Vietnam is "seriously concerned over "escalating violence and fatalities" in Myanmar recently and has asked Myanmar to protect Vietnamese citizens and businesses in the country, the foreign spokesperson Le Thi Thu Hang said on Thursday.
Spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Le Thi Thu Hang responded to press queries during the regular briefing on Thursday in Hanoi.
Responding to media queries on the protests against the military rule in Myanmar, the Vietnamese diplomat called on all related parties to exercise "utmost restraint", avoid the use of excessive violence, and try to resolve conflicts via dialogues.
"We hope the situation in Myanmar soon stabilises, for the sake of the people and for the sake of stability in the region," Hang noted.
Vietnam also shares the common position of Southeast Asian members stated in the ASEAN Chairman’s Statement on The Developments in The Republic of The Union of Myanmar (dated February 1, 2021), the Chair’s Statement on the Informal ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (IAMM) on March 2, 2021, in which emphasis is placed on the adherence to the ASEAN Charter to promote "dialogue and reconciliation", and hopes that Myanmar would soon return to normal on the basis of the people's will, conducive to the building of the ASEAN Community, Hằng said.
She affirmed that Vietnam will work actively with other ASEAN members to seek solutions for the Myanmar issue.
Regarding citizen protection measures, Hằng said Vietnam has asked Myanmar to ensure the lives and health of Vietnamese citizens along with legitimate interests of Vietnamese businesses in Myanmar.
There are currently 600 Vietnamese citizens residing, working or studying in Myanmar.
Earlier this month, 390 Vietnamese citizens have been repatriatied from Myanmar, against the backdrops of recent developments in Myanmar as well as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Under the directives from the foreign ministry, the Vietnamese embassy in Myanmar has been constantly monitoring the situation, working with local authorities and keeping in touch with contact points of the Vietnamese community to remain updated on information, and to provide recommendations based on the current situation and citizen protection measures when necessary.
"Should you seek information or need help regarding Vietnamese citizens in Myanmar, please dial the citizen protection hotline of the Vietnamese embassy in Myanmar or the citizen protection operation system under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs," Hang said.
Earlier on Wednesday, during the United Nations' Security Council meeting on the Myanmar situation, Việt Nam emphasised the need to end violence, stabilise the situation and ensure safety for civilians.
Vietnam also informed participants on ASEAN’s efforts in promoting dialogue and seeking a solution to the issue, adding that ASEAN is willing to assist Myanmar in a goodwill manner and in accordance with the purposes and principles of the ASEAN Charter.
Vietnam on Thursday has also condemned China’s military drill on Triton (Tri Tôn) island in the Hoàng Sa (Paracel) archipelago, which Việt Nam has claimed as its own, as illegal.
“Vietnam has sufficient historical evidence and legal basis to assert its sovereignty over the Trường Sa (Paracel) and Hoàng Sa (Spratly) archipelagos, in line with international law and the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea,” Hằng said.
“All activities in the Paracel and Spratly islands, which belong to Vietnam, without the permission of Vietnam, constitute a violation of Vietnam’s sovereignty over the two islands, complicate the situation and are not conducive to peace, stability, order, security, and maritime freedom and freedom of overflight in the South China Sea (known in Vietnam as East Sea),” Hang stressed.
In response to US President Joe Biden administration's recently announced Interim National Security Strategic Guidance, spokesperson Hằng said there are currently various initiatives and ideas regarding cooperation in the Indo-Pacific led by countries within and outside the region.
Vietnam always appreciates and welcomes the initiatives that contribute to peace, stability, cooperation and development in the region, on the basis of the law and respecting international laws for the legitimate rights and interests of all countries, and to ensure the ASEAN Centrality in the evolving regional architecture, Hằng said.
Regarding the 'Quad' summit between leaders of US, Japan, India and Australia, the diplomat said Việt Nam hopes all countries continue to contribute to regional peace, security, stability, and prosperity, as the country closely follows the policies of all major powers.
Hong Kong election
Asked for comments on Chinese National People's Congress adopting on Thursday a decision on improving the electoral system of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), which has been criticised by many countries as eroding Hong Kong's democracy, the Vietnamese foreign ministry spokesperson maintained that the Hong Kong issue is purely China's domestic affairs.
"Vietnam's position regarding Hong Kong has been clearly stated many times before. Vietnam respects and supports China's "one country, two systems" principle, the Hong Kong Basic Law and regulations related to Hong Kong," Hang said.
Vietnam always hopes for stability and prosperity in Hong Kong, she noted.
Regarding the recent report of Freedom House claiming that Vietnam continues to be among groups of countries that lack freedom of speech, spokesperson Hang said: "Vietnam's consistent policy is to protect human rights, including the basic freedoms stipulated in our 2013 Constitution and other legal documents."
"In the past, Vietnam has been continually perfecting our system and laws, implementing a lot of concrete measures to better improve human rights and citizen rights," Hằng noted, adding that Việt Nam has had international cooperation regarding human rights.
"In the last Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the Human Rights Council (HRC), many countries have highly regarded Vietnam's achievements and efforts, they have appreciated our approach and have offered constructive recommendations," the spokesperson said.
Vietnam takes ensuring safety for foreigners seriously
Vietnam always take ensuring safety for both local residents and foreigners living in the country very seriously and will strictly punish rule violators, according to Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang.
Hang made the statement in response to a question regarding recent sexual harassment against foreign women in Hanoi’s Tay Ho district which has stirred up complaints from several foreign diplomatic missions in the capital city.
Upon receipt of the complaints, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has exchanged with concerned foreign diplomatic missions and asked local authorities, including Hanoi’s police department, for cooperation in verifying and investigating the cases, Hang said at a regular press conference on March 11.
The harassers will be strictly punished so as to not only restore security and safety for foreigners living in Hanoi but also warn off others from committing the same wrongdoing, she added.
She further noted that the Hanoi police has summoned a number of suspects for questioning. They have confessed to involving in the assaults, she said.
Tay Ho district police have communicated with local residents, especially owners of houses rented to foreigners, to maintain security and safety in the area, according to Hang.
Vietnam intensifying border surveillance to prevent illegal entry, exit
Vietnam is intensifying surveillance along its borders to prevent any illegal entry and exit, Hang said.
Foreigners have been discovered illegally entering Vietnam by authorities in some localities, she said, and these people were tested for COVID-19 and sent to quarantine or given treatment if infected.
They will be punished under Vietnamese law after their quarantine is completed, Hang added.
She revealed that Vietnamese authorities have been actively coordinating with their counterparts in other countries, especially those with which it shares a border, like China, to better manage the border and stop illegal entry and exit.
The spokesperson noted further that in response to the Prime Minister’s order, the Ministries of National Defence and Public Security and the People’s Committees of border provinces have strengthened inspections and surveillance along the border and examined control over illegal entry and exit, particularly via unmonitored paths and trails.
Vietnam will vigorously punish those breaking immigration rules, according to Hang.
Authorities have investigated and strictly dealt with a number of people organising illegal entry into or exit from Vietnam, with cases published in the media, she said.