The Unique Approach And Key Advantages Of Vietnam's Bamboo Diplomacy
Here is the full-length article on Vietnam's bamboo diplomacy by Amiad Horowitz:
Over the last decade plus, Vietnam has begun to play an increasingly impactful and prestigious role in the realm of international diplomacy. Bamboo Diplomacy, or Vietnam’s unique approach to diplomacy has garnered significant amounts of praise for the Vietnamese government and its leaders. While historically many countries that found themselves on the rise on the geopolitical stage often found their way to conflict, Vietnam has experienced unprecedented peace and prosperity. It is incumbent for anyone concerned with peaceful coexistence to study Bamboo Diplomacy and learn the important lessons that it offers the world.
American journalist Amiad Horowitz has more been living continuously for more than 10 years, studying and working in Vietnam. He is currently the proofreader/editor of the Political Theory Journal - Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics, and a reporter for the People’s World, Communist Party USA’s news agency.
Bamboo Diplomacy was a term first coined by Communist Party of Vietnam General Secretary, Nguyen Phu Trong at the 29th Diplomatic Conference in 2016 and it officially became the guiding principle of Vietnam’s foreign approach to diplomacy after the first ever National Conference on Foreign Affairs in December 2021.
Bamboo Diplomacy is developed from the unique experiences of Vietnam’s long historical background, combined with lessons from Marxism-Leninism and Ho Chi Minh Thought, creatively applied to the unique conditions of today geopolitical scene. Throughout Vietnam’s history, bamboo has been used for everything from food to tools, to weapons. It has become a symbol of versatility, sustainability, and strength because bamboo is easy to grow, can bend and flex in the winds of a storm, but never breaks. President Ho Chi Minh often used the imagery of bamboo to symbolize these characteristics in the Vietnamese people.
Ho Chi Minh taught that Vietnam must be resolute in its pursuit of independence, self-reliance, and national sovereignty, while never wavering in international solidarity. While some might see these two ideas as opposites, Ho Chi Minh’s deep understanding of Marxism-Leninism allowed him to understand that the two are dialectically united. Only a strong independent Vietnam could be affective internationally, and only through the practice of internationalism could Vietnam become strong and independent.
Following these principles into contemporary times, Vietnam’s approach to diplomacy is one of fierce independence and strength, but also flexible, seeking to maintain peaceful relations with all countries and peoples. There are many examples of this being put into practice over the last decade or so.
For example, Vietnam found itself in the exclusive position of mediator and host for the 2019 summit between the United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Very few countries are able to maintain a good relationship with both of these states. Most countries end up being pulled into one camp or another. However, Vietnam’s desire for peace and independence allows it to overcome this trend, becoming a friend of both the USA and the DPRK. Therefore, Hanoi was the ideal location and the Vietnamese government were the ideal hosts fort this historic meeting.
Likewise, Vietnam remains a steadfast friend of Cuba and the Cuban people, constantly doing all it can to aid the Cuban people who continue to suffer under the US’s embargo. At the same time, highlighting its strength, independence and flexibility, Vietnam has been able to foster friendly relations with the United States, which has become one of Vietnam’s key trade partners. Similarly, Vietnam has never wavered from its friendship with the Palestinian people. In fact, the Palestinian ambassador is the longest serving ambassador in Hanoi. Simultaneously to this, Vietnam has been able to develop relations with Israel, which has helped the Vietnamese people gain access to much needed technology and trade between the two countries.
Closer to home, in Southeast Asia, many of the different members of ASEAN have various disagreements and disputes with one another. However, while remaining unyielding on issues of Vietnam’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity, through its leadership role in ASEAN, Vietnam has helped maintain peace in the region while working to ensure that any resolution to these different issues will be handled peacefully, through diplomacy.
Unfortunately, around the world we are seeing an uptick in violence and warfare. Diplomacy is often handled in a very confrontational and threatening manner which leads to violence and suffering. Vietnam’s Bamboo diplomacy offers a better model for the countries of the world, a model that simultaneously doesn’t compromise its strength and principles, while being able to be flexible and continue to pursue peace. It would greatly behoove the diplomats and major players of the world to learn from Vietnam’s unique approach and the many lessons that can be applied to their specific situations. Perhaps by doing this, we can see a more peaceful future for everyone, everywhere.
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