Friday, January 12, 2018, 08:35 (GMT+7)
The success of APEC 2017 negates distortions of Vietnam’s good name

The 2017 APEC Economic Leaders’ Week in Da Nang, hosted by Vietnam, proved a roaring success. This has testified to Vietnam’s ever-growing international reputation. Notwithstanding, the significant event encountered purposeful distortions, behind which sinister motives lay. The confidence trick was  unable to take anybody in.

The year 2017 marked a new milestone in Vietnam’s international integration and foreign policy of independence, self-reliance, and diversification and multilateralisation of international relations, the centrepiece of which was the success of the 2017 APEC Economic Leaders’ Week in Da Nang. It was a topical fact that had a far-reaching effect on social life across Vietnam. The Vietnamese people nationwide closely watched and deeply felt the success of the event while priding themselves on the country’s ever-growing international reputation, as stated by President Tran Dai Quang: “This is a remarkable achievement in foreign policy by the whole Party, military and people, contributing to strengthening APEC’s role as the region’s premier economic forum in a changing world. That success marks a new milestone in our international integration and foreign policy of multilateralisation of international relations, contributing to consolidated peace, cooperation and development and Vietnam’s enhanced international status”.

        Leaders of APEC member economies at the 2017 APEC Summit,
Da Nang (photo: Reuters)

The 2017 APEC Economic Leaders’ Week turned Vietnam into the centre of the world’s attention. Only with an objective viewpoint and good will can anyone join the Vietnamese people in giving the same assessment. The APEC Year 2017 proved that Vietnam was well on the way to development in her capacity as the master of her own destiny, a country of independence, self-reliance, stability and peace, and a proactive player in the global and regional playing fields.

Nevertheless, hostile forces deliberately distorted the success of the APEC Year 2017 and disparaged Vietnam’s international status. Hostile forces accelerate their sabotage activities against Vietnam as a rule whenever the country’s major events take place. They took the APEC Year 2017 as fertile ground for nit-picking to make distortions spread like wildfire in a tone of grudge.

During the run-up to the 2017 APEC Economic Leaders’ Week, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a headline-making list of 105 bloggers and “human rights activists” allegedly detained or imprisoned by the Vietnamese government, including Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh (known as Mother Mushroom), Tran Thi Nga, Can Thi Theu, Tran Thi Xuan. They called on APEC economic leaders to press Vietnamese authorities for the immediate release of 15 out of the 105 detainees. To make matters worse, they called on international leaders and trade partners to boycott the 2017 APEC Economic Leaders’ Week on the pretext of the host’s “intensified crackdown on human rights” while making up a story that the US President Donald Trump took Vietnam down a peg or two due to its violation of human rights!

During the 2017 APEC Economic Leaders’ Week, a number of websites, especially by the Viet Tan – the US-based terrorist organization, posted scores of articles claiming that “APEC does not much benefit the Vietnamese people”, “Much of the Vietnamese public are indifferent to APEC. They deliberately tarnished Vietnam’s reputation by claiming that the luggage that Vietnam brought to the APEC Year 2017 remained confined to “naive statements on national advantages such as low-cost labour, abundant resources and friendly people”, which were outdated over the past decade. All of these are distortions aimed at belittling Vietnam’s status and reputation. While those claims are unworthy of our arguments, they enable us to be better aware of sinister motives by hostile forces who stops at nothing to tarnish the image of their country of birth.

Far from being taken for granted, the status of an individual or a country results from tireless efforts and single-minded determination. Vietnam as the host made every endeavour to make a success of the 2017 APEC Economic Leaders’ Week and many other international events. This affirms not only Vietnam’s strategic position in the region but also high regard for and special affection towards the country by APEC member economies in general and APEC Economic Leaders in particular, which is obvious to almost everyone, except hostile forces aspiring to tarnish Vietnam’s image.

The 25th APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting drew the attendance of leaders of all member economies, including the world’s largest economies such as the US, China, Russia, Japan. Notably, on this occasion, Vietnam received Chinese President Xi Jinping on his first overseas trip since the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China and US President Donald Trump on his first trip to the country in the very beginning of his term in office. The APEC Year 2017 also attracted a record turnout with over 4,000 domestic and foreign enterprises. Vietnam’s leading role was manifest not only in the 2017 APEC Economic Leaders’ Week but also APEC 2017 activities.

The APEC Year 2017 bore Vietnam’s imprints via the host’s initiatives to foster cooperation and to chart the direction for APEC in the long and medium term. 8 key documents were approved during the 2017 APEC Economic Leaders’ Week, the forefront of which was the Da Nang Declaration: Creating New Dynamism, Fostering a Shared Future. The two annexes of the Da Nang Declaration, namely APEC action agenda on advancing economic, financial and social inclusion in the APEC region, and APEC framework on human resources development in the digital age, are Vietnam’s initiatives. During Vietnam’s APEC chairmanship, the APEC-ASEAN informal dialogue was held for the first time under the theme “Partnering for New Dynamism for a Comprehensively Connected and Integrated Asia-Pacific”.

It should be noted that while Vietnam struggled to recover from Damrey, the strongest typhoon to slam into the Central Vietnam for years, causing great losses in humans and property, the country defied all the odds and made every effort to make the 2017 APEC Economic Leaders’ Week a success. Meanwhile, APEC member economies differ in their national interests. Given such a backdrop, the success of the 2017 APEC Economic Leaders’ Week reflects Vietnam’s deep sense of responsibility, strong will and tremendous efforts for APEC’s development.

As the host, “Vietnam displayed its courage and determination to properly handle great differences among member economies and firmness in times of crisis, even of near-failed negotiations of documents”. On the sideline of the  2017 APEC Economic Leaders’ Week, Vietnam and Japan co-chaired the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) Ministerial Meeting. Despite considerable difficulties, the meeting was a success with the trade pact being renamed the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the TPP (CPTPP) - a comprehensive and high-standard agreement on the basis of balancing interests of its member countries, with regard to their development levels. 

The international community highly valued the success of the APEC Year 2017 and Vietnam’s contributions. The media and public opinion in the US had a very high opinion of Vietnam’s ever-growing status as the host of the APEC Year 2017 as well as the healthy development of the US-Vietnamese relations. Vietnam took a leading role by its selection of the theme and priorities for the APEC Year 2017. Ms Babeth Ngoc Han Lefur, Country Director, Oxfam in Vietnam – (part of an international confederation of 20 NGOs working with partners in over 90 countries to end the injustices that cause poverty), highly valued promoting inclusive growth and strengthening Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) as part of the APEC Year 2017’s priorities, which is critical to “building a human economy, where no one is left behind and where we can build a better world for our children and grandchildren”.

“My friends who attended APEC 2017 activities were very pleased about Vietnam’s hosting, briefly saying that “Wonderful!”, stated Truong Trieu Duong, former Vietnamese Ambassador to the Philippines. Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated Vietnam on her successful hosting of the APEC Year 2017.

The comprehensive success of the APEC Year 2017, especially the 2017 APEC Economic Leaders’ Week in Da Nang, affirms Vietnam’s ever-growing reputation on the one hand and negates distortions by hostile forces and political opportunists on the other hand. Those seeking to belittle Vietnam’s status made a complete fool of themselves as clowns.

Assoc. Prof. Nguyen Manh Huong, PhD

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