Vietnam calls on regional countries to embrace opportunities from digital diplomacy

As travel restrictions and social distancing measures are still in place in countries across the globe, digital technology has helped to keep the world connected and maintain the global supply and production chains, and the diplomatic service is no exception.

Vietnamese Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son told the International Conference on Digital Diplomacy (ICDD) 2021 virtually hosted by Indonesia on November 16.

Vietnam, like many countries, has stepped up the application of digital technology in promoting diplomacy with considerable success, he said.

Son called on foreign ministries to embrace this new opportunity, saying it is firstly owing to the fact that “digital diplomacy offers unprecedented degree of interaction, fosters understanding and trust, enabling countries to respond faster to rapidly changing events and coordinate better to address global challenges.”

“Second, digital diplomacy allows more transparency and empower the people by giving them a voice,” the Vietnamese diplomat noted, adding that better transparency also helps to address misinformation and disinformation issues.

He went on to say that digital diplomacy can facilitate linkages of the digital economies, promoting innovation, thereby creating a fresh impetus for the post-pandemic inclusive and sustainable recovery.

Finally, in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), digital diplomacy can help optimise the use of time and resources in organising the bloc’s activities and allows greater participation of ASEAN’s partners in the regional process which was very successful in 2020 and 2021, he stated.

“Digital diplomacy does not go without risks,” he concluded, “therefore, we need to constantly enhance cybersecurity measures to ensure the safe conduct of digital diplomacy.”

In her opening remarks at the event, Indonesian FM Retno Marsudi said though digital diplomacy cannot yet replace face-to-face diplomacy, it is here to stay and the need for it will continue to increase.

“A hybrid use of in-person and digital diplomacy will be the new norm after the pandemic. And we have to be fully prepared for it,” she said.

The minister suggested three important step to move digital diplomacy forward, saying it can be done by strengthening trust in digital diplomacy by addressing concerns about cybersecurity, data privacy and internet governance; bridging gaps in digital diplomacy between countries; and using digital diplomacy to address global issues.

ICDD is the follow up event of the regional conference on digital diplomacy, or RCDD, which has been successfully hosted by Indonesia in September 2019. This year’s event brought together diplomats from 21 countries, including the US, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Australia and China.

It featured an opening session and four panels discussion held simultaneously discussing the topics of the followings: Inclusive digital economy: Benefits and challenges; Digital innovation for the SMEs; Making sense of data and digital diplomacy; Big data and crisis management.

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