Digital transformation in Hai Phong, Hai Phong City’s foreign affairs’ role and direction in the digital transformation toward smart city construction

The fourth Industrial Revolution has been occurring firmly. That may be named a digital revolution, through techs such as Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligent (AI), Virtual Reality (VR), social network, iCloud, mobility, big data analysis (SMAC), etc., to transform all real world to digital world and digital transformation that is a key word during that whole process. It may be said that, the digital transformation is an integration of digital technologies in all fields of economic and social life, utilizing all technologies to transform ways of operation, models and styles of leadership, management, manufacturing, business, and new values provision as well as to speed up eco- social life circles. The digital transformation has also been a move in culture that has required governmental units, entrepreneurs, and organizations to continuously adjust, experiment new things, and accept risks/failures. That movement has been taking place in three poles including digital governance, digital economy, and digital society. At national level, the digital transformation has been digital government, digital economy, and digital society at national level. At locality, the digital transformation has been a movement into digital governance, digital economy and digital society at local level. Success of the digital transformation at the local level would contribute to the success of the digital transformation at the national level.

Photo: Digital transformation has been a central trend in the fourth Industrial Revolution. Source:

Currently, the digital transformation has been a trend, not only a general concept at global or national scale but also directly impacting and requesting “to change to adapt or forever lagging behind” at locality, agencies in political system, eco-social organizations, enterprises, base units, particularly in the context facing the dual-targets including COVID-19 pandemic prevent and control, and safely, flexibly and effectively active adjustment for eco-social recovery and development. The digital transformation has taken first steps and would bring many benefits to eco-cultural-social life. Regarding direction on building up digital government toward digital governance, digital transformation helps cut down costs relating management and operation of all agencies in the political system, facilitating people and enterprises approach comprehensively services provided the State, at the same time changing professional working process, public administrative agencies’ operation models and measures to make sure progress and efficiency that is measurable in competence enhancement, State budget’s revenue efficiency, agencies’ operational capacity in that political system, officials and public servants, building trust in citizens, enterprises, and internal and external investors.

Digital transformation in Hai Phong

Hai Phong has been one of leading cities across the country specially interested in leadership and direction for firm tech application, science development, technology and creation, researching to catch up, strengthening accessibility and actively participating in the digital transformation and the fourth industrial revolution. To implement the Central Government’s direction and decision, the Standing Affairs Agency of Hai Phong Party Committee issued Resolution No. 03-NQ/TU on Hai Phong City’s digital transformation by 2025, vision to 2030. The Resolution sets out the common goal of fundamentally and comprehensively renovating leadership, management, and administration activities of Party and State agencies, Vietnam Fatherland Front, and socio-political organizations of the city, on the basis of digital databases and technology applications. Create new values of growth in digital economy with the three economic poles including high tech industry, maritime – logistics, tourism – trade; building up and developing safe and convenient digital environment to serve needs in production, business as well as community activities; creating an innovation start-up atmosphere, proactively approach and taking advantage of opportunities brought by the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Besides, Hai Phong People’s Council, term XVI, held the third meeting and issued Resolution on “Investment policy to implement a number of contents for the digital government establishment of Hai Phong City in the period 2021-2025". The overall goal of the Resolution is to establish technical infrastructure, technical platform, and shared service for digital governance construction and development; guaranteeing data connection, integration and sharing with national digital platform, informative system, database, synchronous data analysis to serve the local authority’s operation and management, and to provide common services to inhabitants and enterprises. The Resolution was also toward a breakthrough change in the ranking board of digital governance, lifting up Hai Phong to be one in a group of cities and provinces leading in the digital transformation. The aforementioned documents have been grounding steps for positive institutional changes in the city authority’s determination and attempts in the digital transformation works.

Photo: Testing model of Hai Phong Smart Urban Monitoring and Operation Center (IOC Hai Phong), source:

Regarding the digital government, implementation of public services at third and fourth levels 3 of online one stop-shop system, e-office system, data digitalization programs of data, documents, dossiers, e-ISO, digital website, electronic service mailboxes, digital signature application, professional management apps on mobile devices, the city’s big data construction and operation, work of news system updating the city’s eco-social life, network information monitoring, transportation, education, health care – epidemiological map, management of residents, land, finance, scrutiny, officials and public servants, reception of comments and inquiries of citizens, organizations, e-customs and e-taxation, through-port goods cargoes monitoring, etc. and most recently launch of the IOC Hai Phong have been vivid evidences for the city’s digital transformation degree in terms of digital governance. In present, the e-government establishment of Hai Phong can be envisioned as a process of digitalizing, organizing, systematizing, connecting, and data intelligence and information platforms that had been built and continuously supplemented, developed, and integrated in a comprehensive institutional unit of tech infrastructure serving the city’s leadership, management, and unified operation.

Regarding Hai Phong City’s digital economy, after Resolution No. 45 issued by the Politburo, the Central Government identified Hai Phong to become an economic hub of the Northern, a smart city with smart manufacturing and service models; high tech development, particularly 4.0 tech and digital economy. The city has been boosting the digital transformation in industrial manufacturing toward focusing on developing the pillars, which consisted of: building smart strategy and organizational structure, building smart factories, smart operation, creating smart products, building data services and developing digital skills for employees, moving towards controlled testing of new techs, products, services, and business models from the fourth industrial revolution. Current circumstance also show enterprises and investors’ movements at the city for investment, abundant development, and a majority has been yet exploited for the locality’s digital economy. Going with quick growth of telecommunications and information technology businesses, electronic trading floors, technology, by now, a majority of enterprises implemented electronic tax declaration and payment; a majority of large-scale enterprises conducted e-commerce transactions; many units applied apps in operation, manufacturing, doing business, providing services, such as: management of electric lighting and traffic signal systems, clean water leaking monitoring and consumption management system, Agar manufacturing technology, products quality and dossier management, etc. Also, Hai Phong has been making attempts to become a strong city in terms of informative technology, software manufacturing, digital contention in the Northern economic area, and getting exported software products.

In terms of foreign investment, selected FDI attraction has focused on high tech industrial projects, green growth that has helped Hai Phong be active with “an in-advance step” in calling on technological eagles, contributing to enhancement of the city’s digital transformation. In 2021, Hai Phong’s FDI attraction has reached a record, leading the country with a totally registered capital of over $5.26 billion, taking account for 16.9% of total registered foreign capital in Vietnam, that contributed to lift up valid FDI projects’ total capital to over $24.5 billion, in which LG Display Group’s project in electronic terms was remarkable with a total capital of $4.65 billion in Hai Phong City.

Digital society is still new in Vietnam. Digital society, in general, covers all activities of humans, in which digital transformation considers humans as the center (for service). Main motivation of digital society is to establish digital citizenship and digital culture. To create digital citizenship are factors including accessible ability to digital information sources, communication ability in digital environment, basic digital skills, e-purchasing, ethical standards in digital environment, physical and mental protection from impacts of digital environment, rights and responsibilities in a digital environment, identification and authentication, personal data and privacy in the digital environment. Digital culture, in narrow concept, is named with behavior roles and ethical standards for people in a digital environment. In Hai Phong, although there are unofficial reports on the local digital society, the proportion of internet and telecommunications networks rate has been expanded on a large scale with large capacity, high speed and quality, wired transmission system has been developed through the city, 100% communes, wards, and towns got broadband internet, currently Internet users has taken account for over 60%, number of phone and internet subscribers has been increasing rapidly, at a high level compared with the whole country. Those figures have been positive to establish and develop digital society in Hai Phong City.

Roles and directions of Hai Phong City’s foreign affairs in the digital transformation towards smart city construction

Foreign affairs work of Hai Phong City is a historical field carrying firm and long-term developed tradition. As it was born in first days after Hai Phong City got liberation, Hai Phong’s foreign affairs work has become a local foreign service force pioneering in the country’s foreign front and getting enlisted local social countries and peace-loving people’s support across the world, contributing positively to the war of resistance and national construction, through activities receiving people’s aid, exchanging delegations, enlisting support of foreign media, foreign policy, attracting experts from socialist countries to participate in the city’s construction. In the recent years, Hai Phong City’s foreign affairs work has gained achievements in its work of eco-cultural-social construction and development, guaranteeing the city’s defense and security, contributing to leading in building a peaceful and stable local-level diplomatic environment, mobilizing all external resources for the city’s development, and in enhancing the city’s position and image and its soft power on international integration map.

Facing opportunities of digital transformation and the Fourth Industrial Revolution, Hai Phong City’s foreign affairs has taken many shortcuts, taken the lead, and laid a foundation in this work. That is shown clearly through selective attraction of foreign investment, economic diplomacy has helped the city attract more high-tech industrial projects, restructuring the industry towards developing spearhead, smart and modern industries such as electronics – informatics, automotive industry, manufacturing, etc. Potential and experienced investors, even many “tech eagles” have come to “establish” and develop in Hai Phong City, such as LG (LG Electronics, LG Display, LG Innotek), Fuji Xerox, Kyocera (Japan), GE (the USA), Pegatron Group (Taiwan) – component supplier to Apple, Sony, Microsoft, Lenovo hay Universal Scientific Industrial (USI) belong to ASE Technology Holding – world-leading group in semiconductor circuit technology in smart devices.

Besides, bilateral cooperation projects, experience exchange programs on green growth, development management, smart urban between foreign cities and provinces got tied with Hai Phong City through cooperation and sister-city relation establishment, such as Kitakyushu, Kagawa (Japan), Incheon (South Korea), Brest (France), Seattle (the USA), etc. has fostered, rebuilt and promoted the renewal of thinking and awareness of all levels, sectors and localities towards the essential demands and aspirations for digital transformation of the locality and society, and at the same time create certain databases and digitalization foundation for next “developmental levels” of the digital transformation process. One example from the reality of Kitakyushu City (Japan) in terms of environment that is, for years, Kitakyushu City has established and maintained a systematic connection of all discharge systems of factories and companies with the city government’s management and control center for gas/waste and pollution levels control 24/7. Accordingly, applications of digital transformation in all fields of eco-cultural-social life have been integrated in one tech platform and have been monitored and managed through the city’s smart monitoring and control center. That would be a hint for Hai Phong City’s policy with regard to creative and for-serve digital governance construction.

In addition, multilateral foreign affairs work has contributed to connection between Hai Phong and different international organizations that had made the foundation for the city’s digital transformation activities before the concept of digital transformation was popularized and propagated as widely as it is today. Hai Phong became one of founders of World Council on City Management Data (WCCD) in 2014, taking an active and responsible role when participating in World e-Governments Organization of Cities and Local Governments (WeGO)’s activities; having at the same time extensive experience in joining cooperation projects on management science data, integrated marine management, and in building ecological city-economic city (ECO2 City), etc with OECD, CITYNET, ISSS.

The aforementioned achievements prove increasing efficiency of Hai Phong’s foreign affairs work’s contribution, which has brought visible values through investment projects, capital sources, advanced techs and other external resources, and invisible values including image, position, perception – thinking – vision and soft power, such unable-to-“grasp” values but transformable into other big sources in common eco-social development work in general, and in the digital transformation in particular. Any lack of awareness or even disregard for the role of external relations in the city development history, particularly in current digital transformation and deep integration period, is likely “see trees but not seeing the forests”, posing risks of policy failure. Ongoing time, facing increasing challenges of the 4.0 industrial era, with the digital transformation as central point and increasingly fierce competition among developing countries in racing for reception of investment wave shifted from China, even at scale from locality to grassroots, Hai Phong’s foreign affairs work needs to take lead in accessing those opportunities, even to be a pioneer leading regional cooperation at other fields. Guidance for Hai Phong’s foreign policy in the digital transformation pays attention on certain contents as below:

First, continue boosting implementation comprehensively and effectively foreign orientations including Resolution of the XIII Party Congress, Resolution of the 16th Party Congress of the City Party Committee in order to make use all conventional and modern cooperation resources, being active in access and cooperation exploitation in both bilateral and multilateral cooperation of the city. Orienting, selecting, and attracting two-way cooperation projects, public – private cooperation on basis of cooperation – twinning relations with foreign localities owning smart city construction experiences. Strengthening and optimizing active role of the city in multilateral cooperation mechanisms in fields of digital urban platform construction, digital connection, digitalization, smart management including WeGO, WCCD, CITYNET, etc. and other international organizations.

Second, directly participating in building favorable legal, investment, and business environment combined with specific and positive tactics and solutions to attract foreign investment at Hai Phong in terms of semiconductor technology, e-commerce, software industry, electronic chips, IoT, IClouds, artificial intelligent, virtual world/universe, R&D, etc. from developed countries, particularly from the world’s “tech eagles”. Foreign investment needs to be continuously innovated, diversified from delegation exchange activities, on-site investment promotion, trade connection and conferences, to advertisement, online marketing, use of mode Point management organization – DMO to public – private cooperation to maximize accessibility to potential markets and investors. During that process, foreign affairs work needs to continue move values from “courtesy – friendship”, “orientation” to “opening ways”, accessing and attracting “core values”, “accompanying”, “hurdling”, unlocking development bottlenecks and all potentials of development cooperation, and directly participating in solving problems to support investors, foreign partners in investment projects implementation until projects completion.

Third, strengthening ODA attraction, investment resources for sensor-combined lightening infrastructure system projects grounded on IoT, smart city construction, digital ecosystem. Strengthening companionship with establishment of incubators to attract start-ups, technology unicorns, towards building Hai Phong to become an innovative-creative-smart technology hub. Boosting participation to support the city establish a free economic zone, night economic development for advantages exploitation including digital transformation. Strongly promoting search and attraction of investment projects for universities or research centers establishment for human resources and new technological inventions combined with realization of tech-investment ideas, towards establishment of industrial parks/zones, economic ecosystems with boundaries playing role as Silicon Valleys as in the USA, Bangalore, Dublin, Z-park, Hsinchu, etc.

Photo: Bangalore, the second biggest Silicon in the world, source:

Fourth, enhancing researching work, forecasting, strategically implementing effective foreign affairs work aligned with reality, in the pandemic context and requests of t

he digital transformation and industrial revolution. Being positive in researching, capturing knowledge, catching up quintessence of related industries and fields to make sure the city’s leading role in comprehensively international integration, particularly measures for foreign affairs work’s participation and got accompanied to master digital platform, digital infrastructure, national cyberspace grounded on “made in Vietnam” products in current and future digital transformation prospects context.

Fifth, external affairs itself needs to take the lead in digitalization, conduct online foreign affairs, boost information and propaganda in any form, including online and virtual platforms, positively participate in and advertise the city’s images in terms of environment, potentials, and need of digital transformation at big international events. Providing public services and operating management forms at the highest level of digitalization and e-government establishment, towards digital governance, construction of information systems, assessment indexes of cooperation – investment – international integration contributing to national big data. Raising awareness of officials, civil servants and public employees working in external affairs about responsibility in occupying multidisciplinary external knowledge, take the lead in building digital governance, digital economy, and digital society in the digital transformation nationally and locally.

These are suggestions for investment policy implications and foreign affairs orientation in the digital transformation period as well as in the fourth industrial revolution in general. With the bravery of “thinking – position – ability – intelligence”, the spirit of “worry before the world, joy after the world” and “shouldering mindset” of leadership, leaders of foreign affairs at locality, together with cadres, officials, and public servants working in foreign affairs agencies have been dedicated and responsible with desire to serve, Hai Phong City’s external affairs has taken the essential moves to be ready to accompany main industries in the digital transformation, towards building a smart city, creating a solid platform for Hai Phong to become a modern, civilized, and sustainable industrial city by 2030, according to spirit of the Resolution No. 45-NQ/TW of the Politburo./.


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