NA passes amended health insurance law

Lawmakers examined and passed amendments and supplements to the Law on Health Insurance at a plenary session of the National Assembly in the afternoon of June 13.

The deputies later continued to debate draft revisions to a resolution on conducting vote of confidence on those holding positions elected or approved by the NA and the People’s Councils.

They focused their discussion on issues related to the scope, time line, timing and consequences of the vote of confidence.

In the morning the same day, they discussed amendments to the Investment Law in groups.

On June 16, a plenary session will be held to debate the revisions of the Law on National Assembly Organisation and vote on the draft Law on Entry, Exit and Residence of Foreigners in Vietnam and the revised Social Insurance Law.

Vietnam backs Cambodian sappers

The Ministry of National Defence has provided US$154,000 for the Sapper Command of Royal Cambodian Armed Forces to build infrastructure for the Decho sapper school.

This is one of 20 projects to which the ministry has aided the Cambodian army, and it is scheduled to be completed by the year’s end.

Vietnamese Defence Attaché to Cambodia Nguyen Anh Dung, on behalf of the ministry, granted the money to the Cambodian side.

Offering thanks for the assistance given by the Vietnamese People’s Army, Deputy Commander Khoun Seam recalled the traditional solidarity between the two countries’ armies and people during both war and peace time.

He also expressed his deep gratitude to Vietnamese soldiers and people for helping his country escape from the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime in 1979.

Senior military officials visit Cambodia

A high-level delegation of the Vietnam People's Army led by Senior Lieutenant General Deputy Defence Minister Do Ba Ty paid a working visit to Cambodia from June 15-18.

The visitation was made at the invitation of General and Commander of the Cambodian Royal Army Pol Saruon.

The purpose of the meeting was to assess the results of cooperation between the General Staff of the Vietnam People’s Army and the High Command of the Cambodian Royal Army, over the last six months and discuss orientations and objectives for the rest of 2014.

The trip is considered a contribution to strengthening neighbourliness, friendship and cooperation between the Vietnamese and Cambodian people and armies.

Philippines’ Independence Day marked in HCM City

The Philippines’ 116th Independence Day was marked at a ceremony in Ho Chi Minh City on June 13 with the presence of the Philippine Ambassador to Vietnam, the city’s leaders and the diplomat corps in the city.

Addressing the ceremony, the Philippines’ Honorary Consul General in HCM City Le Thi Phung highlighted the achievements the country has made in all fields recently. She stressed that the relations between the Philippines and Vietnam have been developing fruitfully, contributing to the solidarity between the two peoples.

In particular, educational ties between the two countries have seen strong growth, with many Vietnamese students choosing the Philippines to pursue their study, while many Philippine teachers have come to Vietnam to work. The Philippines has also assisted Vietnam with English training.

Vice Chairman of HCM City People’s Committee Le Thanh Liem affirmed that Vietnam attaches importance to developing cooperative ties with the Philippines not only as a fellow ASEAN member but also as a neighbour with many similarities with Vietnam.

He noted that HCM City is the destination of choice for many Philippine investors, who have poured US$60 million in 24 projects in the city.

Deputy PM Ninh visits Da Nang city

Deputy Prime Minister Vu Van Ninh and a government delegation paid a working visit to the central city of Danang on June 14.

They discussed with local leaders the city’s socio-economic development and national defense in the first half of this year.

Da Nang has implemented its “Business Year 2014” and recorded steady economic and production growth.

Deputy PM Vu Van Ninh speaking at a meeting with Danang municipal leaders.

However, the East Sea tension has reduced the number of Chinese tourists to Da Nang by 50% and 70% in May and June. The city has made effort to seek tourists from other countries such as the Republic of Korea, Japan, and Malaysia.

Deputy PM Ninh asked relevant ministries and sectors to cooperate with the municipal authorities to alleviate difficulties to boost the city’s development.

Seminar on US-Japan ties and Southeast Asia

International law is a key approach in the management of territorial disputes in the East Sea.

This view was shared by most scholars at the third seminar on US-Japan relations and Southeast Asia Dialogue held at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore on June 12-13.

The event was attended by scholars from key research institutes of the US, Japan and some Southeast Asian countries.

The main purpose of the seminar was to review and give a comprehensive evaluation of new security developments in the region, including the East Sea issue, thereby making policy recommendations to leaders of the countries concerned, in order to ensure a better environment of security, peace and stability in the region.

Vietnamese delegates attending the seminar were led by PhD Hoang Anh Tuan, Director of the Institute for Foreign Policy and Strategic Studies.

At the meeting, most scholars agreed that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a powerful entity in all angles, playing a major role and having a great impact in Southeast Asia, East Asia, as well as in the world.

For the US, since President Barack Obama took office, ASEAN become a key strategic priority and is an important pillar in the strategy to rebalance towards the Asia-Pacific region.

For Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe considers Southeast Asia a strategic priority in terms of economics, diplomacy and national security. In particular, Abe’s visit to 10 ASEAN countries in the first year in power is unprecedented.

However, many scholars expressed concern about new security developments in Southeast Asia, especially China’s attitude and aggressive actions in dealing with territorial disputes with neighbours, ignorance of rules of international law and threat to use of force.

This requires ASEAN to reinforce greater unity and improve cooperation mechanisms in which ASEAN plays a central role which should be strengthened.

The participants agreed that international law, the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) must be a main platform in the management of territorial disputes in the East Sea.

Dr Hoang Anh Tuan updated foreign delegates about the recent developments in the East Sea after China illegally put down its oil rig Haiyang Shiyou-981 deep inside Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.

Tuan focused on analyzing the multifaceted impact both immediate and long-term on regional security, the future of ASEAN which is seen as an entity, playing a central role in dealing with regional security problems, as well as the impacts on regional peace and stability and the legitimate interests of concerned parities.

On that basis, the countries inside and outside the region need to raise a stronger voice and launch unified actions to force China to curb its actions, unconditionally withdraw its oil rig from Vietnam’s waters, comply with international law and UNCLOS, and work together with ASEAN countries on achieving a Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC) as soon as possible.

Original documents prove Vietnam’s sea sovereignty

Seven royal ordinances and certificates recently found in central Binh Thuan province are original documents that affirm Vietnam’s sovereignty over its waters.

The documents, preserved at Binh An Communal House, Binh Thanh commune, Tuy Phong district, prove that the Nguyen dynasty set up naval teams and paid due attention to protecting waters belonging to Vietnam’s sovereignty.

In its verification paper, the Cultural Heritage Department under the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism wrote that the ordinances and certificates were granted by the Nguyen court to Le Van Cham and Le Non to perform their tasks of commanding the naval teams to safeguard the waters from Binh Thuan to Khanh Hoa province.

Initial studies show that these documents hold important historical, cultural and scientific value. However, they need careful translation and referencing alongside many other bibliographies to make a full assessment of their importance.

Among the documents, the oldest was dated February 16 of the first year of the Tu Duc reign (1847) in which the Nguyen court nominated Le Van Cham, brother of Le Non, as Head of the Naval Team 5 of the Binh Thuan Navy.

Previously, the documents were kept by Le Nhu, the fifth generation of Captain Le Non, in Lien Huong town, Tuy Phong district.

East Sea seminar held in South Africa

The Vietnamese Embassy in South Africa hosted a seminar on the East Sea situation in the capital city of Pretoria on June 12 criticizing the illegal placement by China of the oil rig Haiyang Shiyou-981 in Vietnam’s waters.

The event drew the participation of over 70 delegates, including representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Defense of South Africa, ambassadors and embassy representatives of ASEAN countries, New Zealand, the US, Japan, Cuba, Bulgaria, Algeria, Botswana and Zimbabwe along with many scholars, journalists and local entrepreneurs.

Speaking at the seminar, Vietnamese ambassador Le Huy Hoang updated the latest developments on the East Sea tensions, rebuking aggressive actions by China since it stationed its floating oil rig in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and continental shelf.

Especially China has deployed a large number of military ships and escort aircraft around the position of the drilling platform. Many Chinese ships even encircled and blatantly rammed Vietnamese fishing vessels, seriously violating international law, the UN Convention on Law of the Sea 1982 (UNCLOS) and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) in which China is a signatory.

Ambassador Le Huy Hoang stressed that goodwill and policy of Vietnam is to persist with peaceful measures in accordance with international law to protect its legitimate rights and interests.

Hoang also urged politicians, scholars and diplomatic corps in South Africa to support Vietnam’s legitimate demands, raise voice against China’s wrongdoing to make it withdraw its oil rig and escort ships from Vietnam’s waters and stop activities affecting security, maritime safety as well as peace and stability in the region.

Many representatives from diplomatic corps have voiced support for justice and Vietnam’s restraint and peaceful measures.

Mr. Hiroaki Fujiwara from the Japanese Embassy in South Africa reiterated the Japanese Government's view mentioned in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s speech at the recent Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore which emphasized Japanese support for ASEAN countries, highlighted international law and asked concerned parties to refrain from using force.

The Japanese diplomat said his nation hopes that the East Asia Summit next year will expand the agenda to discuss the Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Philippine Embassy Charge d'Affaires, Mr Chad Jacinto said the seminar helped the political circles and local diplomatic corps gain updated information about the tense situation in the East Sea.

He said the Philippines opposed China’s claim over “nine dash” line and shared his nation’s recent efforts in lodging a lawsuit against China to the International Court.

Many scholars hotly debated measures to deal with disputes with China in the future, saying that Vietnam can take advantage of further mechanisms and related forums such as the UN, Non-Aligned Movement and the Group of 77 to enlist greater support from the international community. The participants also discussed the possibility of applying a number of successful stories in handling disputes in the region over the past time.

After the seminar, two former South African ambassadors Thomas Wheeler and Victor Zazeraj expressed concern about tensions in the East Sea, emphasizing that China's actions are seriously threatening regional peace and stability.

Journalist Kirtan Bhana from the magazine "Diplomatic Society" in South Africa noted that the seminar hosted by the Vietnamese Embassy is useful, giving the participants a good chance to better understand the current tense situation in the East Sea.

He welcomed and supported Vietnam’s efforts in seeking a peaceful solution in accordance with international law and the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).