Vietnam Time

8/14/2019 12:04:58 PM

Vietnam can help parties involved in denuclearization of Korean Peninsula to conduct dialogue: Diplomat

Vietnamese Ambassador to South Korea Nguyen Vu Tu says Vietnam can help parties involved in denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula to conduct dialogue, during a recent interview with The Korea Times.


Vietnamese Ambassador to South Korea Nguyen Vu Tu./ Korea Times photo by Choi Won-suk

The following is the transcript of the interview.

Q: What significance does the 30th anniversary of ASEAN-South Korea relations have for Vietnam and ASEAN?

A: First of all, the anniversary will be a new milestone in ASEAN-Korea relations. We have been moving a long way forward together with many significant achievements. The Republic of Korea is one of the most important dialogue partners of ASEAN.

ASEAN is currently the second-largest trading partner of South Korea. Meanwhile, South Korea is ASEAN's fifth-largest trading partner. We are aiming to achieve a total trade turnover of $200 billion by 2020.

South Korea is also one of the top investors in the ASEAN economies. Cultural and people exchanges between the two sides are getting all more active and diversified.

Second, this is an important occasion for the leaders of ASEAN countries and Korea to evaluate the overall bilateral relations, to create a new vision for the next period of time, and to approve measures to realize that vision.

Third, this event will help highlight the role of ASEAN in the region and on the international arena. ASEAN has been making an increasingly active contribution to peace, security, and economic development of the region and the world through its dialogue relationship with Korea and cooperative relations with other important partners.

How would you assess anniversary projects, including ASEAN-Korea Media Forum, ASEAN Week, ASEAN Train, ASEAN-Korea Export-Import Fair and ASEAN-Korea Startup Summit — that already have taken place or will do so? Please explain how Vietnam has contributed to those projects.

These projects are joint efforts of the governments of South Korea and ASEAN, showing our special care for the anniversary.

They help diversify the content of the anniversary, emphasize the multi-faceted cooperative relations between ASEAN and South Korea and attract a large number of people to participate in the events, including entrepreneurs, journalists, artists and young start-uppers.

Vietnam has been working closely with South Korea and other ASEAN countries in carrying out these projects.

We have been actively engaging in almost all aspects of all projects, from floating ideas to working out the programs to participating in on-the-ground activities and we are continuing to do so.

Do you think Southeast Asia as a whole has consolidated its status as a platform for denuclearization dialogue on the Korean Peninsula after the two U.S.-North Korea summits in Singapore and Vietnam? Or was it mainly because of proximity that the summits were held in the region? How can Vietnam capitalize on its experience as the host of the second U.S.-North Korea summit and help them resume working-level dialogue?

It is no coincidence that the first and second U.S.-DPRK summits were held in Singapore and Vietnam — two member-states of ASEAN.

In my view, Southeast Asia is an ideal and unique place for hosting denuclearization dialogue on the Korean Peninsula owing to a number of reasons: 1) ASEAN countries pursue the policy of neutrality and good relationships with all parties involved in the Korean Peninsula; 2) ASEAN's policy of supporting for efforts aimed at bringing about the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the lasting peace and stability on the peninsula; 3) willingness and capacity of certain countries (Singapore and Vietnam) in providing the platform, ensuring the security and other related matters for a smooth denuclearization dialogue; and 4) as you mentioned, the proximity between Southeast Asia and the Korean Peninsula in making sure the ideological success of any U.S.-DPRK summit.

By hosting the two consecutive and successful summits, Southeast Asia as a whole and Vietnam in particular have consolidated the status of an ideal platform for denuclearization dialogue on the Korean Peninsula.

With the willingness, capacity and experience capitalized as the host of the second U.S.-North Korea summit and other reasons aforementioned, I believe Vietnam can help parties involved conduct all kinds of dialogue and negotiation, including working-level meetings.

To what extent can North Korea learn from the case of Vietnam as the former appears to be geared toward ending its hostile relations with the U.S.? Would you agree with the idea that North Korea can take Vietnam's economic policy — Doi Moi — as a model for economic development? If so, in what ways do you think Vietnamese economic reform can or can't be applicable to Pyongyang?

To what extent can North Korea learn from the experience of Vietnam should be the question addressed to North Korea.

Vietnam's Foreign Minister went to Pyongyang in February and the statement he made was Vietnam is willing to share whatever we can share when requested by North Korea.

North Koreans are very sensitive. Why should they be learning from someone else?

Any attempt to answer this question would be presumptuous on the part of Vietnam.

All I can share with you is what Vietnam has been through. In the past, Vietnam has experienced wars, diplomatic isolation, economic sanctions, poverty and starvation.

After launching the reform — Doi Moi — in 1986, Vietnam has achieved a lot of tangible outcomes: economic growth, political and social stability, a strengthened diplomatic position and international reputation.

These are a couple of crucial things Vietnam has been pursuing: 1) the adoption of a multi-sectored market economy with a certain degree of state participation; 2) a foreign policy of diverse and multi-directional external relations, especially the normalization of relations with the major powers (Vietnam was invaded by the majority of major powers in the world, including China, France, Japan and the U.S., but now Vietnam's relationships with them are either strategic or comprehensive partnerships); 3) a strategy of international integration, particularly integration on the economic front and active participation in international organization and forums; and 4) no weapons of mass destruction.


Vietnam’s National Assembly Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan (L) meets with South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in in Seoul on December 6, 2018. Photo: VNA

Please explain Vietnam's foreign and economic policies on East Asia. In what ways can such policies create synergy with President Moon Jae-in's New Southern Policy?

Vietnam attaches great importance to and always strives to cultivate friendly and cooperative relations with its neighboring East Asia countries.

As you know Vietnam is a member of ASEAN.

In the Northeast Asian region, Vietnam has established strategic partnerships with the Republic of Korea, China and Japan.

Vietnam also has friendly relations with North Korea and Mongolia.

Three economic powers of the Northeast Asian region including South Korea, China and Japan are also the biggest investors and trading partners of Vietnam.

Vietnam is a full member of many regional economic cooperative mechanisms and has been participating in a net of high-quality bilateral and multilateral free trade agreements (FTAs).

With the aforementioned external background, its important geopolitical position in the region and its membership of ASEAN, Vietnam is able to support relations between Korea and Southeast Asia as well as other Southeast Asian countries — the main focus on President Mon Jae-in's New Southern Policy.

Economically, Vietnam is in an advantageous position to participate in developing and establishing manufacturing and supplying chains of Korean goods and services in the region.

It is worth noting that Vietnam is currently the leading economic partner and market of South Korea in Southeast Asia.

Please explain the strategy of Vietnam regarding the intensifying U.S.-China row.

It's a very interesting question.

Vietnam, since 1986, has pursued a reform in foreign policy. And in essence, we can say that Vietnam is a friend to every nation in the world and Vietnam wants to be a reliable partner in the international community.

And Vietnam pursues a foreign policy of diversified, and multi-directional external relations.

Basically we're a friend to all.

It is true that there is increasing strategic competition between the U.S. and China.

China has become the second-largest economy in the world and it's something that a neighboring country has to live with.

So we will have to balance between the United States and China.

That's what we diplomats are supposed to do at the forefront of this issue. It's s not an easy task. That's the answer. I don't have a clearer answer for that.

How would you assess your achievements after taking office in 2017? Also, how do you plan to build on such achievements in the future?

Vietnam and South Korea have all the strong foundations based on that the bilateral relationship has prospered.

We have a trusted political relationship, complimentary economies, shared histories, cultures and traditions and no conflicting national interests.

Since the establishment of diplomatic ties, South Korea and Vietnam have made remarkable development in a wide range of areas, including political, security, economic and people-to-people exchange activities.

We have become indispensable partners to each other.

My role as the ambassador of Vietnam in South Korea is to facilitate and contribute to the development of our bilateral relationship, to make sure that our relations be further expanded and strengthened and to explore and implement measures for achieving practical outcomes.

Since my arrival in South Korea, our relations have been further expanded and strengthened.

In 2017, we celebrated 25 years of establishment of diplomatic relations with many memorable and meaningful events.

In March 2018, I had the privilege to serve the first state visit of President Moon Jae-in to Vietnam.

In November 2018, National Assembly Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan paid an official visit to Korea.

South Korea is currently the second-largest trading partner of Vietnam and Vietnam is the fourth-largest trading partner of South Korea with a bilateral trade turnover in 2018 more than 100 times higher than in 1993.

In terms of investment, since 2017, South Korea has become the largest foreign investor in Vietnam.

Totally, South Korea is investing in more than 7,600 projects with accumulative committed capital of more than $63 billion.

Along with our strengthened political and economic cooperation, cultural exchanges between Vietnam and South Korea have also seen significant development based on a shared historical and cultural background. In the last two years, we have organized a number of cultural and tourism festivals in Seoul as well as in other cities of Korea.

Also with the deepening of bilateral relations in the socio-economic area, people-to-people contacts have greatly increased.

Last year, almost 3.5 million South Korean tourists visited Vietnam (an increase of 144 percent compared with the year before) and more than 450,000 Vietnamese tourists visited South Korea (a year-to-year growth rate at 30 percent) and comprising about 0.5 percent of the total number of foreign tourists.

In spite of the steady development of cooperation over the past years, we still have a great potential to further strengthen and bring the bilateral relations to new heights.

Vietnamese Minister of Public Security To Lam (L) meets with South Korean Prime MinisterLee Nak-yeon in Seoul on July 8, 2019. Photo: VNA

What do you think of the recent controversy over the beating of a Vietnamese wife by a Korean husband in Mokpo?

There are many Vietnamese women getting happily married with Korean men.

The number is about tens of thousands. Recently there was an incident of a South Korean man beating up his wife. It's a rare case.

There are, as I said, tens of thousands of other cases that are happily married.

Now regarding that one case, it happened during the visit of our minister of public security, it happened during the visit of our delegation from the National Assembly.

South Korea's National Assembly Speaker Moon Hee-sang and Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon personally offered their regrets and have undertaken to look into the case very carefully.

I think the case has received a very high-level attention.

I want to say that these things happen, I mean there are different types of Korean guys.

The important issues are what the larger number of couples are doing and what the two governments should do when a negative case happens.

I thank the South Korean government agencies and civil groups for their positive response.

My staff and I went to Mokpo. I think the case is being handled in a way that is acceptable for both sides.

What are areas of cooperation for South Korea and Vietnam to make their relations "brighter for the next 20 years" as you mentioned in 2018? What is Vietnam's strategy to decrease with its trade deficit with South Korea while expanding their trade volume to $100 billion by 2020? How do you want South Korea's investment to be expanded in Vietnam?

As our economies are complimentary to each other, the economic cooperation has been spectacularly strengthened over the last decades.

Bilateral trade turnover in 2018 was $65.7 billion, in which South Korea's exports to Vietnam were about $47.5 billion, while imports from Vietnam were about $18.2 billion.

Given the huge trade deficit for Vietnam in our bilateral relations, to make bilateral trade more balanced and sustainable, we expect South Korea put more efforts in simplification of import procedures and to import more products from Vietnam.

In terms of investment, South Korean investors are doing business in 18 among 21 sectors of the Vietnamese economy, mainly concentrating in processing, manufacturing, real estate, construction, entertainment industry and logistics.

We are welcoming more South Korean investment in Vietnam and particularly encouraging South Korean businesses to invest more in the areas of that are critical for Vietnam to overcome the middle-income-trap and move up the country to the new phase of development such as infrastructure, high technology and renewable energy.

At the same time, we hope South Korean investors will attach greater importance to the transfer of technology, the development of supporting industries, and the creation of more opportunities for Vietnamese enterprises to participate in the South Korean-led global supply chains.

We had a very painful past together.

But South Korea is now No. 1 foreign investor, No. 2 trade partner and No. 2 ODA provider and there is a huge wave of people-to-people exchanges between Vietnam and Korea.

And that's something that Vietnam does not achieve with other countries in any other bilateral relationship in such a time span.

As twenty-five years is not long in history, (it may be long in a man's life), we have achieved so much.

And I truly believe the prospects of the next 25 years of relationship between Vietnam and South Korea on the basis of the past 25 years will be even brighter and there will more waves of people-to-people exchanges, like the case of head coach of Vietnam's male football team Park Hang-seo.

The leaders of the sports sector present Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc's gift to Vietnam head coach Park Hang-seo prior to returning to his Republic of Korea homeland to join his family for the Lunar New Year festival on January 28, 2019. Photo: VOV

Please introduce Vietnam's vision as the 2020 ASEAN chair.

Vietnam's ASEAN 2020 chairmanship will be the largest multilateral diplomatic endeavor of the year.

The ASEAN chairmanship's responsibility is also an opportunity for the country to promote its role and position in the regional and global arenas.

Year 2020 has a more special meaning, as it will mark 25 years of Vietnam's membership in ASEAN.

We are proud to say that as an active, responsible member who always regards ASEAN as a top priority in the country's multilateral diplomacy policies, Vietnam has made meaningful contributions to ASEAN's achievements.

In the words of Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc at the beginning of this year at the ceremony launching the National Committee tasked with ASEAN chairmanship preparations, Vietnam always attaches importance, looks forward to, and is willing to make our utmost efforts for the success of the ASEAN 2020 chairmanship.

For the 2020 chairmanship task, Vietnam must work to maintain ASEAN growth, promote the building of a stronger ASEAN community and take the guiding role in building an ASEAN into an association with strong internal solidarity, extensive cooperative relations with dialogue partners and an enhanced position and prestige in the region, thus making contributions to global peace and security./.

VNF/Korea Times  
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