|Deputy Foreign Minister and Chairman of the National Boundary Commission Le Hoai Trung
He made the remark in a recent interview with the press, highlighting the outcomes of border and territory-related work in 2017 and plans for this year.
He said Vietnam and neighbouring countries have complied with treaties and agreements on border, kept peace and stability in border areas, protected the borderline and border markers well and ensured social order and safety.
Along the Vietnam-China land border, the two sides have coordinated in border management and protection via the protocol on border demarcation and marker planting, the agreement on border management regulations and the agreement on border gates and border gate management regulations between the two countries.
Bilateral border management mechanisms, including the Vietnam-China Land Border Joint Committee, the Cooperation Committee on Vietnam-China Land Border Gates and the joint working committee of the four Vietnamese border provinces and China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, have continued to fulfill their tasks. Bilateral patrols, information exchange, cooperation in cross-border crime fight, phone calls, routine talks and pairing of border villages have been effective, Trung noted.
Regarding the Vietnam-Laos border, the official said the two countries finished internal and external procedures so that two important legal documents, namely the protocol on borderline and border markers and the agreement on land border and border gate management regulations, took effect on September 5, 2017.
The two sides also held the 27th annual meeting of their border delegations to review the implementation of the Vietnam-Laos agreement on national border regulations and the minutes of the 26th meeting. They also worked out coordination plans for 2018.
He added last year, border localities and forces of Vietnam and Laos worked closely to implement patrols, cooperation and exchange activities and deal with incidents emerging in border areas. People-to-people exchanges, goods trading, healthcare examination and treatment and experience sharing between border localities were maintained.
Meanwhile, by the end of 2017, Vietnam and Cambodia had completed about 84 percent of the border demarcation and marker planting work, he said.
Ministries, sectors and localities of Vietnam have stepped up the management of the countries’ land border to protect attained border demarcation and marker planting outcomes.
Vietnam and Cambodia have worked closely to manage the border according to the 1983 agreement on border regulations, the 1995 press release and other relevant agreements. They have also coordinated to handle incidents emerging along the shared border.
The deputy minister said implementing the Resolution adopted at the 12th National Party Congress on fighting to firmly protect national independence, sovereignty, unification and territorial integrity, Vietnam spared no effort to resolve outstanding border, sea and island matters in 2017, ensuring the country’s sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction.
Vietnam and Cambodia are determined to define and to build 1,722 auxiliary markers on the shared border line in the first quarter of 2018. The two sides completed 84 percent of the work in late 2017 and are preparing dossiers to legalise this accomplishment soon.
He noted the two countries have been seeking fair and appropriate solutions to address shortcomings in the field to complete land border demarcation and planting and build a shared border of peace, stability, friendship and cooperation for the sake of the two peoples.
Regarding the East Sea issue, Vietnam remains persistent to safeguard the country’s sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction over its waters, continental shelf and islands based on international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea for peace, cooperation and development in the East Sea.
In 2017, Vietnam maintained and promoted negotiation mechanisms on marine issues, including the governmental-level border talks between Vietnam and China in March 2017 and informal meetings of working groups on Vietnam-China maritime issues.
The country has continued fighting to protect sovereignty over Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagos and promoting cooperation to address maritime matters to affirm the country’s jurisdiction and sovereign rights over its exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, as well as the supremacy of law.
Trung said Vietnam also negotiated with Indonesia about the delimitation of exclusive economic zones and with Malaysia about maritime matters.
Vietnam worked with other ASEAN countries and China to adopt the Code of Conduct in the East Sea framework and presented its viewpoints at multilateral forums of the bloc and the United Nations.
Vietnam is also expanding maritime cooperation with countries in and out of the region to exchange experience and seek a common voice in marine matters.
The Vietnamese government has directed departments to take measures to protect fishermen in Vietnamese waters, properly address issues relating to violations of fishermen and fishing vessels in other countries’ waters and prevent foreign fishing boats from illegal operation in Vietnam’s waters.
Deputy Minister Trung also underlined the significance of border-related work for development.
He affirmed that collaboration between Vietnam and neighbouring countries to manage borderlines and border markers helps facilitate trade and ensure social order in border areas, contributing to promoting development and ensuring security-defence.
This is a key task in border work, towards building of borderlines of peace, friendship, stability and cooperation for mutual sustainable development, he stressed.
According to the Deputy Minister, in recent years, apart from working with relevant countries in addressing border issues to build borderlines of peace, friendship and stability, Vietnam has also worked with them to promote cultural and socio-economic development in border areas.
In November 2017, Vietnam and China signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on accelerating negotiations on the Framework Agreement to build a cross-border economic co-operation zone; the MoU on promoting connection between the “Two Corridors, One Belt” framework and the “Belt and Road” initiative.
The two sides also completed procedures to open a number of border gates, and customs clearance stations, helping border localities boost economic links, thus pushing socio-economic development.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is working on a project on planning the development of land-border gates between Vietnam and China in 2016-2025, with a vision to 2035, he said, adding that the planning will facilitate the upgrade and construction of border gates along the Vietnam-China land border.
For Laos, the two countries are coordinating to map out master plans on developing the Vietnam-Lao border gates system and border trade between the two countries to 2025, with a vision through 2035.
The two sides also signed many agreements to connect cross-border roads, basically completed a pre-feasibility study report on the construction of Hanoi-Vientiane highway and worked to enhance cultural-sport exchange, and tourism development among Vietnamese and Lao border localities.
For Cambodia, the two sides established a joint-working group for border-related issues, which is working on the building, upgrade and development of a shared land-border gate system, towards better serving development in the two nations.
The country’s efforts have contributed to stabilising and promoting socio-economic development in border areas, laying a solid foundation for building borderlines of peace, friendship, stability and cooperation for mutual sustainable development between Vietnam and neighbouring countries, Trung said.
He said the border, territory and island-related work reaped outstanding achievements in 2017, contributing to completing the target of maintaining a peaceful, stable and favourable environment in service of national development, and fulfilling the tasks of national construction and defence.
In 2018, the East Sea situation is expected to continue developing complicatedly with uncertainties, threatening peace and stability in the region and the interests of countries concerned, according to Trung.
Therefore, the official said, border and territory-related work will focus on maintaining a peaceful and stable environment, while defending national territorial sovereignty.
To that end, Trung emphasised the need to manage the Vietnam-China land border in line with signed legal documents and closely monitor and promptly handle incidents occurring along the border.
At the same time, Vietnam will work harder to complete border marker planting and upgrading along its border with Laos, he said, adding that Vietnam will also work with Cambodia to accelerate the legalisation of 84 percent of outcomes of land border demarcation and marker planting achieved by the two countries.
Vietnam will hold more talks to reach pragmatic results in the settlement of sea-related issues with concerned nations, and participate in negotiations between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China on building a Code of Conduct in the East Sea, the Deputy Minister said.
He said Vietnam will enhance marine cooperation with relevant countries in the East Sea and fight against violations of national sovereignty and sovereign rights in line with international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Over the years, under the leadership of the Party and the State, plus the resolve of the people, officers and soldiers, Vietnam has made the best use of opportunities and eased difficulties to protect its border security and national sovereignty over its sea and islands, as well as its legal rights and interests, contributing to ensuring a peaceful and stable environment for national construction and defence and deeper international integration, Trung said.
This year, greater efforts will be made to address the remaining problems and fulfil the targets, he added.
“I firmly believe that the border and territory work will attain more successes, contributing to completing the task of national construction and defence,” he said.