Vietnam image impresses international friends (February 24, 2005)
The world is getting to know Vietnam much better thanks to significant contributions by diplomats, who have made every effort to elevate the image of the country in the international arena. Ton Nu Thi Ninh, vice chairwoman of the National Assemblyís External Relations Committee, granted an exclusive interview to VOV to talk about Vietnamís image.
|Ms Ton Nu Thi Ninh,|
VOV: During your overseas working trips, what did foreigners think of Vietnam and its development?
Ms Ninh: It is safe to say that Vietnam is a famous country around the world. It is a nation noted for its past and present experiences and its potential in the future. Of course, in the eyes of a minority of people, Vietnamís image stems from the past war. They can hardly believe that Vietnam now is a new and peaceful country and is moving forward.
Together with the recent open-door policy and international economic integration, the number of foreigners coming to Vietnam is increasing and they are impressed by the busy tempo of life in Vietnamese society. They can see with their own eyes the substantial changes in Vietnam and they think that it is a promising country. They are particularly impressed by the young Vietnamese generation and consider Vietnamese people the most valuable asset of the country attracting foreign visitors. In Vietnam, they not only find beautiful landscapes and a distinctive culinary art, but are also impressed by the people who are open-minded, friendly and optimistic. Vietnam ranked first in a survey conducted by a US organisation regarding the publicís attitudes toward their countryís future. It is easy to understand this because the Vietnamese Government considers its people the centrepiece in its national development strategies.
VOV: What do Vietnamese nationals residing overseas think about the homeland?
Ms Ninh: Through my recent overseas trips, I had opportunities to meet different generations of overseas Vietnamese. They, particularly the second generation, turn their hearts to the homeland. Many second generation nationals speak very little Vietnamese and some of them cannot speak any at all because they were born overseas. But as a natural rule, overseas Vietnamese all want to return to their homeland in the end, therefore, second generation people want to know more about Vietnam. First generation overseas Vietnamese are on the whole satisfied with their achievements and no longer have to worry about how to earn a living. They follow the changes in Vietnam with keen interest and want to contribute to the development process, no matter where they live. Their remittances to Vietnam are now even higher than the total amount of official development assistance (ODA) capital granted by foreign donors. The sum not only helps their relatives improve their living conditions, but also stimulates the national economy and creates jobs through investment and technology transfer. Compared to other overseas communities, Vietnamese people have a high ratio of intelligence and the Government is seeking to fully tap this source.
VOV: What about the third generation of overseas Vietnamese?
Ms Ninh: I have met several Viet Kieu of the second generation and they expressed their wish to lend a helping hand to their needy peers in Vietnam. I met a young engineer who established the Vietnam Culture and Education Institute in North-East America to promote cultural links through exchanges with artists and intellectuals from the two countries.
In fact, many people have worked as consultants and engineers for investment projects in Vietnam and they have great feelings for Vietnam.
The worldís largest treasure of documents on the Vietnam war was also established in Texas so we should not think that they do not know anything about our country.
This year, Vietnam and the US will celebrate 10 years since the normalisation of relations. In September, the Asia Foundation, in collaboration with San Franciscoís Asia Art Museum, will open the first exhibition on traditional Vietnamese art. Exhibits will make a tour of New York, Washington DC, Houston in Texas and San Francisco. Currently, Americans want to get to know about Vietnamís history and its current development process.
VOV: What impressed you most during your trip to the US?
Ms Ninh: We held a host of talks, dialogues and meetings during the 20-day trip to 20 cities and towns in eight US states. Exchanges with the overseas Vietnamese community impressed me most and I absorbed many things. Thirty years after the war, Vietnam is on the threshold of international economic integration and is preparing for admission to the World Trade Organisation. Bilateral relations have developed well with the US after 10 years of normalisation. Through contacts with overseas Vietnamese there, I got the feeling that they were waiting for opportunities.
From my point of view, the trip made a sharp imprint on the US public. There were also different opinions about the trip, but this simply stems from different points of view.
VOV: Which mission you think was the longest and impressed you most?
Ms Ninh: Well, I spent three years working as the Vietnamese ambassador to Brussels (from 2000-2003) and the hosting of Vietnam Week in three Belgian cities impressed me most. Thanks to this cultural event, the image of Vietnam was expanded to the wider world. After this event, a Belgian provinceís governor became a close friend of Vietnam and he has visited the country several times. Thanks to the event, I established a Vietnam friends association at the end of my working term in Belgium. The association aims to further tighten the growing relationship between Vietnam and Belgium.
I also remembered the European Unionís decision to stop importing Vietnamese shrimp one year. I informed Vietnam about EU requirements for hygienic food conditions regarding seafood exports to the EU. Similar issues became popular later. Briefly, from my working term in Brussels, I came to believe diplomatic issues are closely linked to the economic interests of the country.
VOV: Thank you very much.
Reprinted from VOV News
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