ASEAN Chairmanship 2020: A journey of pride

To date, we are confident to affirm that Viet Nam has successfully performed our role as ASEAN Chair 2020 with flexible and innovative efforts in both policies and practice.
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc to chair 37th ASEAN Summit
Remarks by General Secretary, President Nguyen Phu Trong at the opening ceremony of 37th ASEAN Summit
ASEAN Chairmanship 2020: A journey of pride
The opening ceremony of the 37th ASEAN Summit.

Get ready for the 37th ASEAN Summit

The 37th ASEAN Summit and related Summits take place on November, 12th-15th via video conference. These are among the most important high-level activities during Viet Nam’s ASEAN Chairmanship 2020.

With the finished preparation for this major foreign affairs event, Viet Nam stands ready to organize the 37th ASEAN Summit and related Summits in a thoughtful manner, ensuring security and safety. Amid the complicated Covid-19 pandemic, we will make efforts to reach all set agenda items and goals.

At the meeting on November 5 to present the report on the Summit’s preparation, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has emphasized that despite the Summit’s virtual format, Viet Nam must fulfill the responsibility of ASEAN Chair and further enhance the country’s reputation within ASEAN and in the international arena.

Within the Summit’s framework, the leaders of Viet Nam, ASEAN member states and ASEAN partners will discuss ASEAN Community building process, complete prioritized initiatives for 2020, and foster ASEAN external relations. The leaders will also exchange views on regional and global situation, determine ASEAN’s position and boost its centrality, especially in the post-Covid-19 world.

The focus of ASEAN Chair throughout 2020 is to expedite the fulfillment of cooperation priorities between ASEAN and its partners in 2020 as well as Covid-19 response initiatives, maintain regional connectivity, build ASEAN Community, bolster ties with partners and identify the orientation for ASEAN’s external relations in the next year, maintain contacts and shared approaches within ASEAN and with ASEAN’s partners on emerging regional and international issues.

The 37th ASEAN Summit and related meetings are expected to include: the 37th ASEAN Summit, ASEAN+1 Summit with China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, India, the United States, Australia and the United Nations, the ASEAN-New Zealand Leaders’ Summit to commemorate the 45th anniversary of partnership, the 23rd ASEAN+3 Summit, the 15th East Asia Summit, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Summit; the Mekong-Japan Summit, the Mekong-ROK Summit, the 10th Cambodia-Laos-Myanmar-Viet Nam (CLMV) Summit, and the Cambodia-Laos-Viet Nam (CLV) Development Triangle Area Summit. Sideline activities included: ASEAN Women Leaders’ Summit and East Asia Business Council (EABC) meeting.

Notably, over 80 documents, the largest number ever, will be submitted to leaders for approval, recognition, or declaration at the Summit. This customarily involves 10 Chairman’s Statements on the outcomes of the 37th ASEAN Summit, ASEAN+1 Summit with China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the United States, India, Australia and the United Nations, ASEAN+3 Summit, East Asia Summit, and one Chairman’s Press Statement on the ASEAN Women Leaders’ Summit.

Branding ASEAN as a Cohesive and Responsive Community

To date, we are confident to affirm that Viet Nam has successfully performed our role as ASEAN Chair 2020. The “Cohesive and Responsive” spirit set out in the Chairmanship year has been strongly and clearly showcased in maintaining cooperation momentum, building ASEAN Community, and at the same time leading ASEAN in the effective response to Covid-19. As Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc once highlighted, “Cohesive and Responsive” is not simply the theme of the year 2020, together with the spirit of activeness and responsibility, it has become the brand of ASEAN. The spirit has helped ASEAN go hand in hand, hold its head high to face difficulties and challenges, unite to conquest the storm and confidently sail forward.”

ASEAN’s priorities and initiatives in 2020 and joint initiatives in response to Covid-19 have been being implemented in accordance with their road map, ensuring the completion within this year. Given these strides, Viet Nam has stood out as a dynamic, flexible and creative ASEAN Chair.

We are facing the “common enemy”, Covid-19 pandemic, which knows no borders, regardless of development levels among nations, (whether rich or poor). In ASEAN, under the leadership of Viet Nam as the ASEAN Chair 2020, the ASEAN Community has taken cohesive and responsive actions. ASEAN Centre for Public Health Emergencies and Emerging Diseases has come into operation within ASEAN and between ASEAN and its partners since the outbreak of the pandemic. ASEAN countries have actively shared information and experiences, and coordinated in disease control and prevention. The entire ASEAN, with political commitment at the highest level, and a synchronous and comprehensive approach on national and regional scales, has conclusively proved itself as a cohesive and responsive bloc full of mutual friendship and sympathy.

Since this very first step, the ASEAN post-pandemic recovery plan, ASEAN Covid-19 response fund, and the building of regional reserves of medical supplies and ASEAN standard operating procedure (SOP) for public health emergencies have been unanimously conducted and put into practice. Therefore, despite the pandemic’s complexity, ASEAN member states have fundamentally controlled the situation.

For the connectivity within ASEAN and between ASEAN and the world, Viet Nam has switched to online meetings to ensure seamless information sharing and coordination among ASEAN countries amid the complicated development of Covid-19. 2020 probably marks the first time that ASEAN holds such a great number of online meetings. This not only helps ASEAN maintain information sharing and cooperation, but also make many important decisions for the region, both on cooperation in general and on Covid-19 response in particular.

The ASEAN spirit, the efforts of ASEAN Chair 2020, and the Community’s determination have once again clearly conveyed the message shared by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc at the 36th ASEAN Summit: Weathering each storm, the stalks of padi on the ASEAN Emblem representing ASEAN members will be further bound together, bearing grains of rice filled with ASEAN family’s solidarity and mutual support.

Strengthening ASEAN centrality and expanding its partnership

During 2020, as ASEAN Chair, Viet Nam has projected our active role and image as a dynamic Chair calling on ASEAN’s partners to contribute in a constructive and responsible manner to regional issues, and support and assist ASEAN’s initiatives on Covid-19 response. Viet Nam has also mobilized support from ASEAN’s partners interested in ASEAN’s efforts to promote sub-regional and Mekong development.

In addition, ASEAN centrality has always been fostered by taking the lead in regional dialogues and cooperation processes, enhancing complementarity among these processes and identifying their development orientation in the next period. Viet Nam has skillfully harmonized and reduced the pressure from the competition and friction among major powers to which ASEAN is subjected. To this end, Viet Nam has stressed and upheld ASEAN’s basic principles in the relations among countries, including the principles of ASEAN Charter, the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC), and ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP). We also made use of ASEAN’s consensus and solidarity to reach a common approach toward the requirements and proposals raised by the ASEAN’s partners.

As an open community, and a partner for peace and sustainable development of the international community, ASEAN has been expanding and deepening equal and mutually beneficial cooperation with its partners. ASEAN has forged bond with the United Nations in 2020, when both Indonesia and Viet Nam are non-permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. The two countries have actively contributed to peace and security efforts and development of the United Nations. Moreover, ASEAN is strongly committed to economic liberalization and connectivity, and has constantly strived to promptly complete the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

Upholding ASEAN centrality in the region, Viet Nam and other member countries have unceasingly improved and perfected dialogue mechanisms, collaborated to build trust, and consolidated the regional architecture which is open, transparent and rule-based. ASEAN has continued to promote and uphold the rules and standards of conduct which shape regional relations conforming to the TAC, respect and fully implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, and make efforts to develop an effective and workable Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea in accordance with international law and the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

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