Deputy PM and Foreign Minister reaffirms Vietnam's independence in international and regional affairs.
Vietnam will not allow itself to be pulled into the strategic games of major global players, a senior Vietnamese official has said.
Rather, it will pursue its independence and self-reliance, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Binh Minh told local media shortly before the 29th Diplomatic Conference, starting on August 22.
Competition among major nations always exists as it involves strategic interests, economic interests and more. “The strategic competition between major nations has become complex, not only in political but also in military and economic areas,” he noted.
However, “Vietnam has learned precious lessons and will not allow any party to drag it into such competition,” he said. “Vietnam pursues a foreign policy of independence and self-reliance. Experience shows that only by following that path can we defend our independence and sovereignty.”
“To that end, Vietnam needs to foster ties with all nations on the basis of mutual benefit. Vietnam has gone from a policy of ‘increasing friends and decreasing enemies’ to ‘making friends with all countries’.”
Regarding possible conflict in the East Sea (known internationally as the South China Sea) and strategies to maintain the country’s sovereignty over seas and islands, Deputy PM Minh said it was not just an issue for countries in the region as it is a trade route of extreme importance for the world.
“Ensuring navigation security and safety is a joint goal for countries inside and outside of the region,” he said. “All countries are responsible for maintaining stability in the East Sea since any incident will hinder trade.”
He stressed that disputes among countries over islands and archipelagoes needed to be dealt with through negotiations. “Conflicts leading to war go against agreements that target preventing war and controlling conflict,” he said.
“Vietnam asserts its sovereignty over the Truong Sa (Spartly) and Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelagoes and continues to protect that sovereignty through peaceful measures on the basis of abiding by international law. Vietnam also calls for countries to respect international law.”
Deputy PM Minh’s comments come as there has been some criticism mounted by ASEAN countries that the ASEAN Foreign Ministers on July 25 concluded with a joint statement stressing the importance of non-militarization and self-restraint in the conduct of all activities in the disputed East Sea but made no mention of a recent ruling by an international tribunal.
An Arbitration Tribunal in The Hague rejected China’s vast claims in the East Sea on July 12 in a case filed by the Philippines at the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA).
China, which claims almost all of the East Sea, rejected the ruling and has been said to be pressuring members of ASEAN to prevent the bloc from taking a common position on the issue.
A joint statement by the ASEAN Foreign Ministers after a special ASEAN-China meeting in Kunming in June was released and then retracted after China reportedly put pressure on Laos and Cambodia.
Some analysts fear that a similar situation could happen in early September when ASEAN gathers for its annual summit in Laos. “I don’t see an easy way to change Cambodia’s stance on a statement,” Mr. Murray Hiebert, Senior Adviser and Deputy Director of Southeast Asia at the Washington-based Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS), told VET.
“China is angry about the PCA ruling and is putting a lot of pressure on its close friends in ASEAN to refuse to agree to a joint statement,” he added. “Maybe ASEAN should consider putting out a statement by a ‘coalition of the willing’, including those countries that support a statement and thus not allow Cambodia to hold ASEAN hostage.”