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|Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc chairs the online ASEAN Special Summit and ASEAN 3 Special Summit on COVID-19 response in Hanoi on April 14. — VNA/VNS Photo|
Vietnam is seeking to consolidate its position on the international stage as the country is taking on two important roles in 2020 including the chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for 2020 and a nonpermanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for the 2020-2021 term.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to cancellation and postponement of several significant events and summits including the 36th summit of the 10-member Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and other related conferences.
“While it is said that the outbreak has derailed Vietnam’s diplomatic ambitions, the door remains open for Hanoi to transfer its domestic success in fighting the disease into diplomatic achievements”, The Diplomat wrote.
|As the world enters the fourth month of the pandemic, Vietnam boasts a remarkably low infection rate in a country of 95 million people, with only 268 confirmed cases (97 active and 171 recovered) with no deaths as of April 17. This statistic is even more impressive given the long shared border with China, where the virus originated.|
Vietnam’s model for containing the outbreak has been touted as a successful low-cost model. Whereas its neighbors could afford mass testing, Vietnam lacked the resources and instead opted for selective but proactive prevention. Aside from some common policy actions such as contact tracing, ramping up production of medical supplies, and installing checkpoints at airports, Vietnam found its success in proactiveness.
According to the magazine, the first factor that enables the Vietnamese government’s success is the mobilization of nationalism. The government has framed the virus as a common foreign enemy and called on the unity of the population to defeat it, echoing the enduring history of a nation always threatened by foreign invaders.
In addition, the government has positioned itself as an effective source of leadership during the pandemic by providing information with transparency.
The Ministry of Health took the initiative to launch a website and a mobile application not only to ease the medical process but also to disseminate accurate information quickly. The digital apparatus helped stem the spread of rumors and fake news, in addition to legal enforcement against people who spread inaccurate information or engage in profiteering. State media have also constantly covered the hotspots of the pandemic like China, Italy, Spain, and the United States to raise public awareness about the seriousness of COVID-19 and to demonstrate the essential of robust government intervention.
Make success go globally
|Vietnam's Deputy Foreign Minister To Anh Dung hands a box of protective masks to Italy's Ambassador to Vietnam Antonio Alessandro during a ceremony in Hanoi, Vietnam, on April 7, 2020. © Lam Khanh/VNA via REUTERS.|
Vietnam proposed a consistence stance of balanced approach in fighting the epidemic and maintaining open economic policies while ensuring regular updates were made available to the public in the ACC's Special ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers' Meeting on Coronavirus Disease in Laos to discuss the response to the outbreak.
The country also chaired the Special ASEAN Plus Three (APT) Summit on April 14 in which ASEAN members and their dialogue partners China, Japan, and South Korea agreed in principle to set up a joint fund to combat the pandemic.
With limited resources, Vietnam still keen to show that it is able to offer its support to the world without hesitation. Vietnam has donated 550,000 face masks to France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Britain, and 390,000 to neighboring Cambodia and 340,000 to another neighbor, Laos.
It has also capitalized on the U.S. government's purchase of 450,000 made-in-Vietnam DuPont hazmat suits by expediting the shipment of the protective equipment and using it to highlight its medical donations in public statements and state media. Trump thanked "our friends in Vietnam" earlier this month for that shipment.
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