Tapping Cultural Potential, Spreading Vietnamese Soft Power

11:15:00 AM | 4/29/2022

Unlike physical, tangible hard power sources, intangible assets such as culture, ideological values and innovative ideas have started to influence more.

1/ Relations increased among nations across the globe are making different cultures more accessible and convenient to be intermingled. A 21st-century superpower requires an influential culture, including music, cinema, customs, traditions, art, lifestyle and entertainment in addition to a developed economy, and advanced science and technology.

According to researchers, the successful use of soft power lies in three resources: Culture, political values, and foreign policy of a country. These three resources are arranged in chronological order. The culture of a country is what can provoke the initial attraction to that country from the rest of the world. Then, when the culture starts to spread to the world, that country will introduce its political values ​​to the world to impose its influence. Finally, it employs its foreign policy to actively exert its nascent influence, at a stage when the world deems its soft power legitimate and moral.

2/ During the 1930s, the United Kingdom established the British Council (BC) under the auspices of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (DFC) as an important foreign communication channel. Currently, the operation of this unique English language and culture channel has a great influence on the world, helping increase the UK’s soft power and create an advantage in positioning national strength in the globally strategic competition.

In Vietnam, if the “Tale of Kieu” masterpiece by great poet Nguyen Du has helped promote Vietnamese culture to the world, soft power has been applied by the national hero Nguyen Trai in the fight against foreign invaders in Vietnam. In the 15th century, his thoughts featured: “Justice overthrows cruelty, humanity defeats violence.”

President Ho Chi Minh, right from the national founding in 1945, immediately employed soft power through the name of the nation - Democratic Republic of Vietnam - with an immortal declaration to the Vietnamese people. The genius thought of President Ho Chi Minh, combined with the political view of "Freedom and Democracy", was supported by the whole world, including the West. His humanity-centric foreign policy during the country's most difficult time, with his “Firm in ultimate objective, adaptive to tactics” strategy of Eastern culture has also become the core practical value of diplomacy.

3/ Today, in Vietnam, theories on people and the nature of war are being strongly developed for us to build and develop a country that sacrificed and lost so much at war and now faces many issues in market economy development such as law, regional conflicts of interest and corruption. While we need to develop hard power, we also need to grow soft power. Particularly, in the book "Some theoretical and practical issues on socialism and the path to socialism in Vietnam” published recently, General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong summarized the most vivid historical issues of the entire revolutionary career of our Party with the crosscutting idea that it must always be placed under the leadership of the Communist Party of Vietnam and that this is a decisive factor to success. This issue is also deeply mentioned by author Doan Duy Thanh in his work “Building a rule of law in the socialist state of the people, by the people and for the people” according to Ho Chi Minh's thought (Su That National Political Publishing House) - December 2021. In this work, Mr. Thanh said, in order to build and perfect the "State of the people, by the people and for the people" and the market mechanism in Vietnam are not enough. Even genius Albert Einstein acknowledged the limitations of law enforcement in a society: “If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed.” That is why, above all, the core thing is to build a vanguard party. “Our Party must be kept very clean, must be worthy of being a leader and a faithful servant to the people” (The book “Ho Chi Minh's Theory on Building the Vanguard Party”, Hanoi Publishing House and Information and Communication Publishing House - 2016).

4/ In summary, together with hard power development, fostering soft power is a powerful social resource to build a “Rule of law socialist state of the people, by the people and for the people", a powerful, prestigious and humane nation in the world, as commented by former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, “They are the first flag in the eradication of colonialism in the world. Therefore, for many countries, Vietnam is still a model of national liberation and independence", and we need to do the following three essential things:

First, building a rule of law state and a fully developed market mechanism with the core values ​​of Vietnamese culture and Ho Chi Minh's thought on politics and diplomacy from the early days of national establishment.

Second, building and developing the ruling Party of the country and of the people according to Ho Chi Minh's theories on building a vanguard party as the basis for breakthrough and spreading of Vietnamese soft power to all strata of society to ensure the longevity of the Vietnamese model in the world.

Third, it is necessary to raise awareness that the above process is an unprecedented, difficult and challenging journey. Therefore, we all need to uphold the spirit, learning and working methods according to President Ho Chi Minh's theory “Practice makes knowledge, understanding leads to theory, theory leads practice”.

By Dr. Thai Cong