Strengthening Vietnam bond    
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Strengthening Vietnam bond
Jun 19 2017

Ambassador Ton Sinh Thanh: ‘We are all-weather friends’

THE very mention of Vietnam brings to fore the image of the legendary Ho Chi Minh, who along with India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru built the foundations for strong and deep bonds between the two countries that supported one another against colonial rulers.Over the years, the friendship blossomed into a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and now when both countries celebrate the 45th year of the establishment of bilateral relations, the range of engagement is across a wide spectrum.(Follow The Tribune on Facebook; and Twitter @thetribunechd)Tasked with taking this important relationship forward at a crucial juncture when Look East became Act East, Ambassador Ton Sinh Thanh of Vietnam characterises the relationship as clear as the sky and one going forward.The Ambassador holds a doctorate from Jawaharlal Nehru University’s School of International Studies, an institute that in the view of this seasoned diplomat is among the best. His thesis on “Movement from ASEAN to East Asian Summit: The dynamics of new regionalism” began during his first stint (2003-07) in India and on the encouragement of his guide he completed it later.On India-Vietnam relations, the Ambassador told The Tribune, “We are all-weather friends, treat each other like brothers, we are reliable partners... this is a special relationship. In 1972, we set up diplomatic relations and this development was a great encouragement for Vietnam during its struggle for liberation and reunification. With the support of India, we liberated South (Vietnam) and re-united in 1975. We also received support from India during the US embargo in the 1980s and it supported Vietnam on the Cambodian issue. The relationship was developing and was upgraded to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership last year.’’Looking ahead, the Ambassador feels the relationship could be built on pillars such as diplomacy and political engagement; defence and security; economic cooperation; science and technology; and education and culture.Economic cooperation is a priority area. From a bilateral trade of US $1 billion in 2000-01, it today stands at $5.5 billion (India puts it as $8 bn). While Indian investment in Vietnam is on the rise (around $700 million), it pales in comparison to China’s $50 billion.The Ambassador feels the potential in increasing bilateral trade lies in areas like tourism and education, with IT in particular. Vietnam, he said, receives 10 million tourists but only 70,000 are from India. The country boasts of some of the best beaches in the world, besides ancient cultural sites.Vietnam is keen to welcome universities from India opening schools to improve English language and give computer training. “We want one lakh computer engineers but we can train only 10,000... it is time to do something to change this.” As for his tours in India, his favourite destinations include Tirupati and the Golden Temple. - Tribune India