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Indian Ambassador’s Speech at International Scientific Conference by Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics on “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Region”

27/08/2018


Indian Ambassador’s Speech at International Scientific Conference  by Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics on “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Region”


Ambassador’s Speech at International Scientific Conference  by Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics on

“Free and Open Indo-Pacific Region”

(24th August 2018)

Associate Prof., Dr. Le Quoc Ly, Vice President of Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics

Associate Prof., Dr. Nguyen Duy Bac, Vice President of Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics

Associate Prof., Dr. Le Van Toan, Chairman of Scientific Council of Centre for Indian Studies

Associate Prof., Dr. Nguyen Vu Tung, President of Vietnam Diplomatic Academy

Ambassador Pham Sanh Chau, Assistant Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Researchers from Vietnam and India, Ladies and Gentlemen

It gives me great pleasure to address this distinguished gathering at the Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics today.  This International Scientific Conference, which is a product of the diligent effort of Associate Professor Dr. Le Van Toan, Chairman of the Scientific Council of the Centre for Indian Studies, has chosen a very important subject for its deliberations – “The development cooperation between India and Vietnam in the fields of economy, defence and security in the context of a free and open Indo-Pacific region”. 

The relationship between our two countries and peoples is civilisational, spanning over 2000 years, and began when Indian traders and monks landed on the shores of Vietnam with goods to trade, and with the message of peace and compassion of Lord Buddha.  In modern times, the visit of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore around 90 years ago to Saigon raised the consciousness of Vietnam in India, and the struggle of its people for independence.  India has been a steadfast partner of Vietnam during the phase of its struggle for national liberation, of national reunification, and today’s phase of national reconstruction. 

The landmark visit of Prime Minister Modi in September 2016, coming 15 years after the previous bilateral visit of an Indian Prime Minister in 2001 of Late Prime Minister Vajpayee, elevated our relationship to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, and laid out a vision for strong economic, defence and security engagement as three important pillars of this Partnership. 

Earlier this year, we concluded the Year of Friendship commemorating the 45th anniversary of the establishment of our diplomatic relations and 10th anniversary of our Strategic Partnership.  The successful high level visits this year of Prime Minister Phuc in January 2018 for the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit and as Chief Guest at our Republic Day celebrations, and the State visit of President Tran Dai Quang in March 2018 leading a high level political and business delegation, have given new impetus to our Partnership. 

Defence and Security Cooperation is an important pillar of our partnership and is proceeding through established dialogue mechanisms, Ship visits, human resource development and defence industry and technological linkages.  Our Defence Minister Mrs. Nirmala Sitharaman’s visit in June 2018 and her discussions with Minister of National Defence General Lich have laid a roadmap for the future.

Our leaders have identified strong economic engagement as a key element of our Partnership and have set an ambitious target of US$15 billion by 2020.  It is a matter of satisfaction that, according to our figures, our bilateral trade for 2017-18 was US$12.8 billion, an increase of over 60% during the last two years.  Indian business and industry is excited about the new business opportunities in Vietnam, especially in traditional and renewable energy, agriculture and agro-industry, textiles, engineering and service sectors.  We remain committed to achieve the trade target, lower trade barriers and enhance market access.  Further, India’s development partnership initiatives in Vietnam over the last four decades have focused on human resource development and have left a lasting impression on agriculture and food security, engineering and industry, and public administration.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his keynote address at Shangri La Dialogue in June this year clarified India’s view on the Indo-Pacific region and I take this opportunity to reiterate some of the key aspects of his address. 

  1. The Indo-Pacific is a natural region that is home to a vast array of global opportunities and challenges.  The ten ASEAN member states connect the Indian and Pacific oceans in both the geographical, and civilisational, sense.  Hence inclusiveness, openness, ASEAN’s centrality and unity lies at the heart of the new Indo-Pacific. 
  2. India does not see the Indo-Pacific region as a strategy or a club of limited members, as a grouping that seeks to dominate or as directed against any country. 
  3. India’s vision for the Indo-Pacific region stands for a free, open and inclusive region that includes all nations in this geography as also others beyond who has a stake in it.  ASEAN has been and will be central to its future as we seek to cooperate for an architecture for peace and security in this region. 
  4. Our prosperity and security requires us to evolve through dialogue a common rules based order for the region, that must equally apply to all individually, as well as to the global commons.  Such an order must have faith in sovereignty, territorial integrity, and equality of all nations irrespective of size and strength.  The rules and norms should be based on the consent of all, and not on the power of the few.  It should be based on faith in dialogue, and not rely on force, and it also means that when nations make international commitments, they must uphold them.  This is the foundation of India’s principled commitment to rule of law and faith in multilateralism and regionalism. 
  5. All should have equal access to the use of common spaces in the sea or air, requiring freedom of navigation, unimpeded commerce and peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with international law, as a right under international law. 
  6. India seeks a level playing field for all and stands for an open and stable international trade regime, supporting rules-based and a balanced trade environment in the Indo-Pacific region. 
  7. Connectivity initiatives must not only build infrastructure but build bridges of trust, and must be based on respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, consultation, good governance, transparency, viability and sustainability.  Connectivity must promote trade, not strategic competition; must empower nations, not impose an impossible debt burden.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

India and Vietnam have a convergence of views on the importance of achieving a peaceful and prosperous Indo-Pacific region where sovereignty and international law, freedom of navigation and overflight, sustainable development and a free, fair and open trade and investment system are respected.  India and Vietnam play important roles in safeguarding and strengthening an open, transparent, inclusive and rules-based regional architecture and support ASEAN’s centrality in the evolving regional architecture, its continued contribution to regional peace, security and prosperity and to ASEAN integration and the ASEAN community building process.

Friends,

I look forward to productive deliberations in the conference and I am confident that the outcome of this conference will prove extremely useful in enabling an informed dialogue and understanding the context of the free and open Indo-Pacific region, not only in Vietnam but also in India and elsewhere.  I am confident that the conference will also devote its attention to how best the term ‘Indo-Pacific region’ is translated into the Vietnamese language so as to capture the essence of the term for usage in the journalistic, academic and policy making contexts.  I once again thank the Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics for inviting me to address this distinguished gathering.

Thank You.

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