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Last updated: Friday, November 16, 2018

 

Diplomatic Achievements: New Posture, New Vigour

Posted: Monday, February 12, 2018


In 2017, though peace, cooperation and development remained the dominant trend, Vietnamese diplomatic and integration activities were undertaken in a context of rapid and complicated eco-political developments in the region and the world. Though the world economy registered higher growth, risks and uncertainty remained due to financial and monetary instability, international geopolitical and security instabilities, and the trend of populism and protectionism. Regional and global economic and trade integration was maintained, but international cooperation and free trade met considerable difficulties right at the time all countries had the need to ensure the necessary drivers for growth and adapt effectively to the new conditions of the 4th industrial revolution.

International relations in the past year were profoundly affected by the policy readjustments of the major powers, which brought about multi-dimensional changes in various regions, including the Asia-Pacific. Cooperation and competition intertwined in a complex way, while new forms and shades of force rallying posed many challenges to small and medium-sized countries. ASEAN, with its 50th anniversary, continued to fulfil the role of a successful regional organisation. It has made great efforts in maintaining unity and Community-building, yet also had to confront significant challenges to maintain its position.

Against such backdrops, contributing to the socio-economic development of Viet Nam, our diplomatic activities in 2017 were most active and vigorous, elevating bilateral and multilateral relations to materialise the strategic objectives charted out by the 12th Party Congress. In effect, 2017 is regarded as one of the most successful years of Vietnamese diplomacy.

The overarching and most outstanding of all was the successful hosting of APEC 2017, which culminated in the APEC Economic Leaders' Week in Da Nang city.This created a positive impact on various fields, reaffirming APEC's status as the premium regional economic cooperation and integration forum and highlighting Vietnam's role in an event of global importance. The full attendance of all APEC economic leaders, the record number of delegates, businesses and media in the past 10 years, the successful organisation and management and the quality of the documentations, not least the perfect security throughout the whole APEC Year, left a great impression on international guests. APEC members, international friends and the press highly appreciated the theme of APEC 2017 and four priorities of the agenda as well as related documents. The successful events placed Viet Nam at the spotlight, elevated our position of Viet Nam in the international arena, as well as highlighting the country’s image and prestige.

APEC 2017 vividly showcases the new height of Vietnamese multilateral diplomacy and the strong shift towards “active contribution to the building and shaping of the common rules”, so as to effectively protect and promote our strategic security and development interests, while expressing the spirit of being “a responsible member of the international community”.

The successful event has ushered in new awareness, new confidence, new vigour and new spirit for international integration, inspiring national pride, the will of self-reliance and the aspiration to rise within the Vietnamese people and business community.

In the past year, we made great efforts to promote and deepen relations with neighbours, regional countries, major powers and traditional friends.Throughout 2017, our high-level leaders made 18 visits to 19 countries, attended 8 multilateral international conferences, undertaken hundreds of bilateral meetings with world leaders and heads of state, and welcomed 36 Heads of State and Governments to Viet Nam.

In particular, during the APEC Economic Leaders' Week, we substantially elevated and strengthened relations with our major partners. During this week alone we welcomed the state visit by the Chinese Party General Secretary and President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump on the same day. On the same occasion, we also welcomed the Chilean President and Canadian Prime Minister, in addition to 50 meetings with various APEC Economic Leaders.

All diplomatic activities were highly substantive, thus bringing our relations with our partners into depth, stability and sustainability. Through major commemorative activities with Laos and Cambodia and high-level visits to Indonesia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, and others, we greatly strengthened political trust and meaningful cooperation with neighbours in the region. Relations with other key partners such as China, Russia, the US, Japan and India were also elevated both politically and economically. Comprehensive partnership with Myanmar and Canada were established.

We actively continued with economic integration, thus enhancing our role in regional and international economic linkages and cooperation mechanisms, fulfilling the tasks of diplomacy for national development.Diplomatic and integration activities were carried out in accordance with Resolution 06 of the 12th Party Congress on international economic integration, ensuring socio-political stability against the backdrop of Viet Nam's accession to new generation trade agreements. We persevered, along with other members, on the fundamentals so as to continue negotiating towards a Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) that ensures the interest of Viet Nam. At the same time, we are working with other countries to accelerate the negotiation for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) while exhorting the European Union to sign, ratify and implement the EU-Viet Nam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA). We also reached the consensus with partners to put into force the Vietnam-Eurasia Economic Union Free Trade Agreement (VN-EAEU FTA) and Vietnam-Republic of Korea Free Trade Agreement (VKFTA).

The effects arising from Viet Nam's economic growth potential and determination for reform and integration as reflected by its diverse diplomatic activities, and the dynamic measures taken to build an enabling government contributed to the promotion of our economic relations with our partners, and the feat of meeting and exceeding all external economic targets. Viet Nam's gross export-import turnover was $425 billion, a record figure. The number of foreign tourists visiting Viet Nam in 2017 was nearly 13 million (a 30 per cent year-on increase). During the APEC Economic Leaders' Week alone, 121 agreements worth $20 billion in total were signed. So far, 69 countries have recognized Viet Nam’s market economy status. The Government, Ministries, Agencies and Diplomatic Missions abroad have been working hard to open up the export markets for our goods.

In the past year, diplomatic activities contributed continually to the steadfast protection of national independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, ensuring political and social stability as well as public order and security.Diplomatic activities relating to national defence and security with various partners were promoted, which helped enhancing mutual understanding and confidence between Viet Nam and other countries. We worked with Laos in completing the plans for thickening and maintaining the network of national border markers. We also worked with Cambodia in finalizing 84.6 per cent of land border demarcation. Documents on the management of borders and border gates with China and Laos were effectively implemented. Viet Nam, ASEAN and China worked together on promoting and reached an agreement on the adoption of the Framework for the Code of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (COC), and officially initiated the negotiation for this document. We promoted negotiations and dialogues with other countries in the region on maritime issues, while steadfastly and perseveringly countering all acts that infringed upon the sovereignty of our seas and islands. We firmly countered all intentions of distorting the issue of democracy, human rights and religious affairs to intervene in our internal affairs. At the same time, we strengthened human rights dialogue mechanisms to promote understanding, reduce differences and strengthen good relations with other countries.

The comprehensive and effective foreign affairs in the past year also registered significant achievements in other fields of no less importance. Viet Nam, on the basis of good friendship and cooperation with various countries, vigorously promoted citizen protection – including fishermen. We protected the legal status for over 5,500 citizens, and repatriated nearly 2,000 fishermen detained by other countries. Cultural diplomacy and diplomatic communications did well in elevating the image of Viet Nam in the international community. The performance art of Bai Choi was inscribed by UNESCO on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, another addition to the long list of Vietnamese cultural heritages. Other activities were organised such as Homeland Spring, Summer Festival, overseas Vietnamese visiting Spratly Islands, and the Forum for Young Vietnamese Start-ups. These events helped bringing the Vietnamese diaspora community closer to the homeland.

It can be said that along with our achievements in national construction and defence, the successes of Vietnamese diplomatic activities in 2017 contributed to strengthening national power and reinforcing national strategic status, paving the way for 2018, a pivotal year in the accomplishment of the 12th Party Congress Resolution, so as to continue fostering positive shifts in accordance with the spirit of the Resolutions of the Party.

Vietnamese diplomacy in 2018 and the following years will continue to carry out our tasks comprehensively, build upon the successes of the APEC Viet Nam Year and our bilateral relations, making our relations more productive, efficient and sustainable. We will implement multilateral foreign relations orientations, make ready for the role of ASEAN chairmanship in 2020 and the candidature for non-permanent membership of the UN Security Council for the 2020-2021 term. At the same time, Viet Nam is determined to defend its national sovereignty, territorial integrity and security, and to carry out Party Resolution 06 on improving international economic integration.

Under the clear-sighted leadership of the Party, and with the close coordination among all available forces, all foreign services, the entire political system and the people as a whole, Vietnamese diplomacy is prepared for all challenges in the coming year, and will persevere in the service of the Fatherland, the Party, the nation and the interest of the nation-state.

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








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