‘Power politics’ a foreign policy challenge for Vietnam

By Viet Anh   August 13, 2018 | 08:28 am PT
‘Power politics’ a foreign policy challenge for Vietnam
Trong said that the diplomatic sector must dare to think outside the box and take actions at regional and global levels. Photo by Giang Huy
Vietnam should be vigilant about “power politics” and attendant challenges, the nation’s top leader says.

The rise of unilateralism and disrespect for international law in the world are among the challenges confronting the nation’s diplomatic sector, Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong said Monday.

Vietnam should not be caught napping by the rapidly changing world situation and should be ready to respond appropriately, he said, adding that the diplomatic sector must dare to think outside the box and take actions at regional and global levels.

Addressing a diplomacy conference in Hanoi on Monday, Trong said Vietnam needs to carefully assess the impacts of the rapidly changing world situation and not remain passive in response.

The country's diplomatic sector must consider important issues including the complicated, unpredictable foreign affairs environment and unstable political, security and economic environment in the region and the world.

"Strategic competition between major powers will be fierce, and power politics is returning in a strong manner, especially in the region. Our overarching mission of maintaining a peaceful, stable environment will therefore face many challenges," Trong said.

Vietnam's national interests at sea will confront complex fluctuations including calculations of involved countries, the rise of unilateralism and disrespect for international laws, he said.

He noted that existing mechanisms to control disputes and crises in the region have been ineffective.

Multilateral institutions were struggling to reach a sufficiently strong common ground, and the risks of conflict and confrontation still loomed large, he added.

Vietnam was also facing new challenges on the economic front, with protectionism on the rise in the country's major export markets and a trade war breaking out between major powers, the Party leader said.

He said the roles of large multilateral institutions such as WTO and APEC are being threatened by the rise of power politics which favors bilateral trade, while some new multilateral mechanisms focus on competition between major powers.

Meanwhile, ASEAN is still struggling to reinforce its central role in the region.

All this requires that Vietnam needs to build a new mindset and approach to relations with other countries, both bilaterally and multilaterally, Trong stressed.

For issues at the core of Vietnam’s interests, the country must develop a stronger voice and a more active stance in foreign relations, firstly in the region, he said.

In following the nation’s current foreign policy principle of independence, self-reliance, peace, cooperation and development as well as a policy of openness, diversification and multilateralization, Vietnam needs to continue creating common strategic interests with other countries to prevent conflict, avoid confrontation, isolation and dependence, Trong said.

Vietnam must play its role in building the ASEAN community and reinforcing ASEAN's central role in regional security structures. The country also needs to prepare necessary conditions to accomplish well its role as ASEAN's chair for 2020 and to effectively implement its international commitments, especially commitments to ASEAN, CPTPP and WTO, the Party leader said.

Precarious situation

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Binh Minh also stressed at the conference that competition between major powers and the rise of populism were making the security situation more precarious.

The situation in the East Sea, internationally known as the South China Sea, is also becoming increasingly complex, threatening security and stability in the region, as well as the legitimate rights and interests of many countries, including Vietnam, he said.

"This context requires the diplomatic sector to constantly adapt, be creative in its thinking, modern in its implementation and focus on effectiveness in implementing the policies and resolutions of the 12th Party National Congress," Minh said.

About 700 delegates are attending the 30th Conference on Diplomacy, including former and current foreign ministry officials as well as heads of Vietnam's diplomatic missions in foreign countries.

The conference’s main agenda includes the situation in the region and the world since the 29th conference in 2016, important foreign affairs issues that could heavily impact Vietnam's security and development, as well as the direction of the country's foreign policies for the next 3 years.

Delegates will also prepare for Vietnam to assume important international responsibilities including the ASEAN Chairmanship for 2020 and candidacy for a non-permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council for 2020-2021 term.

The conference is scheduled to close on Friday.

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