Viet Nam News
Australian Ambassador Craig Chittick shares a message with Việt Nam News readers on the occasion of the National Day of Australia today.
It is a day when Australians come together to celebrate our land and rich culture, our achievements and character, and our democracy and the freedoms we enjoy. It is also a day when we celebrate the diversity of our people. Among them are 300,000 Australians of Vietnamese descent.
This Australia Day, I would therefore like to take the opportunity to reflect on the friendship and links between the people of Australia and Việt Nam.
The Vietnamese who have chosen to make Australia home form an important part of Australia’s diverse mix of people. They make important contributions to the rich political, business, cultural and social life in Australia. They have introduced Australians to Vietnamese cuisine. Phở and phở cuốn are now among Aussies’ favourite foods. These Vietnamese-Australians have also made significant contributions politically, culturally and economically. Among them are restauranteur and food writer Luke Nguyen and international fashion designer Betty Tran. Many of these Vietnamese-Australians are now also returning to support Việt Nam’s development.
There is a strong culture of education exchange between Australia and Việt Nam. In fact, education was the first area of cooperation between our two countries. In 1975, 19 Vietnamese students travelled to Australia on scholarship to study. Today, this number has grown with around 23,000 Vietnamese students studying in Australia last year. Many go on to make significant contributions to the development of Việt Nam. I am proud that this educational exchange is increasingly two-way. More and more Australians are travelling to Việt Nam for study and to undertake internships under the Australian Government’s New Colombo Plan. Every one of these students deepens their understanding of their host country’s culture and language. Every student is an important bridge between Australia and Việt Nam.
Australia and Việt Nam also have a rich history of cultural and tourism exchange. Each year thousands of Australians visit Việt Nam. They take away with them not just memories but a deeper appreciation of Việt Nam’s spectacular natural beauty, friendly people and many achievements. Earlier this month, I was honoured to hand over nine explanatory introductory panels to the Temple of Literature to educate visitors about this important historic site. That Australia and Việt Nam collaborated on a project at a site of such significance reflects the deep trust and respect between our two countries.
The closeness of our two peoples can be seen at all levels. Late last year Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull travelled to Việt Nam. A highlight for the Prime Minister’s visit was the opportunity to meet locals in Đà Nẵng and sit down to enjoy an authentic bánh mì. This year Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc will travel to Australia. During this trip, the two countries will elevate the diplomatic relationship to a Strategic Partnership. This new Partnership reflects the importance of the relationship to both countries and our commitment to deepening co-operation.
These people to people links provide the bedrock of a diplomatic relationship celebrating its 45th anniversary this year. They help us know and understand each other. They build trust and share experience. And they provide the basis for us to work together to achieve security and prosperity for our two countries and the Indo-Pacific region.
The friendship between our two peoples will be a key feature of celebrations to mark the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations this year. Highlights for me in the programme of events include the opening of the Cao Lãnh Bridge — Australia’s largest aid project in mainland South East Asia — our Taste of Australia promotion in April, and a series of great Aussie BBQs planned in different provinces around Việt Nam. I look forward to meeting many Vietnamese at these events so we can together celebrate our enduring friendship.
In conclusion, I would like to say “Happy Australia Day” to everyone in Việt Nam. With Tết just around the corner, I would also like to wish everyone a happy and prosperous Year of the Dog. — VNS