Reporter: Could you elaborate on Vietnam's international integration and external defense relations work in 2022?
Senior Lieutenant General Hoang Xuan Chien: Under the leadership and direction of the Party, the State, and the Government, directly the Central Military Commission and the Ministry of National Defense, the international integration and external defense relations work in 2022 was implemented with important achievements, contributing to protecting national independence, sovereignty, and national interests; preserving a peaceful and stable environment for building the Fatherland and raising the prestige and position of the country and the Vietnam People's Army in the international arena.
Closely following international and regional developments, we accurately advised the Party and the State on the level and contents of defense cooperation with partners; contributed opinions on important and oriented projects and documents on the external affairs of the Party and the State. Leaders of the Defense Ministry accompanied leaders of the Party, State, and Government on high-level visits to foreign countries, contributing to enhancing political trust with other countries.
Regarding bilateral defense cooperation, we accelerated defense cooperation activities with other countries, especially neighboring countries with adjacent borders and major powers on the principles of equality, respect, mutual benefit, and compliance with international law.
After nearly three years of being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the implementation of cooperation activities between Vietnam and other countries was actively enhanced with diverse forms focusing on key areas, which were suitable to our needs and capabilities, effectively and substantively contributing to the Fatherland protection missions. Key areas included exchange of delegations, especially high-level ones; consultation mechanisms, defense policy dialogues at deputy defense minister level; collaboration in training; cooperation between arms and services; external relations in border areas; overcoming war legacy, search and rescue, strategic research, defense industry, military medicine, U.N. peacekeeping mission. In 2022, eight foreign Ministers of Defense paid official and working visits to Vietnam, and many high-ranking defense delegations of other countries chose Vietnam for their visits. Defense Minister Phan Van Giang paid an official visit to Laos, accompanied the Party and State leaders to officially visit China and Singapore, and attended multilateral conferences in foreign countries, including Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, ASEAN Defense Ministers' Meeting, and ASEAN Defense Ministers' Meeting Plus in Cambodia.
In addition, we well maintained available cooperation mechanisms with other countries such as the Defense Policy Dialogues at the deputy defense minister level with Cambodia, the United States, Israel, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, and Thailand and coordinated to organize border defense friendship exchanges with all three neighboring countries, namely China, Laos, and Cambodia.
Multilaterally, we continued to affirm the prestige and position of the country and the Vietnam People’s Army in the region and in the international arena when actively participating in and proposing initiatives at regional and international multilateral defense cooperation forums, especially within the framework of ASEAN. In addition, Vietnam successfully hosted a number of large multilateral activities such as he 23rd ASEAN Chiefs of Army Multilateral Meeting, the 30th ASEAN Armies Rifle Meet, "Emergency Area" content within the International Army Games (Army Games) 2022, the Vietnam International Defense Expo 2022, and the first "Vietnamese Coast Guards and Friends" exchange program. Those achievements were highly appreciated by international friends.
In the field of U.N. peacekeeping, in 2022, the Vietnam People's Army made thorough preparations and sent the Engineering Company Rotation 1 and Level-2 Field Hospital Rotation 4 to carry out duties at U.N. peacekeeping missions, collaborated with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Vietnam to successfully organize the International Conference on Women with the U.N. Peacekeeping Operations which was co-chaired by U.N. Under Secretary General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix. Vietnam became one of the leading countries in the effort to increase women’s participation in peacekeeping operations, clearly demonstrating Vietnam’s commitment to the U.N.’s gender equality goal.
Reporter: The external defense relations work witnessed important highlights. Notably, Vietnam for the first time organized border defense friendship exchanges with Laos and Cambodia and hosted the Vietnam International Defense Expo and the “Vietnam Coast Guards and Friends” Exchange Program in Hanoi. Did these events demonstrate the diversity and more practical effectiveness of external defense relations activities?
Senior Lieutenant General Hoang Xuan Chien: Like Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong once said, "Our country has never had such fortune, potential, international position and prestige as it does today." That is a favorable condition for us to expand and promote the defense cooperation with other countries in a more intensive manner, with more diverse cooperation contents and forms, contributing to protecting the Fatherland early and from afar; propose initiatives to contribute to regional and international peace, stability, cooperation, and development.
Border diplomacy continued to be a spotlight. Within six months, from December 2021 to May 2022, we organized the 7th and the first border defense friendship exchanges with China and Laos and Cambodia, respectively. Recently, we hosted the “Vietnam Coast Guards and Friends” Exchange Program with the participation of maritime law enforcement forces from six countries bordering or having sea border with Vietnam, namely China, Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, and Malaysia. These activities held profound political significance, contributing to strengthening the friendship and solidarity between local authorities and people in border areas, border protection force on land, and maritime law enforcement forces of Vietnam and other countries. They were important for us and other countries to build strategic trust, promote practical cooperation, and build peaceful, friendly, stable, and developed land and sea borders, contributing to the country's stability, cooperation, development.
2022 also marked a new development in Vietnam’s international integration in defense when the International Defense Expo was hosted in Hanoi for the first time. We welcomed 52 international delegations led by leaders of the defense ministries and militaries of 28 countries and more than 170 defense industry enterprises from 30 countries around the world showcasing their products at the event. The participation of countries showed the support of international partners and friends to the event that Vietnam organized for the first time. It was one of the important defense cooperation activities of the Defense Ministry and an opportunity for us to strengthen cooperation in defense industry and seek opportunities to export Vietnam’s defense products. It was also an opportunity for Vietnam to study and learn about the weapons and technical equipment development trends in the world, thus diversifying cooperation and receiving technology transfer from foreign countries for the production of weapons, technical and logistical equipment to meet the requirements of national defense in the new situation.
Reporter: What should external defense relations work be carried out to further contribute to the targets of both fostering cooperation and development between Vietnam and other countries and meeting the requirements of protecting the Fatherland early and from afar?
Senior Lieutenant General Hoang Xuan Chien: The political, economic, and security environment in the world is changing rapidly, complicatedly, unpredictably. We are proud of our achievements, but should not forget that there is still a lot of work to be done in which there are immutable principles and things that always require creativity and flexibility depending on each situation.
On implementing international integration and external defense relations work, we continue to consistently adhere to the foreign policy of independence, self-reliance, diversification, and multilateralization with the motto “more friends, less enemies"; steadfastly stick to the “4 no’s” policy which was identified in the 2019 National Defense White Paper; promote external defense relations to contribute to enhancing political trust, building, and consolidating relations with partners; both cooperate and struggle to protect the independence and sovereignty, the people, and socialism.
In the coming time, it is necessary to continue to carry out international integration and external defense relations activities synchronously and comprehensively in accordance with the foreign policy and guidelines of the Party and State; raise the efficiency of bilateral external defense relations; foster cooperation with other countries in an intensive and practical manner, contributing to consolidating strategic trust and enhancing position and prestige of Vietnam and its army in the international arena. We need to strengthen defense relations and cooperation with other countries; determine prioritized contents; diversify bilateral defense cooperation forms in accordance with political, economic, and diplomatic relations and on principles of equality, respect, mutual benefits, and compliance with international law. Bilateral defense cooperation should focus on exchange of delegations, training, overcoming war legacy, search and rescue, military medicine, U.N. peacekeeping operations, strategic research, science and technology, defense industry, maritime security, and more. We should promote border diplomacy work with a focus on border exchanges, joint patrols, and cooperation in preventing cross-border crimes, twinning between posts and stations, and collaboration in handling border issues; continue to mobilize external resources to serve the war legacy settlement in Vietnam.
We need to pro-actively and actively participate in regional and international security mechanisms and forums, especially defense cooperation mechanisms within ASEAN and those in which ASEAN plays central role, contributing actively to maintaining regional and international peace, stability, and development; accelerate participation in U.N. peacekeeping operations in the direction of expanding fields, areas, and scale; pro-actively host and actively participate in multilateral defense events, such as military sports festivals, conferences, seminars, military exchanges, and defense industry exhibitions, among others.
We also need to continue to enhance the quality and effectiveness of grasping situational development, research, and strategic forecast, considering this one of the key and decisive solutions to raise the efficiency of strategic recommendation on international integration and external defense relations and on the building of strategy and policy on foreign affairs in general and on external defense relations in particular; renew the dissemination of external defense relations; continue to complete the system of legal documents related to external defense relations consistent with international laws and practices, synchronous with the State’s legal documents on foreign affairs, in accordance with the requirements and tasks in the new situation; improve the effectiveness of coordination with central and local departments, ministries, sectors in implementing international integration and external defense relations; continue to train a contingent of personnel in charge of external defense relations work with firm political stance, a sense of strict discipline, ethics, healthy lifestyle, broad knowledge, professional competence, good command of foreign languages to meet the requirements of expanding and raising the level of international integration and external defense relations in the new situation.
Reporter: Thank you very much!
Translated by Tran Hoai
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