Vietnam takes the ASEAN Chair in the context that the ASEAN Community has been formed as the result of the 50 years of cooperation and is in its initially phase of developing into a politically, economically, and socially close-knit community. 2020 is the important year in implementing the ASEAN Community Vision 2025. However, ASEAN is now facing both subjective and objective difficulties and challenges, ranging from differences in the levels of development among ASEAN countries to impacts from competition among major powers in the world.

For more than five decades of development, ASEAN has experienced a good number of upheavals. As the old saying goes, “after the storm, comes the calm,” ASEAN has grown up and become stronger and more resilient after all the challenges. The key to success for ASEAN is unity. It can be seen that, in order to sustain and effectively adapt to the complicated fluctuation in the regional and international environment, ASEAN must maintain solidarity, unity and economic resilience and be capable of proactively and quickly responding to emerging challenges. Therefore, as the rotary Chair of ASEAN in 2020, Vietnam bears significant responsibilities on its shoulders.

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Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha (L) hands the chairmanship hammer to his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Xuan Phuc

The year 2020 is also special as it marks the 25th anniversary of Vietnam’s admission to ASEAN. Joining ASEAN can be seen as a strategic and wise decision of the Party and State of Vietnam, marking an important milestone in the country’s international integration process. Becoming an ASEAN member is one of the first significant steps for Vietnam to multilateralize and diversify its foreign relations. Joining ASEAN has brought benefits and opportunities for Vietnam to gradually integrate into the region and the world, enhance its domestic capacity and reforms, and promote its role and responsibilities in the international community. That success has created the momentum for Vietnam to firmly expand relations and enhance its international integration. As a result, Vietnam later joined the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (APEC), the Asia-Europe Cooperation Forum (ASEM), and the World Trade Organization (WTO) and successfully became a member of many important UN agencies, such as the Security Council, the Human Rights Council, and more.

For its part, Vietnam has made considerable contributions to ASEAN’s tireless efforts to reach the goals of the ASEAN Community. In spite of remaining gaps to some extents between Vietnam and some other ASEAN member countries, we can be proud of the country’s significant contributions to the bloc over the past 25 years. In fact, Vietnam has shown its increasingly important role as an ASEAN member. Not a founding member, yet Vietnam has actively participated in and contributed to the association’s common activities, including its effort to admit Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar to ASEAN. As a result, in 1999, the dream of a 10-member ASEAN bloc came true.

Vietnam has also shown an active role in defining the goals and orientations for the development and the formation of major policies of ASEAN. Vietnam’s imprints can be seen in major events, such as the 6th ASEAN Summit held in Hanoi in December 1998, the successful accomplishment of the term of Chairman of the ASEAN Standing Committee in 2000-2001, and the successful completion of its role as the Chair of ASEAN in 2010, bringing about remarkable results.

For more than two decades being an ASEAN member, Vietnam has affirmed its role and prestige as an active, proactive, and responsible member, closely connecting and wholeheartedly working with other ASEAN members. Those experiences and successes will help Vietnam confidently undertake the ASEAN Chair in 2020, contributing to building a more close-knit and united ASEAN, which plays a central role in the region, and a strong ASEAN Community for the sake of all people’s prosperity. This is also a chance for Vietnam to actively promote bilateral relations with other ASEAN countries and partners, further enhance the country’s position in the international arena, and promote the image of the land, culture and people of Vietnam to the world.

Written by the Editorial Board

Translated by Huu Duong