Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Lê Thị Thu Hằng. — VNA/VNS Photo
HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam has consistently pursued the policy of respecting and guaranteeing the right to freedom of citizens to follow or not follow any religion and belief, stated the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’s spokesperson Lê Thị Thu Hằng.
This is clearly stated in the country’s Constitution, continuously improved in its legal system and policies on belief, and guaranteed and respected in reality, she said on Thursday in response to reporters’ queries about Việt Nam’s comments on the International Religious Freedom Report released by US Department of State.
Hằng further explained that up to 95 per cent of the Vietnamese population practise a belief or religion, of which more than 24.3 million or 27 per cent of the population are religious followers.
Việt Nam has 53,000 religious dignitaries and 28,000 places of worship, she said, adding that there are more than 8,000 religious festivals in the country each year.
The country has hosted many major international religious events such as the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation in 2017 and the United Nations Day of Vesak for the third time this year, Hằng noted.
The US’s report recognised achievements and progress Việt Nam has made in ensuring and promoting religious life, Hằng said.
She said Việt Nam and the US have maintained regular information exchanges and worked to intensify mutual understanding about issues.
However, the report still has some partial evaluations which are based on false information about Việt Nam.
She said the country stands ready to co-operate and hold talks with the US to narrow differences and strengthen mutual understanding, for the sake of people of the two countries.
Answering queries on Việt Nam’s response to China’s recent missile test in the East Sea, she said “Việt Nam suggests all activities in the East Sea should respect sovereignty and legitimate and legal interests of countries and observe international law, especially the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, contributing to regional peace, security, stability and co-operation.”
She said Việt Nam is interested in and keeping a close watch on this incident.
Hằng also fielded reporters’ questions about the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA)’s arrest of the two fishing boats and fishermen from Kiên Giang Province on June 21 in the waters about 40 nautical miles away from the northern coast of Kuching, Sarawak state.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has directed the Vietnamese Embassy in Malaysia to work with Vietnamese and Malaysian agencies in handling the case related to Malaysia’s detaining of two fishing boats and 21 fishermen of Việt Nam and carry out necessary citizen protection measures, she said.
She cited the Vietnamese Embassy’s verified information as saying that first trial for the case is scheduled to take place today. — VNS