Việt Nam considered a key pillar for India’s Look East policy in Southeast Asia: NA chairman

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REMARKS BY H.E. VUONG DINH HUE, CHAIRMAN OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY OF VIET NAM AT THE CEREMONY COMMEMORATING THE 5TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE VIET NAM – INDIA COMPREHENSIVE STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP ON DECEMBER 17

Dr. Jaishankar, Minister of External Affairs of India,

Madam Director General of the Indian Council of World Affairs,

I am elated to attend this ceremony in commemoration of the 5th anniversary of the Viet Nam – India Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. On behalf of the high-ranking delegation of the National Assembly of Viet Nam, I wish to thank the Indian Council of World Affairs, the Ministry of External Affairs of India, and relevant agencies for organizing this important event.

We still vividly recall the month of September 2016, when Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi, during his visit to Viet Nam, joined Prime Minister of Viet Nam Nguyen Xuan Phuc to sign the agreement to upgrade the Viet Nam – India relations from Strategic Partnership to Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.

In the Vietnamese language, we have a saying that goes: “Time races past as though a courser sprinting outside the window.” If we take into account the 2000-year history of cultural exchanges between our two civilizations, the past five years is but a blink of an eye. And yet, this period has established itself as a significant milestone, bearing the hallmarks of cultural and ideological ties between Viet Nam and India over the past two millennia. While the world continues to undergo constant changes, the Viet Nam – India ties have remained ever consistent and pure.

Many politicians and scholars around the world are often surprised by the close, enduring and earnest friendship between Viet Nam and India. Each may have a distinctive take on such relations. However, they may not manage to fully grasp the root of the Viet Nam – India ties.

– It is the 2000-year relationship cultivated by Viet Nam’s cultural values, patriotism, compassion, forgiveness and kindness, and India’s philosophy of equality, benevolence, peace and humanism stemming from Buddhism and Hinduism.

– It is the enlightened mindset in politics, diplomacy, and national construction and protection shared by eminent leaders of both countries, President Ho Chi Minh, Mahatma Gandhi and Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. This common legacy was passed down through, and continuously enriched by generations of leaders and peoples from both countries.

– It is the modern and comprehensive nature in our bilateral ties at all levels, with the consistent underlying factor being political trust. The Viet Nam – India relations enjoy high political trust, and have thus overcome countless challenges, remaining ever close and pure. Such political trust has been constantly reinforced via the frequent exchanges of high-level delegations between the two Parties, States, Parliaments and Governments.

– And it is the process of Doi Moi initiated by the Communist Party of Viet Nam in 1986, and the reform conducted by India in 1991. These endeavors provided greater opportunities for both countries to further strengthen political relations and bilateral ties at large.

Since then, the relationship between our two countries has yielded encouraging development achievements across five primary pillars, including politics and diplomacy, defense and security, economic, trade and investment cooperation, science and technology, and education, training, and cultural and people-to-people exchange.

  • Over the last 5 years, there have been 7 high-level visits between our two countries. This is the highest frequency of visits between Viet Nam and any other countries. They not only laid the groundwork and created fresh impetus for the implementation of signed cooperation agreements, but also strengthened political trust between Viet Nam and India.
  • Our defense and security cooperation has continued to flourish, constituting a highlight in the Viet Nam – India ties, and reflecting the strategic nature of our partnership. The two sides have fundamentally operationalized the credit line worth 100 million USD to build high-speed boats for the Vietnamese Coast Guard.
  • The economic ties between our two countries are continually expanded. Our bilateral trade turnover witnessed an average growth of 20% per annum, and our two countries became each other’s important economic partner. Despite the complicated evolution of the pandemic, our trade turnover in the first 10 months of 2021 still totaled 11 billion USD, a year-over-year increase of around 40%. More importantly, we still have vast untapped potential for economic cooperation. I noted the increasing attention given to Viet Nam by Indian enterprises. Thus, there is a possibility for major Indian corporations to choose Viet Nam to make a breakthrough in terms of FDI in Southeast Asia. The Viet Nam – India Business Forum, co-hosted by the Confederation of Indian Industry, the Ministry of Planning and Investment of Viet Nam, and the Vietnamese Embassy in India this morning, welcomed the physical attendance of 200 enterprises and the virtual participation of another 500 businesses and investors from both sides. 12 Memorandums of Understanding worth billions of USD were signed, encompassing such fields as pharmaceuticals, information technology, oil and gas, and the environment. The MOU between Viet Nam’s Saigon Tel and India’s Ecologic Engineering on cooperation in industrial infrastructure and innovation alone is worth 4 billion USD.
  • Collaboration in science and technology has been, and will continue to be a driver for our bilateral ties. Civil nuclear power, IT, and digital transformation are areas of strength that India are pioneering. Viet Nam is following these sectors with keen interest, and will promote concrete cooperation programs in such fields.
  • The ties between our two countries will remain close, so long as cultural and people-to-people exchanges continue to flourish. More and more Vietnamese people are travelling to India to explore a country imbued with diverse cultures and identities, and a set of distinctive values. On the other way around, more and more Indian people are visiting Viet Nam, an attractive tourist destination and a dynamic working environment. Furthermore, the opening of direct flights between our two countries since late 2019 has opened up a new chapter in the relations between two long-standing cultures and close nations. The pandemic bears more vivid testament to the tradition of mutual support through times of hardship between our two countries. When India was suffering from COVID-19, Viet Nam did not hesitate to extend a helping hand. And when Viet Nam was facing challenges, India immediately deployed its naval ship to deliver oxygen and medical equipment to Viet Nam to aid our efforts in providing timely treatment to critical patients and reducing the number of casualties. Such is an act that we will never forget. We also wish to thank the Government and people of India for sponsoring projects in archaeological excavation, preservation and renovation of Cham cultural sites in Central and Southern Viet Nam. The discovery of a shiva linga representing the presence of Hinduism in Viet Nam bears vivid testament to the time-honored cultural ties between our two nations. Such is the root for our countries’ long-standing relationship.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The relations between Viet Nam and India have been thriving in these five areas. More importantly, we are sharing similar views on an increasing number of regional and international issues. I will temporarily call this a culmination of strategic values.

Our two countries have, on multiple occasions, reiterated the demand to uphold a rules-based multilateral order, avoid the threat or use of force, settle international disputes via peaceful means, and ensure freedom of navigation and overflight in line with international law. Furthermore, we also agree that the UNCLOS 1982 constitutes an important foundation to maintain peace, stability and justice in the region.

Over the past decade, particularly in 2021, our two countries have worked closely at the United Nations Security Council to protect the interest of each other and the common values of mankind. It is this unity that fosters collective strength to safeguard the core tenets of the contemporary international system. Both countries hold a firm belief that multilateralism is not merely a tool, but rather a goal to pursue, so as to establish a stable and fair international order.

Viet Nam considers India as both a major power, with increasing role and prestige in the world, and a close traditional friend. Our bilateral ties have constantly stood the test of time, kept up with the prevailing trends of the time and fulfilled the aspiration of our peoples.

Viet Nam supports and welcomes India’s “Look East” policy, which was upgraded to “Act East” policy in 2014 in line with the new situation and vision. Viet Nam is considered as a key pillar for this policy in Southeast Asia. This would be an integral factor in bolstering the Viet Nam – India ties.

We all gather here today at this grand celebration of the 5th anniversary of our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. I believe that this bears great significance, kickstarting a series of upcoming events to commemorate the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations and the 75th Independence Day of India in 2022.

At this very moment, I recall the speech of Excellency President of India Pranab Mukherjee at the launching of the Center for Indian Studies at the Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics on 15 September 2014 during his visit to Viet Nam. He stated that the Viet Nam – India ties had never been more outstanding, and that it was necessary for India and Viet Nam to stand shoulder-to-shoulder to protect common interest, peace and prosperity. He also affirmed that India would remain a trusted and loyal friend of Viet Nam.

This statement also reflects the shared aspiration of our peoples.

With all my sincere faith in and affection for India and her people, I am fully confident that the friendship between our two countries will further thrive, with greater diversity.

I wish you all good health, peace, and happiness.

May the Viet Nam – India friendship continue to flourish.

Thank you.

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