Dr. Jaishankar, Minister of External Affairs of India,
Madam Director General of the Indian Council of World Affairs,
I am elated to attend this ceremony in commemoration of the 5th anniversary of the Vietnam - India Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. On behalf of the high-ranking delegation of the National Assembly of Vietnam, I wish to thank the Indian Council of World Affairs, the Ministry of External Affairs of India, and relevant agencies for organizing this important event.
We still vividly recall the month of September 2016, when Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi, during his visit to Vietnam, joined Prime Minister of Vietnam Nguyen Xuan Phuc to sign the agreement to upgrade the Vietnam - India relations from Strategic Partnership to Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.
In the Vietnamese language, we have a saying that goes: “Time races past as though a courser sprinting outside the window.” If we take into account the 2000-year history of cultural exchanges between our two civilizations, the past five years is but a blink of an eye. And yet, this period has established itself as a significant milestone, bearing the hallmarks of cultural and ideological ties between Vietnam and India over the past two millennia. While the world continues to undergo constant changes, the Vietnam - India ties have remained ever consistent and pure.
Many politicians and scholars around the world are often surprised by the close, enduring and earnest friendship between Vietnam and India. Each may have a distinctive take on such relations. However, they may not manage to fully grasp the root of the Vietnam - India ties.
- It is the 2000-year relationship cultivated by Vietnam’s cultural values, patriotism, compassion, forgiveness and kindness, and India’s philosophy of equality, benevolence, peace and humanism stemming from Buddhism and Hinduism.
- It is the enlightened mindset in politics, diplomacy, and national construction and protection shared by eminent leaders of both countries, President Ho Chi Minh, Mahatma Gandhi and Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. This common legacy was passed down through, and continuously enriched by generations of leaders and peoples from both countries.
- It is the modern and comprehensive nature in our bilateral ties at all levels, with the consistent underlying factor being political trust. The Vietnam - India relations enjoy high political trust, and have thus overcome countless challenges, remaining ever close and pure. Such political trust has been constantly reinforced via the frequent exchanges of high-level delegations between the two Parties, States, Parliaments and Governments.
- And it is the process of Doi Moi initiated by the Communist Party of Vietnam in 1986, and the reform conducted by India in 1991. These endeavors provided greater opportunities for both countries to further strengthen political relations and bilateral ties at large.
Since then, the relationship between our two countries has yielded encouraging development achievements across five primary pillars, including politics and diplomacy, defense and security, economic, trade and investment cooperation, science and technology, and education, training, and cultural and people-to-people exchange.
The Vietnam - India Business Forum, co-hosted by the Confederation of Indian Industry, the Ministry of Planning and Investment of Vietnam, and the Vietnamese Embassy in India this morning, welcomed the physical attendance of 200 enterprises and the virtual participation of another 500 businesses and investors from both sides. 12 Memorandums of Understanding worth billions of US$ were signed, encompassing such fields as pharmaceuticals, information technology, oil and gas, and the environment. The MOU between Vietnam’s Saigon Tel and India’s Ecologic Engineering on cooperation in industrial infrastructure and innovation alone is worth US$4 billion.
Collaboration in science and technology has been, and will continue to be a driver for our bilateral ties. Civil nuclear power, IT, and digital transformation are areas of strength that India are pioneering. Vietnam is following these sectors with keen interest, and will promote concrete cooperation programs in such fields.
The pandemic bears more vivid testament to the tradition of mutual support through times of hardship between our two countries. When India was suffering from COVID-19, Vietnam did not hesitate to extend a helping hand. And when Vietnam was facing challenges, India immediately deployed its naval ship to deliver oxygen and medical equipment to Vietnam to aid our efforts in providing timely treatment to critical patients and reducing the number of casualties. Such is an act that we will never forget. We also wish to thank the Government and people of India for sponsoring projects in archaeological excavation, preservation and renovation of Cham cultural sites in Central and Southern Vietnam. The discovery of a shiva linga representing the presence of Hinduism in Vietnam bears vivid testament to the time-honored cultural ties between our two nations. Such is the root for our countries’ long-standing relationship.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The relations between Vietnam and India have been thriving in these five areas. More importantly, we are sharing similar views on an increasing number of regional and international issues. I will temporarily call this a culmination of strategic values.
Our two countries have, on multiple occasions, reiterated the demand to uphold a rules-based multilateral order, avoid the threat or use of force, settle international disputes via peaceful means, and ensure freedom of navigation and overflight in line with international law. Furthermore, we also agree that the UNCLOS 1982 constitutes an important foundation to maintain peace, stability and justice in the region.
Over the past decade, particularly in 2021, our two countries have worked closely at the United Nations Security Council to protect the interest of each other and the common values of mankind. It is this unity that fosters collective strength to safeguard the core tenets of the contemporary international system. Both countries hold a firm belief that multilateralism is not merely a tool, but rather a goal to pursue, so as to establish a stable and fair international order.
Vietnam considers India as both a major power, with increasing role and prestige in the world, and a close traditional friend. Our bilateral ties have constantly stood the test of time, kept up with the prevailing trends of the time and fulfilled the aspiration of our peoples.
Vietnam supports and welcomes India’s “Look East” policy, which was upgraded to “Act East” policy in 2014 in line with the new situation and vision. Vietnam is considered as a key pillar for this policy in Southeast Asia. This would be an integral factor in bolstering the Vietnam - India ties.
We all gather here today at this grand celebration of the 5th anniversary of our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. I believe that this bears great significance, kickstarting a series of upcoming events to commemorate the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations and the 75th Independence Day of India in 2022.
At this very moment, I recall the speech of Excellency President of India Pranab Mukherjee at the launching of the Center for Indian Studies at the Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics on 15 September 2014 during his visit to Vietnam. He stated that the Vietnam - India ties had never been more outstanding, and that it was necessary for India and Vietnam to stand shoulder-to-shoulder to protect common interest, peace and prosperity. He also affirmed that India would remain a trusted and loyal friend of Vietnam.
This statement also reflects the shared aspiration of our peoples.
With all my sincere faith in and affection for India and her people, I am fully confident that the friendship between our two countries will further thrive, with greater diversity.
I wish you all good health, peace, and happiness.
May the Vietnam - India friendship continue to flourish.