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Building the “posture of people’s hearts and minds” for the national border management and protection cause

Managing and defending the national border serve as a task of paramount importance in the Fatherland construction and protection and a duty of the entire Party, Military, people, and political system. Thus, the building of a firm “posture of people’s hearts and minds” in border areas as the basis for the national border management and protection cause represents a matter of urgency which should be both theoretically and practically researched.

There is a fact that “the people’s hearts and minds” constitute a source of power for our national border management and protection. In order to firmly protect the national border, our ancestors always considered each citizen in border and sea areas as a soldier. Being imbued with Ho Chi Minh’s ideology on the masses’ role and thoroughly grasping the Politburo’s Resolution 33-NQ/TW, dated September 28th, 2018 on the National Border Protection Strategy, over the years, our Party, State, and Border Guard Force (BGF) have always attached importance to building a firm “posture of people’s hearts and minds,” promoting the people’s role, and stepping up the movement of “all people’s participation in protecting territorial sovereignty and border security in the new situation,” thereby contributing to maintaining political security and social order and safety at land and sea borders.

However, in addition to advantages, our national border management and protection cause is confronted with difficulties and challenges. Borders between regional countries are transforming from separation into cooperation under international law as the mainstream. Meanwhile, disputes in the East Sea are still complex and unpredictable. Hostile forces are stepping up their sabotage strategy against our country. Negotiations about land border demarcation and marker planting in the Southwest have yet to be accomplished. The management and protection of national sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction at sea are faced with a lot of difficulties and challenges. In many border localities, socio-economic development is slow, the people’s intellectual level is low, and political security and social order and safety still witness complicated developments. Therefore, in order to manage and firmly protect the national border in the new situation, it is vital to build a firm “posture of people’s hearts and minds” as the basis for making the all-people border defence strong in peacetime and transforming it into the people’s war posture in wartime. Within this article, we put forward several measures as follows.

First, carry out the work of propagation and education to raise the people’s political awareness and legal knowledge in border areas. This measure acts as a determining factor in building a firm “posture of people’s hearts and minds” within border areas, particularly at sea and on islands. To that end, the work of propagation and education must be aimed at rendering the people fully aware of the Strategy for the Fatherland Protection and the National Border Protection Strategy in the new situation. It is essential to raise citizens’ awareness of the national border and our State’s laws and policies on ethnicity and religion work and the people’s improved life in border areas. Due attention should be paid to educating the people on national tradition, national culture, patriotism, and socialism. Great value should be attached to increasing the people’s revolutionary vigilance against hostile forces’ plots and artifices. Due to difficulties within border areas, there should be close leadership and direction from central to grass-roots levels, particularly from local party committees and authorities as well as coordination between forces, with the armed forces playing a core role. In the process, it is necessary to frequently renew and make forms and methods of propagation and education relevant to each group of citizens, particularly within border residential areas and on islands. Well carrying out the work of propagation and education will help cement the people’s faith in the Party’s guidelines and the State’s laws and policies, arouse national pride and self-reliance, create the national great unity strength in the border management and protection cause, foil all plots and acts of violating the national border, prevent and combat crime and social evils, maintain political security, and ensure social order and safety in border areas.

Second, properly arrange residential areas at the border to meet the requirements set by the border management and protection cause. The deployment of citizens to the border, the planning of residential areas, and the building of strong border areas represent a very important task, aimed at gradually boosting socio-economic and cultural development, consolidating defence and security, maintaining political security and social order and safety, and managing and firmly protecting the country’s territorial sovereignty. To that end, there should be focalised, uniform, synchronous leadership and direction from central to grass-roots levels and close coordination between central and local sectors; due attention should be paid to building and developing relations between localities and units of the armed forces stationed in border areas. Border localities should continue reviewing, supplementing, and adjusting their residential area planning along land borders, at sea, and on islands. It is important to well implement population policies in border areas. There should be special policies for population development along land borders, at sea, and on islands. Socio-economic development must be fostered to create a favourable condition for establishing “residential areas adjacent to border militia key positions,” “residential areas adjacent to border guard posts and stations,” and stable border villages and hamlets. Great weight should be added to gradually forming population centres in all border areas to develop on-the-spot labour, protection, and combat forces as the basis for facilitating socio-economic development, ensuring defence and security, and consolidating the all-people border defence. However, there should be key infrastructures, such as production land, traffic roads, schools, and medical centres prior to the deployment of citizens to border areas.

Third, build a strong, effective, efficient political system at grass-roots level in border areas. This measure serves as a determinant to the building of a firm “posture of people’s hearts and minds” in border areas. Hence, due regard should be paid to enhancing grass-roots level party committees and organisations’ leadership capacity and combativeness. Great value should be attached to developing a contingent of cadres and party members with proper age range and gender structure in isolated, remote, border areas and areas mainly inhabited by ethnic minority people. It is essential to continue deploying border guard cadres to difficult border communes, formulate specific regulations on appointing border guard cadres to party committees and authorities of border districts and communes, designate border guard posts’ party members to attend border villages’ party meetings, prevent border villages and hamlets from being “devoid of party members,” and assign border guard posts’ party members to provide assistance for border households. Moreover, it is vital to build and complete a compact, strong, effective, efficient government apparatus of the people, by the people, and for the people in border areas. Significance should be attached to improving public servants and officials’ capacity and morality, accelerating the administrative reform, and bettering all-level cadres’ legal knowledge and capabilities in managing and protecting the national border. It is necessary to continue renewing contents and methods of operation of Fatherland Fronts and politico-social organisations and adhere to the motto: “the people know, the people discuss, the people do, the people inspect, the people supervise, and the people benefit.” There should be policies to promote the role of village patriarchs and persons with great prestige in encouraging all citizens to take part in national border management and protection.

Fourth, foster socio-economic development and improve the people’s material and mental life in border areas.  Grounded on master plans for socio-economic development associated with defence-security consolidation in border areas, the State should continue implementing preferential treatment policies to attract investments, raise the efficiency of economic-defence zones, and facilitate rapid, sustainable socio-economic development within border areas. Priority should be given to accelerating the development of socio-economic infrastructures. The strategy for the sustainable marine economic development should be well executed and closely combined with the protection of national sovereignty, natural resources, and environment at sea. Due attention should be paid to developing agriculture, forestry, and manufacture for export. There should be policies to provide financial support and disseminate knowledge of production and business in accordance with natural and social conditions and the people’s customs. Scientific and technological advances should be applied to production to step by step establish production chains in border areas. At the same time, it is vital to effectively execute new-style countryside construction programmes and build infrastructures, such as roads, schools, medical stations, telecommunications, hydroelectric plants, reservoirs, and channels. Consideration should be given to accelerating and effectively implementing programmes, projects, and plans on afforestation in border belts and unexploded ordnance clearance for the people’s production, assigning land and forests to the people, and creating a favourable condition for the people’s long-term, sustainable resettlement. It is important to enhance import and export at border gates, construct trade centres in border areas, and execute trade promotion, twinning, and exchange programmes between localities from two sides of borders. Due attention should be paid to taking advantage of localities’ cultural and historical values to develop tourism. More investments should be made in education, health, culture, sports, population, and environmental protection. It is essential to build a healthy cultural environment and resolutely fight against evil customs and superstition in the people’s life. Importance should be attached to preventing and combating crime of various types, particularly drug and human trafficking, smuggling, and trade frauds to bring peace to the people’s life.

Sr. Col. KHUAT VAN TUAN, PhD

Director of the Border Guard Academy

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