Vietnam & Philippines: Strong People-to-People Cooperation

Nguyen Thac Dinh, former Vietnamese Ambassador to the Philippines, spoke with Vietnam Times on the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and the Philippines
July 13, 2021 | 07:26
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Nguyen Thac Dinh - Former Vietnamese Ambassador to the Philippines, General Secretary of the Vietnam - Philippines Friendship Association.
Nguyen Thac Dinh - Former Vietnamese Ambassador to the Philippines, General Secretary of the Vietnam - Philippines Friendship Association.

Can you share the achievements in friendship cooperation between the people of Vietnam and the Philippines in recent years?

July 12, 2021 marks 45 years of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and the Philippines. Over the past 45 years, relations between the two countries have experienced ups and downs. The two countries' diplomatic relations were marked by the signing of a Joint Statement by the Foreign Ministers of the two countries establishing the Strategic Partnership on Nov. 17, 2015 during the visit to the Philippines by former President Truong Tan Sang. With the signing of this Joint Declaration, Vietnam becomes the third strategic partner of the Philippines, after the United States and Japan, opening a new era of cooperation between the two countries.

Looking back over the past 45 years, it can be affirmed that the relationship between the two countries is not only that of "good neighbours" but also "close brothers" - as President Rodrigo Durterte once assessed. The close relationship here is like brothers living in the same family, suffering joy and sorrow together. If that relationship is preserved and developed, the two peoples will reap many benefits.

When it comes to the development of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and the Philippines over the past 45 years, it is impossible not to mention the development of people-to-people relations between the two countries.

Relations between the Philippines and Vietnam began several hundred years ago. History shows that the people of the two countries traded with each other before the Europeans arrived in Asia through the sea between the ports of the two countries.

The year 2014 marked a turning point in the people-to-people relations between the two countries. It was on July 29, 2014, the Philippines - Vietnam Friendship Association was established, and exactly three months later the Vietnam - Philippines Friendship Association was also established on Oct. 29, 2014.

With the establishment of these two Friendship Associations, Vietnam and the Philippines have two solid bridges connecting the two peoples. Over the years, the activities of the two associations have been increasingly developed, bringing benefits to the people of the two countries.

People-to-people exchanges between the two countries, especially in the fields of culture and education, are developing. The two associations have coordinated with relevant ministries and branches of the two countries to organize "Vietnamese Cultural Days in the Philippines" and "Filipino Cultural Days in Vietnam," art exhibitions and food festivals.

The number of Vietnamese students and doctoral students studying at Philippine universities is increasing day by day (in 2006 there were only a few hundred students, but now there are over a few thousand students). Currently, there are nearly 7,000 Filipinos working, living and studying in Vietnam. Thai Nguyen University annually has about 50 Filipino students studying under the student exchange program.

May 2, 2019 marked an important milestone in the two countries' people-to-people relations. That is the fact that the Vietnam - Philippines Friendship Association and the Philippine Embassy in Vietnam coordinated with Thai Nguyen University to organize the inauguration ceremony of the monument of friendship during his visit to the campus of Thai Nguyen University. This is the first statue of Hero José Rizal in Vietnam.

In the Philippines, there is also a statue of President Ho Chi Minh next to the statue of national hero José Rizal on the campus of Laguna National University of Technology, where many Vietnamese students study.

The delegation of the Vietnam - Philippines Friendship Association (right) took a souvenir photo at the statue of President Ho Chi Minh - the leader of the Vietnamese nation and the Philippine national hero José Rizal located at the University Thai Nguyen.
The delegation of the Vietnam - Philippines Friendship Association (right) pose at the statue of President Ho Chi Minh and the Philippine national hero José Rizal at Thai Nguyen University.

Do you think the cooperation between the two peoples has been commensurate with the strategic partnership between Vietnam and the Philippines? Does this relationship still have room for further development

The relationship between the people of Vietnam and the Philippines is only within the framework of exchanging delegations and organizing a few cultural exchange events, especially, recently, both countries have been heavily affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Therefore, some projects and programs have not been implemented yet.

However, leaders of the two Friendship Associations still regularly contact each other to exchange information on the situation of the two countries. The Filipino people welcome and highly appreciate the effective Covid-19 prevention and control measures taken by the Government and people of Vietnam.

When looking at the development of relations between the two countries in general peoples in recent years, it is clear that the relationship between the two peoples has a lot of room for development.

As the General Secretary of the Vietnam - Philippines Friendship Association, can you share solutions to promote close cooperation and help the people of the two countries enhance mutual understanding?

In the context of complicated and unpredictable developments in the world and region, especially under the impact of Covid-19 pandemic, the activities of the two Associations will continue to face difficulties. However, the Standing Committee of the Vietnam - Philippines Friendship Association recently held a meeting to assess the situation and propose practical solutions to promote the relationship and understanding between the two peoples to match the strategic partnership.

Accordingly, the Association's leaders agreed on the following main measures: Firstly, to coordinate with the Philippines - Vietnam Friendship Association to effectively implement the Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Presidents of the two Associations, which attaches importance to strengthening the exchange of lecturers, students, and PhD students between the two countries.

The second measure is to organize art performances in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city when Covid-19 pandemic decreases.

The third is to help businesses of the two countries increase their understanding of each other's potential for economic cooperation, investment and trade, and take advantage of each other's strengths.

The fourth measure is to promote information through the exchange of information on social networks and the making of documentary videos with content focusing on tourist destinations, historical places, programs, entertainment television, films showing the friendship between the two countries. In particular, the association will organize the second congress of the Vietnam - Philippines Friendship Association, expected at the end of 2021.

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