Foreign ministry’s spokesperson responds to queries on issues of public concern

Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Le Thi Thu Hang presented views on issues that have drawn concern of the press and the public at the ministry’s regular press conference in Hanoi on January 20.

Regarding the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)’s postponement of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Retreat, Hang said Cambodia had announced the suspension of the event, initially slated for January 18 in Siem Reap, due to the Omicron variant, and the absence of some ministers.

Cambodia is coordinating with other member countries to hold the meeting in the time ahead, she said, affirming that Vietnam will continue its close coordination with Cambodia – ASEAN Chair 2022 – and other members in the organisation of the meeting.

Asked about Vietnam’s stance on the Myanmar situation, the spokesperson said as Myanmar’s neighbour and an ASEAN member, Vietnam wishes that Myanmar will soon stabilise its situation to continue with its national construction and development, for the sake of its people and making more contributions to the ASEAN Community building.

In the spirit of solidarity and responsibility, Vietnam will closely coordinate with the ASEAN Chair 2022 and other member countries of the bloc to push ahead with the five-point consensus, contributing to the ASEAN Community building, and for peace, stability, cooperation and development of the ten-member grouping, the spokesperson noted.

About foreign media’s reporting that Vietnam is building up armed militia and self-defense forces at sea and the concern over possible conflicts, Hang flatly rejected the information as entirely untrue.

She said Vietnam persistently pursues a defence policy of peace and self-defence, stressing that the operations of Vietnamese competent agencies completely abide by Vietnamese and international laws, especially the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982 UNCLOS).

At the same time, Vietnam has always made efforts to contribute to building an East Sea of peace, security and safety in line with the convention.

“We call on countries in and outside the region to make responsible contributions to the goal,” she said.

As for negotiations to bring Vietnamese workers back to Taiwan (China), Hang told the press that the two sides are working to help Vietnamese labourers return to the market.

“We hope that Taiwan will facilitate the admission of Vietnamese workers,” the spokesperson said.

Hang cited statistics by the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) as showing that from January 1 to 19, 2022, there were 17 repatriation flights carrying more than 1,700 Vietnamese labourers back to Vietnam from Taiwan.

The CAAV is negotiating with partners to reopen routes to Australia and Europe, to facilitate the travel back home for Vietnamese citizens abroad, according to the spokesperson.

Responding to a query on the trial of the Vietnamese ringleader of a human trafficking ring behind the incident of 39 Vietnamese people found dead in a refrigerated truck in the UK, Hang said any violation of laws should be handled deservedly.

The Vietnamese Government also advocates legal, safe and orderly migration, while resolutely fighting illegal migration, migrant smuggling and human trafficking.

Vietnam has stepped up cooperation with countries and organisations, including Interpol, to prevent, detect, investigate and handle people-smuggling rings in line with the law.

Vietnam stands ready to coordinate with countries to quickly address related cases, ensuring legal and safe migration, for legitimate rights and interests of migrants, she said.

On this occasion, the spokesperson briefed reporters on achievements Vietnam recorded in external affairs in 2021, notably the unprecedented vaccine diplomacy campaign during the COVID-19 pandemic which has helped Vietnam become one of the countries with the highest vaccination coverage.

Vietnam also completed its non-permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council for 2020-2021, she added.

Vietnam has ratified the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), accelerated the implementation of signed free trade agreements (FTAs), and continued negotiating other FTAs, helping to raise the country’s export revenue to over US$600 billion last year, she said