Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s raising of the ASEAN gavel at the 35th ASEAN Summit in November last year signalled not only Vietnam’s commencement as chair of the regional grouping, but also the start of a critically definitive period for its foreign policy, said The Interpreter of the Lowy Institute, Australia, in a story.
“2020 is set to be a busy year for Vietnam, with several force multipliers for its foreign policy,” it said.
“Beyond its chairmanship of ASEAN’s Vision 2020 goals – predominantly stability in the region – Hanoi will also balance a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council. While such diplomatic responsibilities come with significant pressure, the opportune timing provides Hanoi a chance to engage the international community in its maritime security interests.”
The US-based Wilson Center said over the past few years, Vietnam’s foreign policy has been in focus due to Hanoi’s increasing activism on a range of issues ranging, particularly UN peacekeeping.
“2020 will be a big year that spotlights that, with Vietnam holding a couple of prominent regional and international positions amid a challenging geopolitical environment,” it added.
Thailand’s Bangkok Post run a recent story titled “Vietnam is powering full steam towards the future”, saying Vietnam is ready to showcase itself after more than 30 years of reform.
Meanwhile, Indonesia’s Kompas quoted an expert as saying Vietnam selecting “Cohesive and Responsive” as the theme for its ASEAN Chairmanship this year shows that the country will focus on strengthening the regional bloc to be able to actively respond to challenges in the new era.
Choi Shing Kwok, Director of the Singapore-based Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS), said the assumption of a non-permanent UNSC member gives Vietnam an opportunity to showcase its leadership globally and at the same time, benefits ASEAN.
Also from the ISEAS, Dr. Hoang Thi Ha said this year’s ASEAN Chairmanship theme reflects Vietnam’s top priority today to make ASEAN an united bloc with coordinated stance and actions to address common challenges, including traditional and non-traditional security issues.
As a non-permanent UNSC member, Vietnam will be able to connect ASEAN’s priorities with the global agendas, particularly in applying international law and multilateral mechanisms to promote peace and resolve disputes, Ha said.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) groups 10 member states, namely Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Laos, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.