Flag tower of Hanoi. Photo: xomnhiepanh.com

PANO – It is an accidental coincidence that many external activities of the leaders of Vietnam’s Party, State and army took place in June 2013 including State President Truong Tan Sang’s official visit to China; Chief of the General Staff of Vietnam People’s Army, Senior Lieutenant General Do Ba Ty’s visit to the U.S and France; General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam’s official visit to Thailand; State President Truong Tan Sang’s official visit to Indonesia, and earlier, on May 31st, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung attended and delivered his keynote speech at the 12th Shangri-La Dialogue.

Mentioning the above events, not only domestic media but also many international news agencies and media outlets highly appreciated these external activities, especially the content within the signed agreements between Vietnam and its partners, clearly and consistently reinstating reiterating Vietnam’s viewpoints, guidelines and principles in international cooperation and its policy on protecting its seas and islands sovereignty.

However, on some social networks, some people have deliberately distorted Vietnam’s policies in general and its defence and security policies in particular. For example, they held that these activities were comparable to “catching fish with hands” and “nobody knows what Vietnam is looking for”. Also, pretending to have good-will, they reminded Vietnam that “catching fish with hands” is a dangerous strategy because no country will intervene when Vietnam is at risk as it is afraid of other strategic partners. Those who have some knowledge on politics understand that these people suggested Vietnam to rely on geo-politics interests group governed by the West.

Vietnam’s foreign policy in general and its defence and security one in particular are based on new thought on building and protecting Socialism Fatherland. Moreover, Vietnam’s foreign policy is also based on the main trend of the time, especially the political situation after the Cold War with its common characteristics of peace, cooperation and development. On that foundation, Vietnam continues to consistently implement its foreign guidelines of independence, self-reliance, peace, cooperation and development with its foreign affairs policy of openness, multi-lateralization, and diversification of external relation, and maintaining a peaceful and stable environment for development. Like in previous revolutionary periods, Vietnam firmly pursues the goal of national independence and socialism, mainly basing on its own strengths to build and protect the Fatherland. The Party and State of Vietnam have never set the goal of protecting its ideology higher than the national interests as someone deliberately distorted. Today, Vietnam wants to be a friend and reliable partner with other countries, regardless of their political regimes, development levels and cultural identities on the basis of respecting for sovereignty, not interfering into each other’s internal affairs and for mutual benefits.

Vietnam’s recent external activities have clearly illustrated the above goals and principles. With major, developed countries, after normalizing relations and basing on existing political and economic relations, Vietnam continues to deepen these relations with new cooperation aspects. Take the U.S for example; after normalizing their relations, Vietnam and the U.S have conducted practical activities, especially dealing with post-war consequences, and boosting their cooperation in terms of economics, culture and education. The recent visit made by Vietnamese high-ranking military delegation, led by Senior Lieutenant General Do Ba Ty, Chief of the General Staff of Vietnam People’s Army, to the U.S was to continue to implement the defence relationship within the framework of the signed agreement on defence cooperation between the two defence ministries, including the exchange of all-level visits. The U.S also boosts its cooperation with Vietnam to overcome post-war consequences.

In State President Truong Tan Sang’s recent visit to China, Vietnam and China agreed to increase mutually beneficial cooperations in terms of economy, commerce, culture, sports, tourism, education, healthcare and  technolog The two countries also agreed to continue to diversify their comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership. Different from other ASEAN countries, Vietnam and China established their cooperation and friendship ties and supported each other in revolutionary periods. Regarding seas and islands sovereignty disputes, Vietnam and China have made important progresses such as the Sino-Vietnam Agreement on Maritime Boundary Delimitation in the Gulf of Tonkin in 2000 and the Agreement on Basic Principles Guiding the Settlement of Maritime Issues between the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and the People’s Republic of China, signed by General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam Nguyen Phu Trong and President of the People’s Republic of China Hu Jintao on October 11th, 2011. The signing of the Vietnam – China action program on the implementation of the comprehensive strategic partnership and other important cooperation documents, including the border defence co-operation agreement (revised) between the two defence ministries and the agreement between the Vietnamese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture on setting up a hotline to deal with unexpected incidents in fishing activities at sea, is a move to concretize and settle existing issues between the two countries in the East Sea.

Vietnam’s policy on defence and security, its policy on seas and islands sovereignty protection and its viewpoints are transparent and easy to understand so that it should not be interpreted to be “catching fish with hands”.

On behalf of Vietnam’s Party and State, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung explained clearly Vietnam’s viewpoint and principles in settling sovereignty disputes in the East Sea at the 12th Shangri-La Dialogue. The Prime Minister stressed, “to have peace, development and prosperity, it is a must to build and consolidate strategic trust… Vietnam consistently persists with a foreign policy of independence, self-reliance, multilateralisation and diversification of external relations, being a friend and reliable partner to all nations, and a responsible member of the international community…. Vietnam wishes, and has spared no efforts to build and deepen, strategic partnerships and mutually beneficial cooperative partnerships with other countries. It is also our desire to establish strategic partnerships with all the permanent members of the UN Security Council once the principles of independence, sovereignty, non-interference in the internal affairs of each other, mutual respect, equal and mutually beneficial cooperation are committed to and seriously implemented…Vietnam’s defence policy is that of peace and self-defence. Vietnam will not be a military ally to any country and will not allow any country to set up military bases on Vietnamese territory… Vietnam’s army modernisation is only for self-defence and the safeguard of our legitimate interests. It does not, in any way target any other country.”

Vietnam’s message through the Prime Minister’s speech is crystal. The recent external activities stemmed from the consistent foreign and defence policy of protecting its sovereignty and jurisdiction rights in the East Sea; maintaining peace and stability in the region; boosting cooperation and development with other countries …

Written by Bac Ha and Duc Thanh

Translated by Ngoc Hung