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PM’s keynote address at 12th Shangri-La Dialogue VNTimes


Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung delivered a keynote address entitled“Building Strategic Trust for Peace, Cooperation and Prosperity in theAsia-Pacific Region” at the opening ceremony of the 12th Shangri-LaDialogue in Singapore on May 31.

Following is the full text of the speech:

Excellency Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong,

Dr. John Chipman,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear friends,

At the outset, I would like to express my sincere thanks to PrimeMinister Lee Hsien Loong of the Singaporean host, Dr. John Chipman andthe organisers of the 12 th Shangri-La Dialogue for your kindinvitation to me to attend and address this important forum. Since itsinception 12 years ago, the Shangri-La Dialogue has truly become one ofthe most substantive and meaningful security dialogues in the region. Ido believe that the full presence of government officials, militaryleaders, prestigious scholars and all distinguished delegates at thisforum reflects the interest and the efforts to jointly preserve peaceand security in the Asia-Pacific region in the context of a dynamicallychanging world.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

While languages and expressions might differ, I am sure we all agreethat without trust, there would be no success and harder work asks forbigger trust. In Vietnam, there is a saying that ‘if trust is lost,all is lost.’ Trust is the beginning of all friendships and cooperation,the remedy that works to prevent calculations that could riskconflicts. Trust must be treasured and nurtured constantly by concrete,consistent actions in accordance with the common norms and with asincere attitude.

In the 20 th century,Southeast Asia in particular and the Asia-Pacific in general were oncefierce battlefields and deeply divided for decades. It might be saidthat the entire region always had a burning desire for peace. To havethe peace, development and prosperity, it is a must to build andconsolidate strategic trust. In other words, we need to build strategictrust for peace, cooperation and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific. Thatis what I wish to share with you at this forum.

To begin with, Vietnam has a profound confidence in the brightfuture of development and cooperation in the region that we are livingin. Yet the trend of increased engagement and competition, particularlyby big powers not only offers positive elements but also involvesnegative risks that require us to take initiative and work together toprevent.

The Asia-Pacific region now enjoysdynamic development and is home to the three biggest economies and manyemerging ones of the world. Here, the trend of multi-layer andmulti-sector cooperation and linkages is evolving vigorously and becomesthe prevailing one of the day. This is quite a promising prospect forus all.

However, looking back at the full pictureof the region in the past years, we cannot fail to be concerned over thesimmering risks and challenges to peace and security.

Competition and engagement are by themselves normal facts in thecourse of cooperation and development. Yet if such competition andengagement embrace calculations only in one’s own interest, withoutequality, respect of international law and transparency, then strategictrust could in no way be reinforced, and there could be a chance for therise of division, suspicion and the risk of mutual containment, thusadversely affecting peace, cooperation and development.

The unpredictable developments in the Korean Peninsula; sovereigntyand territorial disputes from the East China Sea to the East Sea (SouthChina Sea) that are evolving with much complexity, threatening regionalpeace and security, firstly maritime security and safety as well as thefreedom of navigation, have indeed caused deep concerns to theinternational community. Somewhere in the region, there have emergedpreferences for unilateral might, groundless claims, and actions thatrun counter to international law and stem from imposition and powerpolitics.

I would like to draw your further attention to thefact that maritime transport and communications are growing in scale andhaving a much greater significance. It is projected that three fourthsof global trade will be made via maritime routes and two thirds of thatwill be shipped across the East Sea . A single irresponsible actionor instigation of conflict could well lead to the interruption of suchhuge trade flow, thus causing unforeseeable consequences not only toregional economies but also to the entire world.

In the meantime, the threats of religious and ethnic conflicts, egoisticnationalism, secessionism, violence, terrorism, cyber security, etc. arestill very much present. Global challenges like climate change, sealevel rise, pandemics or water resources and the interests of upstreamand downstream riparian countries of shared rivers, etc. have becomeever more acute.

We could realize that such challenges andrisks of conflict are not to be underestimated. We all understand thatif this region falls into instability and especially, armed conflicts,in general there will be neither winner nor loser. Rather, all willlose. Suffice it to say, therefore, that working together to build andreinforce strategic trust for peace, cooperation and prosperity in theregion is the shared interest of us all. For Vietnam , strategictrust is perceived, above all, as honesty and sincerity.

Secondly, to build strategic trust, we need to abide ourselves byinternational law, uphold the responsibilities of nations, especially ofmajor powers, and improve the efficiency of multilateral securitycooperation mechanisms.

In the world history, many nationshave suffered from irreparable losses when they fell victim to powerpolitics, conflicts and wars. In today’s civilised world, the UNCharter, international law and the universal principles and norms serveas the entire mankind’s common values that must be respected. This alsorepresents the precondition for strategic trust building.

Eachstate should always be a responsible stakeholder in the pursuit ofcommon peace and security. Countries, either big or small, must buildtheir relations on the basis of equality and mutual respect and at ahigher level, on mutual strategic trust. Big states have a greater roleto play and can contribute more but they should also shoulder biggerresponsibilities in the cultivation and consolidation of such strategictrust. Besides, when it comes to the right voices and beneficialinitiatives it does not matter whether they come from big or smallcountries. The principles of cooperation, equal and open dialogue inASEAN and other forums advocated by ASEAN as well as this Shangri-LaDialogue are born from and maintained on such mindset.

I fullyshare the views of H.E. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono ofIndonesia who said last year at this forum that small and mediumcountries could help lock major powers into a durable regionalarchitecture. I also agree with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on whathe said in a speech in Beijing last September that a reliable andresponsible cooperation between the United States and China wouldpositively contribute to the common interest of the region. We allunderstand that the Asia-Pacific has sufficient room for all intra- andextra-regional countries to work together and share their interests. Thefuture of the Asia-Pacific has been and will continue to be shaped bythe roles and interactions by all countries in the region and the world,particularly by the major powers and certainly, by the indispensablerole of ASEAN.

I believe that no regional country would opposethe strategic engagement of extra-regional powers if such engagementaims to enhance cooperation for peace, stability and development. Wecould expect more in the roles played by major powers, particularly theUnited States and China , the two powers having the biggest roles(I underline the biggest) in and responsibilities to the future of theirown as well as that of the region and the world. What is important isthat such expectation should be reinforced by strategic trust and suchstrategic trust must be reflected by concrete and constructive actionsof these nations.

We attach special importance to the rolesplayed by a vigorously rising China and by the United States - aPacific power. We would expect and support the United States andChina once their strategies and actions conform to international law,respect the independence and sovereignty of nations, not only bringingabout benefits to them but also contributing genuinely to our commonpeace, cooperation and prosperity.

What I want to furtherunderline is that the existing regional cooperation mechanisms such asthe ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), East Asia Summit (EAS), ASEAN DefenceMinisters’ Meetings Plus (ADMM+) as well as the Shangri-La Dialogueoffer the opportunities to foster multilateral security cooperation andfind solutions to the arising challenges. Yet it could be said that whatis still missing, or at least still insufficient, is the strategictrust in the implementation of those arrangements. The first andforemost important thing is to build a mutual trust when confrontingchallenges, impacts of interactions, and enhancing practical cooperationin various areas, and at different levels and layers, both bilateraland multilateral. Once there is sufficient strategic trust, theenforcement effectiveness of existing mechanisms will be enhanced, andwe could advance and expand cooperation and find solutions to anyproblem, even the most sensitive and difficult one.

Thirdly,when talking about peace, stability, cooperation and prosperity in theAsia-Pacific, we cannot help but mention an ASEAN of unity andconsensus, playing its central role in many multilateral cooperationforums.

It was hard to believe that a South East Asiaonce divided and embedded in conflicts during the Cold War could become acommunity of nations united in diversity and playing a central role inan evolving regional architecture like ASEAN today. The participation ofVietnam in ASEAN in 1995 marked a new era of development in ASEANtowards building a common house for all South East Asian nations trueto its name. The success of ASEAN is the fruit of a long perseveringprocess to build trust, nurture the culture of dialogue and cooperation,and cultivate the sense of responsibility to the shared destiny ofSouth East Asian nations.

ASEAN is proud to be an example forthe principle of consensus and mutual trust in the making of its owndecisions. That principle is the foundation for equality among themember states, whether it is Indonesia with nearly a fourth of a billionpeople or Brunei Darussalam with less than half a million. Thatprinciple also constitutes the foundation for extra-regional countriesto place their trust in ASEAN as an ‘ honest broker’ in guiding thenumerous regional cooperation mechanisms.

With a mindset ofshared interests rather than that of a win-lose one, the enlargement ofthe East Asia Summit (EAS) to include Russia and the United States, theADMM+ process that was put into reality in Vietnam in 2010, and thesuccess of EAS, ARF and ADMM+ in the years that follow have furtherconsolidated the ground for a regional architecture in which ASEAN playsthe central role, bringing about trust in the multilateral securitycooperation in the region.

I also wish to refer to Myanmaras a vivid example of the outcome of the perseverance to dialogue on thebasis of building and reinforcing trust, respecting the legitimateinterests of each other, which helps open up a bright future not onlyfor Myanmar but also for our whole region.

There have beenprofound lessons about the fundamental values of ASEAN’s consensus andunity in maintaining equal and mutually beneficial relations withpartner countries and maximising its proactive role in handlingstrategic issues of the region. ASEAN could only be strong and able tobuild on its role when it is united as one. An ASEAN lacking unity willby itself, lose its stand and will not be in the interest of anycountry, even ASEAN member states or its partners. We need an ASEANunited and strong, cooperating effectively with all countries to nurturepeace and prosperity in the region, not an ASEAN in which member statesare forced to take side with one country or the other for theindividual benefit of their own in the relations with big powers. Wehave the responsibility to multiply trust in the settlement of problems,enhance cooperation for mutual benefit, combine harmoniously ournational interest with that of other nations and of the whole region.

Vietnam and other ASEAN members always desire that othercountries, particularly the major powers, support the ASEAN Community’scentral role, its principle of consensus and unity.

Back to theissue of the East Sea , ASEAN and China have travelled a long waywith no less difficulty to come to the Declaration on the Conduct ofParties in the South China Sea (DOC) adopted during the ASEAN Summit inPhnom Penh in 2002. To commemorate the 10 th anniversary of theDOC, ASEAN and China have agreed to work towards a Code of Conductin the South China Sea (COC). Parties need to uphold theirresponsibilities, mutually reinforce strategic trust, first and foremostby strictly implementing the DOC and doubling efforts to formulate aCOC that conforms to international law and in particular, the 1982 UNConvention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

We believe thatASEAN and its partners can work together to develop a feasible mechanismthat could guarantee maritime security and safety and freedom ofnavigation in the region . In so doing, we will not only help ensuremaritime security and safety, and freedom of navigation, and createconditions for the settlement of disputes but will also assert thefundamental principles in maintaining peace, enhancing developmentcooperation in the contemporary world.

As for non-traditionalsecurity and other challenges including water resources security on thecommon rivers, by building strategic trust, enhancing cooperation andharmonizing national interests with common interests, I believe that wewill able to achieve successes, thus making practical contributions topeace, cooperation and development in the region.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear friends,

Throughout her thousands of years of history, Vietnam hassuffered numerous pains and losses due to wars. Vietnam alwaysaspires to peace and desires to contribute to the consolidation of peaceand enhancement of friendship and development cooperation in the regionand the world. To have a genuine and lasting peace, the independenceand sovereignty of any country, whether large or small, must berespected; and differences in interests, culture, etc. must be subjectto open and constructive dialogues of mutual understanding and mutualrespect.

We do not forget the past but need to put it behind tolook forward to the future. With the tradition of offering peace andfriendship, Vietnam always desires to work with its partners tobuild and reinforce strategic trust for peace, cooperation anddevelopment on the basis of the principle of respect for independence,sovereignty, equality and mutual benefit.

Vietnamconsistently persists with the foreign policy of independence,self-reliance, multilateralisation and diversification of externalrelations, being a friend and reliable partner to all nations, and aresponsible member of the international community. Vietnam hasspared no efforts to build and deepen strategic partnerships andmutually beneficial cooperative partnerships with other countries. It isalso our desire to establish strategic partnerships with all thepermanent members of the UN Security Council once the principles ofindependence, sovereignty, non-interference in the internal affairs ofeach other, mutual respect, equal and mutually beneficial cooperationare committed and seriously implemented.

At this prestigiousforum, I have the honour to inform that Vietnam has decided toparticipate in UN peacekeeping operations, first in such areas asmilitary engineering, military medicine and military observation.

Vietnam ’s defence policy is that of peace and self-defence.Vietnam will not be a military ally to any country and will not allowany country to set up military bases on Vietnamese territory. Vietnamwill not ally itself with any country to counter another.

Inthe past years, sustained high economic growth has enabled Vietnamto increase its national defence budget at a reasonable level. Vietnam’s army modernisation is only for self-defence and the safeguard ofour legitimate interests. It does not, in any way target any othercountry.

With regard to the present threats and challenges toregional security such as the Korean Peninsula, the East China Sea andthe East Sea, etc., Vietnam perseveres to the principle of peacefuldispute settlement on the basis of international law, respecting theindependence, sovereignty and the legitimate interests of each other.All parties concerned need to exercise self-restraint and must notresort to force or threat to use force.

Once again, Vietnamreiterates its consistent compliance with the ASEAN Six-point Statementon the South China Sea and will do its utmost to work together withASEAN and China to seriously observe the DOC and soon arrive at theCOC. As a coastal State , Vietnam reaffirms and defends itslegitimate rights and interests in accordance with international law,especially the 1982 UNCLOS.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear friends,

Peace, cooperation and development represent the interest, the ardentaspirations and the common future of all countries and peoples. Inthe open spirit of the Shangri-La Dialogue, I would call upon you all tojoin hands and make concrete actions to build and reinforce strategictrust for an Asia-Pacific region of peace, cooperation and prosperity.

Thank you very much for your kind attention.-VNA

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