Cooperation for mutual benefits constitutes the objective need of all nations and peoples for development and progress. In inheritance of traditional love for peace and friendship of the nation and from the actual demand of the Vietnamese revolution and the benefit of the people in the world, Ho Chi Minh soon figured out the necessity to cooperate, learn, and exchange experiences among nations and peoples in the world.
In early 1919, with the spirit of a passionate patriot, Nguyen Ai Quoc raised a unique theoretical point in his article On Native Peoples: “In principle, the common progress is dependent on the development of internationalism, and civilization is only helpful when international relations are extended and strengthened”(1).
In 1924, in a letter to comrade Petrov, Secretary General of the Eastern Committee, Nguyen Ai Quoc emphasized that the first cause of the decline of Eastern peoples was isolation. “The Eastern peoples do not have the relations and contacts between continents. They are completely ignorant of what is happening in their closest neighbors, so they lack mutual trust, coordination, and encouragement.” He also pointed out that it would be very useful for the Vietnamese if they could know and learn from fighting experience against colonialism, capitalism of the Indian people, Japanese working class, and Egyptian people”(2).
Thus, it is Ho Chi Minh’s concept that mutual understanding and cooperation between nations and peoples create one of the conditions and motivations promoting progress, civilization of humanity in general and individual nation, people in particular. That is the mutually beneficial cooperation.
For the Vietnamese people, as a small nation under the domination of colonialism, the coordination with other peoples to struggle for national independence, and build a new civilized and advanced society bears extremely important meaning. From the 1920s, Ho Chi Minh identified that the Vietnamese revolution constitutes part of the world revolution movement, in the orbit of the world proletarian revolution movement. He worked tirelessly to make this come true.
After the success of the August Revolution in 1945, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam was established. With the new position of the country, President Ho Chi Minh represented the entire people of Vietnam to officially affirm that one of the principal views of the Vietnamese Government and people in international relation is willing to cooperate for mutual benefits: “The Democratic Republic of Vietnam is willing to set up all friendly relations with any country in the principle of respecting each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, having no invasion, making no intervention in each other’s internal affairs, being equal and mutually beneficial, and coexisting peacefully. We make sure that such cooperation will be beneficial to both sides and to the world peace tasks”(3).
The noteworthy points in Ho Chi Minh’s view on cooperation between nations and peoples for mutual benefits are as follows:
Firstly, in terms of nature, international cooperation is the objective need and aspiration of the peoples in the world for progress and civilization of humanity and for the benefit of each and every nation. Therefore, cooperation must ensure the principle of mutual benefits. Cooperation between nations for mutual benefits is in complete contrast to the “cooperation” that colonialism uses to conceal the nature of invasion, pillage, and domination over other nations. As for Ho Chi Minh, the struggle to carry out the mutually beneficial cooperation between nations in the world is in connection with the fight to expose the evil nature and to remove the false “cooperation” that colonialism is trying to paint with a view to deceiving the people, firstly the peoples of the colonies. In October 1922, Nguyen Ai Quoc, in his article “Modernized” slavery regime, denounced the fraudulent and tax evading act of a French minister, but he was tolerated and protected by the colonial government which then blamed on the native people. From that, he drew an ironic conclusion: “The workers in colonial countries are protected and the cooperation policies are implemented like that”(4).
Ho Chi Minh unveiled the nature of the slogan “Franco - Annam cooperation”, “House of Representatives of the People” organization, when pointing out: “After a period of raising illusion, the Annam people now know what a delegate of the Second Communist International is like. They found that the highly praised “co-operation” manifested itself in despicable exploitations and merciless oppression upon any indigenous political demonstration of the native people”(5).
According to Ho Chi Minh, the rationale, reality and best example for the cooperation between nations for mutual benefits in the world are the thought and instruction to implement the foreign policy of Lenin after the success of the Russian October Revolution 1917. Ho Chi Minh asserted: “Leninist principles of national self-determination, peaceful coexistence, non-interference in internal affairs of other countries, equality and mutually beneficial relationship between all countries, the principles as the basis for the foreign policy of Soviet Union have been leading the way for the people of the colonial and dependent countries on the path of struggling for national unity and independence”(6).
Secondly, in the condition of a colonial country like Vietnam, mutually beneficial cooperation between nations and peoples first and foremost is the exchange, acquisition of experience in the struggle against colonialism, gaining independence, freedom, support and help among the colonial peoples and the advanced nations, peoples to the colonial countries, in both of spiritual and materialistic terms, in the guideline “helping friend means helping ourselves”. In his article French Colonialism on Trial (1925), Ho Chi Minh showed the great potential power of the colonial and semi-colonial countries in the Near East and Far East, but one of the fundamental causes to their inability to develop their power was their lack of solidarity and mutual cooperation: “Although their population must have made them strong, those oppressed peoples have never thoroughly found out the path of liberation, so they have not understood the value of national and international solidarity. They have not had connections between continents like European and American peoples”(7).
At the same time, Ho Chi Minh also stated the situation that for “no mutual understanding”, the “prejudice arose” between the proletarian class in Indochina and that in France. He believed: “Imperialism and capitalism never miss the opportunity to take advantage of that mutual suspicion and false discrimination of racial classes as to prevent propaganda and to divide the forces which should have been united”(8).
Thirdly, Ho Chi Minh pointed out that mutually beneficial cooperation is not only made between nations and peoples sharing the same political system but also can and must be implemented among the nations and peoples having different political regimes in terms of economics, culture and military in order to provide benefits for each and every nation, and the entire humankind. This comes from the relations, interactions between nations, peoples around the world, especially in the matters that cannot be solved by a single nation or people such as peacekeeping, anti-poverty, anti-illiteracy, anti-epidemic, etc. Thus, although the nations, peoples may be different in political regimes, they still shares the mutual points when working together - achieving benefits and developing together. More deeply, this also originated from the humane thought of Ho Chi Minh who always wanted the nations and peoples in the world to cooperate with each other, indiscrimination of race, ideology to keep peace and promote the advancement, and civilization of the whole mankind.
One of the lively evidences for Ho Chi Minh’s point of view is his support for the Non-aligned Movement and his thought’s meeting with international issues in general and mutually beneficially international cooperation in particular with the basic principles of the Movement, commonly known as the Five Principles of peaceful coexistence. They are also fundamental principles in establishing and maintaining relations between countries of different political system. They respect each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, having no invasion, making no intervention in each other’s internal affairs, being equal and mutually beneficial, and coexisting peacefully. Clearly, the content of these principles is similar to Ho Chi Minh’s thought, including the one of mutually beneficial cooperation between nations. As a result, it was not surprising when Ho Chi Minh expressed his fervent support for the Non-aligned Movement and simultaneously considered the Five Principles as the appropriate approach to deal with the issues of Indochina and Vietnam: “The five essential principles set forth in the joint statement between China - India and Prime Minister of China - Burma (Presently, Myanmar - author) are respecting each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, having no invasion, making no intervention in each other’s internal affairs, being equal and mutually beneficial, and coexisting peacefully. Those principles are also suitable for solving the issue of Indochina. The Vietnamese warmly welcome the two joint statements. I strongly believe that those two joint statements are certainly beneficial to peace in Asia and the world”(9).
Not only Marxist researchers but also bourgeois scholars have admitted Ho Chi Minh’s openness and willingness to cooperate with Western nations, which have different political regimes with Vietnam as remarked by a colonial politician: Ho Chi Minh “is not only the person who has most Oriental characteristics but also the most openness to the Occidental thought”(10).
It was in the spirit of openness and cooperation with the West that in December 1946, in his Appeal to the United Nations, Ho Chi Minh declared: “For democratic countries, Vietnam is ready to implement open policies and cooperate in all areas”. These are investments by foreign capitalists, technicians, expansion of ports, airports and traffic roads for international trade and transit, participation in any organizations of international economic cooperation under the leadership of the United Nations, readiness to sign with naval, ground forces, in the scope of the United Nations, on the special security agreements related to the use of some naval and air bases(11).
More particularly, Ho Chi Minh’s openness to Western ideals is shown in friendly statements, even to those nations waging war on Vietnam, France and the United States. At the end of November 1946, although French politicians and generals in Indochina, led by Georges Thierry d’Argenlieu, increasingly escalated the aggressive actions to invade Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh still appealed for the friendly and mutually beneficial cooperation between Vietnam and France: “The Vietnamese and the French can and should shake hands together in an equal, honest cooperation cause to create common happiness for both nations”(12). Even when the invasion war of the French broke out across the country, he still specified the goodwill of Vietnam: “We hope in the near future, the French and the Vietnamese can work together in peace and friendship to seek happiness for both nations”(13).
It was also because of his openness to Western thought, although the U.S.-backed Diem administration triggered an “undeclared war”, terrorized, slaughtered a large number of people, soldiers in the South and plotted to separate Vietnam for long, in August 1963, Ho Chi Minh announced to the U.S. and other countries: “We have no disagreement with the American people. We desire to live in peace and friendship with the American. We distinguished the French colonialists from the peace-loving French people in the past, and today we also differentiate the great Americans with freedom tradition from U.S. interventionists and militarists in Washington who are supporting them”(14).
Fourthly, Ho Chi Minh pointed out the conditions to implement and promote the mutually beneficial cooperation between nations and peoples. For him, national independence is not only the significant premise to implement the mutually beneficial cooperation between Vietnam and other nations, peoples in the world but also the most important criterion to verify the value, benefit of such cooperation. He clarified: “We only claim full independence, which has been a fact up to now, and it will allow us to cooperate with other nations in building a better world and sustainable peace”(15).
On the other hand, in order to promote the mutually beneficial cooperation among nations and peoples in the world, Ho Chi Minh identified that there should be struggle to eliminate its obstacles. According to him, they were colonialism, hegemony, extreme nationalism, and the thoughts of class discrimination, racial discrimination. Thus, in connection with goodwill efforts, cooperation between nations and peoples is the struggle to eliminate these obstacles. He once spoke to the French people: “It was the reactionary French colonialists that stain France and sought to separate us by provocation. As long as France has thorough understanding of our independence and unity and calls the aggressive French colonialists back, our friendship and cooperation between the France and Vietnam will come back at once”(16).
Ho Chi Minh’s thought in general and his views on mutually beneficial cooperation between nations in the world in particular are the theoretical foundations which show the way for the Vietnamese revolution in the process of achieving national independence and building the society with rich people, strong country, democracy, justice, and civilization. Nowadays, the people are stepping up the industrialization and modernization of the country in the complicated, unpredictable context with interwoven opportunities and challenges in the world and in the region. In that situation, the following fundamental points must be focused in applying Ho Chi Minh’s views on mutually beneficial cooperation between nations:
Firstly, expanding international cooperation is the essential tendency of all countries in the world. No country can have sustainable development and solutions to all the issues if they are isolated from the rest of the world. For Vietnam, expanding international cooperation is an objective need to successfully implement the cause of industrialization and modernization and making the country more developed and prosperous are the essential factors to make use of external resources, strengthening the overall strength of the nation.
Secondly, the spirit of independence and self-control in international cooperation should be raised, and true benefit of the nation should be prioritized in the process of expanding cooperation with other countries. Ensuring the supreme interests of the nation is the consistent principle as well as the criteria to assess the correctness of international cooperation activities.
Thirdly, on the basis of finding common points, similarities, expansion of cooperation with all nations and peoples should be in accordance with the spirit of diversification, multilateralization in external relations, be active and positive in international integration, assert that Vietnam is a reliable friend, partner and a responsible member of the international community.
Finally, expansion of international cooperation must always be accompanied by the struggle to eliminate negative factors which are not suitable for the specific conditions of the country. Cooperation and struggle are two closely associated aspects in international relations, especially in the current international context. It is necessary to be on guard to identify and fight against the conspiracies, imposing acts, even intervention in the internal work, violation to the national sovereignty and territorial integrity with determination.
(1), (2), (4), (8) Ho Chi Minh: Complete Works, Vol. 1, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2011, p.14, 284, 135, 81.
(11), (12), (13), (15), (16) Ho Chi Minh: op.cit., Vol. 4, p. 523, 511, 543, 210, 536.
(3) Ho Chi Minh: op.cit., Vol.10, p.12
(5), (7) Ho Chi Minh: op.cit., Vol.2, p.271, 133.
(6) Ho Chi Minh: op.cit., Vol.9, p.410.
(9) Ho Chi Minh: op.cit., Vol.8, p.537-538.
(10) Paul Mus: Ho Chi Minh - Vietnam - Asia, Ed Seuil, Paris, 1971, p.4.
(14) Ho Chi Minh: op.cit., Vol.14, p.148.
Dr. Ly Viet Quang
Institute of Ho Chi Minh and other Party Leaders,
Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics