The Hanoitimes - 2020 is an important year for Vietnam as once again acting as the "captain" to steer ASEAN`s "family ship" forward. With its growing role, Vietnam needs to promote a mighty ASEAN for the sake of Southeast Asia’s people.
Prof. Dr. Pham Quang Minh, ASEAN expert, Rector of the University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Hanoi emphasized this issue, while discussing about Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc's recent trip to Singapore for the ASEAN summits.
The two terms "self-reliance" and "innovation" were high on the agenda of ASEAN in 2018, what are your assessments related to this topic as well as its role in the new era of ASEAN?
Prof.Dr. Pham Quang Minh
It can be said that ASEAN has made great progresses. In 2018, as the ASEAN Chair, Singapore launched a theme “ASEAN self – reliance and innovation” that fits in with the 4.0 Industrial Revolution. In other words, in terms of development, ASEAN has a higher status in the region and the world. In addition, this theme also reflects the world's development trend of using technology for administration and management, and ASEAN is promoting technology with an aim of making Southeast Asia a peaceful and prosperous region.
Historically, ASEAN has been a place of great cultural exchanges and has been influenced by great powers. At present and in the future, ASEAN wants to prove its capabilities to become a driving force for development and play a central role. I think that through a number of ASEAN initiatives, from the ASEAN+3 to the East Asia Summit (EAS), large nations have been engaged in the regional security and economic development matters, but in such dialogue mechanism, ASEAN still plays a key role.
The success of APEC 2017 and WEF ASEAN 2018 has shown a more dynamic Vietnam in multilateral forums. Within ASEAN, has the position of Vietnam also changed significantly?
Vietnam is playing an increasingly important role in ASEAN. Twenty three years ago, when Vietnam joined the bloc, other member countries did not have much faith in the country. Having achieved such a important status in ASEAN, Vietnam has gone a long process with many challenges. In 1998, when ASEAN countries were experiencing the financial crisis, Vietnam successfully organized the Sixth ASEAN Summit and launched an agenda of action. Then, in 2010, Vietnam's chairmanship also demonstrated its position and role in bringing the South China Sea issue into the ASEAN agenda. 2018 is also a milestone year when we successfully held the World Economic Forum on ASEAN (WEF ASEAN).
From that, it is possible to see the organizational capacity of Vietnam as well as its efforts to become one of the leading countries of ASEAN. The bases for Vietnam to achieve this position are stable political system, successful economic transition model and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. Vietnam is in ASEAN as active and responsible member, seeking to join with other countries in resolving conflict by peaceful means and respecting international law.
2020 is an important year when Vietnam once again takes the role of ASEAN Chairmanship, what should Vietnam do to "tell" success stories of ASEAN in the face of the difficult situations of the region as well as the world?
2020 is an important year for Vietnam's foreign policy as Vietnam once again will hold ASEAN chairmanship. This is a great honor but also a great challenge. Whether Vietnam will be successful or not depends on Vietnam's development as well as the achievement of its goals related to economic growth, sustainable development, industrialization and modernization. Vietnam needs to skillfully handle the relationship between big powers, be cautious to trade protectionism, which is challenging trade liberalization.
The prioritized direction of the Vietnam for ASEAN in 2020 is to boost a united ASEAN and assert ASEAN’s central role. I think that building a strong and consensus ASEAN must be one of the focal points of Vietnam's diplomacy in 2020.
Thank you very much!