The thorough understanding and successful handling the relation between independence, self-reliance and proactive and active international integration have made important contribution to Vietnam’s achievements of great historical significance for the past 30 years of renewal.
Enhance national synergy
International integration is the process to engage the country to become an integral part that plays a certain role in the international community. In essence, international integration is the process of both cooperation and struggle for national and country’s interests in multifaceted, bilateral and multilateral relations with different stakeholders in the international community (such as nations, political parties, people’s organizations, NGOs, international organizations, sub-regional, regional and inter-regional organizations, corporations, associations, businesses).
Proactive and active international integration is firstly to proactively and actively grasp development trends of the world; well prepare and have appropriate strategy to catch up or accompany those trends. The level of proactiveness depends on a number of factors, including vision of leaders, quality of policymaking, professionalism of administration, accuracy of forecasting and strategic research, the agility of businesses, the flexibility of the education system, and dynamism of the people. Often, success depends on the aggregation of all these elements. Without a factor, or lack of effective strategy for coordination of such factors, failure can occur. The ultimate effect is to consolidate and enhance independence, self-reliance, promote national advantages and competitiveness of the country in the international economy and politics.
Only by enhancing national synergy can we maintain independence and self-reliance; any policy that enhances national aggregated strength is to safeguard independence and self-reliance. The Communist Party of Vietnam has stated: “They will only “take us into account” if we are strong. If we are weak, we will only be an instrument in the hands of others, although they may be our ally.” Enhancing national synergy should be placed in the context when Vietnam is deepening international integration; collaboration and struggle in the international arena are complicatedly intertwined and international competition becomes increasingly fierce. In that context, only by properly handling the relation between independence, self-reliance and proactiveness and active international integration can national synergy be strengthened.
First, heightened national synergy is the goal that governs the handling of relation between independence, self-reliance and proactive and active international integration. All activities to deal with the relation must be for national interests; and contribute to increase national strength.
Second, the development and strength of components of national synergy in a unified form are the principal basis for assessing the effective handling of the relations between independence, self-reliance and proactive and active international integration. Vietnam’s national aggregated strength consists of four main elements: 1. The Party’s position, role and wise leadership; 2. Vietnamese values, especially patriotism and strength of national unity; 3. Economic, cultural, defense, security, science-technology potential; 4. Position in the international arena. If any of the integral components of the national synergy is weak, for example, the economy is underdeveloped, national defense and security are week, it can not be said that the handling of the relations is successful and effective. This criterion should be concretized into parameters on the development of integral components of national synergy in comparison with previous periods and in relation with other countries.
Enhance the position and strength of the country
International integration has created new challenges to the task of firmly maintaining independence and self-reliance. Interdependence among countries can be transformed into dependence of one country on another. This case easily happens for poor and small countries in relation to rich countries and large countries. International integration can also affect the social stratification of individual country, as the benefits of integration are divided unequally between different groups in society, and thus contributing to further aggravating social issues.
In the process of international integration, the decision-making process will be more difficult because it must be in harmony with regulations and commitments with international practices and international organizations that Vietnam is a signatory. Other complicating factors are the emergence of “interest groups,” especially in the case of domestic “group interests” associated with foreign elements. Inefficient international integration will weaken national independence, self-reliance and national sovereignty. If efforts are not proactively and creatively made to find new approaches suitable to the context and conditions resulted from the process of international integration, the guarantee of independence and self-reliance will also meet many challenges.
Improving national position and strength is the basic criterion for assessing the relation between independence, self-reliance and proactive and active international integration. The handling of the relation must contribute to strengthening the internal strength of the country and at the same time to improve national position. Enhancing national position while promoting national strength are the orientation and fundamental requirements governing all activities to handle the relation between independence, self-reliance and proactive and active international integration.
This criterion requires maintaining independence, self-reliance and promoting international integration. Maintaining independence and self-reliance must create favorable conditions for international integration; proactive, active international integration must contribute to maintaining independence, self-reliance. If national internal strength is consolidated, economic potentials increase, national defense and security are safeguarded, but the position of the country is not high, the handling of the relation between independence, self-reliant and proactive, active international integration cannot yet be said to be effective. This criterion should be developed into concrete parameters on national independence and self-reliance in all fields; on level, efficiency of international and regional integration of the country.
These two fundamental criteria are the basis for assessing the success and effectiveness of dealing with the relation between independence, self-reliance and proactive and active international integration. These two criteria are closely interrelated and need to be implemented with specific qualitative and quantitative parameters and appropriate application in each period and time to ensure the objective accurate assessment and avoid subjective and bias assessment.
To harmoniously handle the relation between independence, self-reliance and proactive and active international integration
First, consolidate and enhance the Party leadership and the State management capacity. In face of new challenges resulted from international integration, the Party leadership is the most decisive factor in overcoming those challenges. In order to maintain independence, self-reliance and effective international integration, it is necessary to carry out key steps to improve the Party leadership and ruling power as well as the State social management and operation at all levels, sectors, and localities. On the one hand, promote innovation in political field, optimizing the operation of party and government agencies; on the other hand, further promote the work of Party building and rectification, fight against bureaucracy, corruption, wastefulness and degradation of political ideals, morals and lifestyles of cadres and Party members, better exercise democracy in party activities. Continue to renovate and perfect the theoretical, communication and mobilization work of the Party in terms of content and format, closely follow reality, avoid formality, and staying aloof of the mass; renovate the work of cadres, and intensify Party inspection, rectification and discipline.
Second, clearly confirm that the strengthening of independence, self-reliance and effective international integration are the cause of the Party, the State, the political system and the entire people. In addition to the Party leadership and right policy, the effective implementation of policy depends heavily on the participation of all levels, sectors and businesses as well as individual people. The revolutionary cause of Vietnam is always the cause of the mass. International integration is also a cause of the entire Party and people. Vietnam’s increasing international integration means that people, businesses, regions, economic sectors, and localities are all connected with the integration process. Thus, when Vietnam integrates comprehensively into the economic, political and cultural life of the region and the world, all Vietnamese people cannot stand outside this process.
Third, strengthen potential in all spheres, especially power, competitiveness and adaptability of the economy. Constantly improve and heighten the country’s position.
Speed up the process of perfecting the socialist-oriented market economy; create a firm foundation and a structure for safe and sustainable development of the economy, improve the country’s ability to adapt to the fluctuations of the international situation; pay attention to the development of education and training, science and technology, raise the quality of human resources; rapidly develop infrastructure.
In parallel with enhancing defense potential, combine closely socio-economic development with firmly maintaining national defense and security in the context of deepening international integration. Create “intermingled benefits” in all aspects between Vietnam and its partners as well as among partners in relation to Vietnam; maintain a balance of interests among major countries; attach importance to relations with neighboring countries, and ASEAN countries.
Fourth, rapidly improve the capacity of international integration, particularly build personnel, and strengthen apparatus and coordinating mechanism to deepen international integration. Good apparatus, qualified personnel, and close coordination will: 1. Reduce conflicts of local interest to create greater consensus on national and country interests; 2. Create self-confident psychology to participate in integration, discover and better take advantage of external opportunities; 3. Be more proactive and active in international and regional fora through initiatives and projects; 4. Strengthen research of forecasting, actively and positively detect and prevent challenges and complexities in the process of international integration.
Fifth, formulate a centralized, unified, competent steering mechanism to deal with issues related to independence, self-reliance and international integration; improve the efficiency of inter-sectoral coordination in order to bring into play the advantages of each branch and each sector in the process of integration while coping better with the challenges of the integration process. Moreover, it is necessary to thoroughly study the resolution of the 12th Party Congress in developing and implementing the Overall Strategy for international integration until 2020 with a vision to 2030 issued in January 2016 which states: “The overall goal of international integration until 2030 is to contribute to strengthening national synergy” (2). The concept of independence and self-reliance in the context of Vietnam’s deepening international integration should be exercised with caution immediately; At the same time, it must be flexible and prudent to allow appropriate adjustments to ensure security, development and elevation of the country’s profile.
After more than 30 years of renewal, the Party and State of Vietnam have recognized and properly handled the relation between independence, self-reliance and proactive and active international integration. This contributes to recording historical achievements.
On economy: Vietnam is proactive and self-reliant to adjust its domestic economy to be more harmonious with regional and world economy, adjust the legal system and procedures in line with ASEAN practices and WTO regulations. Take initiative to adopt better measures and master tools of managing and regulating the modern economy, such as stock market, monetary market, and post and telecommunication market to facilitate fair competition between economic sectors while initially creating intermingled interests between countries with Vietnam.
On politics: Vietnam has actively participated in activities of the United Nations, the Non-Aligned Movement; proactively and actively conducted dialogue with partners on both sensitive political issues and issues with different viewpoints; actively participated in the process of political and security cooperation in the region by developing the ASEAN Charter with standards appropriate to Vietnam. One of the prominent successes was the outstanding fulfillment of its role as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council for the 2008-2009 term.
In the process of international integration, Vietnam has continued to maintain political stability and self-reliance in the development of domestic political institutions, such as the model of socialist rule-of-law state, model and organization of socialist democracy, improvement of the leadership and renewal of the Party’s leadership style towards the State and society, and completion of the organizational structure of the State apparatus. In external activities of the Party and State, Vietnam have proactively chosen partners, forms, contents and level of cooperation. As a result, it will continue to maintain open, diverse and balanced external relations with all major countries and important partners to better ensure security, development and enhance the country’s position.
On culture and society: In the process of international integration, cultural values and identity of Vietnam have been preserved and gradually promoted in the world. The two processes of building and deepening of national cultural identity and international integration have taken place simultaneously and complementary. The image of Vietnam that is in the process of renewal, integration, imbued with cultural identity has been widely promoted in the world. More natural heritage, tangible and intangible cultural heritage of Vietnam have been UNESCO List of World Heritage. Along with international integration in other fields, international integration in culture has contributed to the creation of new foundations and new tools to strengthen national independence and sovereignty.
On national defense and security: Vietnam has gradually expanded its bilateral and multilateral cooperation and exchanges, actively participated in the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), Shangri-La Dialogue Forum, expand cooperation in dealing with non-traditional security challenges, fight against transnational crime, and actively participate in Aseanpol and Interpol. International integration in the field of security and defense has made important contributions to the maintenance of security, stability, consolidation and enhancement of the country’s position in the region and the world.
* Assoc.Prof. Thai Van Long, PhD, Deputy Director of Institute of International Relations, Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics
** Tran Van An, MA, Deputy Head of Education Section, Education Department of Hoa Binh province
This article was published on Communist Review No 898 (August 2017)
(1) Complete Party Documents, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2000, Vol.7, p. 244
(2) The Overall Strategy on international integration to 2020, with a vision to 2030, issued under Decision No. 40/QD-TTg of the Prime Minister on 7 January 2016, p. 8
Illustration photo. Photo: VNA