Resolve and Spirit of Vietnam

9:11:29 AM | 24/1/2020

2019, the last year in the second decade of the 21st Century, has just elapsed. The world landscape seemed to be darker than in 2018. The world economy slowed down. The struggle of globalization and economic connectivity with trade protectionism and anti-integration became aggressive. Strategic frictions among major countries were very intense, leading to complex outcomes in economy, trade, politics and security. In particular, developments in the East Sea became more complicated due to violations of international law that erode trust. Unrest broke out and continued in many countries and regions around the world owing to inherent socioeconomic inadequacies and external interventions and provocations.

Amid those uncertainties, it was optimistic that peace, cooperation and development were still megatrends and common aspirations of progressive humankind. The Asia-Pacific region continued to develop dynamically and take the lead in economic integration. Despite numerous difficulties and challenges, the ASEAN Community, a common roof of ten member countries, proved its resilience and maturity and continued to promote its centrality and importance in policies of major countries. The sociopolitical background in Southeast Asian countries was basically stable, with economic growth higher than that of other regions in the world.

Practical contributions to national construction and defense

In 2019, the strategic environment was more complicated than before; however, by proactively seizing opportunities and overcoming challenges, the Party and State executed consistent and effective diplomacy to help maintain a peaceful environment, attract resources for development, maintain sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Fatherland, and further uplift the country's position in the international arena.

2019 witnessed many achievements in carrying out the Party’s major policies on comprehensive and intensive international integration and economic diplomacy for development, with people and business placed at the center of service. We have effectively enforced the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). After just one year of enforcement, the world’s first new-generation free trade agreement (FTA) has helped significantly boost Vietnam’s exports to CPTPP members such as Japan, Canada, and Mexico, compared to 2018. Vietnam has officially signed the EU - Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) and the EU - Vietnam Investment Protection Agreement (EVIPA), and concluded negotiations of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement. Along with aggressive efforts of the Government, the introduction and participation in these important FTAs ​​have created a new impetus for development, economic reform and economic competitiveness improvement. According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), in 2019, the global competitiveness index of Vietnam’s economy climbed 10 places from a year earlier to No. 67 out of 141 countries and territories. Particularly, important economic outcomes included FDI attraction value of US$38.02 billion, trade surplus of over US$9.9 billion, and 18 million international tourists - record numbers. These have enabled Vietnam to achieve economic growth of over 7% in 2019, one of the highest growth rates in the region. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) rated Vietnam as one of the top 20 economies that contributed the most to global growth in 2019. We were very glad to see that 2019 was the second year in a row we fulfilled and exceeded all the 12 social and economic development targets adopted by the National Assembly, with seven targets outpacing the plans.

In addition to international economic integration, Vietnam also robustly promoted integration in politics - diplomacy, defense - security, and culture - society. The country joined a first-ever joint maritime exercise in the framework of the ASEAN-U.S. Maritime Exercise and Maritime Security; signed the Framework Participation Agreement (FPA) in the EU crisis management; and acceded to Convention No. 98 of the International Labor Organization. We sent our second Grade 2 field hospital to join the UN Peacekeeping Mission in South Sudan after the first one successfully completed its mission. Securing the second position in the medal tally at the recent SEA Games 30 in the Philippines and other outstanding sport achievements in 2019 also confirmed Vietnam's new position in the regional and international sports map.

The more intensively the country integrates into the world, the more the multilateral diplomacy affirms the determination and identity of Vietnam as a responsible member of the international community that contributes more and more to peace, cooperation and development in the region and in the world. Right in the first year of carrying out Directive 25 of the Secretariat on promoting multilateral diplomacy to 2030, we have obtained many important achievements. Vietnam successfully hosted the The second United States-Democratic People's Republic of Korea summit in Hanoi, helping promote dialogue, reconciliation and peace on the Korean Peninsula, which was highly appreciated by partners and the international community. Vietnam was elected a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council for the 2020-2021 term with the highest number of votes ever in the Security Council election history (192 out of 193 votes). Vietnam’s important contributions to ASEAN, ASEM and UN as a full member, as well as to the G20 Summit as a guest of honor, were positively applauded by friends and partners.

Bilaterally, it was very important that we maintained a stable and positive relationship with partners, gradually settling existing issues. At the same time, we continued our efforts to deepen relations with neighboring countries, strategic partners, comprehensive partners and traditional friends. Leaders of the Party, the State, the Government and the National Assembly conducted 17 visits to foreign countries, welcomed 22 high-level visiting delegations to Vietnam, obtained many important and substantial achievements in strengthening political trust and intermingling economic interests with neighboring Laos, Cambodia and China; major countries such as Russia, Japan, the United States, India; and priority and key partners. Upgrading our relationships with Brunei and the Netherlands to comprehensive partnerships, we now count a total 30 strategic partnerships and comprehensive partnerships.

Amid a more volatile strategic environment, foreign relations effectively helped us defend sovereignty and territorial integrity both on land and at sea. Vietnam and Cambodia signed and ratified two legal documents recognizing 84% of land border demarcation, creating an important basis and motivation for building a border for peace and development. In the context of the most complicated and serious development in the East Sea in the past five years, we have evaluated the situation, struggled promptly and proceeded, with alertness, lucidity and determination, to defend the sovereignty, territorial integrity, legitimate rights and interests of Vietnam at sea. At the same time, Vietnam, together with other ASEAN members and partners, also proactively and positively promoted and resolved to build the Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC) effectively, substantially and in line with international law, helping maintain peace, stability, cooperation and development in the East Sea as well as in the region and the world.

Besides, other important pillars and fields of foreign affairs were effectively executed and achieved significant results. Party external relations, State diplomacy, people’s diplomacy, congressional external relations, defense and security external relations all made progress to contribute to the common cause of the country’s external affairs. As of mid-December 2019, we had protected about 7,000 citizens and 1,643 fishermen on 194 fishing boats; and promptly handled many complicated and sensitive cases involving our citizens abroad. The active implementation of cultural diplomacy, overseas Vietnamese work, and external information dissemination also made important contributions to the country's overall achievements of foreign affairs.

New responsibility, new stature

The year 2020 is very important, the last year to fulfil the Resolution of the 12th National Party Congress, the 2016-2020 Socioeconomic Development Plan and the 2011-2020 Socioeconomic Development Strategy. This year also witnessed preparations and motivations made for the 10-year Socioeconomic Development Strategy in 2021 - 2030, the 90th founding anniversary of the Communist Party of Vietnam, 75th founding anniversary of the nation, 130th birthday of President Ho Chi Minh, and the Party Congresses at all levels - a stepping stone for the 13th National Party Congress. Our country is to enter 2020 with a new spirit and new aspirations.

Our external environment will continue to confront both opportunities and challenges. In 2020, Party external relations and State diplomacy need to be carried out in a consistent, effective and creative manner to further consolidate a peaceful and stable environment to promote security interests and development and further enhance the country's position in the international arena.

Especially, 2020 is a very important historical time for Vietnam's foreign affairs, especially multilateral foreign relations. For the first time, Vietnam will simultaneously undertake two responsibilities: ASEAN Chair 2020 and non-permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council for the 2020-2021 term. These are significant regional and international responsibilities, showing the great trust and expectation of international friends for Vietnam. These are important opportunities for us to actively, positively and responsibly contribute to the peace, security and common prosperity of the region and the world; opportunities for us to affirm the spirit of a Vietnam that loves peace, innovation, and extensive international integration. These multilateral responsibilities are also opportunities for Vietnam to take advantage of bilateral relations with other countries, and create new impetus for developing and enhancing the role and position of Vietnam. We have great honor, very practical benefits, but we also have very heavy responsibility.

With the theme “Cohesive and Responsive” for ASEAN 2020 and “Vietnam: Trusted Partner for Sustainable Peace” for the non-permanent membership in the United Nations Security Council, Vietnam will together with its friends and partners make every effort to promote multilateralism and rule of law, further strengthen ASEAN's centrality in the regional structure that is being shaped, improve the effective cooperation between ASEAN, a regional common home for Southeast Asian countries, with the United Nations, an international organization that plays a central role. We have clearly defined the two above-mentioned multilateral responsibilities and must promote common interests between Vietnam and the regional and international community. In this spirit, Vietnam will strive to affirm its important bridging role between ASEAN and the United Nations, actively and positively contribute to the cause of promoting peace, cooperation and development in the region and in the world.

The new position and power of the country after nearly 35 years of doi moi (renovation) and important foreign achievements gained in the past time have created a solid foundation for Vietnam to firmly step into 2020. We believe that, with the right foreign policy of the Party and the resolved engagement of the entire political system, the close and smooth coordination of foreign affairs forces and the unanimous cooperation of all central and local agencies, businesses and people, we will successfully fulfil our foreign missions in 2020, making a worthy contribution to the cause of building and defending the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

Pham Binh Minh
Politburo Member
Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs