Vietnam - ASEAN's Proactive, Dynamic, and Responsible Member
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July 28, 2021, marks the 26 anniversary of Vietnam's official participation in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The country has become one of the proactive, and responsible members who greatly contribute to the unified structure of ASEAN as well as maintain peace and prosperity in the region. Together with other countries, Vietnam plans to build ASEAN into a prospering, people-centered community.
ASEAN in Vietnam's foreign policy
Joining ASEAN was the a breakthrough for Vietnam as it led to the country's regional and global integration. Vietnam's policy towards ASEAN is closely related to the process of developing and renewing Vietnam's diplomacy thinking.
When the independent State of Vietnam was established 76 years ago, developing friendly cooperative relations with neighboring countries was a top priority. Right after the country's reunification in 1975, the directive to join ASEAN was also the country's top priority to break the isolation, and start its regional and global integration.
To realize its participation in ASEAN on July 28, 1995, Vietnam had undergone great developments in diplomacy mindset. Therefore, the country had a wise, timely, and strategic shift, emphasizing the country's highest interest at this time, which was taking advantage of peace for development.
Since officially joining ASEAN, Vietnam's foreign policy in ASEAN has become an important part of its general foreign policy in the new period, which is clearly directed in the documents of Party Congresses.
At the 11th Congress (January 2011), Vietnam's Communist Party set the goal that the country would proactively, positively, and responsibly working with countries in order to build a strong ASEAN Community, strengthening relations with other partners, maintaining the important role of ASEAN in the cooperation frameworks in the Asia-Pacific region. The country also decided to work with ASEAN countries to build Southeast Asia into a peaceful and stable region of prosperity, cooperation, and development. With the orientation, joining ASEAN becomes one of the focus in Vietnam's foreign policy, a strategic key in Vietnam's multilateral diplomacy in ASEAN.
Directive No. 25-CT/TW, dated August 8, 2018, issued by the Communist Party's Secretariat, on promoting and enhancing multilateral foreign relations by 2030 once again emphasized the need to effectively promote Vietnam's role as a member of the ASEAN Economic Community, promote Vietnam's position in building the ASEAN Political-Security Community, strengthen ASEAN's central role in the region, and enhance the position and presence of the Community in the international arena.
Thus, during the past 26 years and even before that, Vietnam's policy towards ASEAN reflects a fundamental development in its diplomacy thinking, which has become an important part of the country's foreign policy.
Over the past 26 years, Vietnam has actively worked with other countries to implement ASEAN cooperation agreements and plans, especially in building the ASEAN Community.
Vietnam had remarkable contributions in the launching of the ASEAN Community, which took placed at the end of 2015. Vietnam's contribution includes initiatives and proposals such as the 2010 Hanoi Plan of Action. Vietnam is also one of the countries taking the lead in realizing the goals of ASEAN Community.
Vietnam's imprint in ASEAN also reflects in its contributions to the expansion of the association's cooperation. Performing as ASEAN Chair in 2010, Vietnam initiated to expand East Asia Summit (EAS) membership by promoting the admission of Russia and the United States. The country proposed to expand the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting (ADMM+) mechanism. Those mechanisms have a significant role in boosting ASEAN's role, connecting not only ASEAN member states with each other and but also ASEAN with other countries.
Through a series of initiatives and programs, Vietnam has shown its role in coordinating mechanisms with foreign partners. Just three years after joining ASEAN, as the association's chairman, Vietnam drafted the 1998 Hanoi Plan of Action to promote recovery from the Asian financial crisis, contributing to eliminating development gap among member states.
In terms of security and peacebuilding, Vietnam notably contributed to the Declaration on the Code of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), and promote the negotiation of an effective and binding Code of Conduct (COC) which help to ensure peace and stability in the South Sea region.
The year 2020 marked the 25th anniversary of Vietnam joining ASEAN, and also its third time serving as the association chair. Vietnam demonstrated its bravery and proactiveness during the pandemic. Under its chairmanship, ASEAN held a series of online conferences to discuss how to respond to the pandemic, such as the successful ASEAN 36 and ASEAN 37 summits, a special ASEAN and ASEAN+3 summit on the Covid-19 pandemic.
Many initiatives to cope with and recover from the pandemic have been announced and put into operation in 2020, such as the Covid-19 ASEAN Response Fund, ASEAN Regional Reserve of Medical Supplies For Public Health Emergency, ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework, and its Implementation Plan. These initiatives have helped the association stand firm against the pandemic, ensuring its development orientation.
More importantly, through anti-pandemic and economic recovery cooperation, cohesion within ASEAN is strengthened, which are Vietnam's imprints and contribution to the association's comprehensive success.
More than a quarter of a century has passed, the ASEAN's success and growing role, and Vietnam's companionship with the association has once again proved the correctness of Vietnam's decision to join ASEAN. That decision not only shows the initiative and positivity in Vietnam's motto of multilateralization and diversification in foreign relations but also the inevitable need for cooperation for regional and international peace, development, and prosperity.
In the context of the complicated pandemic, Vietnam continues to proactively come up with initiatives and orientations in building the ASEAN community. A strong and resilient ASEAN community is a solid foundation for Vietnam to overcome difficulties in the coming time.
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