Impressive exchange, border cooperation

“…Pleasure to meet you, sir. If it hadn't been for the face-masks, we would have recognized each other easier,” Defense Minister Gen. Phan Van Giang said when meeting Chinese Defense Minister and State Councilor Sr. Lt. Gen. Wei Fenghe on April 24 at Dongxing Border Gate (China) as part of the sixth Vietnam - China Border Defense Friendship Exchange.

Vietnamese Defense Minister Phan Van Giang welcomes his Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghe at Hoanh Mo Border Gate at the sixth Vietnam - China Border Defense Friendship Exchange.

Under the co-chair of the two defense ministers, the sixth Vietnam - China Border Defense Friendship Exchange took place with numerous meaningful activities at the two provinces of Quang Ninh (Vietnam) and Guangxi (China). The two-day exchange left good impressions on both sides, showing their determination to continue building and protecting the shared border of peace, stability, friendship, cooperation and mutual development.

The exchange was one of the three important external events that the two militaries collaborated to hold in April 2021, including the seventh Vietnam - China Defense Strategic Dialogue in the city of Dongxing in China’s Guangxi province on April 23 and the official visit of Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe to Vietnam from April 24 to 27. During these events, the two sides assessed that the bilateral defense cooperation has been increasingly developing in various forms and in a more practical manner.

Also, 2021 was the year that the first Vietnam - Laos Border Defense Friendship Exchange was held in Huong Hoa district, Quang Tri province of Vietnam and Sepon district, Savannakhet province of Laos. The event was co-chaired by Vietnamese Minister of National Defense Gen. Phan Van Giang and his Lao counterpart Chansamone Chanyalath.

The first Vietnam - Laos Border Defense Friendship Exchange, together with the second Vietnam - Laos Defense Policy Dialogue held at the same time, were meaningful defense external activities, contributing to strengthening the solidarity and close ties between the two countries as well as reinforcing the special Vietnam - Laos traditional friendship in general and the bilateral defense relations in particular.

Within the framework of the exchange, the two defense ministries signed several important documents to further enhance the bilateral defense cooperation and the collaboration between the two border guard forces in the time to come.

General Chansamone Chanyalath welcomes General Phan Van Giang when attending activities in the framework of the first Vietnam - Laos Border Defense Friendship Exchange taking place in Sepon district.

Achievements come from flexibility

Over the past years, under the sound leadership of the Central Military Commission, the Ministry of National Defense and efforts of the whole military, the defense external affairs have been implemented flexibly and creatively with remarkable achievements. Notably, the bilateral defense external relations have focused on several fields suitable with the real situation of the country. Additionally, the multilateral defense external relations have been increasingly enhanced, contributing to promoting Vietnam’s initiatives in global forums, maintaining peace and stability in the region, and firmly protecting the national sovereignty.

These achievements have resulted from all-out efforts of relevant agencies and units when the COVID-19 pandemic affects all walks of life, including the defense external relations.

Last year, the Vietnam People’s Army welcomed leaders of many militaries to Vietnam, particularly the official visits of U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Japanese Defense Minister Kishi Nobuo, and U.K. Secretary of State for Defense Robert Ben Lobban Wallace.

Furthermore, Defense Minister Phan Van Giang held a talk with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu when he was accompanying President Nguyen Xuan Phuc on an official visit to the Russian Federation. He also held a meeting with General Chansamone Chanyalath, Laos’ Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister, on the occasion of the official visit of Lao Party General Secretary and State President Thongloun Sisoulith to Vietnam.

Even when the defense external activities were not able to take place directly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Vietnam maintained the activities in a flexible manner. Accordingly, Defense Minister Phan Van Giang held online talks with defense minister of Cambodia, the Russian Federation, India, and Australia.

During the online meetings between leaders of the Vietnamese Ministry of National Defense and leaders of the foreign militaries, the cooperation in the COVID-19 prevention and control was discussed together with other regional and international matters of mutual concern. As a result, the foreign militaries pledged to provide a large number of COVID-19 vaccine doses and medical supplies for Vietnam.

These supports prove that the defense relations have been an important channel to help the VPA get more COVID-19 vaccine doses, contributing to displaying its leading role in the pandemic prevention and control. Reporters of the People’s Army Newspaper (PAN) witnessed several times and reported news about the handover ceremonies of the COVID-19 vaccine batches from the foreign militaries to the VPA.

Sr. Lt. Gen. Hoang Xuan Chien, Deputy Defense Minister and a member of the Government’s working team on vaccine diplomacy, held that  this was invaluable and timely support from international friends to the VPA. He said that the defense minister always paid much attention to directing the defense relations with foreign countries and international organizations in order to get more vaccine assistance for the VPA.

In the coming time, the Vietnamese Ministry of National Defense will continue enhancing all-level delegation exchanges to mobilize the supports from the foreign militaries to Vietnam in terms of COVID-19 treatment drugs, medical supplies, and transferring vaccine technology.

Vietnam successfully hosts the "Emergency Area" and "Sniper Frontier" events of Army Games 2021 for the first time.

Last year, apart from sending forces to the International Army Games 2021 (Army Games 2021) and the International Military-Technical Forum in the Russian Federation, Vietnam successfully hosted the "Emergency Area" and "Sniper Frontier" events of Army Games 2021 for the first time. It marked a new step in the international integration and the defense external affairs of the country. In addition, the VPA accelerated cooperation activities in joining U.N. peacekeeping operations to preparing for the deployment of the Engineering Company Rotation 1 and Level-two Field Hospital Rotation 4 while sending 12 officers to the U.N. peacekeeping missions in South Sudan and Central African Republic. These activities contributed to building the country’s image as a trustful partner and responsible member of the international community.

Numerous difficulties are still ahead. However, with all-out efforts, the defense relations sector is expected to continuously contribute to promoting bravery, intellect, flexibility and creativeness of the VPA in the national construction and defense cause. On the other hand, the sector will help develop defense ties between Vietnam and other countries in a deeper and practical manner.

Translated by Trung Thanh