Pham Binh Minh
In these days, it is with the deepest of gratitude that our entire nation celebrate the 130th birthday of President Ho Chi Minh, our beloved leader, hero of national liberation, and great man of culture. Viet Nam’s diplomatic service is honored and proud to have President Ho Chi Minh as its first foreign minister. An ingenious leader, an extraordinary diplomat and founder of the modern Vietnamese diplomacy, Uncle Ho guided the Vietnamese diplomacy through countless adversities to play its part in reclaiming national independence, freedom and reunification. He bequeathed to the modern Vietnamese diplomacy his Diplomatic Thought – a unique diplomatic philosophy rooted in the Vietnamese patriotism and culture, enriched by his immense store of knowledge both East and West, and imbued with his tenacity and wealth of experience over decades of revolutionary activism.
The Ho Chi Minh Diplomatic Thought comprises diplomatic principles, elements, approaches, style and arts. He stood for the fundamental rights of nations to sovereignty and territorial integrity, pursued the dual target of national independence and socialism, and fought for national reunification, peace, and stood against wars of aggression. He stressed that Vietnamese diplomacy must “always work in service of our national interests” , and that independence, self-reliance, and resilience must be linked with international solidarity and cooperation. Accordingly, Viet Nam has expressed the willingness ‘to be a friend of all democratic states’, and the wish “to create grudge against none” . He attached great importance to fostering the friendship and cooperation with the immediate neighboring countries, expanding relations with other countries in the region and the world, and skillfully handling relations with major powers in the interest of the revolution.
In terms of approach, he identified that diplomacy should be a front, a branch of the Vietnamese revolution. Vietnamese diplomacy should be able to seamlessly combine “fighting and negotiating”, and synergize the national power with that of the times. He always saw Viet Nam within the mainstream of the world, and attached due importance to the major centers of power and prominent trends. He particularly emphasized “the fundamental is unchanged, the applications are myriad” – to use the constant to match the endlessly changing; in other words, the fundamental strategic objectives are to be persevered with, while revolutionary tactics are to be flexible and adaptive. The Ho Chi Minh diplomatic approach is also an embodiment of the peace-loving tradition of our nation, which aims to address differences through peaceful means.
Grounded in the national culture, the Ho Chi Minh diplomatic style is immersed in the cultural quintessence of humankind; it is where East and West coalesce as one. In terms of thinking, his advice was to cultivate a well-rounded perspective, to “look broad, think deep” to truly see the prevailing trend and the direction of social progress. In his communication, he exuded a harmonious mix of local and universal values, which endeared him to many people and helped him foster great friendships. In his discourse, he used the simplicity of his style as an effective channel for the delivery of diplomatic messages.
The remarkable traits in the Ho Chi Minh diplomatic arts are his impeccable application of “the five knows” (know thyself, know others, know the times, know to stop, and know to adapt), and his ability to create and seize opportunities. It is also a diplomacy that aimed at winning the hearts of others via righteousness, human kindness, truth and morals. The achievements of Vietnamese diplomacy throughout the course of national liberation, reunification and defense are testimony to the ingenuity of President Ho Chi Minh in his application of diplomacy as an art to guide the revolution to its triumph.
Reality has proven that the Ho Chi Minh Diplomatic Thought is an invaluable heritage, the cornerstone of strength, and the key to the successful and effective exercise of the Party foreign policy line through different revolutionary periods. It is the creative use of his Diplomatic Thought in the new situation that enabled Vietnamese diplomacy to gain such instrumental achievements, contributing to the maintenance of a peaceful environment, the muster of resources for national development, the steadfast defense of national sovereignty and territorial integrity, and the elevation of Viet Nam’s international standing.
Today, Viet Nam enjoys diplomatic relations with 189 out of 193 member states of the United Nations, boasting strategic and comprehensive partnerships with 30 countries. We attach great importance to our relations with the immediate neighbors and our strategic and comprehensive partners alike. We have driven those partnerships into a deep, steady and lasting framework, and taken incremental steps to satisfactorily address existent and emergent issues in the relations with others. At the same time, we have invested efforts to grow the relations with our neighbors in the region and traditional friends.
Viet Nam has made remarkable strides in international integration. Economically, we have become an important link in various economic groupings via the signing of a range of free trade agreements, which generated enormous drivers for growth. IMF ranks Viet Nam one of the 20 top contributors to global economic growth in 2019. While the COVID-19 pandemic is causing global economic downturn, Viet Nam is still enjoying positive growth and among the faster-growing within the region. International integration in other fields of politics-security-defense, socio-cultural affairs has also deepened.
Given our new stature and power, Viet Nam has been participating in most of the key international organizations and forums. We have made positive contributions at those platforms, successfully fulfilled various critical responsibilities, and are performing our capacity as the ASEAN Chair for 2020 and a non-permanent member of the UNSC for 2020 -2021 with great efficacy. We also played a positive role in addressing significant issues of international affairs, including food security, international cooperation in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, and peace and reconciliation on the Korean peninsula.
In an international environment of growing complexities, diplomacy has contributed effectively to the steadfast defense of our national sovereignty and territorial integrity. We made great effort to build a land borderline of peace, friendship and development with Laos, Cambodia and China. Given the complications in the East Sea, we have been correctly assessing the situation, addressing issues in a timely and astute manner, and determined in the steadfast defense of national sovereignty, territorial integrity and the legitimate rights and interests of Viet Nam at sea.
In addition to these achievements, other major pillars of the diplomatic service have also recorded remarkable gains. Diplomacy conducted through the Party, State, Parliamentary, and people-to-people channels and defense-security diplomacy are efficiently performed and smoothly coordinated. Economic and cultural diplomacy, citizen protection, overseas Vietnamese affairs and external communication are proactively carried out with much vigor, which contributed to the overall achievements of Vietnamese diplomacy.
At the threshold of the third decade of the 21st century, the world is now witnessing immense, profound and unpredictable changes. Peace, cooperation and development remain a major trend, yet the impacts of COVID-19 has accelerated deep changes in the international landscape. This exerts a direct impact on the security and development environment of our country. We need to continue creatively applying the Ho Chi Minh Diplomatic Thought to position Viet Nam securely in the ‘flow of our time’, for such application shall serve as a great engine to lead the Vietnamese revolution to new triumphs.
Accordingly, Vietnamese diplomacy must play its role as a vanguard “front” to reinforce a favorable international environment, muster resources for the national development and the elevation of Viet Nam’s international standing, and to defend the Fatherland while the dangers remain yet afar. The “branches” of Vietnamese diplomacy, consisting of the Party, State and people-to-people diplomacy, must stand united as one to fully harness new opportunities and effectively address the complex challenges posed before us. We need to effectively apply “the fundamental is unchanged, the applications are myriad” as a principle. The constant goal – with which we need to persevere – is the ultimate national interests, comprising peace, independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, and greater national strength and standing. At the same time, flexibility and adaptability are needed in both strategies and actions to address the “myriad” of situations. Amid the complexities in the East Sea, we will persevere with peaceful means to address disputes, while “resolutely defending the most sacred of rights: the territorial integrity of our Fatherland and independence of our country” as Uncle Ho taught us.
We should also expand and deepen our international integration in order to bring more practical benefits to the people and businesses. In applying Uncle Ho’s thoughts on international solidarity and cooperation, we will continue attaching due importance to our ties with the immediate neighbors, further deepen our relations with all countries in the region and the world, while uplifting multilateral diplomacy to a new height.
In the new circumstances, diplomatic cadres need to constantly strive for self-improvement in line with Uncle Ho’s advice: “it is only through learning and the effort of each individual and of the entire service that diplomacy may be able to meet the demand of the nation” . Diplomatic cadres need to be both “red” and “professional” to build the modern Vietnamese diplomacy in the new era. Most importantly, we need to follow Uncle Ho’s teaching: “Diplomats must always serve the national interests and be skillful to secure them” .
Beneath the light of the Ho Chi Minh Diplomatic Thought, Vietnamese diplomacy shall continue to pen new successes, thus making commensurate contributions to the cause of national development and defense, so that Viet Nam shall stand on an equal footing with the world powers across the five continents as Uncle Ho once aspired for.
Pham Binh Minh, Member of the Politburo, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs.