Building on the role of diplomacy in service of national development

June 16, 2021 - 07:17


Minister of Foreign Affairs Bùi Thanh Sơn

H.E. Bùi Thanh Sơn

Member of the Party Central Committee

Minister of Foreign Affairs


In Việt Nam's history of nation-building and defence, beyond the military tactics and the resolute determination to defend our territory, reclaim and safeguard our national independence, our forefathers always attached great importance to external relations. This has forged the tradition and unique characteristics for the Vietnamese diplomacy that is imbued with courage, concord and humanism. Such virtuous tradition and characteristics have been further nurtured, promoted and glowing in the Hồ Chí Minh era, contributing to the grand triumphs in national liberation, reunification, building and defence.

Throughout the Đổi Mới process, Việt Nam has pursued a foreign policy of independence, self-reliance, openness, multilateralisation and diversification, and applied the Hồ Chí Minh diplomatic thoughts alongside the friendly tradition and nature of Vietnamese diplomacy. In that process, the Vietnamese foreign service always represents the seamless convergence of the Party, State and public diplomacy, and has made important contributions to the monumental and historic achievements of 35 years of Đổi Mới. Indeed, as Party General Secretary Nguyễn Phú Trọng said, and as enshrined in the Resolution of the 13th National Party Congress, “never ever before has our country boasted such fortune, strength, international standing and prestige as it does today”.

Việt Nam has embarked on a new chapter, endowed with new standing and strength after 35 years of Đổi Mới. Illuminated by the directions charted by the 13th National Party Congress, Việt Nam is making all efforts to realise the aspiration and development goal of becoming a developed, socialist-oriented country by the mid-21st century. This will be a historic milestone for Việt Nam on the path towards an affluent people, a strong nation, democracy, equality and civilisation. This noble goal requires the entire Party and nation to make the utmost efforts in stepping up Đổi Mới in a holistic and cohesive way. To this end, a critical task is “to cohesively, creatively and effectively conduct foreign relations, and actively engage in comprehensive and extensive international integration”, and “to continue building on the role of the foreign service as the vanguard in establishing and safeguarding a peaceful and stable environment, mobilising external resources for national development, and enhancing the international profile and prestige of Việt Nam.”

Peace, independence and freedom have always been the desire of our nation for countless generations. It would be impossible to develop our country and bring about wellbeing and happiness to our people without peace and stability. Accordingly, the vital and regular task for the foreign service is to cultivate and maintain a peaceful and stable environment conducive to nation-building and defence. In order to safeguard our nation “from early on and from afar while dangers are yet afield”, the foreign service must assume the pioneering role to broaden and deepen Việt Nam’s external relations. This will help consolidate Việt Nam’s relationships with all partners worldwide and bring about tangible outcomes (as of today, Việt Nam has established diplomatic relations with 189 countries, and Strategic Partnerships and Comprehensive Partnerships with 30 countries). In addition, the foreign service must also contribute to promoting dialogue, building on common ground, narrowing differences and settling disputes on the basis of international law. The guideline of conducting foreign relations is to consistently implement the foreign policy of independence, self-reliance, peace, friendship, cooperation, development, multilateralisation and diversification. Việt Nam is a trustworthy friend and partner, an active and responsible member of the international community. Việt Nam also wishes that all countries would be friends and partners of Việt Nam on the basis of equality, cooperation and mutual benefit. The principle and motto of Việt Nam’s foreign relations are to ensure the ultimate national interests on the basis of the fundamental principles of the UN Charter and international law. Diplomacy, together with the national defence and security front, will contribute tirelessly to defending national independence, sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity. Such endeavours need to be carried out flexibly and wisely, “remained firm in principles but flexible in their application” to maintain peace and stability for national development.

Being deeply aware that “socio-economic development is the central task”, the foreign service needs to be an important contributor to bolstering national strength, self-reliance, economic competitiveness and overall power. To that end, we must creatively apply the mantra of combining national power with the power of the times and make full use of conducive international conditions, especially the global development trends and achievements. It is also essential to effectively implement free trade agreements (as of today, Việt Nam has signed 15 FTAs and is negotiating another two pacts), international agreements and commitments to expand market access and muster external resources for growth model transformation, economic restructuring, and more vigorous national industrialisation and modernisation on the basis of science, technology, innovation and a high-quality workforce. In this process, it is crucial to bear in mind that the Vietnamese people, localities, and businesses are the key beneficiaries. Accordingly, the foreign service must make full use of its specific advantages to facilitate the people, localities, and businesses in enhancing the effectiveness of their external economic activities, seizing the opportunities and maximising the benefits brought about by international integration. Under the motto of “trailblazer – pathfinder”, “company” and “service”, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the overseas missions of Việt Nam have always been the home base and the reliable reference for the Vietnamese people, localities and businesses in search of cooperation and development opportunities.

President Hồ Chí Minh once said: “national power is as a gong and diplomacy is its sound. Only when the gong is large shall its sound be loud”.

As such, it is vital to closely combine the status and strength of Việt Nam. This involves making full use of Việt Nam’s new stature to generate new resources and power while effectively capitalising on the synergy to reinforce and enhance our national standing and prestige. We need renewed efforts to promote and raise the profile of multilateral diplomacy, and advance Việt Nam's role at multilateral forums, especially at the ASEAN, UN, APEC, Mekong sub-regional cooperation framework, and other cooperation arrangements, and in matters of strategic importance in line with the need, ability and particular condition of our country.

In addition, it is also important to continue modernising and enhancing the cultural diplomacy, external communications, citizen protection and works concerning overseas Vietnamese. Such efforts will help bolster the standing and increase the “Vietnamese value” in the eyes of friends and peoples around the world. Given the comprehensive and extensive international integration, the foreign service needs to ensure that all Vietnamese people, both at home and abroad, can actively contribute to and benefit from the national development achievements, and that their lawful and legitimate rights and interests are well protected.

To perform its missions and responsibilities, the foreign service – in addition to developing and implementing an effective overarching diplomatic strategy – needs to pay special attention to the “building of a comprehensive and modern diplomatic service with three pillars resting on the Party, State and public diplomacy”. Comprehensive diplomacy is shown through its implementation scope, measures and subjects. This means a seamless and cohesive combination between Party, State and public diplomacy; between political, economic, cultural diplomacy and defence, security, socio-cultural aspects and environment, and science and technology fronts; and between bilateral and multilateral diplomacy. Modern diplomacy is exhibited through a streamlined and efficient apparatus operating within a cohesive, standardised and modern process and infrastructure. It is essential that we develop a body of diplomatic staff equipped with strong political mettle, who are unwaveringly loyal to the Party, Fatherland and the people, and who are highly talented, capable, professional and modern in style, who are innovative, sharp and proactive, in order to “go beyond the scope of the nation and achieve regional- and world-class”.

The world is undergoing rapid and complex changes, with opportunities intermingling with challenges. States and nations worldwide are trying to seize every available chance. While adversities remain ahead, the future of Viet Nam's development is intensely bright. Under the able leadership of the Party and the effective management of the State, given the consensus and support of the people, and the close cooperation from every level and sector, the foreign service will continue making noteworthy contributions to the national development towards an affluent people, a wealthy nation, democracy, equality and civilisation. VNS