VIETNAM STUDIES PROGRAMME
Monday, 5 August 2019 - In his seminar on “Vietnam’s Foreign Policy in the Re-making: Towards the 13th Communist Party Congress”, Dr Nguyen Vu Tung shared with the audience how Vietnam’s foreign policy orientation was formulated in the lead up to the next party congress in early 2021. Dr Tung said that the party congress convenes every five years to adopt two major documents, a political report and a strategy for national development. Foreign policy was a key subset of the political report. Preparations to draft the political report usually start two years before the party congress convenes, and the process has already begun in January 2019 when a framework document was conceptualised. In May 2019, a more detailed outline was drafted and a draft write-up is expected to be made available to the Central Committee Plenum in October 2019. Before the October plenum, the drafting committee has the prerogative to revise the outline as it is sent to the provincial and ministerial levels for comments and inputs. Vietnam’s ministry of foreign affairs is responsible for drafting the foreign policy portion of the political report while other ministries will be responsible for drafting the other sections. There will be a public consultation period where the public can offer their views and suggestions to improve the draft. The full political report will eventually be put together by a theoretical council led by General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong. Dr Tung described this process as a whole-of-government approach where opinions across a wide spectrum was taken into account, including retirees and veterans.
Dr Nguyen Vu Tung (right), President of the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam, shared how Vietnam’s foreign policy orientation was formulated in the lead up to the next party congress in early 2021. Mr Lye Liang Fook (left) moderated the seminar. (Credit: ISEAS - Yusof Ishak Institute)
According to Dr Tung, there are four major tasks of Vietnam’s foreign policy. The first task is to ensure a peaceful and stable external environment for Vietnam. The second task is to safeguard the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Vietnam especially with regard to its claims in the South China Sea. The third task is to maximise the economic opportunities for Vietnam through promotion of FDI, trade and labour export. The fourth task is to raise the international profile of Vietnam. In implementing its foreign policy, Vietnam seeks to promote bilateral relations with other countries, multilateralism and international integration (as opposed to an earlier emphasis on economic integration).
Dr Tung further shared some topics related to Vietnam’s foreign policy that continue to be hotly debated and where a consensus has yet to emerge. These topics include an assessment of the regional/global situation and implications for Vietnam, Vietnam’s role in ASEAN, the extent of Vietnam’s international integration and how Vietnam can better safeguard its interests in the South China Sea.
During the Q & A, the audience fielded interesting questions ranging from the delineation of priority levels in Vietnam’s foreign policy, the growing Chinese influence in countries bordering Vietnam, and the state of Vietnam-US and Vietnam-Russia relations. The event was well-attended by an audience of diplomats, academics and members of the public.
The event was well-attended by an audience of diplomats, academics and members of the public. (Credit: ISEAS - Yusof Ishak Institute)