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Vietnam’s diplomacy in 2010: Firmly marching on the road of integration and development.
22/2/2011 11:43' Send Print

In 2010, Vietnam overcame numerous difficulties and challenges to march forward. That was a year when Vietnam’s proactive and comprehensive diplomacy effectively served the cause of national defense and development and gained successes to welcome of the 11th National Party Congress.

The world has changed constantly

In general, peace, cooperation and development were the major trend in international relations. However, ethnic and local conflicts, border, territorial and resource disputes took places in many areas and became more complicated. Fierce strategic wars among big powers continued. The world was decentralized in all aspects with more importance given to multi-lateral cooperation to cope with economic challenges and global urgent problems namely terrorism, climate change, natural disasters and epidemics. In many parts of the world, international mechanisms and regional cooperation have been restructured to conform to new development. Newly emerging countries, particularly BRIC which include Brazil, Russia, India and China have played an increasingly important role in solving global issues.

The world economy recovered unevenly and lowed down towards the end of 2010. Challenges namely financial instabilities, deflation, exchange rate fluctuation, and serious budget deficit in many developed countries have worsened the difficult economic recovery. Besides, some post-crisis trends in the world economic appeared. These trends included economic restructuring and development model adjusting to increase national competitive edge and a more balanced and sustainable growth. Meanwhile the Doha round continued to stand still. Bilateral and regional bilateral trade treaties were signed.

The Asia-Pacific region continued to become the driving force to the global economic recovery, and at the same time the centre for policy adjustment of big powers. In Southeast Asia, ASEAN countries speeded up the process of building the ASEAN community, strengthened internal cooperation and adherence, expanded and deepened relations with counterpart countries and maintained the central role of ASEAN in regional cooperation mechanisms. However, complicated developments were going on in the Asia-Pacific region. The tense situation in the Korean peninsula, the East Sea problems, and tense relation between China and Japan required countries to further dialogues and cooperation to ensure peace, stability and common security for the region.

Advancing firmly on the road of integration and development

In such a context, 2010 was a successful year for Vietnam’s diplomacy. We proactively and comprehensively implemented foreign relation activities, thus contributing to maintaining the peaceful environment and stability, and taking advantage of favorable international conditions to build and develop the country, safeguard national security, independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity and raise Vietnam’s prestige in the international arena.

1. Proactive multi-lateral diplomacy: The most salient feature of the

year was Vietnam successfully fulfilled its ASEAN Chairmanship. Under the theme “Toward the ASEAN Community: From vision to action”, Vietnam hosted and chaired a series of activities including the two important event of ASEAN namely the 16th and 17th ASEAN Summits, the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA 31), the ASEAM Ministers’ Meeting (AMM13), the ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting +), the Meeting of ASEAN Chiefs of Security Agencies (MACOSA) and other relating activities.

Vietnam made important contributions to building and coordinating ASEAN community, consolidating the central role of ASEAN in regional structure and promoting internal cooperation within ASEAN and between ASEAN with other counterparts. As ASEAN Chairman, Vietnam promotes the implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC). Our approach in ASEAN towards the East Sea met the common aspiration of concerned countries. That was to ensure peace, stability, security and freedom of navigation, observe international laws including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. Vietnam also solved many complicates problems within and without the region in the ASEAN’s principle of “consensus” and “non interference in internal affairs” while showing our active role and responsibility as the ASEAN Chairman.

Besides activities within the ASEAN framework, we actively participated in and made contribution to regional and international multi-lateral forums like the United Nations, the ASEAN-Europe Meeting (ASEM), the Asia-Pacific Economic Forum (APEC) and G20 on solving the global issues of nuclear security, nuclear disarmament, crime prevention, climate change, sustainable development, and Mekong river cooperation.

2. High efficiency and practicality in bilateral diplomacy: Another prominent result was bilateral diplomacy deepened our country’s relations with other countries, particularly big powers and neighboring countries.

The comprehensive strategic partnership cooperation between Vietnam and China were strengthened and developed. Bilateral trade turnover is expected to surpass USD 25 billion. The two countries organized many practical activities in the framework of the “Year of Friendship” in celebration of the 60th anniversary of the diplomatic ties, thus strengthening mutual understanding and trust. Both sides exchanged reciprocal visits and strove to solve remaining issues relating to sea islands and propaganda. The special friendship, solidarity and comprehensive cooperation between Vietnam and Laos were consolidated and reached new height. Vietnam is one of the leading investors to Laos with more than 200 projects worth USD 2.4 billion. The relations between Vietnam and Cambodia were also developed in keeping with the motto “good neighborhood, traditional friendship, comprehensive cooperation and sustainability.” Vietnam boasts 63 investment projects to Cambodia worth a total of USD 900 million. Besides the ASEAN framework, Vietnam also attached importance to boosting bilateral relations with ASEAN countries. The visit to Myanmar of Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung opened up opportunities to Vietnamese businesses to enter Myanmar market in 12 priority areas.

Cooperation with big power and economic centers in the world also saw new development. The Vietnam-US relations followed the guideline “friendly, active and constructive partners, multifaceted cooperation, mutual respect and mutual benefit.” The two sides conducted high-level contacts, celebrated the 15th anniversary of relation normalization. It is noticeable that both Foreign Secretary H.Clinton and Defense Secretary R.Gate visited Vietnam and proactively attended activities in the framework of ASEAN. The strategic partnership relations between Vietnam and Japan were fostered by both sides. Economically, Vietnam and Japan embarked on big projects like the Hoa Lac High-Tech zone, nuclear electricity plant and rare earth exploitation. Japan continued to be the second largest export market of Vietnam; Japan’s ODA to Vietnam in the 2010 fiscal year was USD 1.7 billion. The Vietnam-Russia strategic partnership deepened with exchange of high-level visits of the two countries’ leaders which increased mutual trust, cooperation in the fields of nuclear energy, oil and gas and military cooperation. Vietnam and the European Council (EC) completed and initialed the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA), creating a new framework of Vietnam-EC relation expansion in the coming period. The two sides reached an agreement to launch negotiations for a free trade agreement after the technical working group finalizes its mission. Vietnam and the United Kingdom signed a Joint Declaration on establishing strategic partnership. The bilateral relations with South Korea were promoted with exchanges at all levels. The two sides aimed to bring two way trade turnover to USD 20 million in 2015. The Vietnam-India strategic partnership saw new development in 2010. The comprehensive partnership relations between Vietnam and Australia was stepped up with the signed Programme of Action for 2011-2013 period in which Australia committed to assist Vietnam build Cao Lanh bridge.

We continued to set great store by consolidating friendship relations and cooperation with traditional friends and potential partners. The traditional friendship relations and comprehensive cooperation with Cuba were strengthened with the celebration of 50th anniversary of diplomatic relation establishment. By successfully organizing the second Vietnam-Africa International Conference, Vietnam improved its relations with African countries in areas of competitive edge like telecommunication, agriculture, forestry, aquatic products, poverty reduction experience and development. Relations with Middle East countries were elevated with concrete projects like Nghi Son Oil Refinery with Kuwait investment, Hiep Phuong port construction, Long Son project with Qata investment and 4000 labour export to the United Arab Emirate (UAE) .

2. Proactive economic diplomacy:

In 2010, the external economy of Vietnam saw new success. The total import-export turnover in the first eleven months of 2010 was estimated to reach USD 139 billion, in which the export turnover increased to USD 64.3 billion, 24.5% higher that that of the same period of 2009 and the import turnover was USD 74.4 billion, an increase of USD 19.8% against 2009. By November 2010, Foreign Direct Investment stood at USD 13.3 billion. In 2010, Vietnam received 4.6 million foreign tourists, an increase of 36.5% as compared with the same period of 2009. (Data quoted from the Report of the General Statistic Office, November 2010). Also in 2010, donors committed to provide Vietnam with USD 7.9 billion. This is all the more impressive as donors were in difficult situation caused by the global economic crisis and Vietnam has reached its middle income status.

Economic issues, in fact, were incorporated in high-ranking visits of our country’s Party and State leaders. We successfully organized the East Asia Economic Forum, the Mekong-US Ministers’ Meeting and the Mekong-Japan Ministers’ meeting in which we raised new initiatives and won the US and Japan’s support and cooperation with the Mekong sub-region. We actively participated and contributed to the G20 Summit. In economic diplomacy, research was conducted to provide consultancy on building external economic relations. A concrete success was the decision to joint to negotiation round on the Trans Pacific partnership and preparation to launch negotiation on a free trade agreement with the EU.

Beside, external economic diplomacy also focused on coordination in solving trade disputes with counterparts. For the first time Vietnam officially applied WTO mechanisms to file a court case against the US anti-dumping tariffs on our exported frozen seafood. We were successful in ending the EU’s anti-dumping tariffs on Viet Nam’s leather capped shoes and metal products. Furthermore, rhe Party’s Secretariat issued the Decree on strengthening economic diplomacy in the period of industrialization and modernization to facilitate ministries, branches, localities and businesses in their external economic relations

4. Good coordination and linkage among cultural, economic and political diplomacy with external information:

In the long run, the Ministry of Foreign Affair is coordinating with ministries and branches concerned to continue building and completing the Strategy on cultural diplomacy to 2020. In 2010, Vietnam was the chairman of ASEAN. It was also the year when we organized great cultural events with the celebration of the 1000th anniversary of Thang Long-Hanoi. These big events promoted Vietnam’s culture, tourism, country and people to the world. Especially, the foreign affairs branch successfully coordinated efforts to win UNESCO’s inscription of Thang Long citadel and other tangible and intangible relics of Vietnam in the list of World Cultural Heritage. In these occasions, we provided information for international media on Vietnam’s situation and policies, and resolutely fought against hostile forces’ misinformation and distortion to defend our territorial integrity.

We were also active in field of democracy, human rights and religion. We maintained dialogues with international organizations and countries, provided information on our undertakings in these areas; disseminated knowledge on democracy and human rights; joined human right activities in regional and international forums like the United National Human Right Council and the ASEAN Inter-Governmental Committee on Human Rights thus demonstrated our goodwill and openness and defeated schemes, instigation and slanders of hostile and opposition forces.

5. Renovation, dynamism and effectiveness in the work on Overseas Vietnamese and citizen protection: in 2010, we reviewed the 6-year implementation of the Resolution No36 of the Political Bureau concerning the work on Overseas Vietnamese; proposed measures to remove obstacles in the implementation of new policies on house purchase and ownership and nationality. New methods were used in community mobilization and assistance. Activities of Overseas Vietnamese were associated with important events of the countries towards to Grand celebration of the 1000th anniversary of Thang Long-Ha Noi. Information and communication were strengthened to help Overseas Vietnamese preserve national cultural identity.

We paid much attention to protecting rights and legitimate interests of Vietnamese citizens and legal persons; demanding foreign countries authorities to release Vietnamese fishermen and boats; and strongly protesting against illegal arrest of Vietnamese fishermen and their fishing boats. The active search and rescue work on sea waters helped minimize consequences caused by natural disasters.

6. Work on border and territory contributed to stabilize situation in our border with neighboring countries; minimizing land encroachment and violations of border management; firmly protecting our territorial integrity and developing local socio-economy. Some salient results included the establishment of three frameworks on land border and border gate management, the accomplishment of land border demarcation and landmark planting along the Vietnam-China borderline. Vietnam and Laos agreed to thicken landmark border system in 2010. With Cambodia, the planting of border landmark was also stepped up, especially in the last months of 2010. The two sides achieved progress in drawing maps, field surveys and international bidding for producing common border map and strove to accomplished land border demarcation and landmark planting along Vietnam-Cambodia borderline by 2012. Vietnam and China conducted negotiations at expert level regarding the demarcation of the waters off the Bac Bo Gulf.

7. Diplomacy is a front: In 2010, much was done in external relations despite great challenges when Vietnam assumed the position of ASEAN Chairman. Given close and effective coordination of the Party’s foreign relations, the State’s diplomacy and people-to-people diplomacy, we created synergies in external relations and made remarkable achievements. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been implemented the Law on relations in 2010.

However, there remained shortcomings as pointed out by the Political Report at the 11th National Party Congress. Strategic research and forecasting on external relations has shown weaknesses in certain aspects. Coordination among the Party’s external relations, State’s diplomacy and people-to people‘s diplomacy and among the external politics, the external economy and the external culture has not been properly synchronized. The external information should be more active with close coordination among ministries, branches and localities.

Towards 2011: Implementing the policies adopted at the 11th National Party Congress for common objectives.

The year 2011 is the first year to implement the Resolutions of the 11th National Party Congress and the Strategy on Socio-Economic Development to 2020. Thus, achievements made in 2011 will of great significance, creating momentum for fulfilling the objectives of the coming tenure. The world and regional situation is forecast to remain complicated and unprecedented. Nevertheless, advantages are fundamental; the trend of peace, cooperation and development continues in the region and the world. The world economy will continue to revive, creating new opportunities for our country’s businesses to push up export and integration. The Asia-Pacific will remain a region of dynamic development. Big powers show more interest in South East Asia. In Vietnam, the achievements and experience of of the 25 years of renewal have created for the country a much greater posture, strength and synergy.

However, we should not satisfy and loosen our vigilance at all developments. Though the world economy has revived, it is not stable. The threat of double recession and monetary war are not completely ruled out. Competition becomes fiercer in the context of globalization and international integration. The policy readjustment of big powers brought about opportunities as well as challenges. Hence, we should be fully aware of the Resolutions of the 11th National Party Congress and the Resolutions of the 9th Plenum of the Central Committee (8th Tenure) on national defense in the new situation, focusing on firmly safeguarding peace and stability and take advantage of favorable international conditions for national construction and defense.

In such a context, major orientations on external relations in the coming time are

- Proactively develop strategies on external relations to successfully implement the Resolutions of the 11th National Party Congress and the Strategy for Socio-economic Development in 2011-2020.

- Actively implement synchronous measures to consolidate trust with neighboring countries and big partners, settle land and sea border demarcation; deepen relations with leading partners; scale up cooperation with potential partners in the region and the world and effectively implement agreements already signed.

- Develop medium and long-term orientations for multilateral diplomacy to bring into play achievements recorded in 2010 when Vietnam assumed ASEAN Chairmanship; safeguard national interest, enhance Vietnam’s prestige in the world in the spirit: “Vietnam is a responsible member of the international community” and make the best use of multilateral mechanisms to promote bilateral relations with important partners.

- Promote economic diplomacy by building a comprehensive strategy on international economic integration; take part in regional and inter-regional economic cooperation forums; expand investment and export, labor and tourism; and mobilize countries to recognize Vietnam’s market economy and coordinate in solving foreign-related trade disputes.

- Implement the Strategy on Cultural Diplomacy to 2020. Propose and complete policies and guidelines on work of Overseas Vietnamese. Resolutely combat and foil all schemes and actions of reactionary forces. Intensify the strategic research, forecast and consultancy work on foreign relations. Discover and settle in time problems that cause negative impact on national construction and defense.

Achievements in external relations in 2010 created momentum for Vietnam to march firmly on the road of integration and development. At the same time they consolidated our confidence in the successful implementation of the objective for socio-economic development in general and the foreign policies of the 11th National Party Congress in the coming time in particular./.

Pham Gia Khiem