History of Vietnam

Early history

The archaeological excavations carried out recently have proved the presence of human beings in the territory of Vietnam since the Paleolithic Age or the Old Stone Age (300,000 – 500,000 years). In the Neolithic Age (New Stone Age), Hoa Binh – Bac Son cultures (about 10,000 BC) had witnessed the development of agriculture and animal husbandry, including even the technique of paddy rice cultivation.

The Vietnamese as an ethnic group had been formed and developed early in the Red river and Ma river delta situated in northern part of the present-day Vietnam. Generations to generations, people moved from highland and mountainous areas to the plains, developed new lands for cultivation. They constructed a system of irrigation dams and dykes to tame the mighty Red River, the river that brought about several devastating floods every year. It is the process of continuous labor to control water – to fight against flood, storm and drought, to build up irrigation dams and canals for agricultural cultivation that formed the paddy rice civilization and the commune culture.

In the Bronze Age, a unique and distinct civilization had been formed that reached a high level in technical skill as well as art – the brilliant Dong Son culture. The recent ethnological, historical and archaeological studies and researches have asserted the existence of the Hung Kings’ period in Van Lang Kingdom (later Au Lac Kingdom) about 1000 years BC. In 200 BC, Au Lac Kingdom was invaded and annexed into the giant empire of the Han feudalism in the north. Nevertheless, the ten-century domination of Chinese feudalism could not assimilate Vietnamese culture and break the Viet people’s brave resistance.

The Dai Viet

In the 10th century AD, the Vietnamese had won their freedom and built up an independent state named Dai Viet. The country was under the ruling of many national feudal dynasties, among which the most important ones are the Ly Dynasty (11th and 12th century), the Tran Dynasty (13th and 14th century), the Le Dynasty (15th, 16th and 17th century) with their centralized administration, strong army forces and a highly developed economy and culture. During this period, Vietnam as a nation had to ceaselessly fought against the vicious conquering conspiracies of Chinese and Mongolian feudal empires. Vietnam’s long and tough struggles of resistance against the invasions of the Song (11th century), the Yuan or the Mongols (13th century), the Ming (15th century) had acquired glorious victories. Vietnam became stronger, all its ethnic groups became more united and the country moved into a new prosperous period after each struggle.

Dong Son culture which was enriched by the influence of Chinese culture developed from centuries to centuries in a framework of an independent state. Buddhism and Confucianism entered Dai Viet and brought with them many popular cultural features and distinct forms. Nonetheless, Vietnam still preserved its own language and a highly developed agricultural civilization.

In the 17th and 18th century, feudalism in Vietnam was considerably weakened. Peasants ceaselessly rose up in revolts that led to the Tay Son movement (1771-1802). Tay Son overthrew all regional feudal lordship that divided the country into two parts, united the country and chased away the Qing (Manchus) invaders from China, simultaneously implemented many social and cultural reforms. However, with foreign aid, Nguyen Anh soon took over the ruling power and the Nguyen Dynasty was established, which was the last royal dynasty in Vietnam.

Struggle for national liberation

In the middle of 19th century (1858), French colonialists began to invade Vietnam. The incompetent government of the Nguyen gradually gave in and from 1884, French colonists established a protectorate and a colonial government that controlled the whole territory of Vietnam. In the early days, resistant movements of the Vietnamese people under the leadership of intellectual patriots like the literate, cultured people and scholars broke out everywhere, but they all failed in the end.

Nguyen Ai Quoc, who later became President Ho Chi Minh, traveled abroad to find the way to save the country. He laid the foundations for the Vietnam Communist Party, which was founded on 3rd February 1930. Under the leadership of the Communist Party, the Vietnamese people rose up against French colonization and Japanese occupation, organized the Great National Uprising in August 1945 and established the Democratic Republic of Vietnam on 2nd September 1945.

Being confronted with aggressive schemes and intervention of France and the United States, the newly born Democratic Republic of Vietnam had to carry out the thirty-year war of resistance. The coming back of French aggressive troops had resulted in the nine-year war of resistance (1945-1954) which ended by the famous victory of Vietnam in Dien Bien Phu and the 1954 Geneva Agreement on Vietnam. According to this Agreement the country was temporarily partitioned into North Vietnam and South Vietnam by the 17th parallel, which should be reunified within two years (1956) through a general election held all over Vietnam. The northern part of Vietnam (the Democratic Republic of Vietnam with its capital Hanoi) was placed under the control of the Vietnam Workers’ Party. The southern part (the Republic of Vietnam), which was controlled by a pro-French administration and later, a pro-American administration, had its capital in Sai Gon. The Sai on government used all its forces to prevent the election, suppressed and killed former participants in the resistance movement. The situation led to the national movement fighting for peace and unification of the country. The Sai Gon government could not suppress the aspiration of all Vietnamese people to unify the country, especially since the National Front for Liberation of South Vietnam was established on 20th December 1960.

In order to maintain the Sai Gon regime, the United States increased its military aid to the Sai Gon government. Particularly, in the middle of the ’60s, half-million American troops and their allied troops were sent to South Vietnam in direct military intervention. From 5th of August 1964, they started bombarding North Vietnam. In spite of that, following president’s Ho Chi Minh’s teaching “Nothing is more precious than independent and freedom”, the Vietnamese people bravely and firmly stood up and won numerous victories in the northern as well as southern part of the country. In 1973, Washington had to sign the Paris Agreement on the restoration of peace in Vietnam and the withdrawal of all American troops from Vietnam.


In the spring of 1975, the patriotic armed forces of Vietnam swept across the country in the great general offensive and overthrew the Saigon government. The southern part of Vietnam was liberated and the country was united as one.

On 25th April 1976, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam was renamed into the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, which governs both northern and southern parts in its territory.

In 1977, Vietnam became a member of the United Nations.

After many years of prolonged war, the country was heavily devastated. In the 1975 – 1986 period, Vietnam had to cope with innumerable difficulties. The aftermath of war, social evils, the mass flow of refugees, war at the southwest border against the genocidal policies of Pol Pot government in Cambodia, the dispute at the northern border, the isolation and embargo from the United States and Western countries, plus continual natural calamities …put Vietnam before tremendous tough challenges. Moreover, those difficulties became more severe due to subjective reasons such as hastiness and impatience, and voluntarism in rebuilding the country regardless of specific actual conditions. Early in the 80s, Vietnam witnessed the most serious ever socio-economic crisis, the inflation rate rose up to a record 774.7% in 1986.

Economic renovation: Doi Moi

Since 1986, the government launched the “Doi Moi” or all-round renovation process, stepping in the general development trend and the process of gradual globalization and regionalization. The 6th Congress of Vietnam Communist Party in December 1986 strictly self-criticized its mistakes in the past years, assessing carefully its achievements, analysing mistakes and drawbacks, setting forth all-round renovation policy. With top priority being given to economic reform for creating a multi-sector market economy regulated by the Government, at the same time consolidating legal environment and renovating Party’s and State’s structure. Since then the Vietnamese economy became opened and transformed from centralized planned economy heavily based on imports to a market-oriented one. The self-determination of financing was introduced. All aimed at budget balancing and promoting exports. As from 1989, Vietnam began to export about 1 – 1.5 ton of rice, inflation rate gradually decreased (the rate stood at 67.4% in 1990), living standards were improved, democracy got enhanced, national defense and internal security got firmly consolidated, the external relations were broadened freeing the country from blockage and isolation.

In June 1991, the VIIth Congress of the Vietnam Communist Party reaffirmed its determination to pursue the renovation process overcoming difficulties and challenges, stabilizing political situation, pushing back unfairness and negative activities, directing the country out of crisis. The Congress also set forth the foreign policy of multilateralization and diversification the guideline “Vietnam wants to be friend all other countries in the International Community for Peace, Independence and Development”.

With renovation process, Vietnam step by step surpassed many difficulties, hindrances, and achieved great results. During the 1991-1998 period, the average economic growth rate (presented by the increase rate in GDP) reached 8%. In 1999 the economy was seriously affected by the economic crisis in the region and natural calamities; it GDP growth was only 4,5%. However, economic performance is inspiring in 2000 with GDP growth of 6,7% by first nine months. By September 2000, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) reached $ 36 billion with 2,500 projects; inflation decreased from 67.1% (in 1991) to 6% (in 2000), living standards of the majority were improved. The cultural and intellectual standard got further increased. Generally, Vietnam has made a lot of progress in the fields of education, health care, culture and art, sports, family planning, public media, and other social activities. The political situation, independence and sovereignty of the nation, national security and defense have been maintained stable, thus actively facilitating the “Doi Moi” process. The political system from central to local level was consolidated; the State’s rule and law has been firmly constructed and increasingly made perfect. The foreign policy of independence and sovereignty multilateralization and diversification has brought about great results. Now, Vietnam has established diplomatic relations with nearly 170 countries, trade relations with 165 countries, and attracting foreign investment from more than 70 countries and territories.

The future

The IXth Congress of the Vietnam Communist Party in April 2001 reviewed achievements recorded during 15 years of renovation (1986 – 2001), laying targets for development by the year 2001 and 2010: focusing on promoting industrialization and modernization.

Socio- Economic strategy for 2001-2010:

Viet Nam’s socio-economic development strategy for the 2001-2010 period has been defined as to accelerate national industrialization and modernization along the socialist line and build the foundation for the country to basically become an industrialized nation by 2020.

The three breakthroughs defined by the strategy to promote socio-economic development are to build uniform market-oriented economic institutions in line with socialism with focus on renewal of policy to liberate the production force and expand markets at home and abroad; make a vigorous change in the development of human resources, focusing on education-training, science-technology; renew the organization and operation of the political system, focusing on administrative reform.

The specific goals of the Strategy are:

  • To ensure that by 2010, GDP will have at least doubled the 2000 level. To increase visibly the efficiency and competitiveness of products, enterprises and the economy; to better meet essential consumption demands, and a considerable part of production and export demands. To ensure macro-economic stability; a sound international payment balance and growing foreign exchange reserves; to keep budget deficits, inflation and foreign debts within safe limits to effect positively economic growth. Domestic savings are to amount to over 30 percent of GDP. Exports are to increase at a rate more than double that of GDP growth. Agriculture is to account for 16-17 percent of GDP, industry 40-41 percent, and services 42-43 percent. Agricultural labor is to drop to around 50 percent of the workforce.
  • To raise substantially our Human Development Index (HDI). The population growth rate is to have dropped to 1.1 – 1.2 percent by 2010. To eliminate the category of hungry households, and reduce quickly the number of poor households. To solve the employment issue in both urban and rural areas (to reduce urban unemployment rate to below 5 percent; and increase utilized worktime in rural areas to about 80-85 percent); to raise the trained labor ratio to around 40 percent. To ensure schooling to all school-age children; to accomplish junior secondary education universalization nationwide. To provide medical treatment to patients; to reduce (under-five) child malnutrition to around 20 percent; to increase the average life expectancy to 71 years.

Industrialization and modernization is aimed at developing Vietnam into an industrial country with a modern technical and physical infrastructure, rational economic structure, a progressive productional relationship in conformity with production level, a firm national defence and security, for wealthy people, strong country, just, democratic and advanced society .

Source : http://www.vietnamembassy-usa.org/learn_about_vietnam/history

Vietnam is a country of a thousand-year history and glorious diplomacy, ranging through the dynasties of the Hung Kings, An Duong Vuong, Ngo, Dinh, former Le, Ly, Tran, latter Le and Nguyen, to the Ho Chi Minh era at present.
The new-styled Vietnamese diplomacy came into being at the same time with the founding of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam on 2nd September 1945 under the leadership of President Ho Chi Minh. The history of the Ho Chi Minh era’s diplomacy can be divided into 5 major periods.

1945 – 1946:
This was an extremely hard time for Vietnam in general and its diplomacy in particular. The newly-born independent state faced with countless challenges: the administration was newly established, the economy was broken down, the country had not been recognized by the world, its people faced repeatedly with natural calamities and had to cope with over 300,000 opposition troops from inside and outside the country. It can be said that Vietnam was in a situation of “a thousand pounds hung on one thread”.
Under the leadership of the Indochinese Communist Party, now the Communist Party of Vietnam, and its leader Ho Chi Minh, the Vietnamese diplomacy successfully implemented righteous, flexible and unwavering policies to defend the newly-born independent state. Those were illustrated in the détente with the Chinese Kuomintang in order to muster strength to fight the French invaders in Southern Vietnam; and then a détente with France by signing the Preliminary Agreement on 6th March 1946 in order to drive out the Chinese Kuomintang forces.

1946 – 1954:
Diplomacy contributed to the success of the protracted war of resistance against the French colonialists. Diplomatic activities were combined with activities on the frontline. Diplomacy carried out political activities in the international arena to gain sympathy and support from the world people, especially through establishing allies with the people of Laos and Cambodia in the fight against their common enemy; setting up good relations with Thailand, Burma, Indonesia and India. Taking advantage of the victory of the Border Campaign in 1951, the diplomatic front successfully helped Vietnam win recognition by other countries. In the early 1950s, Vietnam established diplomatic relations with China, the Soviet Union and other People’s Republic states in Asia and Eastern Europe. The socialist countries then became a very important source of supports for our resistance war against the French colonialists. In parallel with the military front, Vietnamese diplomats actively took part in the 1954 Geneva Conference on Indochina, demanding major powers to recognize fundamental national rights of the Vietnamese and Indochinese people, making remarkable contribution to liberating the north of Vietnam and bringing the Vietnamese revolution into a new stage.

1954 – 1975:
Vietnam’s Diplomacy contributed to undertaking two strategic tasks: carrying out simultaneously the struggle against the US for national salvation and the socialist construction in Northern Vietnam. Diplomatic activities became a very important front, fighting right inside the United States, promoting international support for Vietnam, forming a large international people’s front in which the Soviet Union, China, other socialist and pro-Vietnam countries in the Indochinese Peninsular are corner stones.
At the same time, the Vietnamese diplomacy kept pace with victories on the battle fields to launch political movements, commence negotiations with the US that led to the signing of the Paris Agreement on “Ending the war and restoring peace” in Vietnam (27th January 1973). The Paris Agreement was a great victory of the Vietnamese diplomatic front which forced the US army and its allies to withdraw from Vietnam, putting an end to all military activities against the country and recognizing fundamental national rights of the Vietnamese people. This helped create a very favorable conditions for the Great Spring Victory in 1975, completely liberating the south of Vietnam and bringing about national reunification.

1975 – 1986:
In this period of time, diplomacy contributed to post-war economic reconstruction and national defense. In the early years after the war ended, Vietnam established diplomatic relations with a number of countries, especially with the capitalist countries, drawing supports from many countries and international organizations for the post-war economic reconstruction and national development.
Vietnam joined the United Nations in September 1977, the Socialist Economic Community in June 1978 and signed the Friendship and Cooperation Treaty with the Soviet Union in November 1978.
Nevertheless, peace did not last long. Vietnam was forced into sending volunteer troops to back the Cambodian people in their fight against the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime. The militant solidarity among the three Indochinese countries was restored. That was the reason directly leading to the border war with China in February 1979 and the political isolation and economic blockade by China, Western countries, and ASEAN countries against Vietnam afterward.

1986 to date:
As the Vietnam Communist Party’s Sixth National Congress held in December 1986, Vietnam began its all-round reforms including those in diplomatic policies, strategies and activities.
The highest interest of Vietnam at the time was “maintaining sustainable and peaceful environment for socio-economic development”. Diplomacy was to contribute to this objective. The Thirteenth Resolution adopted by the Vietnam Communist Party’s Political Bureau (May 1988) produced a break-through for the Vietnamese diplomatic strategies and policies. In the later Party Congresses, namely the Seventh Party Congress (1991), the Eighth Party Congress (1996), the Ninth Party Congress (2001) and the Tenth Party Congress (2006), diplomatic strategies and policies were step by step revised and completed. That is the diplomatic strategy of “self-reliance, independence, peace, cooperation and development” and the policies of openness, multilateralization and diversification of international relations. “Vietnam aims at proactive economic integration and, at the same time, wants to intensify international cooperation in all other fields. Vietnam is a friend and a reliable partner with all countries in the international community, actively participating in the regional and international cooperation”.
The implementation of the above-mentioned diplomatic strategies and policies has brought about tremendous achievements. With the total withdrawal of voluntary troops from Cambodia, the Cambodian issue was settled. Vietnam successfully got out of isolation and blockade. The country continuously expanded its international relations on the path of multilateralization and diversification. Vietnam normalized with and gradually established a frame-work for sustainable relations with major powers, developed countries (so far Vietnam has established diplomatic relations with 172 countries, including all major powers, entertaining economic relations with 220 foreign markets, and adhering to a number of international organizations and forums such as the UN (1977), the Non-Aligned Movement (1976), the Francophonie (1986), ASEAN (1995), ASEM (1996), and APEC (1998)).
Vietnam successfully solved several border and territorial disputes, maintaining a peaceful environment for the country. Vietnam has been proactively speeding up its international and regional integration; drawing a growing amount of ODA and FDI assistances; expanding foreign markets; and carrying out multilateral diplomatic activities.

The country’s recent diplomatic events:
– Vietnam hosted the Seventh Summit of Francophone Countries in (1997); the Seventh ASEAN Summit (1998); the Fifth ASEM Summit (2004), and the Fourteenth APEC Summit (2006).
– Vietnam became the 150th member of the WTO (November 2006).
– The United States of America gave Vietnam PNTR status (November 2006).
– Vietnam became a non-permanent member of the UNSC for the term of 2008-2009 (October 2007)
The major cause for these diplomatic achievements is that Vietnam has been carrying out a self-reliant and independent diplomatic strategy and a foreign policy of peace, cooperation and development through its open-mindedness, multilateral and diversified relations. Vietnam has been proactively integrated into the world economy. It has become a friend and reliable partner of all countries in the world community, actively participating in regional and international cooperation process.
Renovation in Vietnam is in progress. The country’s objective is that by the year 2020, Vietnam will have basically become an industrial modernized country of wealthy people, powerful nation and an equal, democratic and civilized society.

II. Outstanding characteristics of Vietnamese diplomacy
The Vietnamese foreign policies in the Ho Chi Minh’s era have the following major characteristics:
– National independence remains closely combined with socialism:
This is a corner stone for the Vietnamese Revolution and the only correct path for national liberation. The characteristic is corresponding with the current stage of social development in Vietnam and the trend of the time.
The combination of national independence and socialism is the lofty ideal which has been guiding Vietnamese diplomatic strategies, policies, and activities.
– Independence and self-reliance go in parallel with international solidarity and cooperation:
Independence and self-reliance are acknowledged and found in the formulation and implementation of Vietnam’s foreign policy. Safeguarding the legitimate national interest is a principle and primary task of Vietnamese diplomacy.
International assistance is important. Independence and self-reliance do not mean isolation. Thus, the policy is to enhance international solidarity and co-operation, satisfactorily address issues concerning relationship between a nation and the time as well as that of Vietnam and the world.
– The combination of national and the time strengths:
The October Russian Revolution opened up a new era of transition from capitalism to socialism. Ho Chi Minh was the first Vietnamese patriot to place Vietnam’s revolution in the world context. After the Second World War, the situation in the world was favorable for various nations to uphold their strength and combine it with international assistances.
In the two struggles against French Colonialism and American Imperialism, Vietnam combined successfully its national strength with the strength of the time. That is a very important element for the success of Vietnam’s struggle for national independence. In our cause of renovation, it is necessary to make a combination of the nation strength and that of the time.
– Building and developing long-lasting friendship and cooperation with neighboring countries, paying due attention to relations with major powers.
The Vietnamese people have a saying “close neighbors are even better than far-away kith and kin”. Close neighboring countries are much related to the security and development of Vietnam. That’s why Vietnamese foreign policies have always given priority to relations with close neighboring countries. Our foreign policies aim at building good friendship with neighboring countries on the basis of equality, mutual benefit, cooperation, mutual respect for independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity, and non-interference into each other’s internal affairs. Disputes are to be settled through negotiations.
In the era of globalization, Vietnam pays much attention to enhancing international and regional economic linkage, maintaining and developing stable friendship with its neighbors. Vietnam has promoted cooperation with ASEAN members, and member countries of various development triangles and quadrangles in the region.
Vietnam’s foreign policies give priority to establishing good relations with major powers. Consequently, Vietnam has paid due attention to building good relations with China, the United States, Japan, the Russian Federation, India, and the EU.
– Attaching great importance to the close coordination among external affairs, national defense, security, economics and culture to form synergy for development.
Gaining synergy through coordination for national defense and development is the rule that Vietnam constantly abides by in its struggles for national defense and construction. The coordination exists not only among various branches, but also among various diplomacy channels: state, party and people.
– Ho Chi Minh’s Diplomacy thoughts are the guideline for all Vietnamese diplomatic activities
Ho Chi Minh’s thoughts on diplomacy are made of a system of principles and viewpoints on international and the time’s issues. It also includes, but not contained to, Vietnam’s strategies and tactics, policies on foreign affairs and diplomacy in the modern time. The thoughts have been manifested in diplomatic activities of late president Ho Chi Minh, the Communist Party and State of Vietnam.
The main content of Ho Chi Minh’s thoughts: fundamental national rights; national independence and socialism; self-reliance linked with international solidarity; the combination of national strength and that of the time; peace and anti-war efforts; friendship and cooperation among neighbors; taking into consideration the relations with major powers; and diplomacy is a front. Besides the thoughts, Vietnamese diplomacy inherited from President Ho Chi Minh his diplomatic approach, style and skills.
The approach consists of: foreseeing and taking advantage of opportunities; winning people’s sympathy; and using invariables to respond to variables.
Diplomatic style: independent brain-storming, self-reliance, and creativeness; flexible response; humble way of expression which can convert and convince people; a succinct style easy to read and understand.
Skills: cleverly making use of five knowings (knowing oneself, knowing others, knowing the situation and status, knowing when to stop, and knowing flexibility); Reasonable concessions; and taking advantage of dissension among the enemies.

III. A brief history of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs:
Period 1945-1946:
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs was founded on August 28th, 1945 (when the provisional cabinet was announced). Acknowledging the importance of diplomacy, President Ho Chi Minh doubled as Minister of Foreign Affairs until March 1947.
From March 1947 to August 1954, Mr. Hoang Minh Giam was the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam.
On April 7th, 1946, President Ho Chi Minh signed Decree 47 on the organization, functions and tasks of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. According to this Decree, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs was divided into two parts: internal and external. The external part consisted of embassies and consulates. The internal part consisted of the ministry’s bureau which had three offices: Secretariat-Secrecy; Communication and Spokesman; and Director of Affairs (Official documents, material and accounting officers, protocols, propaganda, press, translation and interpretation, law, administrative affairs, affairs for Vietnamese overseas, politics and economy).
In the early days, the ministry had about 20 staffs whose majority were revolutionary intellectuals knowing English, French, Chinese and Japanese. Most of the high-ranking carders of the Party and Government or well-known intellectuals who spoke foreign languages participated in the Ministry’s diplomatic activities.
After the Fontainebleau Conference in September 1946, the Government set up an unofficial representative office in Paris with three staffs headed by Mr. Hoang Minh Giam. The office was closed in the end of 1947. In August 1948, the Government assigned Mr. Nguyen Duc Quy to establish a representative office in Bangkok, which was given diplomatic status. In June 1951, the office was closed as the Government of Thailand recognized the Government of Bao Đai.

Period 1947-1954:
After the breaking-out of the nation-wide resistance war in December 1946 until September 1954, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs was moved from place to place in the northern Viet Bac region in Tuyen Quang, Yen Bai and Thai Nguyen Provinces. Since the early of 1951, the Ministry was moved to Don Hamlet, Minh Khai Village, Son Duong District, Tuyen Quang Province, where a memorial monument for the Ministry for Foreign Affairs was inaugurated on 25th August 2000. In October 1954, the Ministry returned to Hanoi.
After the border campaign (1951), the gate way to China and the Soviet Union was opened and diplomatic activities were intensified. At this time, the Ministry had 50 staffs. The activities of the Ministry included gathering news for diplomatic activities, providing propaganda guidance to representative offices abroad, drafting diplomatic notes, introducing to localities about countries which held diplomatic relations with Vietnam, and assigning delegates to conferences abroad. The Ministry also organized political and foreign language classes. In the early 1950s, for the first time, the Ministry sent staff to be trained in China.
In 1950, the Ministry assigned a representative to the People’s Republic of Vietnam to China, then upgraded to embassy level. In 1952, the Ministry set up an embassy in the Soviet Union. In the end of 1953 and early 1954, the Ministry established consulates in Kunming, Nanning, and Canton in China.

Period 1954-1964:
Peace was restored in the North of Vietnam. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs began teaching and training its diplomats. The Ministry implemented its tasks with a view to taking advantage of the favorable situation in the world, supporting economic and socialist construction in the northern Vietnam and the struggle for national reunification, thus raising the status of Vietnam in the international arena. From 1954 to 1964, Vietnam established diplomatic relations with 12 countries in Asia and Africa, setting up 12 embassies, 5 consulates and 2 Government representative offices in foreign countries. The National Front for Liberation of South Vietnam established liaison offices in many countries. The functions, tasks and organization of the Ministry were standardized by the Government’s Ordinance 157/CP enacted on 9th October, 1961. The Ordinance stipulated that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was in charge of Government’s diplomatic activities, formulating diplomatic policies to submit to the Government for approval, being responsible for Vietnamese representative offices in foreign countries, protecting the rights of Vietnamese abroad, and facilitating foreign correspondents.
The Ministry’s staff rose from 100 to 603 in 1954. In 1957, new departments and offices were set up, such as the General Office, regional departments (Department for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, Department for Western Europe, Department for America, Department for Western Asia-Africa, Asia Department I, Asia Department II, and Department for South Vietnam) and professional departments (Protocol Department, Consulate Department, and Personnel Department). From September 1954 to April 1961, Deputy Prime Minister and then Prime Minister Pham Van Dong concurrently held the position of Minister of Foreign Affairs. From April 1961 to July 1963, Mr. Ung Van Khiem was Minister of Foreign Affairs. From July 1963 to May 1965, Mr. Xuan Thuy was Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Period 1965-1973:
Diplomacy played a strategic role as a front in the struggle against the US aggressors for national salvation. The first and foremost task of the Ministry at this time was to create profound changes in all fields, including consolidating political stance of its carders and improving the implementation of all policies by the Vietnamese Labour Party and the Government.
Regarding organizational work, the Ministry set up new units of Sub-Committee for Vietnam Affairs, Department of Documentation and Research and Department of North America. The Ministry also established new representative offices and upgraded its missions to the United Arabian Republic, Congo (Brazzaville), Tanzania and Ghana. New cadres trained by the School of Diplomacy were added to the Ministry’s staff.
From May 1965 to January 1980, Mr. Nguyen Duy Trinh was Minister of Foreign Affairs. From June 1969, Ms. Nguyen Thi Binh was Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Provisionary Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam.
Training diplomatic cadres was paid much attention by leaders of the Ministry. From 1965 to 1975, the School of Diplomacy organized three 5-year courses from which 153 graduated and two 3-year courses from which 83 graduated. The Ministry attached much importance to the organization of training classes for in-service cadres in order to meet the higher and more complicated requirements of the Ministry. Especially, in this period, the Ministry sent a lot more cadres abroad for training to raise their professional level.
By June 1970, the Ministry’s organizational structure had been fully established, ready to take on all of its major tasks. At this time, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Democratic Republic of Vietnam consisted of 20 units in its headquarters, including all regional and professional departments and 30 missions abroad, including all forms of representative office such as embassy and consulate. The Ministry’s total staff reached 1200, among which junior cadres graduated from universities made up 53%.
The Ministry for Foreign Affairs of the Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam consisted of 12 domestic units, among which 6 departments were in charge of diplomatic activities, and 32 missions abroad comprising of 25 embassies, 5 liaison offices, a delegation in Paris and a delegation B. By the end of 1973, the total staff number of the Ministry was 519.

Period 1973-1975:
After the signing of the Paris Accord on ending the war and restoring peace in Vietnam, the organizational work of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs entered the post-war stage. Under the guidance of the Vietnam Labour Party’s Political Bureau, the organization structures of the two ministries in the North and South Vietnam were ready to be merged.
In this period, the Ministry intensified its training activities to strengthen the staff for efficient mechanism. The Ministry set standards for diplomats and introduced new functions and tasks for heads of representative offices abroad.
By June 1975, the Ministry had 1,731 cadres in total with 28 units at its headquarters and 30 representative offices abroad. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam had a total staff of 632 people, 12 home-based units and 28 units abroad.
From 1954 to 1975, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs organized 11 Diplomatic Conferences. These regular conferences significantly improved its staff by enhancing their professionalism which greatly contributed to the achievements of the Ministry.

Period 1976 – 1986:
On 25th June, 1976, the National Assembly declared the country a reunified state with the official name of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. This was a legal basis for the Foreign Ministries of the two parts of Vietnam to officially merge into the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
From 1976 to 1980, Vietnam established more representative offices abroad, most importantly those to the United Nations, Japan, the Federal Republic of Germany, Canada, Thailand, Malaysia, and the Philippine. Vietnam also withdrew some offices from Africa. By 1986, Vietnam had had 51 representative offices abroad.
The Ministry set up new departments such as Department of North America, Asian Department 4 and the Foreign Press Center. Foreign Affairs Office in Ho Chi Minh City and other provinces were also consolidated.
The 12th Diplomatic Conference was held in early 1976 and the 13th in May 1977. These conferences were of special importance to the building of the Vietnamese Foreign Service. At the 13th Diplomatic Conference, the Ministry formulated development strategy and standards for its diplomats. New teaching and training policies were outlined. After the conference, the Internal Affairs Department was established to improve consultation work for leaders of the Ministry.
To meet the urgent requirement of having more diplomats at managerial level, the Ministry opened its first class in mid-1978 for director apprenticeship. Shortly afterwards, the Ministry introduced regulations for director apprenticeship. Since then, more classes of this kind have been organized.
Drawing experience from director apprenticeship classes, in 1983, the Ministry introduced regulations for minister apprenticeship. In early 1984, the first class of minister apprenticeship was organized. This class consisted of 6 selected department directors, taking the job of deputy ministers under the title of assistant minister of foreign affairs. These assistants were placed in the Ministry leader board.
A series of short-term supplementary training courses on Marxism-Leninism theory, economics, international law, international relations, foreign languages, etc. were organized. Besides, the ministry has established the grass root-level agencies all over the country since 1978. This system had also been applied abroad, involving regular circulation of personnel.
Former Foreign Minister Nguyen Co Thach took office from January 1980 to 1991. The Ministry’s leaders attached much importance to the renewal of work methods and administrative procedures, while giving priority to research activities as well as evaluation of the world’s situation and strategic issues.
By 1986, important achievements had been reached in the building of foreign service. The Ministry’s organization was reasonably restructured. The Ministry staff was reduced to less than 2000 from 3000 by 1986. In 1987, the Ministry’s 10-year evaluation showed that the development of the ministry had induced fundamental changes, bringing about great achievements.

From 1986 to date:
Since the 6th Vietnam Communist Party’s National Congress in December 1986, the whole country in general and the foreign service in particular have ushered into a renovation period, making radical changes to the Party’ and State’s foreign activities. Vietnam foreign service has taken new steps towards meeting the requirements posed by new tasks in the course of national industrialization and international integration.
Since 2000, there have been 32 officers with Doctor’s degree, 156 with Master’s and 56 post-graduates. From 1991 to 1996, the Ministry sent a large number of officers abroad to study in different subjects, such as economics, international relations, international laws and multilateral forums.
The organizational structure of the Ministry has been well strengthened with the policy of increasing efficiency and reducing staff number. Accordingly, departments or units sharing the same functions or work area could be merged.
Especially, in August 1992, the International Relations School was upgraded to Institute for International Relations under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Its key missions are to do research on international relations and train diplomats at graduate and post-graduate level. By 1992, the Institute had been assigned another task of managing all scientific research work of the Ministry.
November 10th 1993 has become an important milestone for the foreign service as the Government promulgated Decree No. 82-CP on duties, mandates and organization of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in replacement of the outdated Decree 157- CP issued on October 09th 1961. Following the Decree, the structure of Ministry of Foreign Affairs comprised 35 domestic units plus 64 representative offices abroad by 2000.
In order to raise the efficiency of diplomatic activities and standardize diplomatic officers according to international customs and practices, State President promulgated Ordinance on Diplomatic Grade on June 12th 1995.
In 1995, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of its foundation, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was awarded Yellow Star Order by the State.
The development history of the Vietnamese Diplomacy in the Ho Chi Minh Era over the last 60 years reflects the achievements recorded in the construction of the foreign service and its accomplished missions through all revolutionary stages, greatly contributing to the development of the country.


SOURCE : http://www.mofa.gov.vn/en/bng_vietnam/nr040810155433/

At the beginning of the Bronze Age, the Viet tribe groups had settled down in the North and in the north of Central Vietnam. There were about 15 groups of Lac Viet tribesmen living mainly in the northern highland and delta and a dozen Au Viet groups of tribesmen living in Viet Bac, the northern region of old Vietnam.

♦ Van Lang (2876 BC – 258 BC)
At that time, the two ethnic tribes of the Lac Viet and Au Viet lived together in many areas with other inhabitants. Due to the increasing need to control floods, fight against invaders, and exchange culture and economy, these tribes living near each other tended to gather together and integrate into a larger mixed group. Among these Lac Viet tribes was the Van Lang, which was the most powerful tribe. The leader of this tribe joined all the Lac Viet tribes together to found Van Lang Nation, addressing himself as King Hung. The next generations followed in their father’s footsteps and kept this appellation. Based on historical documents, researchers correlatively delineated the location of Van Lang Nation to the present day regions of North and north of Central Vietnam, as well as the south of present-day Kwangsi (China). The Van Lang Nation approximately lasted from the beginning of the first millennium B.C. to the 3rd century B.C.

 ♦ Au Lac (257 BC – 207 BC)
In 221 BC, Qin Shihuangdi (Tan Thuy Hoang), King of Qin (China), invaded the land of the Viet tribes. Thuc Phan, the leader of the alliance of Au-Viet tribes was respected as the chief of the resistance war against the Tan enemy that later, in 208 BC, was forced to withdraw. With his imposing power, Thuc Phan nominated himself as King An Duong Vuong and founded Au Lac Nation with groups of Lac Viet and Au Viet tribes. In 207 BC, Trieu Da, King of Nam Viet (China), invaded Au Lac country. The resistance of An Duong Vuong failed soon after this invasion. As a result, the northern feudalist took turns dominating the country over the next seven centuries, establishing their harsh regime in the country and dividing the country into administrative regions and districts with unfamiliar names. However, the country’s name of Au Lac could not be erased from the people’s minds in their everyday life.

 ♦ Van Xuan (544-602)
In the spring of 542, Ly Bi rose up in arms and swept away the Chinese administration, liberating the territory. He declared himself King of Van Xuan Kingdom in February 544, acknowledging the national superiority complex of the independent spirits to live in eternal peace. However, the existence of Ly Bi’s administration was very brief. He was defeated by the Chinese imperial army, and the country returned to feudal Chinese domination again in 602. The name Van Xuan was restored only after the victory over the Han army at the Bach Dang River led by General Ngo Quyen in 938. This victory marked the end of the Chinese domination period in Vietnam.

 ♦ Dai Co Viet (968 – 1054)
In 968, Dinh Bo Linh defeated the twelve lords and unified the country. He declared himself King and named the country Dai Co Viet. This name remained throughout the Dinh Dynasty (968-980), Pre-Le Dynasty (980-1009) and the beginning of Ly Dynasty (1010-1225).

 ♦ Dai Viet (1054 – 1802)
In 1054, a flaming bright star appeared in the sky for many days, which was considered a good omen. As a result, the King Ly changed the name of the country to Dai Viet. This name remained until the end of Tran Dynasty (1126 – 1400). The name Dai Viet remained under the Le Dynasty (1428-1788) and the Tay Son Dynasty (1788-1802).

 ♦ Dai Ngu (1400 – 1406)
In March 1400, Ho Quy Ly usurped the throne of King Tran Thieu De, founded the Ho Dynasty and changed the country’s name to Dai Ngu, meaning peace in the ancient language. This name only lasted for very short time, until April 1407, when the Ming enemy invaded Dai Ngu and defeated the Ho Dynasty (1400- 1407).
After 10 years of resistance against the Ming occupation (1418-1427), Le Loi had achieved a victorious triumph. In 1428, Le Loi declared himself King of Le Dynasty and changed the name of the country back to Dai Viet. At this time, the territory of Vietnam had expanded to the region of present-day Hue.

♦ Viet Nam
In 1802, Nguyen Anh claimed his coronation to become the first King Nguyen, starting the Nguyen dynasty and changing the country’s name to Viet Nam. This name was officially recognized in many diplomatic missions in 1804. However, the words “Viet Nam” had already appeared very early in history. In the 14th century, there was a book of code entitled “Viet Nam the Chi”, edited by Doctor Ho Tong Thoc. In the book by scholar Nguyen Trai entitled “Du Dia Chi” at the beginning of 15th century; the words “Viet Nam” were repeated several times. Doctor Trinh Nguyen Binh Khiem (1491-1585) had written on the first page of his work “Trinh Tien Sinh Quoc Ngu” the following: “… Viet Nam have constructed its foundation…” The words “Viet Nam” were also found in some carved stelae of the 16th – 17th century in Bao Lam Pagoda, Haiphong (1558), in Cam Lo Pagoda, Ha Tay (1590), in Phuc Thanh Pagoda, Bac Ninh (1664), etc. In particular, in the first sentence on the stele Thuy Mon Dinh (1670) at the landmark on the border at Lang Son, it was written: “This is the gateway of Viet Nam that guards the northern frontiers…” In terms of meaning, there are many theories that prove the words “Viet Nam” are created by combining two racial and geographic elements, which is understood as “Viet people from the south”. During the reign of King Minh Mang (1820-1840), the name of the country was changed to Dai Nam, but Viet Nam was still widely used in many literary works, civil business affairs, and social relations.
Following the triumph of the August Revolution on August 19th 1945, which had entirely swept away Vietnamese feudal and French colonial oppression and began a new era in the country, President Ho Chi Minh proclaimed the nation’s independence and the national name Democratic Republic of Vietnam was born on September 2nd 1945. Although Vietnam suffered from war and separation in the following 30 years, the sacred words “Viet Nam” were very popularly used from the North to the South, and were deeply imprinted in the hearts of the Vietnamese people.
Following the liberation of Southern Vietnam on April 30 1975, the entire country of Vietnam was completely unified. In the first meeting of the National Assembly of the Unified Vietnam on July 2nd 1976, the assembly decided to name the country The Socialist Republic of Vietnam. The constitution of 1980, and 1992, continued its affirmation of the country’s official name, legally and actually.


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