Milestones of Vietnam’s joining of peacekeeping operations hailed hinh anh 1
Engineering team No.1 before departure (Photo: VNA)

Chairing a conference of the Defence Ministry’s inter-sectoral working group and steering committee on Vietnam’s participation in the UN peacekeeping operations in Hanoi on December 27, Deputy Minister of National Defence Sen. Lieut. Gen Hoang Xuan Chien said their participation in the effort has received attention from leaders of the Party, State, agencies, people from walks of life, proving that it has yielded positive results.

The officer asked centrally-run departments and agencies to fine-tune the legal system in the regard, make thorough preparations for Level-2 Field Hospital No.5 and Engineering Unit No.2, and set up Level-2 Field Hospital No.6 and Engineering Unit No.3 for training and rotational deployment.

The army’s units, particularly the Vietnam Department of Peacekeeping Operations (VDPO), the High Command of Engineers and Military Hospital 175 must prepare resources and procure equipment for training, as well as deal with the shortage of medicines and medical equipment.

VDPO Director Maj. Gen Hoang Kim Phung said so far, the ministry has sent 520 professional officers and soldiers to four UN peacekeeping missions at four missions, including the European Union Training Mission in Central African Republic and the UN headquarters. Each year, 25 independent military officers and 247 officers and staff of the engineering unit and Level-2 Field Hospital are maintained.

This year, Vietnam assumed the role of the Chair of the Association of Asia-Pacific Peace Operations Training Centres (AAPTC) for the first time. The Defence Ministry held conferences with the Asia-Pacific peace operations training centres in Hanoi, drawing the participation of 18 countries and eight international organisations.

For the first time, Vietnam has successfully deployed Engineering Team No.1 with a large number of officers and huge volume of equipment to the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) and two officers to the European Union Training Mission in Central African Republic.

Vietnamese, Lao localities strengthen ties

Senior officials of central Quang Tri province and Laos’ Savannakhet and Salavan provinces held talks in the Vietnamese locality’s Dong Ha city on December 27, during which they signed cooperation agreements in various fields for 2023-2025.

In the cooperation agreement between Quang Tri and Savannakhet, the two sides agreed to continue strengthening political relations and exchanging delegations at all levels; coordinate in communications to raise public awareness about the importance of the shared border line and border markers, in preventing and promptly handling all violations of the regulations on border management and protection, and illegal migration activities in the border areas; and search and repatriate remains of Vietnamese volunteer soldiers and experts who died in Savannakhet province.

The two sides agreed to coordinate in completing a project on building the Lao Bao - Densavan joint cross-border economic and trade zone, and submit it to competent authorities of the two countries for permission to pilot implementing it; and ensure smooth and convenient implementation of entry and import and export activities through the Lao Bao - Densavan international border gate pair.

Meanwhile, in the cooperation agreement between Quang Tri and Salavan, the two sides agreed to ensure smooth and convenient implementation of entry and exit, and import and export activities through the La Lay - La Lay international border gate pair, study and propose the two Governments to allow the construction of La Lay - La Lay border economic zone; and propose the Governments to agree on and coordinate in the implementation of an economic corridor connecting Quang Tri province with southern provinces of Laos and Thailand through La Lay international border gate to My Thuy deep-water seaport on National Highway 15D.

Also on December 27, a high-ranking delegation of Salavan led by Phoxay Xayyason, member of the Lao Party Central Committee, Secretary and Governor of the province, paid a working visit to Quang Tri’s neighbouring province of Thua Thien-Hue. On this occasion, the two provinces’ leaders signed a cooperation agreement for 2022-2026.

The two sides agreed to continue intensifying bilateral friendship and cooperation in politics, diplomacy, defence, security and border, economics, education and training, culture, tourism and health.

140,000 foreign visitors to Da Lat, 25% from RoK

The resort city of Da Lat in the Central Highland province of Lam Dong has so far this year welcomed about 140,000 foreign visitors, 25% of them from the Republic of Korea (RoK), according to the provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

RoK is the first country to reopen direct flights to Da Lat after an over-two-year disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On July 23, an international flight from RoK's Incheon landed at Lam Dong province’s Lien Khuong International Airport. The charter flight of Korean Air carried 141 passengers who spent five days and four nights in Da Lat City.

From December 20, Vietjet Air also started selling tickets for commercial flights between Da Lat and Incheon with a frequency of four flights per week and reoperated charter flights between Da Lat and Rok’s Muan city with two flights per week.

According to Lam Dong provincial People's Committee, Da Lat city this year expects to welcome more than 7 million visitors, an increase of 340% over the same period in 2021.

Its revenue from the accommodation, restaurant and tourism services reached 11.9 trillion VND (nearly 504.23 million USD), a year-on-year increase of over 122%.

Vietnamese Party, State facilitate practice of religions

The Party and State have always created optimal conditions for religious organisations and individuals to practice their religions and beliefs.

Apart from facilitating the handover of land to the construction of worship places, the Party and State have also paid attention to other religious activities such as operation registration, and the ordainment and training of religious dignitaries and assistants.

The development of religious organisations requires intensive training for religious dignitaries and assistants. Therefore, many religions have been allowed to establish training institutions and open training courses.

The country counts 62 religious training establishments in 36 cities and provinces, including 11 grand seminaries and academies of the Catholic Church of Vietnam; four institutions, 34 schools and eight colleges on Buddhism run by the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha; among others in various localities.

Since the Law on Belief and Religion came into force in 2018, the Catholic Church of Vietnam has built two religious training establishments. Many of its institutions have been licensed to provide master’s and doctoral training.

The Cao Dai academy has established with the Ante Creation (Cao Dai Tien Thien) Church as the legal representative. The establishment, whose opening contents were approved by the Ministry of Home Affairs, has admitted hundreds of people, helping improve knowledge for Cao Dai dignitaries.

Along with general religious knowledge, the training courses for Cao Dai dignitaries and assistants have also popularised the State’s law and regulations on religious activities.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister on August 8, 2006, approved the formation of the Khmer Theravada Buddhist Institute, whose first course was officially opened nearly one year later, said head of the institute Most Venerable Dao Nhu, who is also Vice President of the VBS’s Executive Council.

Other legitimate needs of religious organisations have also received due attention from the Party and State, from ordainment and operation registration to daily activities of dignitaries and assistants.

According to the Government Committee for Religious Affairs, the State has recognised and licensed 43 organisations belonging to 16 religions with about 26.5 million followers, making up 27% of the national population, of which over 54,000 are dignitaries and more than 135,000 are assistants, along with nearly 30,000 worship places.

The ordainment, appointment, election, nomination and transfer of dignitaries, assistants, monks and nuns of religious organisations have been conducted smoothly thanks to the instruction of relevant consulting agencies.
During the three years of implementation of the Law on Law on Belief and Religion, from 2018 to 2021, a total of 5,572 people in 62 out of the  country's 63 cities and provinces were ordained as dignitaries, and 12,421 others appointed as assistants.

The number of licensed religious sites and groups also increased from 2,691 before 2018 to 1,112 after the law came effective.

Concentrated religious activities of foreigners in Vietnam have also been ensured, with 67 sites and groups gathering hundreds of foreign nationals legally residing in the country, mostly in Ho Chi Minh City (41) and Hanoi (13). The religious followers come from different countries like the Republic of Korea (RoK), the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, the US, and France.

Chairman of the Government Committee for Religious Affairs Vu Hoai Bac quoted the law as saying that religious organisations are allowed to publish religious books and other publications. To exercise this right, many religious organisations and individuals have registered the publication.

Statistics show that the Religious Publishing House was allowed to issue 2,027 publications with over 7 million copies between 2017 and 2021, many of which have been translated into English, French and ethnic languages.

As many as15 newspapers and magazines of religious organisations are operating in Vietnam. Most of the religious organisations have launched their own websites. In the first half of this year, all-level authorities have approved the issuance for 140 publications, with over 684,000 copies.

Vietnam Buddhist Sangha's Executive Council holds second session
The Vietnam Buddhist Sangha (VBS)'s Executive Council held the second session of the ninth tenure (2022-2027) to review the outcomes of the 9th National Buddhist Congress and implement its Resolution.

Most Venerable Thich Thien Nhon, chairman of the council, said that in the 2022-2027 period, the Executive Council is determined to uphold discipline and precepts as well as the spirit of solidarity and harmony; build and develop a strong VBS in international integration; and stay firm on the path of serving the ideal of "Dharma - Nation - Socialism".

Monks, nuns and Buddhist followers nationwide will promote patriotism, actively build the great national unity; respond to patriotic emulation movements, and join hands with people across the nation in striving for the goal of “wealthy people, strong country, democracy, justice, and civilisation”.

The VBS will promote the dissemination of Buddha's teachings in all aspects of social life, and innovate the method of guiding Buddhists to practice Buddhism in accordance with the modern society, and all social classes.

In this tenure, the Executive Council will continue to preserve and promote the value of Vietnamese Buddhist culture, step up the organisation of charitable activities, and encourage monks, nuns and followers to actively participate in poverty reduction movements and social welfare programmes.

Ho Chi Minh City launches poll on 100 exciting things

The Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Ho Chi Minh City began a campaign on December 26 to identify 100 exciting things about the city from various aspects of life.

Both locals and foreigners are encouraged to vote across 10 categories, from sightseeing locations, entertainment locations, shopping centres, accommodations, and check-in spots, to travel tours, and tourism events.

Information about the poll is available at

The organisers will spend time consulting with experts in many fields, including travel, culture, history, and cuisine before announcing the result of the vote in late July next year.

The campaign is expected to recognise and promote the southern city’s outstanding cultural values and prominent tourism products and services, according to organisers.

Deputy PM approves major preschool education initiative for disadvantaged areas

Deputy Prime Minister Vũ Đức Đam, on behalf of the Government, has approved a plan to improve preschool education in disadvantaged areas over the next eight years.

As part of the initiative, all makeshift classrooms will be replaced, and educational equipment will be upgraded to provide students with the best possible learning environment.

Under Decision No.1609/QĐ-TTg, the project aims to ensure the quality of teachers, schools and classroom facilities to increase children's opportunities to access formal preschool education, ensure equity in access to education, and contribute to shortening the development gap between regions.

It also contributes to implementing hunger eradication and poverty reduction, enhancing economic and social development, and preserving and promoting cultural values for areas where many ethnic minorities live from 2022 to 2030.

Children, administrators, teachers, and preschool staff in disadvantaged areas, especially those in challenging locations, such as along the coast and islands, mountainous or isolated areas.

The project targets that at least 25 per cent of children of kindergarten age and 95 per cent of children of preschool age in disadvantaged areas will have access to preschools by 2030.

HCM City to start National Highway 50 expansion

The HCM City Department of Transport started to widen the busy National Highway 50 on Tuesday.

The project will start from Nguyễn Văn Linh Avenue and end near Long An Province, with a total length of 6.9 kilometres.

From Nguyễn Văn Linh Avenue, a 4.4-km road section will be constructed in parallel with the current National Highway 50, and for the remaining 2.5 km, the national highway will be upgraded and widened.

The project also includes the construction of a new bridge that will be 40m long and 34m wide, as well as the expansion of an existing bridge.

After the expansion, the highway will have six lanes instead of the current four.

The total investment capital will be VNĐ1.5 trillion and sourced from the State budget.

Currently, the People's Committee of Bình Chánh District has completed 85 per cent of the compensation and clearance work and will finish this work in the second quarter of 2023. The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2024.

18th Đinh Thiện Lý Chairty Walk to be organised in HCM City

The 18th Đinh Thiện Lý Charity Walk will be organised at the Crescent Lake area in District 7 of HCM City on January 7.

The walk, which was known as Lawrence S. Ting, is an annual event that Phú Mỹ Hưng Development jointly organises with the people’s committees of District 7, District 8, Nhà Bè District and Bình Chánh District every year to encourage local people to walk as well as to raise funds to help people living in difficulties.

The Đinh Thiện Lý Walk has been organised since 2006 and has raised over VNĐ41 billion (US$1.7 million). The money has been used to build houses for disadvantaged people and help others repair houses.

In addition, the money has also been given to other charities such as HCM City Television and HCM City’s culture and sports authority. This year, the organiser expects to raise VNĐ3.4 billion ($145,000).

Each person joining the walk will contribute VNĐ130,000 to the charity fund and receive a T-shirt, water and a lucky ticket to win a prize of up to VNĐ28 million ($1,200). 

Association announces best local food in VN in 2022

The Việt Nam Culinary Culture Association (VCCA) has announced a list of 121 typical and unique dishes in Việt Nam in 2022.

The list is part of the association’s project to build a database of 1,000 Vietnamese dishes by 2023.

From this database, the VCCA plans to build a map of Vietnamese cuisine by 2024 as part of creating a Vietnamese cuisine museum in Huế.

Since June, the association received a list of 421 dishes recommended by the tourism and culture authorities, cuisine associations and tourism promotion centres in 63 cities and provinces.

Of them, there are 47 dishes from the north, 37 from the central and 37 from the south, which are favourite foods of local people and tourists.

Vietnamese resort named among world’s best hotels to book in 2023

Prestigious website CNN Travel has listed Anam Resort Mui Ne among the top hotels to book ahead in 2023.

According to CNN, there are several resorts which are scheduled to open in Vietnam in 2023. However, the travel website gave special praise for The Anam Mui Ne, an independent resort opening in Southeast Vietnam in January 2022.

It also noted that each of The Anam's 127 rooms features original paintings produced by Vietnamese artists which tell the country's story. Indeed, even the woodwork is handcrafted by local craftspeople who make use of wood sourced from sustainable Vietnamese harvests.

The other best hotels named in CNN’s list include Punakha River Lodge of Bhutan, Atlantis The Royal of Dubai, Emerald Faarufushi Resort & Spa of the Maldives, Conrad Los Angeles of the US, and the Ritz-Carlton Melbourne of Australia. This is in addition to Hôtel Dame des Arts Paris of France, the Homestead in Nambiti of South Africa, and The Rome EDITION of Italy.

Vietnamese and Korean artists showcase paintings at Hanoi Museum

An exhibition featuring 300 paintings produced by artists from Vietnam and the Republic of Korea (RoK) opened on December 27 at the Hanoi Museum, marking 30 years since the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries.

Dr. Nguyen Tien Luan, vice chairman of Vietnam-RoK friendship association, said the exhibition is showcasing artworks by 19 Vietnamese and eight Korean painters, with the ultimate aim of inspiring young people of the two nations.

It helps to promote Vietnamese culture to Korean friends while simultaneously providing opportunities for local people to learn more about traditional Korean culture through paintings, he noted.

The pieces on display include those created by outstanding artists such as Vu Trong Thuan, Hoang Dang Nhuan, Truong Be, and Vu Duong from Vietnam, as well as Han Heewon, Chae Jongkee, Lee Johnlip, and Kim Sungnam of the RoK.

The exhibition has been co-organised by Nguyen Trai University, the Vietnam Fine Arts Association, and Hanoi Museum and is scheduled to last through to March 31, 2023.

Fireworks to light up Ho Chi Minh City skies on New Year’s Eve

Both locals and tourists in Ho Chi Minh City will be entertained with dazzling firework displays at two sites across the southern city to welcome in the New Year and the start of 2023.

15-minute firework performances will start as soon as the clock hits midnight on January 1, 2023, to mark the beginning of the New Year.

High-range fireworks will light up the skies over the entrance of the Saigon River Tunnel in Thu Duc City for people to enjoy.

Elsewhere, low-range fireworks will be on display at Dam Sen Theme Park in District 11.

Ho Chi Minh City also plans to hold countdown events at Nguyen Hue pedestrian street and Le Duan Boulevard, running from 5:30 p.m. on December 31 to 0:30 a.m. on January 1, 2023.

The occasion will feature a series of laser shows, LED and other attractive lighting, art performances, games, and a goods fair. Indeed, the highlight will be a countdown party held at midnight in order to ring in the New Year.

The countdown event first organised six years ago typically attracts thousands of visitors annually. It took place virtually in 2020 and was subsequently cancelled in 2021 due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

New Year celebrations will take place throughout the southern metropolis, including art performances, a marathon race, a martial arts tournament, and a cycling race.

Vietnam-Thailand friendship association elects new chairman

The fifth congress of the Vietnam-Thailand Friendship Association (VTFA) for 2022-2027 tenure was held in Hanoi on December 27, electing Vice Chairman of the Central Theoretical Council Nguyen Van Thanh as Chairman of the association for the 2022-2027 tenure.

It was reported at the congress that the association has carried out a variety of activities in the previous tenure, such as people-to-people exchanges, and cultural and education cooperation between localities. 

The association has been expanded with 17 chapters in many provinces and cities across the country, attracting the participation of businesses, overseas Vietnamese in Thailand as well as students.

In the new tenure, the association plans to implement specific activities to contribute to promoting cooperation between the two countries in such fields as trade, investment, tourism, culture and education, and cooperation between localities.

Vietnam making efforts to enforce international conventions on human rights

Religious organisations and the majority of religious followers in Vietnam have accompanied the nation and played an active role in socio-economic development as well as patriotic emulation movements.

They have also joined hands with the State in social welfare, and with authorities and people in national construction and defence.

The good values of religions were reaffirmed during the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, as large numbers of religious dignitaries and followers responded to the call of all-level authorities, the Vietnam Fatherland Front and their religious organisations  to work in COVID-19 quarantine centres and hospitals – the forefront of the combat. 

During the pandemic’s peak, more than 3,000 religious volunteers went to pandemic hot spots, of whom nearly 2,000 were deployed to COVID-19 treatment hospitals and centres in Ho Chi Minh City, and Binh Duong, Dong Nai, Ba Ria-Vung Tau and Long An provinces in the southern region.

Between July 22, 2021 to April 7 this year, 747 Catholic volunteers, including 26 priests, worked at 10 hospitals.

Religious organisations have also actively engaged in the political and social life.

Many prestigious religious dignitaries have been elected to elected bodies and political-social organisations at both central and local levels. 

According to the Government Committee for Religious Affairs, five religious dignitaries are deputies of the 15th National Assembly, 88 religious dignitaries and 35 religious followers are incumbent deputies of provincial People’s Councils, 225 dignitaries, monks and nuns and 246 followers are deputies at district People’s Councils.

This has affirmed the great contributions of religions organisations to the nation and the building of a state of the people, for the people and by the people. 

Speaking at a recent conference honouring religious organisations with contributions to national construction and defence, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh stressed that the religious people are an integral part of the Vietnamese nation and the great national unity bloc. Religions and beliefs form an inseparable part of the cultural and spiritual life in Vietnam, he said, noting that although each religion and belief have their own cultural identities, they all look towards values of truth, goodness and beauty.

Vietnam has actively participated in the annual dialogues  on democracy, human rights and religions with the US and the European Union (EU), and has successfully defended the national report at the Third-Cycle Universal Periodical Review (UPR) and the national report on the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) at the United Nations Human Rights Council.

However, the US has recently included Vietnam into the special watch list on religious freedom based on inaccurate information.

The US’s decision is based on unobjective assessments and inaccurate information about the situation of freedom of religion and belief in Vietnam, Foreign Ministry deputy spokeswoman Pham Thu Hang said at the ministry’s regular press briefing on December 15. 

Vietnam stands ready to discuss with the US side issues of common concern in the spirit of openness, candidness and mutual respect, contributing to strengthening the comprehensive partnership between the two countries, Hang stated.

She again reiterated Vietnam’s consistent policy of ensuring human rights as well as the freedom of religion and belief, which are enshrined in the 2013 Constitution and the domestic legal system, and have been ensured and respected in reality.  

The country’s efforts and achievements in this regard have been widely acknowledged by the international community, she said.

Notably, Vietnam’s election to the UN Human Rights Council for the second time for the 2023-2025 tenure, (the first time in the 2014-2016 term), has also reflected the international community's recognition and confidence in the Vietnamese Government’s efforts in ensuring human rights.

The election has demonstrated that Vietnam has been fulfilling international commitments to human rights that the country has signed or approved. It is also the most persuasive evidence refuting false allegations of hostile forces that always attempt to deny and distort the human rights situation in Vietnam.

PM approves water resources planning for 2021-2030

The Prime Minister has just issued a decision to approve the planning of water resources for 2021-2030 with a vision to 2050, with a view to tackling drought and pollution and enhancing readiness in all circumstances.

By 2025, the planning targets increasing the rate of daily clean water use to 95% - 100% for the urban population and 65% for the rural one. As many as 90% of water exploitation activities will be put under control, while the rate of water loss in supply activities will be reduced to 10%.

It also prioritises an effective addressing of drought and water shortage in the dry season across river basins and areas with difficult access to sources, particularly the south-central region, Central Highlands, Mekong River Delta, remote locations, and islands.

By 2030, wastewater to be collected and treated meeting standards and technical regulations before being discharged into the environment is set to account for 30% of the total volume in urban areas from Grade II and above.

Other key works are to improve and restore important water sources that have degraded, depleted and polluted; and to complete the establishment and announcement of corridors to protect water sources, ensure flow circulation, prevent and control landslides on riverbanks, and reduce water-induced harmful effects.

By 2050, Vietnam is expected to raise its national water security index to be among the countries that effectively ensure water security in the world. It will work towards being proactive in water resources in all situations, forecasting and regulating water, preventing floods, droughts, saltwater intrusion, pollution, degradation, and water depletion, and responding to climate change.

To realise the planning, six solutions have been set, including those involving law, policies, finance, technology-science, international cooperation, communications, and training.

Newly-released stamp set features churches in Vietnam

The Ministry of Information and Communications in coordination with the Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group (VNPT) recently issued a set of stamps themed ‘Architects of Churches’.

The set includes four samples featuring iconic churches in Vietnam, including the Phat Diem Stone Cathedral in Ninh Binh province, the Da Nang Cathedral in Da Nang city, the Mac Bac Church in Tra Vinh province, and the St Joseph Cathedral in Hanoi.

The stamp set is designed by painter Nguyen Du from the VNPT. It will be available from December 24 this year through June 2024.

Christianity was first introduced to Vietnam in the 16th century. Vietnam is now home to many Christian churches, which were built across the country in Western style or a combination of Vietnamese and European architecture.

The issue of the stamp set aims to introduce the public to religious buildings in Vietnam.

Nha Trang proposed for expansion by 880 hectares

Four communes and towns in Dien Khanh District, Khanh Hoa Province, with a total area of around 880 hectares, would be incorporated into Nha Trang City, according to the amended Nha Trang City Master Plan until 2040.

The four communes and towns comprise Dien An, Dien Toan, Suoi Hiep and Dien Khanh in Dien Khanh District.

The Khanh Hoa People’s Committee has written to the Ministry of Construction seeking approval to carry out the revised Nha Trang Master Plan on December 27.

Currently, Nha Trang City spans 26,600 hectares, comprising 19 wards and eight communes, with a population of over 330,000. After the incorporation, the city will be over 27,500 hectares wide with roughly 780,000 people.

According to the master plan, Nha Trang will become a coastal tourism city, a center of administration, politics, economy, culture, and science in Khanh Hoa, as well as a hub of economy, science, education and medical facilities of the south-central coast and central highland regions.

Regarding development strategies, Nha Trang will focus on environmental protection, climate change adaptation and the conservation of natural heritage values. Tourism will be the main economic sector of the city.

It will develop in a multi-center model with the main center of the coastal urban strip. Other centers will be at the old Nha Trang airport, along the Cai River and Vo Nguyen Giap Street.

Additionally, the areas on Hon Tre Island and along other rivers in the city will receive further investment.

Source: VNA/SGT/VNS/VOV/Dtinews/SGGP/VGP/Hanoitimes