“Bamboo diplomacy” - Raising Vietnam's position

VCN - Despite the volatile and unpredictable world situation, with the correct foreign policy of the Party and State, and the tireless efforts of all branches and levels, the foreign affairs and diplomacy of the Vietnam has achieved many successes, recording many outstanding marks, in which relations with many important partners have made qualitative changes and raised them to new heights. Foreign relations on bilateral and multilateral levels continue to be expanded and deepened.
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On December 12, 2023, at the Presidential Palace, General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong and his wife chaired the state welcoming ceremony for General Secretary and President of China Xi Jinping and his wife who visited Vietnam from December 12 to 2023. December 13, 2023. Photo: Vietnam News Agency
On December 12, 2023, at the Presidential Palace, General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong and his wife chaired the state welcoming ceremony for General Secretary and President of China Xi Jinping and his wife who visited Vietnam from December 12 to 2023. December 13, 2023. Photo: Vietnam News Agency

Up to now, Vietnam has established diplomatic relations with 191/193 member countries of the United Nations (UN), and has strategic partnerships with all permanent members of the Security Council (UNSC). - The most important and influential countries in the world. In particular, on the occasion of US President Joe Biden's visit to Vietnam in September 2023, the two countries agreed to upgrade their relationship to a comprehensive strategic partnership for peace, cooperation and sustainable development, bringing The number of permanent member countries of the Security Council with which Vietnam has a comprehensive strategic partnership increased to 3/5 countries including the US, Russia, and China. Currently, Vietnam's 6 comprehensive strategic partners are also influential countries in the region and in the World, including: India, South Korea, the US, Russia, Japan, and China, thereby maintaining sustainable peace and independence, creating more motivation and development opportunities for Vietnam's socio-economic development while also helping to affirm Vietnam's role and position in multilateral frameworks and forums. All of these achievements are clear demonstrations, affirming the identity of "Vietnamese bamboo diplomacy", highly appreciated by experts and scholars at home and abroad.

General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong chaired the ceremony to welcome President of the United States of America Joe Biden for a state visit to Vietnam from September 10 to 11, 2023. Photo: TTXVN
General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong chaired the ceremony to welcome President of the United States of America Joe Biden for a state visit to Vietnam from September 10 to 11, 2023. Photo: TTXVN

“Vietnam bamboo diplomacy”

For thousands of years, bamboo has always been very familiar, associated with the lives of Vietnamese people, from villages to cities, from plains to mountains. Bamboo enters the legend of Saint Giong, appearing in poetry, folk songs, and Vietnamese proverbs, such as Vietnamese Bamboo by New Thep, Vietnamese Bamboo by Nguyen Duy or like "Old Bamboo with Shoots Growing"...

Based on that image, General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong first mentioned the concept of "bamboo diplomacy" at the 29th Diplomatic Conference in 2016. According to General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, the tree diplomacy style Bamboo represents "softness yet toughness, kindness yet stubbornness, knowing softness and hardness, knowing the times, knowing the situation, knowing yourself and knowing others... expressing the soul and spirit of the Vietnamese people". Then, on December 14, 2021, at the first Foreign Affairs Conference, also the first year of the Party's 13th Congress term, General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong summarized the basic connotations of foreign affairs, diplomacy imbued with the identity of "Vietnamese bamboo". Accordingly, under the leadership of the Party and President Ho Chi Minh, on the basis of creatively applying the basic principles of Marxism-Leninism, inheriting and promoting traditions and identities in foreign affairs and diplomacy and national culture, selectively absorbing the quintessence of world culture and progressive ideas of the, Vietnam has built a very special and unique school of foreign affairs and diplomacy of Ho Chi Minh City era, imbued with the identity of "Vietnamese bamboo: Solid roots, sturdy trunks, flexible branches". The General Secretary also explained that strong roots are the tradition of self-reliance, self-reliance, and the benefit of the nation - the people; guided by the Party's ideological foundation. Firmness is the resilient spirit in the face of all challenges and difficulties, the core of the foreign policy of independence, self-reliance, multilateralization, diversification, Being willing to be a friend, a reliable and responsible partner of the international community in the Doi Moi period has been proven and cultivated by practice. Flexibility is the behavior that is "unchangeable, adaptable to all changes". This means that this is a diplomacy imbued with the spirit of the Vietnamese people, which is soft, clever but very resilient and determined; Flexible and creative but very brave, steadfast and courageous in the face of all difficult challenges for national independence, for the freedom and happiness of the people. With the spirit of solidarity and compassion but resolutely persevering in protecting national interests; understand the need, know the hardness, the time, the situation, yourself and the person, to know how to advance and retreat, to adapt to the opportunity.

Most international experts and scholars, when evaluating the "bamboo diplomacy" school, believe that the image of bamboo with "solid roots, sturdy trunks, and flexible branches" has a strong Vietnamese identity and is very suitable for Vietnam's foreign policy of multilateralization and diversification. In other words, General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong's use of the image of "solid root, soft trunk, flexible branches" of the bamboo tree is a model of the bamboo tree to describe Vietnam's foreign policy approach as having "more friends, fewer enemies", which is a guiding principle for effectively implementing an independent, self-reliant, multilateral foreign policy in diversifying in the new situation, protecting maximum national interests. Former Assistant Head of the Central Propaganda Department of the Lao People's Revolutionary Party Khamvisan Keosoupha affirmed that, based on Ho Chi Minh's diplomatic ideology, combined with the nation's unique cultural traditions and peaceful foreign policy, the Vietnamese "bamboo diplomacy" school will not only suit Vietnamese conditions and meet the country's development needs in the current period, but also is suitable for all times.

Strong roots, strong body

The special feature of bamboo is that it can grow and adhere firmly in all lands, from alluvial soil to barren and harsh places. "Vietnamese bamboo" diplomacy is rooted in Vietnamese culture with a tradition of peace and filial piety but is also very resilient. President, Ho Chi Minh - the first Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (now the Socialist Republic of Vietnam) laid the foundation, directly directed and led the development of Vietnam. Vietnam's revolutionary diplomacy comes from the philosophy and diplomatic traditions of our ancestors. That is benevolence, tolerance, filial piety, flexibility, flexibility, resilience, knowing oneself, knowing others, knowing the time, knowing that because "the national interest comes first". That's why President, Ho Chi Minh taught to "be constant and adapt to all changes" for the goal of national independence, using diplomacy to repel conflicts and bring the country to peace and development. This is also the reason for the "bamboo roots" of Vietnam's diplomacy and the country to take root and grow stronger branches with proud achievements despite the storms of the times.

Dr. Joe Pateman of the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Nottingham (UK) assessed that the "strong roots" of bamboo in the school of "bamboo diplomacy" are the core guiding principles such as the interests of the people, independence, and autonomy in foreign relations - principles that are deeply ingrained in President Ho Chi Minh's diplomatic ideology and create the foundation for Vietnam's foreign policy.

Meanwhile, Dr. Nguyen Hong Hai - researcher at the Center for Policy Futures, University of Queensland (Australia) stated that the achievements of the "Vietnamese bamboo diplomacy" school so far are contributing to maintaining independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, creating a peaceful and favorable environment to serve national development; at the same time, making positive and responsible contributions to ensuring security, peace and development in the region and the world, contributing to helping Vietnam "have the fortune, potential, position and international reputation it has today".

Sharing the same opinion, veteran Indonesian journalist Mr. Mohammah Anthony said that the highest interests and goals in Vietnam's foreign relations are to maintain peace for development, which means creating a peaceful and favorable international environment for innovation efforts and socio-economic development according to socialist orientation; realize the goal of rich people and strong country; firmly protect national independence, sovereignty and security.

​Flexible branches

While the bamboo root symbolizes stability and "immutability" in affirming and protecting national interests, the bamboo branches are flexible to "respond to all changes". "Vietnamese bamboo" diplomacy is not "when the wind tilts that way" but sometimes "should be strong, should be established" resolutely, persistently defending the right, protecting national interests, they are sometimes soft and flexible, "using softness to overcome hardness". Therefore, if in the past, Vietnam was mentioned as a war-torn, besieged, embargoed country, Vietnam now has diplomatic relations with more than 190 countries around the world, including strategic partnership and comprehensive partnership with 30 countries; has economic relations with over 230 countries and territories; signed 16 Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), including new generation FTAs; Vietnam is also an active member of more than 70 important multilateral organizations and forums... In particular, from former enemies, Vietnam and the US have upgraded their relationship to a comprehensive strategic partnership for peace, cooperation and development of sustainability, on the occasion of US President Joe Biden's visit to Vietnam in September 2023. On this occasion, the two countries also signed a cooperation agreement on semiconductors and essential minerals. Currently, the US considers Vietnam as one of the strategic "links" in Southeast Asia in US efforts to establish a sustainable global supply chain. President , Vo Van Thuong assessed that Vietnam-US relations have never developed as well as they do today.

An open and deepening network of foreign relations helps Vietnam firmly consolidate an environment of peace, stability, independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity; at the same time, opening up many import and export markets, taking advantage of many external sources of capital, technology and knowledge to serve the industrialization and modernization of the country. With the implementation of "bamboo diplomacy", Vietnam is increasingly asserting itself as a reliable partner and an active and responsible member in the process of international and regional integration.

Dr. Beak Yong-hun, Associate Professor of Vietnamese Studies at the Department of Asian and Middle East Studies at Dankook University (Korea), commented that along with the previously established comprehensive strategic partnership frameworks with China, Russia, India and South Korea; Vietnam's upgrading of relations with the US and Japan to Comprehensive Strategic Partnership in 2023 shows that Vietnam continues to pursue a balanced foreign policy, imbued with the identity of "bamboo diplomacy". The list of strategic partners and comprehensive strategic partners is increasingly expanding, showing the confidence of countries in Vietnam.

Furthermore, Vietnam also made its mark on the international arena by actively and proactively participating in multilateral forums and UN mechanisms such as the UN Security Council, the UN Human Rights Council... proving that Vietnam truly a friend, a trusted partner and an active, responsible member. Specifically, Vietnam has successfully completed the role of non-permanent member of the UN Security Council twice, successfully organized many major international conferences, including the US-North Korea Summit (2019), twice Hosted the Asia-Pacific Economic Forum (APEC) Summit, was elected with a high number of votes to many prestigious organizations and agencies of the United Nations such as the International Law Commission, the Council of The Governor of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Executive Council of UNESCO, the Postal Operations Council of the Universal Postal Union,... joined the UN peacekeeping force, for the first time, Vietnam sent a delegation to participate in the rescue during the earthquake in Türkiye. Assessing Vietnam's diplomatic achievements, journalist Wei Wei, Head of the Vietnamese Department, China Central Radio and Television Station, said that foreign affairs work makes an important contribution to changing the international position. Gradually enhance Vietnam's reputation in the international arena. Rarely has any country welcomed both US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping to visit in just one year like Vietnam.

It can be said that Vietnam is proactively and firmly on the journey to assert its growing voice, role, and position in the international arena; effectively attract external resources for socio-economic development. With increasingly expanded, substantive and effective relationships, and with increasingly strengthened political prestige in the eyes of international friends and partners, Vietnam will still maintain a confident and spirited attitude, be ready to overcome difficulties and continue to affirm its position as a proactive, positive and responsible member of the international community.

By Ngoc Ha/Bui Diep

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