Wednesday, January 27, 2021, 08:10 (GMT+7)

Monday, October 28, 2019, 07:52 (GMT+7)
To make seas and islands an everlasting living and developing space (continued)

II. The achievements and shortcomings in developing maritime economy in combination with protecting the Homeland’s sea and island sovereignty.

Thoroughly grasping the Party’s guidelines, over the past years, our Military and people have made every effort to implement the mission of developing maritime economy in combination with safeguarding the Homeland’s sea and island sovereignty, and recorded significant accomplishments, as evidenced by great improvements in awareness and a sense of responsibility amongst the whole political system and central to local branches and sectors and people, especially coastal community. In particular, an awareness of the fundamentals of the Party’s guideline on safeguarding sea and island sovereignty and maintaining a stable and peaceful environment for national development as well as legal bases and historical evidence affirming Vietnam’s sovereignty over its maritime zones, including Paracel and Spratly archipelagoes has been substantially raised while the orientations of and guidelines on the sustainable exploitation of marine resources and environmental protection have been firmly grasped, etc.

In addition, a system of sea-and island-related policies and laws and state management apparatus have been gradually perfected and translated into practice in an effective and efficient fashion, thereby creating a prerequisite for developed maritime economy in tandem with increased defence and security in national sea and island zones. Accordingly, after Resolution No. 09-NQ/TW, dated 09-02-2007 by the Party Central Committee (10th tenure) on “Vietnamese maritime strategies towards 2020” was issued, the Government and National Assembly institutionalized it into decisions, decrees and laws, creating legal bases for managing, protecting, and developing maritime economy in combination with guaranteeing national defence and security in national sea and island zones. Grounded on those documents, central to local ministries, branches, and sectors have invested their resources in building infrastructure as a firm basis for fostering fishing activities and exploiting marine resources and willingly dealing with possible complex incidents at sea. Multiple new and popular policies have been enacted, especially those designed to incentivize people to take up long residence on offshore islands where they not only help promote maritime economy, but perform the task of safeguarding national sea and island sovereignty and security. Up to now, Vietnamese flourishing maritime and coastal economy has become an impetus to national development. The structure of maritime economic industry has been suitably adjusted with priorities given to the development of spearhead economic industries, namely oil and gas exploitation, shipbuilding, offshore fishing, and maritime search and rescue, thereby visibly stimulating the role and proportion of maritime economy to national economy. Some islands have evolved into maritime economic hubs, such as Van Don, Cat Hai, Con Dao, Phu Quoc, etc.

Competent forces in charge of managing and protecting  national maritime sovereignty and security (namely Vietnamese Coast Guard, Fisheries Surveillance, Border Guard, and Navy) have been streamlined and furnished with technical equipment and vehicles, so they have properly performed the work of state management over sovereign maritime zones and worked closely together to deal with complex incidents at sea. In addition, they actively collaborate with their counterparts from regional countries in making mutual patrol and search and rescue drills at sea.

Under the auspices of the Party, the State, and the Ministry of National Defence, to date the coastal defence system has been intensified; all-level combat plans for sea and island defence have regularly been adjusted and supplemented in line with realistic situations. The work of defence and security education and sea-and-island-related propagation has been promoted with priorities given to fishermen and other forces directly engaging in the open sea and coastal operations, thereby fostering unity amongst coastal community and armed forces and contributing to firmly building “the posture of the people’s hearts and minds” and the posture of national defence in combination with that of people’s security and that of national border guard in sea and island areas. Thoroughly grasping and properly implementing the Party’s line on partners of cooperation and objects of struggle, those forces have properly dealt with every arising incident and contained conflicts at sea. As a result, they, on the one hand, prevent hostile forces from sabotaging Vietnamese relations with its neighbouring nations; on the other, they still firmly protect a peaceful environment for maritime economic development as well as national sovereignty and sovereign rights and security in the Homeland’s sea and island areas.

In addition to recorded results, there are still limitations to and challenges of implementing the policy on maritime economic development in combination with the defence of national sea and island sovereignty. In the first place, the work of propagation pertaining to maritime economic development in combination with the defence of national sea and island sovereignty has yet to be widespread, thereby creating an incomplete transformation in awareness and a sense of responsibility amongst sectors, branches, localities, people, and enterprises. The involvement from the whole political system, relevant sectors and branches and people in this policy still falls short of expectations. The system of supplemented relevant policies still shows inadequacies and ineffectiveness, etc.

Overall, the size of maritime economy modestly increases out of proportion to its potential and set targets and requirements. The revenues from maritime economic activities come mainly from traditional maritime industries while adequate attention is not paid to hi-tech-incorporated maritime industries, such as tidal power, deep-sea mineral exploitation, etc. The growth of spearhead maritime economic industries is not proportionate to their potentialities and edges. On the minus side, they even cause great losses to state budget. Oil and gas exploitation still undergoes modest development, as evidenced by small output of oil refinery. The shipbuilding industry develops poorly, as exemplified by low revenues and efficiency of the building and maintenance of small-size ships. Besides,  the infrastructure of maritime, coastal, and island areas is still backward and not up to international standards, making it impossible to achieve a breakthrough in developing some regional and national maritime economic hubs. The rapid expansion of a system of ports and maritime economic zones has still not attracted investors due to their lack of synchronization with the upgrading of expressways connecting traffic infrastructure along coastal areas. On the minus side, poor investments and limited resources also contribute to low effectiveness in developing those maritime economic zones.

According to experts and managers’ assessment, sea and island exploitation is ineffective and unsustainable through small investments and outdated technology, resulting in the gradual depletion of marine resources and coastal ecosystem. Despite having multiple support policies, offshore fishing industry has yet to develop considerably. Predictions about negative trends in climate change, sea level rises, and saline intrusion are not correctly and opportunely made, leading to ineffectiveness in dealing with those natural calamities, negatively affecting the production activities and lives of coastal community. A system of maritime scientific and technological and research and training facilities are small in size, and slowly upgraded whilst maritime scientific and technological human resources have yet to meet quantitative and qualitative requirements.

The development of maritime economy in some fields is not truly associated with the guarantee of national defence and security. While planning coastal infrastructure, industrial zones, concentrated economic zones and economic projects, some coastal localities have only focused on economic benefits with scant regard for building the posture of national defence and security and the posture of “the people’s hearts and minds”; as a consequence, some economic projects and activities affect defence and security requirements. The building of defence-economic zones, fishing infrastructure, and sea and island defence constructions has fallen behind schedule. The infrastructure and technical equipment and vehicles of law enforcement agencies and armed forces in charge of protecting the sea and islands have been increasingly purchased, but somewhat inadequate. Disputes over territory and sovereignty over the East Sea have seen complicated developments with some countries repeatedly violating Vietnamese sovereignty and stopping oil and gas exploration in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone while hostile forces and political opportunists at home and abroad take advantage of sea and island problems to oppose the Party and State, disrupting security and order, etc.

Given the aforementioned limitations, shortcomings, and challenges, it necessitates the Party, the people, and the Military in their entirety handling them in a drastic and resolute fashion through synchronized and scientific solutions so that the sea and islands will be an everlasting living and developing space for Vietnamese peoples’ present and future generations.

Thanh Phuc - Xuan Cuong - Ba Binh (to be continued)

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