It has also become the fifth largest economic community in the world, a reliable and important partner of countries, and played a central role in dialogues, important cooperation and connectivity in the region.

Vietnamese Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son

In an article in celebration of ASEAN’s 55th birth anniversary (August 8, 1967 - 2022), Vietnamese Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son recalled that the birth of ASEAN on August 8, 1967 was the start of the process of an intensive connectivity for peace, stability, and development in Southeast Asia and the region.

Building an ASEAN Community with common vision and identities

The grouping gathered countries divided by war. Its inception reflected the common aspirations of many countries in the region for peace, stability, friendship, and win-win cooperation.

According to FM Son, Vietnam’s admission to ASEAN in 1995 paved the way for the building of an ASEAN common house connecting 10 Southeast Asian countries.

In 1997, ASEAN, for the first time, approved the ASEAN Vision 2020 on a cohesive community with a common identity to meet its member states’ aspirations for a Southeast Asia region with no divided mountains and rivers and cohesion in friendship and cooperation. Attentively, the establishment of the ASEAN Community in 2015 with three pillars of political-security, economy, and socio-culture brought the cooperation process and regional cohesion to a new height for peace, cooperation, and prosperous development.

In his article, the Vietnamese official emphasized “ASEAN Way” based on principal norms, including international law, solidarity, consensus, and non-interference in internal affairs, creating ASEAN values and identities. It is the “ASEAN Way” that has helped ASEAN and its member states overcome upheavals in the region and the world, affirm its prestige, position, and central role, expand partnerships in a more practical, intensive manner, and gain international support for a developed cohesive ASEAN Community.

Up to date, ASEAN has established dialogue partnerships with 11 countries and important international organizations, including China, the U.S., Russia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, India, and the E.U. Notably, many of its viewpoints and regulations, such as ASEAN Charter, Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, have received big applause from international community, contributing to its enhanced cooperative ties and partnerships.

Faithful to its goals and principles, ASEAN has promoted its role in strengthening dialogues, cooperation, building trust among countries in the region and the world to maintain peace, stability, cooperation and development in the region.

On the basis of respecting international laws, settling disputes and disagreements by peaceful means in line with international law, including UNCLOS 1982, ASEAN has been made important contribution to the peaceful and stable environment in the East Sea (internationally South China Sea).

Also in the writing, FM Son underlined the key content of ASEAN’s cohesion process is to boost integration and economic connectivity. He cited that the intra-bloc trade accounts for about 25% of ASEAN's total trade turnover. The grouping’s GDP in 2021 reached USD 3,360 billion, a 30% increase against 2015 when the ASEAN Community was established. In addition, ASEAN has signed eight free trade agreements (FTAs), namely the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) and seven FTAs with important partners, in which the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) has created a free trade area making up 30% of the world's population and 32% of global GDP.

According to the Vietnamese diplomat, ASEAN is a successful example of regional cohesion. Its achievements have been a firm foundation for the grouping to complete its ASEAN Vision 2025 and build a vision after 2025 to consolidate a cohesive, self-reliant, and responsive ASEAN Community.

FM Son explained that cohesion means to unify the will, promote a sense of community, share responsibility for the common and long-term interests of the ASEAN Community, for peace, stability, cooperation and development in the region. Self-reliance means to uphold the bravery, strengthen the potential and inner strength of each member state and the whole ASEAN Community. Responsiveness means to be confident, dynamic, innovative, steady to rise up against the complex developments in the region and the world.

Vietnam is always for a united, strong and developed ASEAN Community

In his writing, FM Son affirmed that ASEAN holds an important position in Vietnam’s foreign and international integration policy. Joining ASEAN in 1995 was a strategic decision of the Party and State of Vietnam, thereby creating a new move in international integration and development of the country, consolidating a peaceful, stable environment, making advantage of external resources for the national construction and protection, and raising the country’s prestige and position.

The Vietnamese diplomat also stressed the consistent foreign policy of Vietnam of independence, self-reliance, peace, friendship, cooperation, and development, multilateralization and diversification, respect for ASEAN principles, ways, and identities. According to him, on seriously implementing its commitments and obligations, Vietnam has made important contribution to enhancing unity, building the ASEAN Community, and implementing the ASEAN Vision 2025. In addition, Vietnam has always heightened unity and consensus in ASEAN operations in line with the spirit of “unity, unity, great unity; success, success, great success.”

FM Son also reviewed Vietnam’s success in dealing with difficulties facing ASEAN during its ASEAN Chairmanship years. In 2020, as the ASEAN Chair, in the face of unprecedented difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Vietnam persisted in ASEAN's principles, fully embodied the spirit of “cohesion and active responsiveness,” and helped ASEAN to surmount turbulence, maintain regional cooperation and connectivity momentum, and orient the development of the ASEAN Community in the new period.

Concluding his article, FM Son confirmed that realizing the foreign policy defined at the 13th National Party Congress, Vietnam continues to team with ASEAN countries to bring into play ASEAN’s identity and its central role, build a united and strong ASEAN Community, practically benefiting all member states and its partners in the region and the world.

With the motto of “pro-active, active, sincere, reliable and responsible,” Vietnam, together with ASEAN member states, continues to exert its all-out efforts to continue writing successful chapters in building the ASEAN Community, importantly contributing to peace, stability, cooperation and development in the region and the world.

Translated by Mai Huong