Oct 27, 2021 / 21:24

Vietnam supports ASEAN-Australia elevation to comprehensive strategic partnership

Canberra said the ASEAN-Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership is “more than just a label.”

Vietnam’s Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh expressed his support to the elevation of the ASEAN-Australia relations to Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.

 Vietnam’s Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh at the 1st ASEAN-Australia Summit held on Oct 27. Photo: VGP

Chinh made the statement at the first annual ASEAN-Australia Summit held virtually on Oct 27, the event that he called a “historical milestone” opening a new chapter in the relations.

In the event gathering ASEAN’s leaders, Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison, ASEAN’s General-Secretary Lim Jock Hoi, and related parties agreed to upgrade the ties to Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.

The ASEAN-Australia Dialogue Relations showed steady progress over the past 47 years, including in the implementation of the Plan of Action to Implement the ASEAN-Australia Strategic Partnership (2020-2024).

In the Chairman’s Statement of the 1st ASEAN-Australia Summit, the inaugural annual ASEAN-Australia Summit marked a new chapter in Dialogue Relations between the two sides and symbolized their shared commitment to further advance our partnership, deepen their cooperation to promote regional peace, stability, prosperity, and position their partnership for the future.

They reaffirmed their commitment to further enhance dialogue and cooperation, chart a path to recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, and maintain peace, security, and stability in the region.

Speaking at the event, Chinh appreciated Australia’s assistance to ASEAN, including Vietnam, in the fight against Covid-19, suggesting further cooperation for better response to infectious epidemics and faster recovery.

For that reason, the two sides need to resume trade and investment flows that were affected by Covid-19, Chinh said, adding that more efforts to encourage businesses’ engagement in the regional supply chains, digital transformation, manpower training, and people-to-people links need to be made.

The PM expects Australia to continue support to the ASEAN Community building process, narrowing development gap and sub-region connectivity through the Mekong-Australia Partnership (MAP).

He welcomed Australia’s active and responsible contributions to regional peace and stability, including the East Sea issues, hoping Australia to extend support to ASEAN’s efforts in advocating freedom of navigation and overflight in accordance with international law and the UNCLOS 1982.

 Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison and ASEAN's leaders at the event. 

Australia’s commitments to the region remain strong

Addressing the summit, Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Canberra proposed an elevation of its partnership with ASEAN to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP) because they want their cooperation to reach “new heights.”

He said CSP is “more than just a label” and he’s pleased to announce Australia’s support for ASEAN Futures Initiative to drive cooperation and implement the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific, as well as deepen its investment in the region.

During the summit, Morrison highlighted ASEAN’s stability, saying it is fundamental to both sides. The partnership supports an open, inclusive, and resilient Indo-Pacific region.

He said ASEAN is at the center of the Indo-Pacific and Australia back this.

He announced a package worth AUD124 million (US$92 million) for security, climate, and healthcare plans in ASEAN.

The move is part of Canberra’s efforts to push for the ASEAN-Australia ties, which are expected to be upgraded to the comprehensive strategic partnership. “ASEAN members’ growth underpins regional stability, and Australia’s prosperity,” he said in a statement.

In his speech, Morrison said Canberra will share at least an additional 10 million doses from Australia’s domestic supply with ASEAN countries by mid-next year in addition to almost four million they have directly offered the regional partners to date.

In 2020, Australia made significant investments to support ASEAN’s Covid-19 response and recovery, including some AUD500 million, consistent with the four key areas of the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific, which both sides share, he emphasized.

Regarding Australia, the UK, and the US (AUKUS), an enhanced capability and technology sharing partnership, Morrison said transparency and communication on this important initiative are important to Australia.

All three of them are ASEAN Dialogue Partners.

Morrison said AUKUS does not change Australia’s commitment to ASEAN or the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific. Indeed, it reinforces the backing that they have for an ASEAN-led regional architecture.

Australia deeply committed to international law and the rules-based order that has underpinned regional stability and prosperity, and which all ASEAN members depend on.

AUKUS does not change Australia's deep, long-standing commitment to nuclear non-proliferation - Australia does not want and will not seek nuclear weapons, he added.

“Australia and ASEAN - we're good friends, we're good neighbors, and are natural partners at the center of the Indo-Pacific,” he emphasized.