Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh has highlighted the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as a strong and cohesive community in an article written on the occasion of the bloc’s 52nd founding anniversary.
The ASEAN flag raising ceremony held by theMinistry of Foreign Affairs in Hanoi on August 8
Apolitically strong, economically cohesive, mutually sharing community
In his article, the official noted that with apopulation of more than 642 million and an area of over 1.7 million sq.km.,ASEAN is a highly potential market. It is forecast to become the world’s fourthlargest economy by 2050.
The ASEAN Community has entered the fourth yearof development since its establishment on December 31, 2015 and is makingefforts to realise the ASEAN Community Vision 2025, a process in which it hasreaped initial encouraging progress.
For a regional environment of peace, securityand stability, the ASEAN countries have been striving to promote dialogue,enhance cooperation, build trust, push for adherence to international law, andform and share common values and standards as recognised in the Treaty of Amityand Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC), the ASEAN Charter, the Southeast AsianNuclear Weapon-Free Zone (SEANWFZ), and the Declaration on the Conduct ofParties in the East Sea (DOC), Minh said.
He noted the bloc has also showed itssteadfastness and capability of maintaining solidarity and unanimity in theface of issues affecting regional peace and security like the issues of theEast Sea, the Muslims in Myanmar’s Rakhine state or the Korean Peninsula.Cooperation to prevent non-traditional security challenges have also continuedto be enhanced.
According to Deputy PM Minh, efforts to boosteconomic partnership within the bloc and with partners have given ASEAN stableeconomic growth, predicted at 4.9 percent in 2019 – almost doubling the world’saverage. The grouping’s gross domestic product (GDP) totals about 3 trillionUSD while its market has expanded to the leading economic partners throughbilateral free trade agreements and the Regional Comprehensive EconomicPartnership (RCEP).
The initiatives on ASEAN connectivity,development gap narrowing or the ASEAN Open Skies are gradually realising theassociation’s goal of inclusive and sustainable development.
ASEAN has also become a popular traveldestination with the number of intra-bloc tourists almost reaching 50 millionand that of foreign tourists approximating 130 million in 2018.
Notably, people have been being put at thecentre of the ASEAN Community building process, Deputy PM and FM Minh said,noting that the rights and interests of people in the region have been promotedthrough cooperation in coping with climate change, natural disasters and epidemics,protecting vulnerable groups, visa-free movement among ASEAN countries in 15 –30 days, freely seeking employment through mutual recognition arrangements, andreceiving consular assistance when encountering difficulties in a third countrywhere their countries do not have representative agencies.
Solidcentral role in an open regional architecture
Accordingto Deputy PM Minh, the ASEAN region, located in an important site ofgeo-strategic importance at the centre of the wide region connecting theOceania and the Pacific, has been able to bring into play its central role inshaping an open, transparent, inclusive and rule-based regional cooperationarchitecture, with connectivity and harmonized interest with partners.
Forumslaunched and led by ASEAN have attracted the active engagement of countries,including world power, he noted, adding that five permanent members of the UNSecurity Council are all full partners of the ASEAN, while more and more countriesare wishing to set up partnership with the ASEAN and join the TAC.
Theofficial noted in the regional strategies of world powers, such as theIndo-Pacific Strategy, the Road and Belt, and the “Act East Policy”, thecentral role of the ASEAN has always been highlighted.
Over the past five decades, the ASEAN has seen many ups and downs. But theassociation has managed to mature and become self-reliant and sustainable thanever. The key to success and strength of the ASEAN is solidarity, stated Minh.
Heheld that in order to stay steady and effectively adapt to complicated changesin the regional and global environment, more than ever the association mustmaintain solidarity and unity, enhancing self-reliance in economy as well asthe capacity to cope with emerging challenges in a proactive manner.
Underthe 2019 theme of “Advancing Partnership forSustainability,” the ASEAN has continued to show its proactivity and adaptingcapacity.
With the adoption of the ASEAN Outlook on Indo-Pacific (AOIP) at the 34th ASEAN Summit in June, 2019,the ASEAN has demonstrated its central role and proactivity in the mixed changesof the region.
Developing smart city, dealing with oceanic debris, combiningthe ASEAN Community Vision 2025 with the UN Sustainable Development Goals 2030,protecting cyber security, and coping with population aging are amongremarkable milestones of the ASEAN over the years.
In the 52nd ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting inearly August this year, amidst complicated developments in the region, theminister continued to affirmed the ASEAN’s principled stance, highlighting thesignificance of conforming to international law and the UN Convention on theLaw of the Sea, and expressing concern about the current serious situation.
With the tension among major economies and the risingprotectionism, the ASEAN is committed to further strengthening intra-bloc tradeand investment, soon concluding the negotiations on the RCEP and reinforce theequal and rule-based international multilateral trade system.
As long as the ASEAN maintains its solidarity and unity, andremains bound by common values and interest that go beyond differences due todiversity, the ASEAN Community will be stable and everlasting, he underlined.
2020:Important milestone for Vietnam
The year 2020 will mark an important milestone whenVietnam assumes the role as the ASEAN Chair and the 25th anniversaryof Vietnam’s accession to the bloc is celebrated, Deputy PM Minh wrote, addingthat in the year, the country will also serve as a non-permanent member of theUnited Nations Security Council for the 2020-2021 tenure.
The official shared that the top priority of Vietnamin 2020 will be working with ASEAN to successfully implement goals of the ASEANCommunity Vision 2025. This is also a chance for the country to boost bilateralrelations with other ASEAN member states and partners, improve itsinternational position, and promote the image of the country and its people.
To that end, Vietnam needs support from ASEAN memberstates and the bloc’s partners and joint efforts from all ministries, sectors,localities, businesses and people, Minh said.
According to him, Vietnam is doing its utmost tosuccessfully perform its role as the ASEAN Chair in 2020 so as to build aunited ASEAN Community that is proactively adaptive to any possibleopportunities and challenges, Minh added.