Thursday, February 25 2021


Looking back at Việt Nam’s external affairs over the past 35 years

Update: January, 25/2021 - 07:10


Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Phạm Bình Minh. — Photo 

HÀ NỘI — The draft political report submitted to the 13th National Party Congress has shown the importance and the pioneering role of foreign affairs in the cause of building and safeguarding the country. An important foundation to implement the task is to continue "building a comprehensive and modern diplomacy" with focus on three pillars of Party diplomacy, State diplomacy and people-to-people diplomacy.

Politburo member, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Phạm Bình Minh made the statement in his article entitled ‘The hallmarks of foreign affairs in 35 years of đổi mới (reform): To accompany the nation, serve the Fatherland and serve the people'.

It was published on the occasion of the 13th National Party Congress this week.

The article reviewed milestones of Vietnamese foreign affairs policies mentioned in the Party documents since 1986 and looked into diplomatic achievements and lessons learned over the past 35 years.

Minh called the first period of đổi mới (from 1986 to 1995) the period of “breaking the embargo siege and bringing the country out of serious economic crisis”.

The Communist Party of Việt Nam reviewed the changing regional and global situation to respond to the new developments and determine foreign policies and directions in the new situation.

In Politburo Resolution No 13 in May 1988, the Party set the policy of co-existence in peace. Accordingly, Việt Nam would be able to maintain independence and build a socialist state with a strong economy, defence and the expansion of international co-operation relations.

Việt Nam's foreign policy was consolidated at the seventh Party Congress in 1991 during which the Party affirmed that “Việt Nam wants to be a friend and a partner with other countries around the world, and expand and multilateralise its external economic relations.”

Việt Nam normalised diplomatic relations with China in 1991, with the US in 1995 and fostered relations with neighbouring countries and other important partners in the world.

Việt Nam became an official member of ASEAN in 1995.

The eighth National Party Congress in 1996 affirmed the diplomatic policy of "independence, self-reliance, diversification and multilateralisation of international relations".

The progressive diplomatic thinking was reflected through the economic integration policy at the eighth, ninth, tenth congresses in 1996, 2001 and 2006 respectively.

From 1996 to 2010, Việt Nam joined the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (AFTA) and signed a bilateral trade agreement with the US.

Việt Nam attended a series of important multilateral mechanisms such as the 1996 Asia-Europe Co-operation Forum (ASEM), the 1998 Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC), the World Trade Organisation.

Việt Nam hosted high-level conferences of the Community of French-speaking countries (1997), ASEAN (1998), ASEM (2005), APEC (2006) and was a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council during the 2008-09 period.

The eleventh National Party Congress in 2011 switched the economic integration policy to active international integration.

The scale of integration was extended at the twelfth congress in 2016, highlighting the active participation and promoting the core leading role of Việt Nam.

Việt Nam has built a network of 30 comprehensive and strategic partners, including all major countries, 17 out of G20 members and all ASEAN countries. Việt Nam has actively negotiated a number of free trade agreements (FTAs), including new FTAs, namely the CPTPP, EVFTA and RCEP.

Việt Nam has been actively participating in the ASEAN community building and peacekeeping mission. It also assumed the ASEAN chairmanship in 2020 and became a non-permanent member of the 2020-21 UN Security Council term.

According to Deputy Prime Minister Phạm Bình Minh, foreign affairs have handled properly and relations with neighbouring countries, major powers, comprehensive and strategic partners have grown effectively.

In the aspirations for national development, the Việt Nam’s external affairs work has created all favourable international conditions, attracting resources for development and enhancement of the country's status in which local people and businesses are at the centre.

The foreign affairs work has made an important contribution to protecting national sovereignty and improving Việt Nam’s position and prestige in the region and in the world.

Those achievements are attributed to the Party's proper foreign policy and guidelines over the past years on the basis of situation assessment and lessons learned.

First of all, that is the lesson of determining and bringing into full play the nation’s interests on the basis of basic principles of international law, equality and mutual benefits.

Another lesson is to rely on internal power of Party, State diplomacy and people-to-people diplomacy, and power of foreign affairs - defence - security. The external goals always stick to the country's development goals. External relations are an extension of the internal affairs and an effective tool for realising development aspirations.

In the context of evolving regional and global situation which include uncertain factors, peace, co-operation, development, globalisation and integration are still a big trend, but there will be many obstacles and challenges from major strategic competition and the COVID-19 pandemic. The Asia-Pacific region holds a vital position in the world and is an important driving force of the global economy. But the region still has potential destabilising factors, including the developments in the East Sea and the Mekong.

In the most complex international context, Việt Nam will set ambitious long-term development goals for 2030 and 2045. Therefore, the mission of foreign affairs in the future is difficult, with the priority on the task of building a happy and prosperous country, according to the Deputy Prime Minister. — VNS


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