Vietnam’s spirit in a turbulent world

Monday, 2017-01-30 15:01:06
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Vietnamese delegation at the ratification of the Paris Agreement at COP22 in Morocco in November 2016. (Credit: monre.gov.vn)
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NDO—2016 has left behind a range of disturbed, anxious and unpredictable echoes. Perhaps, the world has never witnessed so many international events that negatively affected peace, security, stability and cooperation among nations as today. Despite such a situation, Vietnam has shown a steadfast bravery and an active, positive and responsible spirit in regional and international issues.

Last year, the world witnessed many bloody terrorist attacks, killing hundreds of people in a series of big cities, many in Europe, posing a challenge to the “eternal peace” in Europe since 1945. The Syrian conflict has created battle lines and fierce tensions as major powers show off their influence, bringing about the participation of many other countries. In addition to that is the rise of the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) which seeks revenge and creates instability in the hearts of the nations involved in the Syrian war.

The divorce of the UK with the European Union (EU), also known as Brexit, has changed the global situation. This is not simply a story about a country’s wish to leave a regional organisation, but the rise of nationalism and populism. Poverty, disease, conflict and unrest occur in many parts of the world, especially the Middle East and Africa. The results of the US’s 58th presidential election has had important implications for international issues, including the "fate" of US’s Pivot to Asia policy.

The world and region’s complex situation has created both challenges and opportunities for Vietnam. The problem here is to multiply opportunities and turn challenges into opportunities. Vietnam is eligible to promote opportunities while limiting challenges as the country is located in a strategic position in its region. During his visit to Vietnam in May 2016, former US President Barack Obama emphasised that the reason he was there was that Vietnam played an extremely important role not only in the region but also in the whole world.

Vietnam is a dynamic developing country in a large, dynamic region. The nation has shown its steadfast spirit against a turbulent world. The 12th National Party Congress was a success, electing the new Party Central Committee, stating Vietnam’s willingness to continue its comprehensive renovations and international integration. On that basis, the 14th National Assembly elected the new government, committing to the spirit of willingness to serve the nation and people to bring the country forward on a trajectory of innovation and integration, while building and promoting confidence within the nation and around the world.

In an official friendship visit to Laos on November 11, 2016, speaking to 1,800 personnel and students at the National University of Laos, Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong emphasised that in a tumultuous world, although the two neighbouring countries are facing a lot of difficulties, it could be affirmed that great achievements the two have achieved were vivid proofs confirming the correct choice in the development path the two Parties and two countries are following.

After 30 years of Doi moi and 21 years as a member of the “ASEAN common roof,” Vietnam has become an active and responsible member of ASEAN. In his speech delivered at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS)–Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore, President Tran Dai Quang emphasised that if instability occurs, especially armed conflict, there is no winner and no loser, but rather all are the losers. “The desire for peace, security and sustainable development for the region is burning more than ever. To make opportunities, not regret, and prospects, not disappointments, the only way to turn desire into reality is for all countries to unite and act jointly, strengthening cooperation on the basis of international law, equality and mutual benefit.”

President Tran Dai Quang delivers his speech at the 38th Singapore Lecture at ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore in August 2016. (Credit: VNA)

This statement by President Quang sends a strong message on Vietnam’s commitment to jointly protecting regional peace.

Lessons learnt from Brexit show that national interests and regional interests must be harmonised. Member states, while protecting their interests, should also pay attention to the obligations and responsibilities to the regional organisations they participate in, to ensure unity and solidarity.

Thus, according to President Quang, in foreign relations, Vietnam consistently follows a foreign policy of independence, self-reliance, peace, cooperation for development, multilateralisation and diversification in international relations and proactive and positive international integration. Vietnam is a reliable friend and partner and a responsible member of the international community.

Vietnam attaches great importance to developing traditional friendly and cooperative relations with its neighbouring countries, while promoting relations with major key partners, improving the efficiency of integration and fully implementing international commitments. Vietnam, together with ASEAN member states, spares no efforts to successfully build the ASEAN Community through big projects on connectivity and narrowing the development gap among member countries.

Besides strengthening ties with ASEAN, balancing relations with major countries, especially China and the US, is one of the major diplomatic focuses for Vietnam. According to the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, bilateral trade between Vietnam and China reached US$32.3 billion in the first six months of 2016, an increase of nearly 2% over the previous year. The visit to the neighbouring nation by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc in September 2016 was seen as a success in three aspects: enhancing political trust, promoting cooperation in the field of essential and effective balanced development and controlling disagreement to stabilise maritime disputes.

It can be affirmed that economic growth, political stability and the foreign policy of multilateralisation and diversification have contributed greatly to Vietnam’s development and raising its prestige and position on the international arena. Its political efforts in the past three decades to become a respected member of the international community are some of its proud achievements.

In a turbulent year full of turmoil, Vietnam has shown its steadfastness. The challenge in 2016 is also an opportunity for Vietnam to seize opportunities and accelerate the process of international integration.

Compared to other regions like the Middle East and North Africa, the Asia-Pacific remains a relatively stable region with several major economies and a high economic growth rate. Hence, Vietnam has the necessary conditions to show its vitality and to empower itself.

Prof. Dr. PHAM QUANH MINH
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