VietNamNet Bridge – Vietnam is preparing to publish a White Paper showing a policy of peace, independence, and transparency in military construction, said Minister of Defense Phung Quang Thanh on the sidelines of a workshop celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Vietnam People's Army in Cao Bang Province on December 2.
Minister Phung Quang Thanh. Photo TTXVN
What is your viewpoint on China’s construction of artificial islands in the Bien Dong Sea (East Sea - South China Sea)?
Our view is to properly perform the DOC (Declaration on the Conduct Parties in the South China Sea) and to maintain the status quo. The claimants of the Truong Sa Archipelago (Spratly Islands) should not expand the construction or present improper claims against international law. However, we also have to be fair and objective.
Currently, Vietnam and other countries are carrying out construction activities. We are embellishing, upgrading, solidifying and modernizing our islands in order to create conditions for the people and the military forces stationed on the islands to be safe and to have fishing activities. We are expanding islands and docks and restoring the rigs to withstand the effects of weather, ensuring the safety of people and scientists who study and work at sea.
Protecting sovereignty has been determined by the Party by using peaceful means, in terms of political, diplomatic, and legal aspects, and Vietnam will join countries signing the DOC to comply with commitments.
Looking ahead, the ASEAN countries and China will sign the Code of Conduct of the Parties in the South China Sea (COC) for the purpose of keeping peace and political stability for development.
Many National Assembly deputies proposed to increase the defense budget in the complicated context of the Bien Dong Sea. What do you think about it?
The proposal of parliamentarians as well as the wishes of the people is to purchase modern weapons and equipment. That is a legitimate, urgent desire. But the state budget is still limited while we have to invest in many significant areas such as transport infrastructure, resources for socio-economic development, welfare for the people who served the country well, healthcare and education. So investment in defense should be taken gradually and be suited to our capabilities.
We have two parallel tasks: protecting and building the country. We do not underestimate any of them but if we focus too many resources on defense, we will lack investment in development. Because of a lack of investment in development, we will lack future resources for investment in defense.
What is the importance of the goal of developing a gradually modernized army in the current period?
Protecting territorial integrity in the new situation requires synergy. The men and politics are decisive to military strength but the army cannot lack modern weapons and equipment. A number of army services must be modernized to be able to protect the airspace, waters and territorial integrity of the country.
For the army, training and enhancing the military strength and readiness to defend the country is the first task to preserve peace, stability and national interest, to improve people's lives towards the Party’s policy of “rich people, strong country, democratic and civilized society”.
Vietnam has published the White Paper providing an overview of the defense policy of Vietnam, the perspective of regional and international security. How will it be in the near future?
We are preparing to release the White Paper on defense this year, in the way of peace, independence, autonomy and transparency in military building. We build the army to only defend the country. We have no policy of invading or threatening security of neighboring countries.