care” in order to know ourselves and know others and retain initiative, and to especially understand Việt Nam’s strategic position within the relationships among the major powers. He placed special attention on the skilful handling of relations with other countries, especially neighbouring countries and major powers. He deigned to respect and “keep face” of major powers, to know ourselves and know others, to know the time and the tide, and to “use tough and soft measures in accord” in order to serve the highest interest of the nation-state. President Hồ Chí Minh never wished for Việt Nam to suffer war, nor did he wish war upon others. It is this humanistic and humanitarian philosophy of President Hồ Chí Minh, in which justice and truth are upheld in the interest of peace, independence, freedom and happiness to all peoples and all nations, that is the embodiment of the seamless combination between the culture of our nation and that of mankind. With this philosophy, in his exercise of foreign affairs, President Hồ Chí Minh sought to uphold the role of international law, harness the values of traditional Vietnamese culture and diplomatic conduct alongside the universal and progressive philosophies of mankind, seeking out similarities, and raised the banner of humanitarianism, benevolence, truth and lawfulness in international relations in order to win over and call upon the support from the peoples of the world.
Thanks to this, alongside with the political, military, economic and cultural front, the diplomatic front has always played a vital role in the revolutionary cause of our people, and contributed to the tremendous victories that brought glory to the history of our nation. I should highlight some: the combination of fighting and negotiating, the negotiation in defence of the fledgling Democratic Republic of Việt Nam at the hour of its inception following the 1945 August Revolution, the negotiation and signing of the 1954 Geneva Accord that contributed to the victory of the resistance against the invading French colonialists, the negotiation and signing of the 1973 Paris Accords as a prerequisite for the full liberation of the South, reunifying the nation and the country. Ever since, the diplomatic service has become a trailblazer, a builder of new paths, a pioneer in breaking out of isolation and embargo, and the forerunner in opening up relations with many partners and bringing about a new landscape for the processes of Đổi Mới, international integration, nation-building and national defence.
Over the past 35 years of Đổi Mới, inheriting and building upon the prideworthy diplomatic traditions of the nation, especially the philosophy of President Hồ Chí Minh, who paved the way for Vietnamese diplomacy in the Hồ Chí Minh era, our Party has taken upon itself to continually add to, cultivate and augment the foreign policy orientations of independence, self-reliance and openness in the interest of peace, cooperation and development. Our foreign policy is multilateralisation, diversification, and active and proactive international integration. At the recent 13th National Party Congress, the entire Party, people and army reached consensus in our understanding, and resolved to “Consistently implement a foreign policy line of independence, self-reliance, peace, friendship, cooperation and development, and diversification and multilateralization of foreign relations. Ensure to the highest level the interest of the nation-state on the ground of the fundamental principles of the United Nations Charter and international law, and the principles of equality, cooperation and mutual benefit. Combine the power of the nation with the power of the times, actively and proactively engage in intensive international integration. Việt Nam is a friend and reliable partner of, and an active and responsible member among, the international community.”
To summarise, over the past 90 years, under the leadership of the Party and President Hồ Chí Minh, on the basis of creative application the fundamental principles of Marxism-Leninism, inheriting and building on the traditions and national character of foreign relations, diplomacy and culture, and selectively learning from the quintessence of world culture and the progressive philosophies of the times, we have built an outstanding and unique school of foreign relations and diplomacy of the Hồ Chí Minh era, bearing the character of the Vietnamese bamboo, of strong roots, stout trunk, and flexible branches. (Or to quote a verse of poetry: “Such a gaunt trunk, such fragile leaves, and yet you make yourself into ramparts and walls, o dear bamboo!”). Herein lives the soul, the spirit, and the strength of character of the Vietnamese nation: To be mellow and skilful, but tenacious and ardent. To be flexible and creative, but bold, tenacious and unyielding against all odds, for national independence, freedom and happiness of our people. To stand as one, to love our fellow man, yet all the same resolute and patient in the defence of the interest of the nation-state. To know how to be gentle and how to be tough, to know the time and tide, to know ourselves and others, to know when to advance and when to retreat, “act as the situation demands,” as “the gentle cord makes a tight knot”.
In the conduct of the Đổi Mới policy orientation in diplomacy, throughout the last 35 years, especially since the 12th Party tenure, we have achieved commendable results and gains. I should like to mention four highlights:
First, emerging out of isolation and embargo, we have been able to establish and strengthen a posture of open, diversified and multilateralised foreign relations conducive to the Doi Moi process. As of today, we have expanded and upgraded foreign relations with all neighbouring countries, major powers, important partners and traditional friends, and through this, we have been able to call on the broad support and assistance from the international community in favour of our people’s Đổi Mới. In sum, Việt Nam enjoys diplomatic relations with 189 out of 193 members of the United Nations, including three Special Relationships, 17 Strategic Partnerships and 13 Comprehensive Partnerships. In multilateral diplomacy, Viet Nam is an active and responsible member of more than 70 international organizations and forums of importance, such as the United Nations, ASEAN, APEC, ASEM and WTO, to name a few.
Party external relations, State diplomacy, people-to-people diplomacy and the foreign relations conducted by each service, sector, locality and business are all expanding and becoming more active and in-depth. Our Party has forged ties with 247 political parties in 11 countries, including 90 Communist and Workers’ parties all over the world, ruling parties and politically active parties of considerable role. The National Assembly enjoys parliamentary relations with its counterparts in 140 countries, and is an active participant at many important international parliamentarian forums. The diplomatic work conducted by the Government across the political, defence, security, economic and socio-cultural pillars has been advanced, and contributes to political trust and the interweaving of interests between Việt Nam and its partners. The Việt Nam Fatherland Front and mass friendship organisations have also engaged in foreign relations in a concrete way, enriching the friendship between our people and the nations in the world, and bring to them the story of Việt Nam’s Đổi Mới, and promote the image of our country and people to the world.
Second, we have created a conducive international environment and mustered resources from outside to accelerate industrialisation, modernisation and socio-economic development. From a centrally-planned economy and an isolated country under embargo, today Viet Nam has become a socialist-oriented market economy enjoying an immense breadth and depth of economic connectivity, having acceded to 15 Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), including three next-generation FTAs of very high standards, and participating in an extensive network of economic linkages with major economies in the world. While only 30 years ago we only had economic and trade ties with some 30 countries and territories, the number today is 230 countries and territories. Total foreign trade turnover this year is about US$600 billion, about 120 times the figure of the early years into Đổi Mới. We have attracted foreign direct investment (FDI) in excess of US$400 billion, US$250 billion out of which has been disbursed. Efforts related to overseas Vietnamese nationals have helped tap into the tremendous resources of the Vietnamese diaspora to contribute to nation-building and defence.
Against the backdrop of the complex developments of the COVID-19 pandemic today, we have seized the initiative to contribute responsibly to the common global effort in the fight against COVID-19, while being also able to call on the support from the international community in terms of vaccines, medical supplies and treatment drugs, a key contribution to the fight against the pandemic and socio-economic recovery and development.
Third, the foreign service plays a pioneering role in maintaining an environment of peace and stability, contributing in an important way to the steadfast defence of national independence, sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity. Border issues with other countries involved are being resolved step-by-step, setting the legal framework and conducive conditions for the protection of national sovereignty, maintaining a borderline of peace, friendship and cooperation, promoting socio-economic development, and at the same time contributing to the maintenance of peace and stability in the region. Regarding complex border issues, we always hold high the banner of peace and cooperation, and earnestly engage in discussion and negotiation with countries involved in order to manage disputes and seek a fundamental and long-term solution for disputes through peaceful means on the basis of international law.
Fourth, Việt Nam’s international standing and prestige in the region and the world are constantly on the rise, and we make active and very responsible contributions to the maintenance of peace and cooperation for development and progress in the world. We have successfully organised a great many international events and fulfilled a great deal of international capacities of importance: non-permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council, ASEAN Chairmanship, host of the ASEM and APEC Summits and the World Economic Forum on ASEAN, among so many others. Hundreds of Vietnamese officers and servicemen have been dispatched to UN peacekeeping missions in Africa. In various international issues of significance, Việt Nam’s voice, initiative and solutions – being both sensible and full of human kindness, in the spirit of equality, amity, tolerance and humanism – have received agreement and support from the international community. Thanks to this contribution, Việt Nam’s standing and prestige in the international arena are on the rise.
The efforts, results and achievements I’ve touched upon just now add to the overall, immense and historic gains of Việt Nam after 35 years of Đổi Mới, as stated by the 13th National Party Congress: “Never before has Việt Nam enjoyed such fortune, such strength, and such international standing and prestige as we do today“.
These gains and achievements are thanks to the correct, wise, measured and conscious leadership of the Party Central Committee and the direct guidance of the Politburo and Secretariat; the active and flexible administration of the State, the consensus, solidarity and support of the entirety of our people. They also owe themselves to the proactive engagement and operation of the entire political system across every service and level, among which the Party External Relations Commission, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Industry and Trade and agencies and bodies directly involved in foreign relations all over the country are the core and play an essential role. Let me take this opportunity, on behalf of the leadership of the Party and State, to offer my warmest congratulations, commendations and thanks to the entirety of our brothers and sisters working in the diplomatic service for your immense and very meaningful contributions.
That being said, there remain certain shortcomings in our foreign relations work so far, and in certain aspects we have yet to fulfil, or have achieved at a lower level than specified by the 13th National Party Congress. To elaborate, diplomatic work and international economic integration remains not wholly proactive and effective at certain times and in certain fields. We still lack cohesive and effective measures to minimize negative impacts in the process of advancing international integration. The understanding and direction in reality, at times, have yet to catch up with the rapid and complex ebbs and flows of the situation. Coordination and interoperability between different services, levels and localities can’t yet be called ‘seamless’. Strategic studies and forecast remain yet professional or satisfactory.
From all the above results and limitations, and, broadly speaking, through the entirety of rich and active body of work across the diplomatic front to date, we can continue to draw, bring forward and build on the practical lessons gleaned over the previous tenures. There are five lessons as follows:
1. The lesson of combining the power of the nation with the power of the time, and managing the relationship between national interest and international responsibility in harmony. The international situation is changing rapidly and in a complex way, yet the major trend and the ardent aspiration of all nations have ever been to preserve peace and expand cooperation for development. We have correctly and clearly identified our position and role in international cooperation and division of labour, improved our standing in the regional and global value, production and supply chains. As always, the consistent orientation, policy and goals of Việt Nam are relevant to this major trend of the times. Today, our national interest remains to safeguard an international environment conducive to development. This is entirely consistent with the interest of the peoples of the world to strive for peace, national independence, democracy, and social progress.
2. The lesson of perseverance in principle and flexibility in tactics. Our principle is national independence and socialism. Our tactics are to be mobile and flexible in making adjustment on a case-by-case, time-sensitive basis, and depending on the partner or target in question while sticking to President Hồ Chí Minh’s prime thoughts: “Firm in principle, myriad in applications”, “more friends, fewer foes”, “willing to befriend to all democratic countries, and cause animosity with no one”. Việt Nam always stands ready to be a reliable and responsible friend and partner to all countries in the international community.
3. The lesson of building solidarity and consensus within the entire Party, army and people as per Uncle Hồ’s teaching: “Our cause is made by the word of Commonality”. The right foreign policy orientation under the banner of justice and the effective implementation of concrete policies helped create consensus within the entire political system, solidarity among the whole nation, and the broad agreement and support from international friends. The institutions and policies for the consistent management and conduct of diplomatic activities under the leadership of the Party have become more and more complete, cohesive and suitable. The coordination mechanism between the Party external relations, State diplomacy and people-to-people diplomacy, between diplomatic activities in all political, economic, cultural, social areas, defence, security, environment protection, and many others, and between the central and local levels, have witnessed a multitude of improvements towards increasingly greater cohesion. This has contributed to creating synergy, fully harnessing the dynamism, creativity and effectiveness of diplomatic activities, making significant contributions to the goals of defending the Fatherland at an early stage while threats remain yet afar, preserving an environment of peace and stability, and creating the best opportunities and conditions for national development.
4. The lesson of building the apparatus and personnel work, which we have always viewed as “the root of all things”. Generations of cadres working in the external relations service have accomplished their missions with distinction through different periods in our nation’s history. Among them are the contingence of cadres of the Party External Relations Commission, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Industry and Trade, in their role as the adviser and direct implementer of the diplomatic work of the Party and State. “Striking the bell in the land of others”, as the saying goes, is an exceedingly hard and difficult work, and requires special qualities in the statesmen. The efforts on the diplomatic front so far have brought about generations after generations of diplomatic staff endowed with both political resolve and professionalism, who are, as of this speaking, demonstrating the mettle, morality and virtue of the Hồ Chí Minh diplomacy.
5. Last but not least, encompassing all is the lesson on the consolidated and absolute leadership of the Party and the centralised administration of the State. The leading bodies of the Party, first of all being the Politburo and the Secretariat, and their advisory organs have demonstrated agility and sharp senses in their evaluation of the situation, and decisiveness in the making of concrete policies and measures. Many policies and solutions to address complex issues, deliberations over which timing is right for major diplomatic undertakings, including the reception and dispatch of high-level visits, have created strong and persuasive impact and high consensus within the whole Party, people and army, and helped garner support from the international community.
The 13th National Party Congress was a great success, initiating the Strategy for National building, development and defence in the new period, including the 10-year Socio-Economic Development Strategy for 2021-2030 period with a vision until 2045. We shall redouble efforts so that by 2025, when we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the liberation of the South and national reunification, Viet Nam will be a developing country with a modern-oriented industry and the income per capita surpassing the lower-middle-income status. By 2030, the centenary of the Party, Việt Nam will be a developing country with a modern-oriented industrial base and upper-middle income. And by 2045, the centenary of the Democratic Republic of Việt Nam, the predecessor of the Socialist Republic of Việt Nam, we will become a developed, high-income, socialist-oriented country.
At the same time, the 13th Party Congress also set out the foreign policy orientations in the new era, with the following core elements:
– On the guiding philosophy: To consistently implement a foreign policy line of independence, self-reliance, peace, friendship, cooperation and development, multilateralisation and diversification of foreign relations, being a friend and reliable partner and an active and responsible member of the international community. To correctly manage the relationship between independence, self-reliance and comprehensive and intensive international integration. The will of self-reliance and the endogenous strength and resources are decisive, fundamental and long-term, while the support, assistance and resources from outside are of extreme importance.
– On the principle of foreign relations: To ensure to the highest level our national interest on the basis of the fundamental principles of the United Nations Charter and international law, equality, cooperation and mutual benefit.
– On the direction of foreign relations: To conduct in a cohesive, creative and effective way diplomatic undertakings, including Party, State and people-to-people diplomacy, external relations of various levels, services, localities, agencies, organizations and the community of businesses. To deepen and add substance and practical application to foreign relations. To mobilize and effectively combine external resources with domestic resources for national building, development and defence. To ceaselessly engage in innovation on the basis of skilfully applying the lesson of “firm in principle, myriad in applications”, wherein the principle and strategy remain unchanged, while measures and tactics must be flexible.
– On the fundamental task of foreign relations: To continue to play a pioneering role in the creation and maintenance of an environment of peace, and stability, in calling upon external resources for national development, and in raising the standing and prestige of Việt Nam. These tasks are closely interlinked and mutually reinforcing, and among them, the maintenance of peace and stability is a vital and permanent task, serving national development is the central task, and raising national standing and prestige is an important task.
We embark on the implementation of the 13th National Party Congress Resolution against the backdrop of a multitude of interweaving opportunities and challenges. “In the upcoming years, we project that the situation in the world and region will continue to witness very rapid, complex and unpredictable changes. Peace, cooperation and development remain the major trends, yet they will also face many obstacles, difficulties and challenges. Globalization and international integration will continue to move forward, yet they will also be threatened by the emergence of extreme nationalism, and fierce strategic rivalries, economic competition and trade war. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the world is falling into a serious crisis in many regards. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is developing robustly, creating breakthroughs in many areas, thus bringing about both opportunities and challenges to every nation. Countries are adjusting their development strategies and methods in order to adapt to the new reality. The Asia-Pacific continues to become all the more important and strategic area. In Southeast Asia, the security environment and sovereignty disputes in the East Sea will continue to develop in complex ways…” (op cit. pp. 30-31).
In order to make commensurate contributions alongside with the whole Party, people and army to successfully fulfil these incredibly heavy but glorious goals and missions, against the backdrop elaborated above, allow me to stress six more points in the implementation of the solutions and measures raised at the Conference today:
First, we must continually keep a close eye on, carefully study and grasp a good understanding of the current situation and its development in order to come up with suitable solutions in the conduct of diplomacy. The rapid and complex political developments in the world thus far have, in many respects, gone outside of conventional forecasting. Without correctly understanding the situation, we will never be able to catch up with the actual development on the ground. The crux of the matter is, we need to be sharp, agile, daring in thought and in deed, willing to seize initiative, unafraid to break out of the bounds of old routines and comfort zones, in order to bring forth thoughts and deeds above our weight and arrive at the level of the region and the world. We must build a new standing and a new state of mind for Việt Nam in our conduct of foreign policy and in managing our relationship with other countries, bilaterally and multilaterally. The stature and power of Việt Nam across key indicators, such as the economy, population, defence and diplomacy have shown dramatic changes after 35 years of Đổi Mới. Of special importance, issues pertaining to the core and strategic interests of Viet Nam require us to express a stronger voice and more active diplomatic stance, first of all within the region. At the same time, we must also accelerate innovation in thoughts, take bold new steps and find new methods in our work, expand into new areas and seek new partners and new directions. Of course, innovation must be based on principle, certainty, prudence, and while persevering with our goal, and with sincerity and humility.
Second, we must continue to take to heart and correctly implement the foreign policy line of independence, self-reliance, peace, cooperation and development, multilateralisation and diversification of relations, active and intensive international integration, in the interest of the nation-state, uphold both cooperation and struggle through a correct understanding of the position on “partner” versus “target”, bolstering cooperation and the continuing creation of interwoven strategic interests between Việt Nam and other countries, preventing conflicts, and avoiding confrontation, isolation or dependence. In this process, the overarching goal is to maintain an environment of peace and stability conducive for national building and defence, to implement strategic tasks for socio-economic development, to resolutely and patiently safeguard national independence, sovereignty, sovereign rights, territorial integrity, and other legitimate national interests in accordance with international law. With regards to safeguarding an environment of peace, one of the most important requirements is to always be patient, calm, judicious and skilful in order to correctly handle foreign relations, including the matter of national sovereignty and territory. This is an extremely important task for the entire political system, in which the foreign service is the pioneer. Given the international developments I’ve spoken of before, the pursuit of this overarching goal shall face many challenges as we go forward.
To fully make use of and tap into opportunities, contain and neutralise challenges, and respond well to external changes, we must always remember Uncle Ho’s teaching: “Our cause is made by the word Commonality”. Accordingly, we must always attach great importance to nurturing and preserving solidarity and consensus within our country. The greatest, highest commonality here is the resolve to protect our national interest. Everyone must work in the interest of the nation and the people. Only in so doing shall we be able to “combine the strengths of the nation with the strengths of the times”, perform the motto of “firm in principle, myriad in applications”, keep our heart ablaze and our head cool, and remain resolved and patient in addressing challenges in foreign relations, and harness common denominators in interest to promote cooperation and development grounded in the protection of national and respect for international law.
Third, we must maximise all of the country’s favourable elements to actively contribute to the making and shaping of multilateral institutions according to Directive No. 25 of the Secretariat on elevating multilateral diplomacy, and view this as an important strategic direction, including the development of the Master Strategy for Foreign Relations until 2030. The focal point of work going forward is implementing and building upon the important gains in the multilateral forums to which Việt Nam is party, especially through cooperating with our partners to accelerate the implementation of Việt Nam’s initiatives that have been adopted. We must demonstrate our role as a core in the building of the ASEAN Community and reinforcing ASEAN centrality in the regional security architecture. Active participation must be continued within the framework of the United Nations, especially in the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals and participation in the UN peacekeeping missions. We should take stock of our conduct and performance of our mandates as ASEAN Chair in 2020 and non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council in 2020-2021, and from here draw lessons for the upcoming future that may be applied to other multilateral forums, within and outside of the United Nations.
Fourth, we should expand and enhance the effectiveness of diplomatic undertakings, especially economic, cultural, political, security and defence cooperation with other countries. Relationships with partners with whom we have established cooperation frameworks, primarily being neighbouring countries and major powers, should be continually deepened, stabilised and augmented. We should prioritise the maintenance of stability and momentum in the relationships through building political trust and promoting cooperation across the board, while addressing differences and emerging issues in the spirit of cooperation, friendship and dispute management, based on international law and the practice of the region.
We must continue to effectively translate the policy of active and proactive international integration into reality, especially Resolution 6 of the Party Central Committee on “effectively implementing international economic integration, maintaining socio-political stability as Việt Nam takes part in next-generation Free Trade Agreements” and the “Master Plan for International Integration until 2020 with a vision until 2030”. We need to effectively implement international commitments, with the focus being those under the WTO, ASEAN Economic Community, APEC, CPTPP, RCEP, EVFTA and EVIPA, among others.
Economic diplomacy must be augmented in the interest of national sustainable development. Priority should be given to seeking and expanding market access for Vietnamese goods, services and workers, attracting financing, technology and managerial expertise, especially FDI into areas of national priority. We shall actively join other countries in advancing the negotiation, signing, ratification and enforcement of multilateral FTAs, look into the possibility of joining multilateral initiatives for economic and infrastructure development in the region, and endeavour to negotiate next-generation bilateral FTAs with other countries, especially major trade partners. Work related to the overseas Vietnamese community must be conducted in a more well-rounded and vigorous way, keeping it to heart that the overseas Vietnamese is our flesh and blood, an inseparable part, and an important force of the community of Vietnamese ethnicities. Competent authorities must continue to create a more complete system of policies, instruments and laws to enable our overseas compatriots to play an increasingly more active and broader role in national building and defence, and assist them in gaining a strong legal status so that they may take heart in integrating into, living and working in their places of residence while preserving the Vietnamese language and the cultural identity of our nation.
Fifth, we must especially pay attention to and further improve the quality of strategic studies and forecasting, focusing on meticulously assessing the trends of policy and relationships among major powers, neighbouring and regional countries, the political, economic, socio-cultural tendencies in the world and the region, especially as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, digital transformation and the digital economy and society take the world by storm, and as the dangers of epidemics and climate change loom. In the medium to long term, we must be able to prepare scenarios to project changes in the world and regional order, and prepare response plans accordingly. We must be fully aware of our strengths and limitations, and remain sober in identifying Việt Nam’s strategic value and position in a new context in order to plan appropriate strategies and policies. Peace, cooperation and development in the world and in the region remain the major trend of our era. A country cannot randomly make decision and act unilaterally without taking into consideration the damage such action would cause to others and itself. It can be said that strategic research and forecasting is of vital importance if we are to maintain our proactiveness in a world of complex turbulence. The Party Central Committee, and the Politburo and Secretariat, directly speaking, always highly appreciate the strategic reports from the advisory, specialized and professional bodies of the Party and State. That said, the requirements for strategic research and forecasting going forward is extremely high and full of challenges, I hope you would pay greater attention to this line of work. As I usually say: “The only thing to fear is not knowing, once we know, there is no fear.”.
Sixth, in order to accomplish these tasks, we must pay special attention to the organization of the apparatus and the training and grooming of the contingence of diplomatic cadres.
On the organisation of the apparatus, the system of foreign relations organs, consisting of the PCC External Relations Commission, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Industry and Trade, together with other agencies and units charged with conducting external relations across every ministry, agency, locality and the entire political system must continue to redouble efforts to implement the Resolution of the 4th Plenum of the 12th Central Party Committee on Party building and rectification, and the Conclusion of the 4th Plenum of the 13th Central Party Committee on strengthening effort for the building and rectification of the Party and the political system. We must be resolute in preventing, combating, and strictly handling Party cadres and members of degrading political thoughts, morals or lifestyle, and those who show signs of “self-evolution” within our own ranks. At the same time, we must continue reviewing and renewing the organizational and managerial system, and improve the skill and capacity for the organization of the PCC External Relations Commission, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Industry and Trade, and many Ministries, line agencies, services and localities involved in foreign relations work, both within Vietnamese diplomatic missions overseas and in agencies inside Việt Nam, with the goal of a streamlined, efficient and effective organizational apparatus in line with the spirit of the Resolution of the 6th Plenum of the 12th Party Central Committee in this regard. We must further augment the coordination between Ministries, agencies, services, and localities, in particular between the PCC External Relations Commission, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Ministry of National Defence, Ministry of Public Security, and the many Ministries, agencies, services and localities involved in the conduct of Việt Nam’s diplomacy and international integration. In an age of comprehensive integration, in which the tendency towards globalisation, connectivity and integration becomes inevitable, the close concert between Party foreign relations, State diplomacy, and people-to-people diplomacy, and between the diplomatic work conducted by various Ministries, agencies, organisations and individuals engaged in this process at the Central and local level – in particular border localities – are crucial if we are to fulfil the common task and the individual mission of each service, locality, agency and office.
With regards to personnel work, let me quote once more the lesson our Party has drawn: “cadre is the root of all things”. We are living in the era of Đổi Mới and intensive international integration. Personnel work must meet this demand. Throughout the history of the revolution, our Party has always attached great importance to personnel work for the diplomatic service and for foreign relations as a whole. In the hardest and most trying years of the revolution, we have always had exemplary diplomats and foreign relations staff. They stand as exemplar for all generations, representing patriotism, the willingness to learn, political mettle, style and the art of diplomacy and statesmanship. One may well say, they are diplomats, statesmen and politicians acknowledged and held in high esteem by friends worldwide.
The diplomatic staff of today are inheritors of the invaluable traditions and experiences of the previous generations, and are endowed with the opportunity to study and to ply their work. The average level of knowledge and education of the diplomatic staff is very high. I am aware that within the PCC External Relations Commission, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Industry and Trade, there are numerous comrades who are capable and held in high esteem by their colleagues and international friends. However, given the requirements of the new situation and missions, we must continue to attach greater importance to the training of diplomatic and foreign relations staff in knowledge, in capacity and political mettle, especially political mettle. You must continue to tirelessly train yourself in political thoughts, remain absolutely loyal to the ideal of the Party and the interest of our nation, and stay alert to the influencing and luring of hostile forces. You must actively combat and prevent “self-evolution”, and never be snared by the trap of corruption or wrongdoing. The more Việt Nam is integrated into the world, the greater our need for a contingent of diplomatic and foreign relations staff that possess firm political mettle, capability, influence and style if we are to stand on the same footing as other countries and international friends. They must be entirely devoted to the service of the Fatherland and the people. A skilled diplomat or conductor of foreign affairs must firstly be a capable politician, who always views the interest of the nation-state and the polity as the compass guiding his action. Such a person must also conduct himself with culture, for diplomacy, after all, is culture – the representation of the culture of our nation in dealings with others. Diplomats and foreign relations staff must always keep in mind that behind you stand the Party, the Fatherland and the People. Do be confident, be steadfast, be tenacious, be skilful, and be wise.
The world is changing rapidly. While hardship remains on our country’s path, our prospect is very bright. Our entire Party, people and army are standing together, with the highest resolve, to realise the Resolution of the 13th National Party Congress. Every Vietnamese, no matter at home or abroad, desires our country to grow mighty and prosperous, to stand side-by-side with the powers of the five continents, as the aspiration of President Hồ Chí Minh.
I am confident that our Conference today will set another milestone and bring about yet another, more vigorous and effective, change to Việt Nam’s foreign relations. I have been informed that following the Conference today, the diplomatic service will convene the Diplomatic Conference, bearing the spirit and conclusion of the Conference today into the discussion as to concrete directions, missions and measures in conducting foreign relations in order to successfully translate the foreign policy orientations of the 13th National Party Congress into reality. This is an excellent practice that we must continue.
On the occasion of the New Year of 2022 and the Lunar New Year of the Tiger, allow me to once again extend my gratitude to the diplomats, delegates, and all diplomatic officials, staff and personnel all over the country. May good health and many successes be with you in your glorious and noble tasks. I would also like to ask the heads of Vietnamese missions abroad to convey my best regards and New Year’s wishes to the officials, staff and personnel, and the Vietnamese community overseas. May the bond of friendship and cooperation between the people of Việt Nam and the world continue to grow stronger and tighter.
Let us resolve to build and develop a modern Vietnamese diplomacy deeply imbued with national identity – the “Vietnamese bamboo” school of diplomacy!
Thank you very much!