Vietnamese cultural diplomacy: An emerging strategy

Rawnsley, G.D. and Ngac, C. (2016) Vietnamese cultural diplomacy: An emerging strategy. In: The Routledge Handbook of Soft Power. Routledge, pp. 425-440. ISBN 9781315671185, 9781138945814, 9781315671185

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Since 2009, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (hereafter Vietnam) has turned its attention to developing a programme of activities that its government defines as ‘cultural diplomacy’. In Vietnam’s judgement, cultural diplomacy is an important strategic apparatus that must be integrated with the nation’s economic and political mechanisms of statecraft to further Vietnam’s regional and global ambitions. The government has identified cultural diplomacy as the most important method of building meaningful international relationships based on mutual understanding (MoFA 2008, p. 54). Hence cultural diplomacy is ostensibly the driving force in the strategic shift of national ambitions and priorities: from “want to be friend” (stated at the 7th National Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam, CVN, in June 1991) to “search for friends and reliable partners” (9th National Congress, April 2001)2, to an aspiration for Vietnam to be a “responsible member of the international community” (11th National Congress January 2011). The Vietnamese government is confident that this shift demonstrates its ambitions to engage more with the world and to participate in regional and international affairs; and the structural arrangements of Vietnam’s foreign policy – at the levels of both decision-making and implementation – are designed to help realise these aspirations. In short, Vietnam accepts cultural diplomacy as a rational alternative and strategic counterweight to the influence of major powers in the region (MoFA 2008, pp. 54-5). Vietnam could never hope to compete with China and Japan – and the US’s continuing involvement in Asia – in terms of hard power. Hence this reality has provoked the government in Hanoi to seek alternative methods of expressing and exercising power and influence and raising Vietnam’s international profile. Vietnam’s Ambassador to the UK and Ireland at the time of field research, Minh Quang Vu, observed in an interview in 2012 how his country “does not focus exclusively on the ambition to use its culture to influence and dominate publics abroad, but it prefers to enhance mutual understanding, trust and relationship-building” (interview, 21 May 2012).

Keywords:Vietnam, diplomacy, cultural diplomacy
Subjects:L Social studies > L200 Politics
L Social studies > L240 International Politics
Divisions:College of Social Science
College of Social Science > School of Social & Political Sciences
ID Code:53388
Deposited On:02 Aug 2023 15:39

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