Ha Noi has seen significant socio-economic development in recent years, and this is often attributed to the importance it places on international relations. The director of the city’s Municipal Foreign Affairs Department, Dr Nguyen Quang Thu, talked to Ha Noi Moi (New Ha Noi) newspaper about the changes seen in 2002 and what the next 12 months hold for foreign affairs.
How did international relations affect Ha Noi’s socio-economic growth last year?
Our capital city is developing all the time, and we are working hard to ensure that it continues to change for the better. Ha Noi is the political, cultural, administrative, educational and economic centre of Viet Nam – in short, it is the heart of our nation, and it is the place from which we reach out to the international community.
We have good working relationships with more than 60 city authorities across the globe as well as many foreign organisations. In 2002, we focused on strengthening international relations, and looked for ways to improve and increase co-operation.
Viet Nam made an important contribution to the success of the Asian Network of Metropolis Cities in the 21st Century conference (ANMC21), which was held in India last November.
We also sent delegations to many different countries including China, Laos, Japan, France, Belgium and Italy. This gave us access to many potential sources of capital and expertise. We were able to sign contracts for co-operative projects to help us build infrastructures, train staff, promote investment, tourism and trade and generally improve living standards for the people of Viet Nam.
All in all, 2002 was a successful year for my department. We made some significant achievements which gave a boost to the processes of industrialisation, modernisation, economic growth and socio-cultural development. It is clear that Ha Noi is becoming more and more of a player on both the regional and global stages.
Which was the most important achievement you made in the area of cultural exchange last year?
Many foreign delegations from cultural and artistic organisations visited Ha Noi and vice vetsa in 2002. France and Belgium committed to helping us to preserve the ancient monuments, buildings and general character of the Old Quarter. Our city also participated in the Tokyo Art Festival as part of the Promoting Cultural Development at ANMC21 project.
In addition, we held an event entitled Ha Noi’s Days in Moscow, which was very popular with patrons and participants alike. The event included art exhibitions, cultural exchange programmes and economic talks, helping to deepen the long standing friendship between the Vietnamese and Russian capitals. We hope that the event also opened new doors to bilateral co-operation in the future.
What are your plans for developing international relations this year?
As we enter 2003, we will continue to promote domestic investment whilst also seeking external sources to help us speed up Ha Noi’s economic, social and cultural development.
General Secretary Nong Duc Manh emphasised the importance of this at the 10th session of Ha Noi Municipal Party Executive Committee. He said that in the coming years, we will need to use our initiative to forge new foreign relations and strengthen our position in the global arena. At the same time, it will be necessary to reinforce friendships we have already made. We must ensure that foreign investment capital is managed effectively and wisely.
At a domestic level, we will focus on improving infrastructures, education and training in Ha Noi. We will also work to protect the environment and promote our city as a tourist destination.
Many important international events will take place in Ha Noi this year. The Ministry of Planning and Investment is currently organising the Asia-America Business Conference, which will take place in March. In November, we will host the third ANMC21 conference, and the following month will see the opening of the 22nd Southeast Asian Games. These events will provide us with excellent opportunities to introduce our international friends to Ha Noi’s rich cultural heritage, and also to show them the huge potential that we have for development. In addition, we expect to attract large numbers of tourists and new co-operative projects. — VNS
Reprinted with permission from Vietnam News Agency