During the international integration process, particularly in the context of the Coronavirus pandemic across the globe, people-to-people diplomacy plays an increasingly vital role and greatly contributes towards building peace, friendship and cooperation ties among the nations. Haiphong City, a dynamic growing city in an important transport hub of the Northern Vietnam has paid much attention to the people’s diplomacy, enabling it to realize the potentialities and advantages in innovating the methods of operation and encouraging the participation of organizations and individuals into the diplomatic activities.
Diversification and multilateralisation of international relations
Haiphong Union of Friendship Organizations (HPUFO), an intensive people-to-people diplomatic organization has focused on innovating its activities, extending and deepening the relations with its sister cities and localities from such countries as France, Japan, Laos, Cambodia, South Korea, the United States, etc. At present, HPUFO has 20 member organizations of which are 18 bilateral friendship associations (two established during 2013 and 2018) and two multilateral ones. The member organizations have promoted their roles and proactively boosted the people-to-people diplomacy with countries. They have organized various activities effectively and efficiently, contributing towards the general outcomes of HPUFO.
Based on the real situations, HPUFO has gradually participated in multilateral institutions such as the Urban Green Growth in Dynamic Asia (OECD/Kitakyushu), World Council on City Data, and many others in order to enhance cooperation in the fields of economy, investment, urban planning and development, environmental protection, administrative reform, technology and science, etc. Besides, the Haiphong City Peace Commission, an HPUFO member, has taken a leading role in peace movements, strengthening solidarity and cooperative ties with the peoples and giving voice of Haiphong people to anti-nuclear movements, poverty eradication and other movements across the globe.
The relations with strategic and traditional partners, neiboughering countries, and ASEAN member countries have been maintained and consolidated, which are further boosted and deepened according to the real condition and situation of the city. The people’s diplomatic activities have also been organized among partners, organizations, and businesses that have investment or trading projects in Haiphong in order to enhance cooperation in economy, commerce, investment, culture, technology and science, education, tourism, environmental response and some other fields, contributing towards the socio-development on the city. Being a focus point in the people’s diplomacy, HPUFO has coordinated with relevant stakeholders and agencies to carry out particular activities, concentrating on establishing friendship relations by exchanging with many countries’ delegates coming to work in Haiphong or outbound delegations of Haiphong authorities to foreign countries. It has also promoted peace efforts activities, organizing ‘on-spot’ activities to commemorate holidays and anniversaries on diplomatic establishment, developing the relations with embassies, international organizations and businesses in Vietnam, as well as seeking to attract NGO assistance projects into Haiphong city.
In the recent years, the investment environment has been promoted, which attracts projects from overseas Vietnamese in the fields of manufacturing, textile and garment, logistics, health care, real property trading, etc. Accordingly, many big projects have been invested and funded bythe overseas Vietnamese, for example the international hospital, overseas Vietnamese village project, etc. Implementing the overseas Vietnamese policy, bilateral associations and Haiphong Association for Liaison with Overseas Vietnamese, acting as a focal point, coordinate in conducting activities and make great contribution towards the socio-economic development.
Promoting the image of the country, city and people of Haiphong
HPUFO has proactively sought to persuade international communities to support the cause of national construction and defense in Haiphong city. In the recent years, it has focused on disseminating the information about the country, city and people of Haiphong among communities by various means and on different occasions, for example, television talk shows with foreign expats, local bulletins, special columns on the VUFO’s Huu Nghi magazine, various themed seminars, etc. It also uses websites to give information about diplomatic events and activities, attracting the attention of audiences from home and abroad.
Activities are also organized to defend the sovereign, island and sea borders, follow peace movements and support the peoples of countries in the world constructing and defending their countries. Particularly, it has organized peace run, commemoratingthe World Environment Day, gathering signatures on petitions calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons, and the defence of the sovereign and rights of the East Sea, raising funds for the city’s Truong Sa Foundation, holding a parade to request an end to embargo against Cuba, as well as encouraging the city people to send thousand tons of rice aid to Cuba people.
Enhancing NGO projects
According to the recent statistics, there are 80 international organizations and NGOs that have established relations with Haiphong, of which 46 have been granted a licence to operate in the city. Local government departments and agencies, and people’s organizations actively seek to keep in touch with NGOs and attract their assistance projects in the fields concerned by both sides. Annually, HPUFO in cooperation with DoFA send a delegation to work with PACCOM, international organizations and NGOs in Hanoi, discussing and calling for projects as per the wish list and designated programs.
To further strengthen the focal role of establishing relations and calling for NGO projects, HPUFO collaborates with DoFA and relevant agencies in consolidating the city’s managing organization called Haiphong Paccom that functions independently to carry out promotion of NGO assistance. For the time being, HPUFO and DoFA have prepared a new program on cooperation with NGOs during 2020 - 2025 and will submit to the local government to approve, which offers a legal framework for both seeking and carrying out the NGOs projects in the city.
Advocacy and Information
HPUFO advocates the city’s Party Committee and People’s Committee making people-to-people policy and relevant programs. Meanwhile it gives advice to the city’s Fatherland Front and other organizations to improve people’s diplomacy and seek for NGOs assistance. It can directly perform or help them carry out NGOs assistance projects as well as providing consultations for the local government before a licence is granted to the project owners.
People-to-people diplomatic information is from time to time provided by various means for the people and those who are interested in. HPUFO takes the main responsibility fordisseminating the information according to the stipulations of law. HPUFO usually holds symposiums themed with concerned matters such as legal information about the seas and islands, updates of the existing situations in the country and the world, which helps raising awareness of the people as well as officers and members involved in the people-to-people diplomatic activities in the city.
Consolidating people-to-people diplomacy
Acting as a core people-to-people diplomatic organization, HPUF should be strengthened so as to work more professionally and effectively according to the current laws. In the coming time, particularly in the aftermathof the coronavirus pandemic as well as adverse effects from outside world, HPUFO keeps in mind the motto “being active, flexible, creative, and effective” to improve its operation. Importantly, it will focus more on political content of the people-to-people diplomacy and diversification of international relations so as to guarantee the top-most target of defending the country and its prestige in the world arena.HPUFO will cooperate with DOFA in advocating the local government providing the main guidelines on people-to-people diplomacy and the regulation on uniform management of external relations in Haiphong city. Besides, it will submit a regulation on managing people-to-people diplomatic activities based on the current laws, as well as a proposal of consolidating its organizational structure to the local government for approval.