Maritime Economy a priority for Vietnam

by K Bhana

3 September 2020

Vietnam has 3,260 km of coastline and thousands of large and small islands, including two archipelagos of Hoang Sa (Paracels) and Truong Sa (Spatlys). It borders the People’s Republic of China in the north as well as Cambodia and Laos to the west. Its coastline on the east is lapped by the waves of the South China Sea which has always been an integral, natural feature of Vietnam’s livelihood, geography and history.  

Photo: Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc held a video call with officers and soldiers in the Spratly Islands (Truong Sa) on January 30, 2020 to congratulate and encourge them on the occasion of Vietnam’s Lunar New Year Festival – an event of sacredness and family reunion according to its traditional culture.

Vietnams’ increasing role and position in international affairs is being acknowledged on the world stage. The accolades can be credited to the vision of the leadership of the governing Communist Party of Vietnam. Having endured the hardships of colonial and imperial occupation the Vietnamese have emerged stronger, wiser and ready to play its part.

The spirit and will of the nation is legendary and has been widely documented and recorded for historical significance. The hard fought victories they achieved against oppression and interference of their sovereignty is a strong indicator of courage and tenacity to overcome challenges they face.

Vietnam has made significant developments since the implementation of Doi Moi (Policy of Renovation) in 1986. It has diplomatic relations with more than 185 countries and has key comprehensive and strategic partnerships with several countries and participates on many international fora on multilateral and economic cooperation.

In August 2016 the Vietnam News Agency reported that Vietnam’s 3,260km coastline and nearly 3,000 islands and 44 seaports can already handle between 470-500 million metric tons of freight per year and are continually upgrading their capacity and capability. Vietnam has outlined coastal economic zones incorporating a variety of sea-based industries, setting the country on the path to potentially becoming a significant maritime nation by 2030.

Photo: Communist Party of Vietnam Central Committee adpoted, in October 2018, the Resolution No.36 on the strategy for sustainable development of the Vietnamese maritime economy up to 2030, with a vision toward 2045

The Resolution No.36 of the Communist Party of Vietnam Central Committee on the strategy for sustainable development of the Vietnamese maritime economy up to 2030, with a vision toward 2045, adopted in October 2018, affirms that the sea is a component of the national sovereignty, a living space, an international gateway and closely associated with the national construction and defense. Vietnam must become a strong and rich country based on the sea, which develops sustainably, prosperously, securely and safely.

It says that Vietnam will sustainably develop its maritime economy together with ensuring national defense and security, firmly maintaining independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, enhancing external relations and international cooperation on the sea, contributing to maintaining a peaceful and stable environment conducive to development.
The country will sustainably develop its maritime economy on the basis of green growth, conservation of biodiversity and maritime ecosystems; ensuring harmony between economic and natural ecosystems, between conservation and development, and between the interests of coastal and landlocked localities.

By 2045, according to the Party document, Vietnam will become a powerful maritime country, with the maritime economy making important contributions to the national economy. It will proactively and responsibly participate in addressing international and regional issues of the sea and the ocean.

In dispute of sovereignty over the South China Sea with related parties, Vietnam has stated that they respect and strictly enforce provisions of The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982 (UNCLOS); simultaneously, expressing its effort and consistent policies in cooperating and settling disputes and disagreements over the sea in a peaceful way in accordance with international law on the basis of mutual understanding and respect. Along with perseverance and determination to protect sovereignty of sea and islands, Vietnam affirms that the Convention is the only legal basis, comprehensively and thoroughly prescribing the scope of entitled right to the waters between Vietnam and other related countries.  While waiting for a basic and long-term solution to the South China Sea issue, Vietnam believes that all concerned parties are required to seriously implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC). The concerned parties need to develop as soon as possible a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC), consider it as an important factor to ensure security and stability in the region; make efforts to maintain peace and stability on the basis of maintaining the status quo, not complicating the situation, without taking action of force or threatening the use of force.

The South China Sea is located on the important traffic route connecting the Pacific - Indian Ocean, Europe - Middle East - Africa - Asia. Ensuring peace, stability, security and freedom of maritime in the South China Sea is for the benefits of countries inside and outside the region. Vietnam is appreciative of countries of the region as well as the USA that have used various channels of diplomacy against the unreasonable sovereignty claims of the South China Sea.  Vietnam is committed to a secure, safe and peaceful South China Sea.

As Vietnam continues its climb in world rankings for growth, investment and socio-political stability, adapting to the challenges of a changing climate, the country has adopted maritime policies in line with environmental considerations as it prioritises the importance of the Sea to its growth, development and wellbeing.