Vietnam’s Deputy Defence Minister Nguyen Chi Vinh has called on regional countries to have truthful cooperation, show their clear determination, make proper investment, combine commitment with actions, and prove their responsibility in real actions to promote their defense cooperation.

Following is the full text of Sen. Lieut. Gen Nguyen Chi Vinh’s speech at Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore:

“H.E. Excellency, Dr. John Chipman,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

First of all, I would like to convey to all of you, ladies and gentlemen, the warm regards from General Phung Quang Thanh, Vietnamese Minister of National Defence. At the moment, our Minister should have been here to share with you on regional security situation and contents on promoting defence cooperation in Asia-Pacific. However, due to unexpected circumstances, Minister Phung Quang Thanh could not come to attend the 12th Shangri-La Dialogue and authorised me to convey to you his messages.

I would like to convey my sincere thanks to the Organising Committee, especially Mr. John Chipman for giving me the floor in this Dialogue today.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The 21st century will be a century of peace and development for Asia-Pacific. Of late, our region has undergone major changes. It is a region, which once experienced confrontation, division and wars, has made a strong bend to an Asia-Pacific with the most dynamic cooperation and development. Geopolitically, Asia-Pacific has 3 permanent members of the UN Security Council. In terms of future development, Asia-Pacific is the center stage of countries with high technology, advanced management, abundant work force and plentiful natural resources. These are the decisive factors for Asia-Pacific to become one of the hubs of development the world. With the above-mentioned strategic status and big potential, together with the major trend of peace, cooperation and development, Asia-Pacific is enjoying great opportunities to make a decisive contribution to the global development in the 21st century.

Nevertheless, I am willing to share your concerns about the regional situation. In reality, our region has not enjoyed absolute stability, not to mention the durable architecture stability. The increase of military engagement and the competition for influence of nations are driving the region to new challenges, of which arms race is one example. In addition, the scale and complicated nature of non-traditional security challenges are on the rise. No single country can deal with these challenges by itself. Hence, it is more essential than ever before to promote defense cooperation for a collective strength to cope with the common challenges. This is one of the key measures to maintain peace, stability and development to meet the aspiration of nearly four billion people in our region.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is clearly seen that the trend for cooperation, including the Asia-Pacific defence cooperation, takes place more vigorously than any other regions in the world. A few decades ago, the cooperation was limited to some countries, mainly bilateral ones or in some particular spheres. However, the defense cooperation has nowadays been expanded multilaterally and in various areas. Even some nations which used to face contradiction or confrontation are now moving forward to the defense cooperation more obviously. Thanks to this trend, we have made massive progress in confidence building and preventive diplomacy, which is a key factor to reduce the risks of conflicts and contribute to the maintenance of peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific for more than 3 decades.

As for the Asia-Pacific defense cooperation, ASEAN nations have gained the common sense, strong determination, collective efforts and effective cooperation. After a period of time facing division; since the late twentieth century, ASEAN has become a common house of ten members, and is now advancing toward the target of the establishment of the AESAN community in 2015. In order to preserve regional peace and stability, the ASEAN member states wish to establish a strong cooperation mechanism. Thus, ASEAN organized the 1st ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM) successfully in Malaysia in 2006. Since ADMM was established, there have been major progresses in building confidence, strengthening solidarity and promoting multifaceted cooperation.

ASEAN does not limit itself to the defense cooperation within ASEAN, the initiative for a new, open and inclusive security structure adopted by ASEAN nations and 8 partner countries was proved by the successful organization of the 1 st ADMM Plus in Hanoi in 2010. This is the consulting mechanism and the highest defense-security cooperation between ASEAN and its partners with a view to boosting the cooperation and sharing experience and human resources to deal with the challenges. Although the mechanism was established not long ago, a lot of ADMM Plus’s commitments have been carried out in a flexible, practical and specific way, which is suitable for both the common requirements of the region and the capacity of each member country. In addition to these mechanisms, ASEAN has been proactively taking part in the cooperation within the framework of ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and Shangri-La Dialogue, which we are attending today.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

How will we do to promote our regional defense cooperation?

It is said by some scholars that only actions can bring about the outcomes, which is the foundation for success. Every great objective and massive plan requires actions as a last resort for completion. This is definitely true. We have had quite a few defense-security cooperation mechanisms at regional and global level and we also have made a number of agreements, statements and commitments. In reality, having joined various mechanisms and adopted cooperative items mean that we have built the confidence at the onset. Nonetheless, in order to put these commitments into practice, the best way to do this is to keep building confidence. The best way of building confidence is action.

We should start our cooperation in each field, then, on the basis of the outcome of this cooperation, we strengthen our confidence in order to have a more extensive cooperation in more areas and spheres. To achieve this, all countries, especially major powers, should have truthful cooperation, show their clear determination, make proper investment, combine commitment with actions, and prove their responsibility in real actions.

In the process of cooperation, we need to hear public opinion, make decisions on the principles of international laws and legitimate benefits of all parties, show the equality and the respect for mutual benefits and the common benefits of the region. In doing so, we will be able to avoid sectorial differences and unilateralism in dealing with regional and international issues.

ADMM Plus has reached the consensus on 5 priority areas of cooperation, namely: humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, medicine, maritime security, peacekeeping and counter-terrorism. ADMM Plus gradually carried out these areas of cooperation in such forms as seminars, tabletop exercises, and experience sharing in human resources cooperation. This is the right time for ADMM Plus to have more specific and practical actions. As such, as co-chairman of ADMM Plus Experts Working Groups on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief with China, Vietnam is about to send military personnel to join the field exercises on Humanitarian Assistance, Disaster Relief and Military Medicine in Brunei Darussalam in June. This is the first time for ADMM Plus to carry out the coordination in field actions and it is also the first time for Vietnam to send troops overseas to take part in multilateral activities.

In addition to these areas of cooperation, Vietnam has just proposed a new initiative for the establishment of Humanitarian Mine Action Group. This is the 6 th item of cooperation in ADMM Plus. The initiative initiated by Vietnam was adopted at the 7 th ADMM in Brunei in May. India has agreed to co-chair with Vietnam in the implementation of this initiative as soon as this initiative is adopted at the 2 nd ADMM Plus in Brunei in August. At this forum of the Shangri-La Dialogue, I once again reiterate the request for further cooperation among the Navies, Maritime Polices and Border Guards and for the establishment of the hotline between ASEAN Defense Ministers. In the East Sea (alias the South China Sea ), those ASEAN countries having troops stationed in the Spratly islands need to promote the exchange and interaction on culture and sport events. The ASEAN Ministers of Defence may consider the signing of a no-first-use-of-force agreement in order to consolidate the mutual trust among ASEAN countries. The experience gained from this will be eventually expanded to the nations of the Asia-Pacific Region.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Vietnam is located on the rim of the Pacific Ocean and at the low delta of the Mekong River . Vietnam is one of the five countries which are under the most serious influence of the climate change and the rising sea level. In addition, the Vietnamese people have been suffering from severe consequences of wars. For these reasons, we are always concerned about the ever increasingly complicated challenges in our region. In confronting these common challenges, we need the full consciousness and the consensus of all nations. With those in mind, Vietnam has been actively involving in the regional defense-security mechanism. Together with this, Vietnam has proactively proposed the solutions to the disputes and agreed to fully implement the Declaration on the Conducts of the Parties in the South China Sea (DOC); supported the formulation of the Codes of Conducts (COC) between ASEAN countries and China; at the same time, Vietnam is willing to cooperate with all concerning parties to seek a basic and long-term solution to the issues in the East Sea (alias South China Sea) on the principles of international laws, especially the UN’s 1982 Convention on the Laws of the Sea. On this occasion, I would like to explain that our Army is required to carry out 3 functions spontaneously: safeguarding the country, developing socio-economy and helping the people. This means that the gradual modernization of our Army not only serves the legitimate self-defense rights but also enhances the capabilities to restore the consequences of wars, deals with non-traditional security issues and takes part in the production activities, thus contributing to the national construction.

Along with the regional cooperation, Vietnam has proactively coped with those challenges. As a coastal country, we realize our responsibility for ensuring the maritime security in the region. Over the past years, our forces have rescued a lot of fishermen from the accidents at sea, a great number of whom are foreign fishermen. Noticeably, in November 2012, the Vietnam’ Marine Police arrested 11 armed pirates in the East Sea, which reaffirmed Vietnam’s determination and responsibility in maintaining freedom, security and safety for the international sea lines within the continental shelf and the Economic Exclusive Zone of Vietnam in line with the UN’s 1982 Convention on the Laws of the Sea, contributing to peace, stability and development in the region. For this reason, I would like to request all concerning parties in the East Sea to respect and protect the fishermen, absolutely avoid the use force against the fishermen by all means including military and non-military means. The inhumane actions against the fishermen are unacceptable. These are the common norms of international laws and the moral codes of the present day world.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

What Vietnam has done and contributed has been recognised and highly appreciated by the international community. We are determined to act in this direction to minimize and nullify the challenges. As other countries in the region, Vietnam has a lot of work to do. I am confident that with the message “strategic confidence building” inspired by Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung at the opening keynote address, we will have more practical steps of cooperation in the spirit of mutual understanding, equality, mutual support and respect, which is the best way to preserve peace, stability and development in the Asia-Pacific region.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

These are the messages of Vietnamese Defence Minister Phung Quang Thanh which I would like to convey to you. Minister Phung Quang Thanh would like to see all of you soon.

Thank you for your attention!”.-VNA