Sincerity, trust and responsibility are crucial for healthy international relations and the lack thereof causes tension and conflict in many regions, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh said at CSIS.
He pointed to the thriving development of the Vietnam-U.S. relationship founded on mutual respect and support after nearly three decades of relation normalization.
“The relationship has borne fruits with the joint efforts of both countries in sincerity, trust, responsibility, understanding, sharing and mutual respect to achieve the goals that the two countries and the two peoples desire and aim for,” the PM said at the Center For Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) in Washington Thursday (Hanoi time).
The world is now at a time that could be considered most challenging after the Cold War, and the geopolitical transitions and geo-economic competition between the big countries are making breakthrough changes globally with difficult-to-predict factors that can impact the security and development of many countries, Chinh said.
There is increasing risk of war and instability, while the global economy is seeing competition and conflict, he added.
The traditional and non-traditional challenges such as climate change, natural disasters, environmental resources depletion, energy security, water security, food security, human security and cybersecurity continue to see complicated developments that have severe impacts on countries striving to realize the UN goals of sustainable development by 2030, he said.
“Sincerity, trust and responsibility play major roles in dealing with the ongoing global issue,” he said.
The lack of these factors is one of the reasons for tension and conflicts in many regions, which have severely impacted bilateral partnerships between countries.
Countries need to build and reinforce sincerity and trust, and each one of them needs to act responsibly, first by following their own commitments and international laws, as well as the Charter of the United Nations, in respecting independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.
They should also respect each other’s political institutions and contribute in their own capacity to the international community.
Equal partnership and communication based on mutual respect is one of the best methods in dealing with conflicts, the PM stressed.
“Only through sincerity, trust and responsibility can countries resolve together the issues in an effective manner,” he said, adding that this main aspect should not be undermined for any reason.
The ASEAN way
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has proven the value of sincerity, trust and responsibility in dealing with regional and global matters, the PM said.
Located between the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean, the bloc strives to affirm its central role in shaping the regional architecture and joins hands in building the ASEAN Community.
On the common foundation of sincerity, trust and responsibility, ASEAN is reaffirming its role and working with partners to promote a region of peace, stability, cooperation and development, based on international law and the Charter of the United Nations.
PM Chinh said the bloc has established and continues to strengthen a network of strategic partnerships with its important partners.
ASEAN wishes to work with partners to build sincerity, strengthen trust, act responsibly and promote cooperation on the basis of respecting each other’s independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and political institutions, respecting international law, and strengthening international cooperation in handling global challenges, including the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change and environmental protection.
As an active and responsible member in ASEAN and the international community, Vietnam constantly strives to contribute to dialogue and cooperation, and stands ready to play an active role in line with its potential, Chinh said.
“From a country divided by an unreasonable war, Vietnam has bravely stood up to fight for independence, freedom and national reunification.”
And from a poor and backward country, Vietnam has worked hard to become a middle-income country and is realizing its aspirational development goals, he added.
The PM said Vietnam wants to become a developing country with modern industry and surpass the low middle-income level by 2025.
It should be a developed and industrialized country by 2030, and a modern and high-income country by 2045.
“Vietnam’s development aspiration is closely linked with the aspiration for peace, stability, cooperation and development of the whole region and the world,” he said, adding that he wished that the U.S. and its partners support Vietnam in realizing the above strategic vision, opening up great opportunities for more comprehensive and deeper cooperation between Vietnam, the U.S. and other countries.
Good friend, reliable partner
PM Chinh said Vietnam firmly adheres to a foreign policy of independence, self-reliance, peace, friendship, cooperation and development, diversification and multilateralization.
As such, it is a good friend, reliable partner and responsible member of the international community.
Vietnam has always shown sincerity, consistency and transparency in formulating and implementing its commitments, he said.
“Between independence and dependence, we always choose independence in the spirit of ‘nothing is more precious than independence and freedom’ as President Ho Chi Minh said.
“Between negotiation and confrontation, we choose negotiation; between dialogue and conflict, we choose dialogue; between peace and war, we choose peace; between cooperation and competition, we choose cooperation, and competition must be healthy, equal and respectful of rights and each other’s legitimate interests.”
He said Vietnam does not choose a side, but chooses justice and fairness on the basis of the principles of international law and the United Nations Charter that promotes equality and mutual benefit.
Vietnam is also ready for dialogue and cooperation in dealing with differences and disagreements to ensure harmonization of interests, and to adequately address concerns of countries and the international community.
In settling disputes and conflicts in the region and the world, including those in the East Sea (known internationally as the South China Sea), Vietnam has always advocated maintaining peace and stability to ensure security, safety and freedom of navigation and overflight; to protect legitimate rights and interests; and to settle disagreements by peaceful means, through dialogue on the basis of respect for international laws, especially the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS 1982).
Vietnam has also effectively and fully implemented the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) and has been striving to build a substantive and effective Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC) in accordance with international laws, including the UNCLOS 1982, he reiterated.
Chinh said Vietnam was willing to contribute to the reconciliation process between countries and noted that it had hosted the 2nd U.S.-North Korea Summit.
On the Ukraine issue, Vietnam supports and is willing to participate in the initiatives of the international community in creating conditions for the parties to talk with each other and seek long-term and sustainable solutions.
Vietnam has provided humanitarian assistance worth $500,000 to Ukraine.
The PM also noted that during the Covid-19 pandemic, despite many difficulties, Vietnam donated masks and medical supplies to 51 countries, including the U.S., and it has also made financial contributions to the Covax Program.
Chinh expressed appreciation to the international community, including the U.S., for providing vaccines and medical equipment to Vietnam in its efforts to control the pandemic.
He especially mentioned the establishment of the Office of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) Southeast Asia in Hanoi.
Vietnam has shown great responsibility and determination in responding to climate change, implementing commitments under the Paris Agreement and COP 26 in the UK to bring net emissions to zero by 2050. It was doing so despite being a developing country facing many socio-economic difficulties.
In economic, trade and investment cooperation, Vietnam has negotiated and signed 15 free trade agreements (FTAs), which has opened the door to a large free trade market with over 60 countries and partners, Chinh said, adding that it showcased the nation’s responsibility in fostering equality and free trade.
‘Cannot go alone’
“To accomplish its national development goals, Vietnam cannot go alone. If you want to go far, you must have friends,” the Prime Minister said, referring to Vietnam-U.S. relations.
Vietnam always wishes to enhance cooperation with the U.S., for both sides to strengthen trust and responsibility, act for mutual benefit and work for peace, cooperation and development of the region and the world.
PM Chinh said Vietnam and the U.S. have come a long way in building trust and cooperation, including efforts to overcome the consequences of war.
He wished that the U.S. continues to make efforts to overcome the consequences of the war in Vietnam through projects on dioxin detoxification, support for disabled people, victims of Agent Orange, landmines clearance and promotion of cooperation in finding the remains of Vietnamese soldiers who died in the war.
Thanks to achievements of cooperation in politics, economy, education, security and defense and in international and regional issues, Vietnam and the U.S. are facing new opportunities to put the Comprehensive Partnership into a stable path of development with real results and depth, the PM said.
He emphasized three important areas with great potential for cooperation between the two countries: green growth; technology innovation and digital transformation; and supply chain diversification, which the U.S. excels at.
“The combination of the U.S.’s strength in these important fields, along with the dynamism and active global integration of the Vietnamese economy, will open up great opportunities for cooperation between the two countries and their businesses in the near future,” the PM said.
He noted that sincerity, trust and responsibility were key factors in taking the Vietnam-U.S. Comprehensive Partnership to new heights and making it more substantive and effective in coming years.
At a question-and-answer session after his speech at CSIS, Chinh said that Hanoi was interested in helping the United States realize the aims of its proposed economic framework for the Indo-Pacific.
“We would we would like to work with the U.S. to realize the four pillars of that initiative,” which were supply-chain stability, digital economy, the fight against climate change and a fourth related to labor, tax and combating corruption.
“We are ready to engage in discussion with the U.S. to clarify what these four pillars will entail and when that is clarified, we would have something to discuss,” he said. “We need more time to study this initiative and see what it entails.”
Chinh is in the U.S. for the U.S.-ASEAN Summit, which marks 45 years of ties between the two sides and 27 years since the U.S. and Vietnam established diplomatic relations.
Chinh will join other leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members at the May 12-13 summit.
During this trip, he will also work with United Nations leaders in New York, talk with U.S. investors doing business in Vietnam and meet with Vietnamese expats.
CSIS is a leading academic and research institution in the U.S. It conducts policy studies and strategic analyses of political, economic and security issues throughout the world, with a specific focus on issues concerning international relations, trade, technology, finance, energy and geostrategy.
Vietnam is a critical partner for the U.S. and their robust relationship continues to endure through mutual respect, collaboration and a shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific region, the center said in a pre-event release.
Former President of Vietnam Truong Tan Sang had spoken at the CSIS in 2013, emphasizing the importance of Vietnam-U.S. relations in the Asia Pacific region.
In 2015, General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam, Nguyen Phu Trong, also visited CSIS and spoke about the partnership between Vietnam and the U.S. in a new stage of development.
The former foes normalized relations in 1995.
Recent milestones in bilateral ties include the U.S. fully lifting the lethal arms export ban to Vietnam during President Barack Obama’s visit in May 2016; and sending aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson to Da Nang in March 2018, marking the biggest U.S. military presence in the country since the Vietnam War ended in 1975.
Bilateral trade surged from $450 million in 1994 to $111.56 billion in 2021.
The U.S. is Vietnam’s biggest export market and Vietnam is the U.S.’s ninth biggest trade partner.
As of March, U.S. foreign direct investment in Vietnam reached $10.3 billion, ranking 11th among 141 countries and territories that have FDI projects in Vietnam, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
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