Trust lays solid foundation for all relations, especially VN-US ties
VGP – Trust always lays a solid foundation for all relations, and it is even more important factor for the Viet Nam-US ties, wrote Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh in his recent article on occasion of the 25th anniversary of normalization of Viet Nam-US diplomatic ties.
The following is translation of the article for reference:
A quarter century has gone since US President Bill Clinton and Vietnamese Prime Minister Vo Van Kiet officially declared normalization of Viet Nam-US diplomatic relations, thanks to the sides’ tireless efforts, both countries have become friends and comprehensive partners across all fields and the prospect of the bilateral ties remains broad.
The celebration of the 25th anniversary of the diplomatic ties offers an opportunity for the two countries to review the past journey and work together to advance the ties commensurate with potentials of the ties as well as aspirations of the two nations. It is trust which is always a solid foundation for all relations whether it is between individuals or nations.
Trust can be created, nurtured and looked after through practical deeds, goodwill and sincerity, and Viet Nam-US relations is a clear evidence of that. Trust becomes even more important factor for relations between countries that were once foes. In reality, cooperation in handling war consequences laid the first bricks of trust between Viet Nam and the US.
After the Paris Agreement was signed in 1975, Viet Nam unilaterally organized teams to search, excavate and hand over remains of more than 300 American solders to the US side. Thousands of Vietnamese people, who have not found their relatives who lost their lives in the war, still volunteered to join the efforts to search for remains of the opposite side’s soldiers.
It were the great efforts of the Government of Viet Nam as well as the friendliness and readiness to shelve the past of the Vietnamese people that contributed to affect the US side’s thoughts on healing the war pain. The two countries have worked together to repatriate more than 1,000 sets of remains of American solders and identified remains of over other 800 missing soldiers. For its side, the US provided information and documents related to Vietnamese soldiers who died in the war, helping Viet Nam to find, collect and rebury nearly 1,500 sets of remains of martyrs.
The US Administration has increased budget funding for overcoming war legacy, completed detoxification project at Da Nang airport in 2018, and is embarking on another detoxification project in Bien Hoa airport. It also offered US$125 to support around one million disabled people in Viet Nam and financed US$130 million for several projects on clearance of unexploded bombs and mines in the Southeast Asian country. Viet Nam recognizes the US efforts in overcoming the war consequences.
Shelving the past, looking to the future
With the guideline of shelving the past and looking to the future, Viet Nam has worked with the US to build up cooperative ties on the basis of mutual benefits, equality, and respect for each other’s political systems, independence, and territorial integrity. This is the consistent guideline of Viet Nam’s foreign policy, which is in accordance with the spirit of friendship and peace-loving tradition of the Vietnamese nation. Thanks to the tireless efforts made by the two nations and especially the two peoples, the Viet Nam-US ties have developed in both depth and width on all fields and levels, truly reflecting the nature of the comprehensive partnership.
Political-diplomacy relations have gradually expanded with regular exchange of high-level delegations. Since 2000, leaders of the two countries have made 10 visits, including three visits by the Vietnamese leaders, namely State President Truong Tan Sang (2013), Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong in 2015, and Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc (2017). For the US side, all incumbent Presidents visited Viet Nam. Each visit opened up new chapter for the bilateral ties.
The two sides’ leaders have adopted eight Joint Statements, in which the 2013 Joint Statement on establishment of comprehensive partnership figuring out nine key pillars of cooperation and identifying for the first time such principles as cooperation for mutual benefits, equality, and respect for each other’s political systems, independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity. The 2015 Joint Statement rolled out the shared vision of the bilateral ties and emphasized the view to deepen long-term partnership and strengthen coordination over regional and international issues. The 2017 Joint Statement mapped out a roadmap to further deepen the ties. Especially, the US hospitality for Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong during his visit in 2015 reflected the full respect for Viet Nam’s political system and the comprehensive leadership of the Party.
The American Administration and Congress have affirmed on several occasions that they attach importance to consolidating the comprehensive partnership, support Viet Nam to become a strong, independent and prosperous, and highly value Viet Nam’s role in its policy toward the region.
Comprehensive and substantial relations
Economic, trade and investment linkage is an important and indispensable part of the ongoing dynamic relations between Viet Nam and the US. The two-way trade rose 170 times to US$76 billion in 2019 from US$450 million in 1995.
The two economies are becoming increasingly supplementary and supportive. The US remains the biggest importer of Vietnamese products, including key exports like aquatic, textile, footwear, and farm produce, etc. Meanwhile, Viet Nam has emerged as one of the fastest-growing markets of US exports. American goods are increasingly favored by Vietnamese people.
On investment, the US is the 11 biggest investor in Viet Nam, with diverse forms of investment in 43 out of 63 provinces and cities. Many American business giants expect to expand investment in Viet Nam, which has helped the country to gradually navigate itself in the regional and global supply chains.
Scientific and technological cooperation has also witnessed positive progress and expanded to new domains. A number of the top American tech companies expressed their wish to accelerate cooperation in such fields like artificial intelligence, startup, renewable energy, infrastructure development, information technology infrastructure, and high-quality human resource training.
Since the normalization of the ties, education and training cooperation has remarkably advanced as evidenced by growing number of Vietnamese students in the US, from 500 in 1995 to nearly 30,000 in 2020, making Viet Nam the ASEAN’s largest source of students learning in the US. The figure does not include students at the Fulbright University in Viet Nam.
Tourism is another bright side of the bilateral ties, with steady increase of American tourists to Viet Nam over years. In 2019, the US Travel Association chose Viet Nam as one of the world’s top destinations. For American tourists, Viet Nam is a safe and friendly destination capable of organizing big international events.
Bilateral cooperation is not just limited to bilateral aspect but has been expanded to regional and international issues, which is in line with Viet Nam’s policy of proactive and active international integration as well as the interests and development causes of the two countries. Bilateral coordination is becoming increasingly closer at regional and international fora like the UN, APEC, ARF, EAS, etc., and over major issues like non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, trans-national crime combat, peace-keeping operations, sustainable development in Mekong Sub-region, and acceleration of ASEAN-US strategic partnership.
The two countries have also fostered cooperation in ensuring freedom, safety and security of navigation and aviation in the region, beefed up settlement of disputes through peaceful measures on the basis of international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, especially when Viet Nam is the current ASEAN Chair and non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, in order to make practical contributions to peace, cooperation and development in the region and the world.
Overcoming divergences, weaving the future
Like any other relationship between countries, it is understandable that the relationship between Viet Nam and the US contains divergences as both countries have diverse cultures and histories, different political systems and development levels. However, above all, the two countries have demonstrated the spirit of respecting each other’s political systems, independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, enhanced dialogue and cooperation while reducing divergences that may affect the ties, and maintained goodwill to address divergences in a frank, open and constructive manner.
The two countries are working together on matters concerned by the US, including the implementation of an action plan toward harmonized and balanced trade ties. Both sides will continue dialogues on democracy-human rights-religions.
After 25 years of normalization of the ties and seven years of establishment of the comprehensive partnership, the fruits of the bilateral ties show that cooperation based on fairness, mutual benefits, respect for each other’s political systems, independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, respect for the UN Charter and other basic principles of international law has proved to be the right choice of Viet Nam and the US. This is the inevitable as it is in line with the common interests of the two peoples. During his visit to the US in 2015, Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong said: From former foes, we have become friends, partners, and comprehensive partners. The past could not be changed but our responsibilities determine the future.
It is hoped that the achievements of the past 25-year journey will be the driving force for young generations of the two countries to lift up the bilateral ties to new heights in line with the two people’s interests, contributing to peace, stability, cooperation and prosperity in Asia-Pacific and the world./.