|Deputy PM and FM Pham Binh Minh (centre) at the panel session on “Asia’s Geopolitical Outlook” at the World Economic Forum on ASEAN (WEF ASEAN) 2018 in Hanoi on September 13.
Minh said he was concerned about three things when it came to the shifting regional geopolitical landscape – the disruption of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0), the rise of protectionism and security threats.
“It is undeniable that Industry 4.0 will offer tremendous opportunities, but if countries cannot seize these opportunities, they can be left behind and the development gap would be widen,” he said. “It would lead to the transformation of the geo-economic as well as geo-political landscapes.”
The rise of the nationalism and protectionism also worries him alongside the power politics and strategic competition that can lead nations, whether big or small, to make choices to adapt to the situation.
And his last concern is the traditional and non-traditional security issues that continue to be a threat, including the maritime disputes, climate change, cyber security and etc.
The Deputy PM also mentioned regional initiatives like the Belt and Road Initiative or the Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy, saying Vietnam welcomes the initiatives as long as they contribute to the maintenance of peace, stability and prosperity in the region.
“The initiatives must be open, transparent and inclusive; and respect the international law and self-determination of the nation,” Minh added.
Minh later talked about the challenges of Industry 4.0 which he believes can affect the production methods.
For a country’s economy that relies heavily on labour intensity, Industry 4.0 will affect its model of production and the labour force, he said. Artificial intelligence, automatic advances, robots would take the jobs of the labour force so education must be the main focus of any country to provide better skills to the young workers to enable them to adapt to the new context, he noted.
Joining Minh in the session were Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea Kang Kyung-Wha, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan Taro Kono, Prime Minister of Sri Lanka Ranil Wickremesinghe and Associate Fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) from Singapore Lynn Kuok.
The meeting discussed how Asia can secure peace and stability amid a rapid changing geo-economic context, shifting allegiances, and new security strategies from regional and global powers.
The speakers showed they are quite optimistic about Asia’s geopolitical outlook as the situation has seen progress recently with the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) resuming peace talks, the US-DPRK summit or the new breakthroughs in the denuclearisation on the Korean Peninsula. They also spoke highly of ASEAN’s centrality in the regional security architecture.
The WEF ASEAN 2018 takes place in Hanoi from September 11 – 13. Themed “ASEAN 4.0: Entrepreneurship and the Fourth Industrial Revolution”, the event has attracted leaders of many ASEAN countries and partner nations, over 1,000 delegates who are also WEF members, as well as representatives of businesses from around the world.
It serves as a forum for the exchange of new ideas, a place to understand global trends, especially in regards to Industry 4.0, and to formulate plans for Vietnam’s strategic socio-economic development and the growth of Vietnamese businesses.
It is also a cultural festival for ASEAN countries with the host country in charge of organising activities to promote ASEAN’s shared values of multiculturalism, multi-ethnicity, solidarity, and common goals.