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Tuesday, May 18, 2021, 15:25 (GMT+7)
Strategies of some major powers and implications for national defence and security of the region and Viet Nam

Major powers’ policies and strategies all have a profound influence on national defence and security of Southeast Asia, including Viet Nam. Consequently, the study and thorough comprehension of these documents serve as an important basis for the Central Military Commission and Ministry of National Defence to propose guidelines and policies on national defence, security, and firm protection of the Homeland for the Party and State.

Strategies of some major powers

China’s interests are intricately linked with Asia-Pacific, a region of utmost importance in terms of economy, security, and politics in the world. Therefore, this country always pursues the goal of promoting its role, position, and influence on the region. In recent years, thanks to successful reform of the country, China has become the second leading economy in the world after the United States of America. Additionally, it continually puts forth policies and strategies with a view to becoming the leading major power in the world. On realising the Belt and Road Initiative, China has invested thousands of billions of dollars in many countries, including those in Southeast Asia, with the aim to help these countries to develop their economies while deepening its influence in terms of security and politics as well as gaining other strategic objectives. Given its massive economic strength, China fully exploits this advantage to control production operation, chains of global supply, and foreign relations of other countries. It is also enormously impacted by the international, regional environment, thus requiring adjusting its policies and proposing the “dual circulation” strategy to promote domestic consumption, technological self-sufficiency, and international relations. In addition, China attaches importance to strengthening military might, military modernisation and escalates military activities in the Asia Pacific region and East Sea such as conduct of military exercises to show off its military weapon systems and equipment, promulgation of Coast Guard Law, and so on. These moves have been making security situation in the region further complex, directly affecting peace, stability, and development in the region.

Russia has a proper strategy in the Asia-Pacific region. Russia’s National Security Strategy specifies the United States and NATO as the key threat to its security. Accordingly, Russia implements a policy of containment towards the United States, balance with China, and harmonisation of relations with Japan and ASEAN member states (AMS), intensifies interference, and upgrades its role in Asia-Pacific. It also strengthens military power through military modernisation, establishment of new strategic units, development of strategic weapon systems, AI-based weapon systems, etc., pursues formation of the Eurasian Economic Union, strives to fulfil its strategic objective of becoming a superpower to compete with the United States worldwide, first and foremost in the Asia-Pacific region. On the one hand, Russia promotes economic cooperation to attract investment, technologies, and trade with Japan, India, South Korea, but on the other, it deepens ties and cooperation with China in many aspects, including economy, national defence, security, etc., in order to undermine the strategic position of the United States and. Russia enhances connectivity with newly emerging economies under the BRICS framework to compete with the US-led Group of Seven (G-7) nations. Russia regards Viet Nam as an important bridge connecting this country with the AMS, thus upgrading the relationship with Viet Nam to a comprehensive strategic partnership with the aim of expanding influence and securing major power status not only in Southeast Asia but also in Asia-Pacific region and the world as a whole.

The United States has vested interests in strategic and security terms in Asia-Pacific. Under “America First” policies, President Donald Trump’s administration shifts the centre of gravity for U.S foreign policy towards Asia-Pacific; puts forth the Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy to maintain long-lasting leadership in the region and the world while competing with China and Russia; promotes free trade on an equal footing; ensures the freedom of the seas and skies in the region; effectively address nontraditional security challenges, and so forth. Currently, President Joe Biden is still committed to many policies of his predecessor. Accordingly, the United States advocates strengthening strategic cooperation with its allies and partners; intensifying engagement in both economy, politics, and security; strategic competition; ensuring security, safety, freedom of navigation and overflight; protecting interests and security of its allies and partners; upholding its influence while preventing and containing China’s rise.

Moreover, other major powers in Asia and Europe also realise the importance of Asia-Pacific and work out their own policies and strategies towards this region such as India’s Act East Policy, Australia’s defence strategy with a focus on enhancing military might in Indo-Pacific. France, Germany, The United Kingdom, etc., also have their own Indo-Pacific strategies. Despite different evaluation, contents, and strategic approaches, they all seek to intensify influence, display the role of major powers, ensure national, regional security and interests, cooperate with allies and partners to compete with “opponents” for the ultimate political, economic goals.

Implications for national defence and security of the region and Viet Nam

First, fierce rivalry among major powers for the sake of enhancing their positions and influence makes small and medium countries dependent on their policies and strategies. Strategic competition between some developed economies will promote cooperation in both depth and width, which creates a favourable environment for Viet Nam in many aspects, including economic development, defence and security consolidation, and increased position in the international arena. However, this rivalry also results in many disadvantages, producing nagative effects on Viet Nam’s national defence and security. If we do not manage issues properly, we will confront the risks of losing freedom, dependence, or even being diverted from the process of improving the socialist-oriented market economy. Consequently, we need to take initiative in studying to deeply comprehend situations and correctly predict strategies of major powers and strategic partners, laying the foundation for proposing sound, scientific guidelines, strategies, measures, and breakthroughs. This serves to prevent the country from falling into passivity and surprise; prevent and reduce adverse effects; and resolutely keep Viet Nam from dependence on foreign countries. We must also closely combine socio-economic development with strengthening national defence and security; remain steadfast in the goal of national independence and socialism.

Second, drastic development of science and technology, especially achievements of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, is bringing about many opportunities for Viet Nam to take shortcuts to economic development, military modernisation, national defence and security consolidation, and better protection of the country. However, Viet Nam also faces numerous difficulties and challenges in the fight against high-tech crime, cyber operations, and so on. Therefore, we need to promote cooperation and collaboration with countries and partners; adopt many synchronous solutions to prevent and reduce adverse influence. It is also necessary to step up scientific research, application of information technology, development of military technology and military art; develop defence industry in the modern and dual-use direction; focus on research and development of modern weapons and equipment, new technologies, application of artificial intelligence; build a modern all-people national defence and people’s security.

Third, some major powers’ policies and strategies not only have influence and sow division among the AMS, but also affect national defence and security of the region and Viet Nam. Therefore, the AMS need to exercise vigilance about policies and strategies of major powers in the region and the world, especially their schemes about the East Sea, in order to work out proper policies and strategies to firmly uphold standpoints on the basis of the ASEAN Charter and international law and resolve disputes by peaceful means. More importantly, it is necessary to strengthen internal unity, build a strong ASEAN, and enable ASEAN to bring into play its role and responsibility to the community and oppose any acts of some major powers that go against international law and infringe territorial sovereignty over land, seas, and islands of regional countries. There are absolutely no AMS allowing major powers in the region to exert influence on internal affairs because this will lead to dependence on politics, economy, and security while undermining national interests and security of each AMS and the Association as a whole. Besides, there needs to thoroughly comprehend situations; work out suitabe policies to resolve issues regarding national defence and security; actively contribute to strengthening solidarity, opposing some major powers’ power politics in the region, and building a peaceful, stable, independent, and resilient ASEAN Community.

Fourth, the world continues to shift towards a multipolar, multicentric order. Major powers both cooperate and compromise to advance their interests, positions, and influence while containing and undermining their strategic opponents’ influence in the region and the world. Nevertheless, they must comply with international law and treaties that they are parties to and respect independence, sovereignty, interests, and political regimes of nations since these are common goals, interests, responsibility, and aspirations of nations and the international community for the sake of pushing back challenges and maintaining security in the region and the world. These are favourable conditions for us to protect our sovereignty over seas and islands in line with international law and conventions. To effectively take advantage of the said conditions requires us to proactively grasp situations to make correct predictions and have appropriate response, avoiding falling into confrontation, isolation, or deep involvement in strategic calculations of major powers; minimise adverse factors and leverage the advantages to sensibly address the issue of “partners of cooperation, objects of struggle.” It is necessary to prevent the risk of conflict and war from afar; early detect and timely respond to adverse factors, espeically those potentially leading to upheavals; struggle to defeat any plots and acts of hostile forces against the Vietnamese revolution; rosolutely, persistently safeguard independence, sovereignty, territorial unity and integrity of the Homeland; protect the Party, State, people, and the socialist regime.

Study to firmly grasp policies and strategies of some major powers and their multidimensional impact on Viet Nam’s national defence and security is a crucial premise to propose guidelines and policies on national defence, security, and firm protection of the Homeland for the Party and State.

Lieutenant General, Assoc Prof. Dr. Tran Viet Khoa, Member of the Party Central Committee, Rector of the National Defence Academy

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