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To make seas and islands an everlasting living and developing space

On 22nd October 2018, the Party Central Committee (12th tenure) issued Resolution No. 36-NQ/TW on “Strategies for the sustainable development of Vietnamese maritime economy  towards 2030 and a vision towards 2045” with a view to turning Vietnam into a powerful maritime nation and basically meeting criteria for sustainable development of maritime economy” by 2030 as an inclusive target”, which demonstrates the Party’s strategic vision for and new thinking and consistent lines on the sea and islands in the cause of Homeland construction and defence. Thoroughly grasping the spirit of the Resolution, the Party, the Military, and the people in their entirety have set their sights on realizing the Resolution via multiple solutions in a synchronized and drastic fashion. The National Defence Journal would like to introduce a series of articles entitled “To make seas and islands an everlasting living and developing space” co-authored by Thanh Phuc, Xuan Cuong, and Ba Binh.

I. The Party’s line on sustainable maritime economic development in tandem with the protection of the Homeland’s sea and island sovereignty

As a human living space, the sea and oceans have played a significant role in the course of mankind’s development. Presently, the sea and oceans have an increasing role to play amidst the gradual depletion of inland natural resources, especially non-renewable ones as a result of nations’ over-exploitation. Most countries, especially littoral ones, show a growing interest in the sea and oceans for the sake of their development needs. As a result, the sea is not only a living space, but a complicated hotspot proceeding from scramble for influence and maritime territorial disputes amongst nations. That scenario necessitates littoral countries setting out maritime strategies for national development and security protection with an emphasis on the development of maritime economy in close combination with the promotion of defence-security strength and the protection of national maritime rights and sovereign rights, which are regarded as littoral countries’ core interests and objectives in the 21st century.

The potential and advantages of Vietnam’s seas and islands

As a littoral country with its coastline of up to 3.260 km in length with over 3000 islands and islets and 48 bays, Vietnam is “blessed” by nature with  vast maritime zones with the exclusive economic zone covering nearly 1 million square kilometres in area (three times higher than inland areas). On the one hand, Vietnam’s maritime zones in East Sea are rich in natural resources and mineral reserves; on the other, they act as an artery of air and sea traffic between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean and between Europe and Middle East and China and Japan. Therefore, Vietnam possesses a position of geo-strategic importance to the region and the world, and is influential in the strategies of great powers. Those are not only an enormous advantage, but a great challenge for Vietnam on the way to its development and international integration.

Vietnamese maritime zones with thousands of islands and archipelagos act as a “protective shield” to Vietnam’s Eastern, Southern, and Southwestern flanks. Historical records found that most of the enemy’s invasions of Vietnam were launched from the sea. At present, some regional nations have been involved in sovereign and territorial disputes in the East Sea, the focal point of great powers’ fierce scramble for interests and influence, increasingly exacerbating the inherently complex regional situation. Undeniably, those have had double-edged effects on Vietnam’s maritime strategies and economic development.

The Party’s consistent line on the sustainable development of maritime economy in tandem with the firm protection of the Homeland’s sea and island sovereignty

Fully aware of the significance of the East Sea and Vietnam’s maritime zones, our Party has always considered the sea and islands to be an integral part of the Homeland’s sovereignty and sovereign rights. Together with inland areas, they are a sustainable living and developing space of Vietnamese peoples. Inheriting our ancestors’ thinking on establishing sea and island sovereignty, our Party and State continue to supplement and perfect maritime strategies and exploit marine resources to accelerate national development process in association with firm protection of sea and island sovereignty. Accordingly, on 6th May, 1993, the Politburo (7th tenure) promulgated Resolution No. 03-NQ/TW on “Some tasks of developing maritime economy in the immediate time”, highlighting the significance of maritime strategies and economy to national economy.

At the 8th National Party Congress held in June, 1996, for the first time ever, our Party discussed the development of maritime fields, especially solutions for accelerating the development of maritime economy in tandem with firm defence of sea and island sovereignty. Accordingly, “maritime and coastal zones are an area of economic, security and defence strategic importance and serve as a gateway to strengthening international integration and attracting foreign investments. The maximum exploitation of potential and edges of maritime and coastal zones in combination with national security and defence will give added impetus to socioeconomic development and the protection and mastery of the Homeland’s maritime zones”. On 22nd September 1997, the Politburo (8th tenure) issued Directive No. 20-CT/TW on “Pushing maritime economy in the direction of national industrialization and modernization”.

At the 10th National Party Congress held in April 2006, our Party clearly stated that “Accelerating comprehensive and focalized maritime economic development via maritime economic industries with comparative edges in combination with firm national defence, security, and international integration will turn Vietnam into a nation with strong maritime economy. Finalizing a master plan for a system of sea ports and shipping lanes, and exploiting and processing oil and gas and seafood and developing sea and island tourism. Boosting the development of shipbuilding industry and other industries and services. Forming some coastal economic corridors. Hastening the socioeconomic development in combination with strong defence and security on islands”.

With a view to turning Vietnam into a powerful maritime nation, on 9th February 2007, the 4th Plenum of the 10th Central Party Committee passed Resolution No. 09-NQ/TW on “Vietnamese maritime strategies towards 2020”. The Resolution was put forward after the whole Party, Military, and people had completed 5 years of implementing Resolution of the 9th National Party Congress and experienced 20 years of national renovation with the result that Vietnam overcame the socio-economic crisis, leading to Vietnam’s ceaselessly enhanced international status, and promoted economic relations with other nations and international organizations through the execution of multilateral and bilateral agreements. The inclusive goal of the Strategies is to turn Vietnam into a powerful maritime country and firmly ensure national sea and island sovereignty and sovereign rights, contributing greatly to the cause of national industrialization and modernization.

Since the 11th National Party Congress, the policy on developing maritime economy in combination with protecting sea and island sovereignty has been pursued and supplemented in line with realistic situations. The Platform of national construction during the period of transition to socialism (amended in 2011) stated that it is necessary to include the close combination of economic development and defence-security promotion in every strategy and socioeconomic development plan and policy in accord with every locality’s realistic situations with an emphasis on the fundamental contents of and solutions to maritime economic development in combination with the protection of sea and island sovereignty, namely the building of sea and island zones in strategic areas in association with the intensification of force build-up and defence-security potential and posture; forging the posture of “people’s hearts and minds” and national bloc of strong solidarity; fostering maritime economy and improving the people’s physical and mental life and rights of mastery.

In particular, the 12th National Party Congress reiterates “Developing maritime economy is aimed at intensifying national economic potentialities and defending sea and island sovereignty. Great importance is attached to developing oil and gas industry, offshore fishing, fishing logistics, maritime economy, and sea and island tourism. Mechanisms should be proposed to make a breakthrough in maritime economic growth and structure shift and promotion of investment resources for the sake of economic development and environmental protection, etc.

Grounded in the review of 10 years of carrying out Resolution No. 09-NQ/TW and new developments in regional and global situations, and   thoroughly grasping the directions of the 12th National Party Congress, on 22nd October 2018, the Party Central Committee promulgated Resolution No. 36-NQ/TW on “Strategies for the sustainable development of Vietnamese maritime economy towards 2030 and a vision towards 2045”.

It is fair to say that the Party’s theoretical thinking on the sea and the Homeland’s maritime zones has ceaselessly been stimulated and perfected via Vietnamese maritime Strategy throughout national party congresses. The Strategy not only clearly sets development targets in every period, but lays out a vision towards 2045. According to this document, the seas and islands are an integral part of the Homeland’s sacred sovereignty and a living and developing space of Vietnamese peoples, and of special significance to the cause of Homeland construction and defence in the new period. Despite being rich in natural resources and maritime potential, Vietnamese maritime zones are a hotspot with latent challenges and instability, which, on the one hand, give Vietnam a status of geopolitically and geo-economically great significance, impacting positively on external relations; on the other, they create high demands on the cause of Homeland protection. Given Vietnam’s natural and historical location as well as status and prestige in the international arena, our Party and State have issued multiple maritime policies to effectively exploit the potentialities of maritime and coastal zones, ensure national defence and security and protect Vietnam’s environment and territorial integrity, contributing to accelerating the cause of national industrialization and modernization.

To successfully turn Vietnam into a powerful maritime nation and firmly defend the Homeland’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity requires enormous efforts and a high sense of political responsibility from the whole Party, people and Military. (To be continued).

Thanh Phuc - Xuan Cuong - Ba Binh                         

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Promoting the role of the Military in protecting the Party, State, people and socialist regime
For the past nearly 75 years of establishment, combat and growth, under the leadership, education and training of the Communist Party of Vietnam and President Ho Chi Minh, the VPA has become increasingly strong; achieved various feats of arms and outstanding achievements, making significant contribution to glorious victories of the whole nation in the cause of national liberation, construction and defense.