Revitalising national culture
in the new stage

Promoting Vietnam’s cultural values and national strength has always been identified by our Party as both a key task and a strategic breakthrough to accelerate the country’s rapid and sustainable development. However, the preservation and promotion of national cultural values face many challenges in the context of the rapid, diverse and complicated changes in the market economy and the globalisation process, thereby posing an urgent requirement to revitalise national culture.

The international integration process, especially the robust development of the fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0), has brought about many favourable opportunities to facilitate cultural exchange between countries. However, the multi-dimensional effects in the “flat world” also increase the conflict between many factors, particularly between traditional and modern cultural values as the old has not been lost and the new is not yet clearly defined. This directly threatens the preservation and development of the traditional Vietnamese cultural value and value systems of the Vietnamese people.

A nation can only develop sustainably when its people know how to preserve and hand down their national cultural identity, while at the same time acquiring the world's advanced cultural values, to integrate rather than “dissolve” into the world. Therefore, the revitalisation of national culture has been eyed as a crucially important task.

To realise the task, the National Cultural Conference to implement the 13th National Party Congress’ Resolution was held in Hanoi in November 2021. Taking place 45 years after the first National Cultural Conference, which was chaired by President Ho Chi Minh on November 24, 1946, the event aimed to review the implementation of the Party’s orientations, policies, resolutions, directions and conclusions regarding cultural and art activities over the years, as well as the outcomes of the development of the Vietnamese culture and people after 35 years of the Doi Moi process, while defining new orientations and tasks in the work for the 2021-2026 period and until 2045.

  General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, President Nguyen Xuan Phuc, National Assembly Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue and delegates at the National Cultural Conference 2021. (Photo: Dang Khoa)

  Current and former Party and State leaders visit an exhibition on the sidelines of the National Culture Conference. (Photo: Dang Khoa)

  Delegates attending the National Culture Conference. (Photo: Dang Khoa)

It also provided an opportunity for cultural experts, intellectuals and artists to foster solidarity in thoughts and actions while connecting cultural forces inside and outside the country to serve the nation and people, thus optimising the strength from the national great unity to successfully implement the Resolution of the 13th National Party Congress.

At the National Cultural Conference 2021, Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong delivered a speech entitled ‘Striving to foster, preserve and promote quintessence of the progressive Vietnamese culture imbued with national identity’ in which he reviewed and reaffirmed significant achievements in culture building in Vietnam under the Party’s leadership over the past 35 years of Doi Moi process.

He stressed that the Party's perception and understanding of culture has become more comprehensive, thorough and deeper in all areas and all formats, and an increasingly diverse and rich portfolio of cultural products have been created to meet the new, manifold demand of society. Many traditional cultural values and heritages of the nation have been well-inherited, preserved and promoted. Culture in politics and economy have garnered initial attention and proven to be an effective and active contributor.

 Many traditional cultural values and heritages of the nation have been well-inherited, preserved and promoted. 

General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong

 Many traditional cultural values and heritages of the nation have been well-inherited, preserved and promoted. 

General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong

He noted with pleasure that the cultural industry and cultural market have witnessed promising developments. International exchange, cooperation and integration in this area are seeing encouraging progress. The development of the Vietnamese people is gradually becoming the centrepiece of the socio-economic development strategy. Attention has been placed on the fight against social evils, backwardness, and wrongful views that harm culture and way of life.

Many exemplary models in the patriotic emulation, and the movement of “All-people united in building a cultural lifestyle" have been honoured and duplicated in the society, helping to reinforce people’s trust in the building of Vietnamese culture and the larger cause of national construction and development.

  The colourful dragon festival livens up pedestrian streets around Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi. (Photo: Thuy Nguyen)

Apart from these achievements, the Party chief also pointed out limitations, shortcomings, problems and weaknesses in the cultural field; explained their reasons; and suggested ways to address them. He emphasised that the most striking limitation and weakness is that culture has not been thoroughly understood nor given due attention vis-a-vis the economic and political domains by various levels and sectors. It has yet to become an internal source of strength and driver for sustainable national development. The role of culture in the development of human beings has not been properly identified, and it seems overly focused on its function in entertainment.

He noted a lack of cohesion between the development of different dimensions of culture, and the process remains one-sided and superficial, lacking depth and substance. There is also an absence of cultural, literary and artistic works of sufficient prestige to reflect the stature of the Doi Moi process and command a positive influence on national and human development. The cultural environment is still “polluted” by social evils, corruption and wrongdoings.

He evaluated that there are both external and internal reasons to these shortcomings, out of which the larger part is due to causes from within. “Most notably, while performing leadership and administrative roles, we have yet to grasp a full, deep and comprehensive understanding of the Party’s cultural line of action, especially during the Doi Moi period,” he said. Accordingly, the methods for leading and administering the cultural field have been slow to update, and have yet to fully adapt to the changes and developments of the cultural sphere in the period of accelerating industrialisation, modernisation and international integration.

There is a lack of cohesion, vigour and resolve in the institutionalisation and realisation of the Party’s guideline on culture. Shortcomings still remain in the organisation and personnel work in the cultural sphere. In addition, the level of responsibility of the Party, organisations at different levels in the political system, and Party cadres and members in the leadership over cultural development is not yet high. “We must deeply analyse these reasons so as to address them and accelerate the revitalisation and development of Vietnamese culture in the future,” he requested.

  The Hanoi Old Quarter Cultural Exchange Centre in coordination with artists of the Dong Kinh Co Nhac Art Group organise an art show introducing ancient melodies of Hanoi such as ‘tuong’ (classical drama), ‘cheo’ (traditional opera), and ‘ca tru’ (ceremonial singing). (Photo: Thuy Nguyen)

On that basis, the Party leader affirmed that to continue building, preserving, revitalising and developing national culture, it is crucial to focus on six key tasks.

The first is to further evoke patriotism, self-reliance, solidarity and the aspiration to develop a prosperous and happy country.

Secondly, it is essential to focus on building the Vietnamese people with appropriate standard values during the period of renewal, development and integration.

The third and fourth tasks are to comprehensively and synchronously develop the fields of culture, cultural environment, and cultural life; and to promote the role of the people, who are both actors and beneficiaries of cultural creativity, thus upholding and promoting the pioneering role of intellectuals, artists and those working in the cultural sector.

Fifthly, the work of building the Party and political system in terms of culture and morality should receive great attention, towards resolutely fighting against corruption and negative phenomena in order to build a truly “virtuous and civilised” party and political system, which represent the conscience and dignity of the Vietnamese people.

Sixthly, a digital cultural environment and a healthy cultural market should be built and developed.

  To revitalise and develop the national culture, the value system and the strength of the Vietnamese people need to be aroused with the desire to build a prosperous and powerful nation. 

General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong

In order to fulfil the six tasks above, the Party chief determined that Vietnam needs to focus on drastically and effectively implementing the following four solutions.

Firstly, it is necessary to continue improving the awareness and leadership capacity of Party and State management over the cultural sector to meet the requirements of cultural development and develop Vietnamese people in the period of developing a socialist-oriented market economy as well as stepping up the national industrialisation, modernisation and international integration process.

The second solution is to develop and train the staff who are directly engaged in cultural activities in line with the requirements and tasks of developing Vietnamese culture in the new period.

Thirdly, authorities should pay more attention to the preservation, embellishment and promotion of national cultural values and tangible and intangible cultural values of regions and ethnic minorities, combined with the continued collection of the cultural quintessence of the times, while developing the "soft strength" of Vietnamese culture and contributing to improving the national synergy in the coming time.

Fourthly, it is crucial to focus on building a culture of healthy behaviour in society, promoting the positive values of the fine customs and traditions of the family and society; to uphold the spirit of mutual affection and the tradition of good solidarity; and respecting justice and social morality. Building codes of civilised behaviour in public agencies, in the community, in the world of artists and writers, and especially in cyberspace; resolutely and persistently fighting against excessive bureaucracy, corruption, as well as negativity, degradation of political ideology, morality and lifestyle, and “wiping out individualism”, which is the source of all excessive bureaucracy, negativity and corruption even within the cultural sector and cultural agencies.

  A procession worshipping Thang Long Citadel's Eastern Guardian God was held in June 2022 within the framework of a ceremony recognising Bach Ma Temple in Hanoi’s Hoan Kiem district as a special national relic site. (Photo: Thuy Nguyen)

It can be seen that the tasks and solutions outlined by Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong are brief but also very comprehensive and profound. Specifically, the outstanding and thorough content is the issue of building Vietnamese people with the view that people are the centre and the subject of the process of cultural building, enjoyment and development. This means that to revitalise and develop the national culture, the value system and the strength of the Vietnamese people need to be aroused with the desire to build a prosperous and powerful nation.

A very new issue that was mentioned by the Party leader is the development of a digital cultural environment. This task should be studied carefully towards helping the culture adapt and regulate the country’s sustainable development during the fourth industrial revolution. These are important instructions for agencies at all levels and sectors, especially the cultural sector, to develop strategies and plans to revitalise and develop the national culture in the near future.