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Jan 01, 2021 / 22:46

Vietnam External Relations 2020: Mettle and New Stature

Hanoitimes would like to introduce the article "Vietnam External Relations 2020: Mettle and New Stature” written by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Binh Minh on the occasion of the new year 2021.

The year 2020 witnessed unprecedented changes and global consequences which will be possibly lasting for many years. Under the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the color of grey has covered many places and areas in the world.

 Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Binh Minh. Photo kinhtedothi.vn

The pandemic has made serious and profound impacts on the political and socio-economic situation in each country, region and the whole world. The world economy fell into recession, generating strategic competition among major countries that was unprecedented since the cold war. Trends against globalization, populism and protectionism have had more conditions to develop stronger.

The East Sea situation has appeared new complications, threatening peace and stability in the region. In addition to the Covid-19 pandemic, other non-traditional security challenges have emerged, including water security, natural disasters and floods, seriously affecting Southeast Asia.

The bright spot in the world picture last year was peace, cooperation and development – being still a big trend and a burning aspiration of people around the world. Asia-Pacific continues to assert itself as a dynamic economic development area and a driving force for global growth. ASEAN consolidates solidarity, quickly adapting to many strong fluctuations, especially the impact of the pandemic and strategic competition among major countries, to maintain its central role in the region, striving to build a united, resilient, prosperous and people-centered community, and moving forward with a new vision after 2025.

The complicated and multidimensional changes have been profoundly affecting the peaceful environment, security and development of our country, posing both challenges and opportunities. Meanwhile, 2020 is a pivotal year for the realization of the goals of the 2011-20 Socio-Economic Development Strategy and the 2016-20 Socio-Economic Development Plan.

Having faced with such challenges, the whole political system has successfully implemented the dual task of preventing and combating pandemic and recovering socio-economic development on the basis of a peaceful and stable environment. Vietnam's external relations in 2020 overcame many challenges while taking advantage of and grasping new cooperation opportunities, contributing to overcoming difficulties and continuing rise on the path of development.

The mettle to overcome difficulties

In the context of an unstable regional and international environment, foreign affairs were actively, flexibly and creatively deployed to enhance relationships with partners as well as improving the Vietnam's position. It made an important contribution to the successful implementation of the 12th  Communist Party Congress’s foreign policy, strengthening a peaceful, stable and favorable environment for the cause of constructing and defending our country.

Firstly, our cooperation with other countries, especially with neighboring countries and important partners, has been continuously strengthened and promoted. Facing difficulties caused by the pandemic, we still promoted many diplomatic exchanges and cooperation with other countries, especially online exchanges at all levels.

Our senior leaders conducted 34 bilateral phone calls and online meetings with leaders of other countries. Meanwhile, we still carried out exchanges of delegations safely. Leaders and senior officials in many countries chose Vietnam to visit and promote relations. We also maintained intergovernmental committee meetings as well as the signing of international agreements with many important partners. The past year witnessed the Vietnam-New Zealand relationship upgraded to a strategic partner, increasing the network of strategic partners to 17 countries at total, together with 13 comprehensive partners.

Vietnam also promoted international assistances, providing masks, medical materials and finance for 51 countries and international organizations in response to the covid-19 pandemic.

The ministries, branches, localities, and friendship organizations of Vietnam all actively participated in supporting countries and partners facing difficulties. We also received financial support and medical equipment from many countries and international organizations for domestic pandemic control. The effective anti-pandemic model, along with the sense of responsibility and dignity of Vietnam in international cooperation against pandemic, have been highly appreciated by international friends.

Secondly, the year 2020 made an important mark in promoting and raising the level of Vietnam's multilateral foreign policy. We took success on many international responsibilities including 2020 ASEAN Chair and 41st General Assembly of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA-41), Non-Permanent Member of the UN Security Council in the first year of the term 2020-21.

We actively drove and coordinated ASEAN to overcome many challenges and respond to the Covid-19 pandemic, successfully organized many online conferences, especially the 36th and 37th ASEAN summits and conferences with key dialogue partners. We promoted the adoption of many documents, including more than 80 documents at the summits and orientations to building ASEAN Community Vision following 2025. ASEAN will continue playing a central role in the region and being highly valued by other countries.

We well assumed the role of Chairman of the UN Security Council in the first month of term (January 2020). During the past year, we actively participated in the Security Council, demonstrating the image of a responsible Vietnam in upholding international laws, making efforts to build consensus, seeking satisfactory solutions for disputes and conflicts.

Vietnam has marked specific successes such as organizing the ASEAN-UN dialogue, in which they concretized many cooperation contents at the global level. Viet Nam also proposed and promoted for the first time a resolution of the United Nations General Assembly to adopt December 27 every year as the International Epidemic Preparedness Day with a record number of co-sponsoring of 112 countries. Viet Nam's participation in UN peacekeeping continued to be strengthened. Many initiatives and contributions of Vietnam at other international and regional forums such as ASEM, APEC, G20, WEF and Mekong Subregion were supported and highly appreciated by countries.

Thirdly, international economic integration achieved breakthrough progresses, creating new driving force for rapid and sustainable economic growth. In addition to the effective implementation of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), Vietnam signed and ratified Europe-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), which became effective in August 2020, the Europe-Vietnam Investment Protection Agreement (EVIPA), the UK-Viettnam Free Trade Agreement and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), making significant contribution to Vietnam’s achievement in maintaining the highest growth in the world. In the first 11 months of 2020, Vietnam's export value increased by 5.3%. Many businesses have chosen Vietnam as a destination for investment.

Fourthly, the work on border and territory has many positive results. Vietnam and Cambodia exchanged documents, including the approval of two legal documents recognizing 84% of the achievement of demarcation. Vietnam and China celebrated the 20th anniversary of the signing of the border agreement and 10 years of implementation of 3 legal documents on land borders. These are achievements of great significance, contributing to building a border line on the land of peace, friendship, cooperation and development with neighboring countries.

We had been resolute and persistent in the fight to protect sovereignty in the East Sea, sending a note to the United Nations confirming our position, actively working with ASEAN countries and related partners to promote peace, cooperation, and peaceful settlement of disputes at the sea.

ASEAN continued to affirm its principled stance on the East Sea in relevant ASEAN documents and between ASEAN and its partners, emphasizing the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS 1982) as the basic for defining rights and legitimate interests of the parties and the framework for governing activities.

ASEAN also clearly showed its determination to develop an effective, substantive and appropriate Code of Conduct for Parties in the East Sea (COC) in accordance with international law, especially the UNCLOS 1982.

Fifthly, the protection of overseas Vietnamese were promptly deployed, effectively supporting them overcome difficulties caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite such difficulties, overseas Vietnamese continue to support the country via various forms.

We organized more than 280 flights, bringing nearly 80,000 citizens from 59 countries and territories home safely, and conducted the protection of our fishermen and fishing vessels overseas.

Sixthly, the work of cultural diplomacy and foreign information were actively carried out, especially the use of digital technology to promote Vietnam to the world via many innovative products and ways. In the past year, UNESCO recognized Dac Nong Geopark as a global geopark, Vinh City in the central province of Nghe An and Sa Dec City in the southern province of Dong Thap as global learning cities. International friends increasingly acknowledged that Vietnam was not only a peaceful, stable, safe country with great potential for economic cooperation, but also resilient and adaptive to handle challenges.

The important external results were gained thanks to the close guidance and direct participation of the Party and State leaders, marking our persistence of the foreign policy of independence, autonomy, multilateralism and diversification. These significant achievements also show the bravery and growth of foreign affairs staff, who are qualified to meet the requirements of the new situation.

New position in a new strategic phase

The year 2021 is the first year implementing the Party's 13rd Resolution Congress, the 2021-25 Socio-Economic Development Plan and the 2021-30 Socio-Economic Development Strategy, creating the foundation for realizing aspirations and raising our country's international status.

The world has entered the third decade of the 21st century with profound, rapid and unpredictable changes, facing the country with multidimensional impacts on the security and economic development. But in such difficulties and challenges, we still see the glimmer of the fortunes and advantages. That is the new power and strength of the country after 35 years of Doi moi (Renewal), the solidarity of the whole political system, the trust, companionship and support of people as well as the maturity and enthusiasm of foreign staff. These are solid premises for Vietnam to firmly enter the year 2021 and the following years with a new stature.

The central task of Vietnam's foreign policy in 2021 is to implement the foreign policies of the 13rd Party Congress, continuing to deepening relations with other countries, firmly protecting its own sovereignty and territorial integrity, contributing to consolidating a peaceful environment, mobilizing external resources for development and raising the country's status.

We believe that, with the right foreign policies of the Party and State and the determination of the entire political system, ministries, sectors and localities, together with the responses of people and businesses, we will successfully implement our foreign affairs in 2021.