|Spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Lê Thị Thu Hằng responded to press queries during the regular briefing on Thursday in Hà Nội. — VNA/VNS Photo
HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam is "seriously concerned over "escalating violence and fatalities" in Myanmar recently and has asked Myanmar to protect Vietnamese citizens and businesses in the country, the foreign spokesperson Lê Thị Thu Hằng said on Thursday.
Responding to media queries on the protests against the military rule in Myanmar, the Vietnamese diplomat called on all related parties to exercise "utmost restraint", avoid the use of excessive violence, and try to resolve conflicts via dialogues.
"We hope the situation in Myanmar soon stabilises, for the sake of the people and for the sake of stability in the region," Hằng noted.
Việt Nam also shares the common position of Southeast Asian members stated in the ASEAN Chairman’s Statement on The Developments in The Republic of The Union of Myanmar (dated February 1, 2021), the Chair’s Statement on the Informal ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (IAMM) on March 2, 2021, in which emphasis is placed on the adherence to the ASEAN Charter to promote "dialogue and reconciliation", and hopes that Myanmar would soon return to normal on the basis of the people's will, conducive to the building of the ASEAN Community, Hằng said.
She affirmed that Việt Nam will work actively with other ASEAN members to seek solutions for the Myanmar issue.
Regarding citizen protection measures, Hằng said Việt Nam has asked Myanmar to ensure the lives and health of Vietnamese citizens along with legitimate interests of Vietnamese businesses in Myanmar.
There are currently 600 Vietnamese citizens residing, working or studying in Myanmar.
Earlier this month, 390 Vietnamese citizens have been repatriatied from Myanmar, against the backdrops of recent developments in Myanmar as well as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Under the directives from the foreign ministry, the Vietnamese embassy in Myanmar has been constantly monitoring the situation, working with local authorities and keeping in touch with contact points of the Vietnamese community to remain updated on information, and to provide recommendations based on the current situation and citizen protection measures when necessary.
"Should you seek information or need help regarding Vietnamese citizens in Myanmar, please dial the citizen protection hotline of the Vietnamese embassy in Myanmar or the citizen protection operation system under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs," Hằng said.
Earlier on Wednesday, during the United Nations' Security Council meeting on the Myanmar situation, Việt Nam emphasised the need to end violence, stabilise the situation and ensure safety for civilians.
Việt Nam also informed participants on ASEAN’s efforts in promoting dialogue and seeking a solution to the issue, adding that ASEAN is willing to assist Myanmar in a goodwill manner and in accordance with the purposes and principles of the ASEAN Charter.
Việt Nam on Thursday has also condemned China’s military drill on Triton (Tri Tôn) island in the Hoàng Sa (Paracel) archipelago, which Việt Nam has claimed as its own, as illegal.
“Việt Nam has sufficient historical evidence and legal basis to assert its sovereignty over the Trường Sa (Paracel) and Hoàng Sa (Spratly) archipelagos, in line with international law and the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea,” Hằng said.
“All activities in the Paracel and Spratly islands, which belong to Việt Nam, without the permission of Việt Nam, constitute a violation of Việt Nam’s sovereignty over the two islands, complicate the situation and are not conducive to peace, stability, order, security, and maritime freedom and freedom of overflight in the South China Sea (known in Việt Nam as East Sea),” Hằng stressed.
In response to US President Joe Biden administration's recently announced Interim National Security Strategic Guidance, spokesperson Hằng said there are currently various initiatives and ideas regarding cooperation in the Indo-Pacific led by countries within and outside the region.
Việt Nam always appreciates and welcomes the initiatives that contribute to peace, stability, cooperation and development in the region, on the basis of the law and respecting international laws for the legitimate rights and interests of all countries, and to ensure the ASEAN Centrality in the evolving regional architecture, Hằng said.
Regarding the 'Quad' summit between leaders of US, Japan, India and Australia, the diplomat said Việt Nam hopes all countries continue to contribute to regional peace, security, stability, and prosperity, as the country closely follows the policies of all major powers.
Hong Kong election
Asked for comments on Chinese National People's Congress adopting on Thursday a decision on improving the electoral system of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), which has been criticised by many countries as eroding Hong Kong's democracy, the Vietnamese foreign ministry spokesperson maintained that the Hong Kong issue is purely China's domestic affairs.
"Việt Nam's position regarding Hong Kong has been clearly stated many times before. Việt Nam respects and supports China's "one country, two systems" principle, the Hong Kong Basic Law and regulations related to Hong Kong," Hằng said.
Việt Nam always hopes for stability and prosperity in Hong Kong, she noted. — VNS
BOX: Việt Nam's freedom
Regarding the recent report of Freedom House claiming that Việt Nam continues to be among groups of countries that lack freedom of speech, spokesperson Hằng said: "Việt Nam's consistent policy is to protect human rights, including the basic freedoms stipulated in our 2013 Constitution and other legal documents."
"In the past, Việt Nam has been continually perfecting our system and laws, implementing a lot of concrete measures to better improve human rights and citizen rights," Hằng noted, adding that Việt Nam has had international cooperation regarding human rights.
"In the last Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the Human Rights Council (HRC), many countries have highly regarded Việt Nam's achievements and efforts, they have appreciated our approach and have offered constructive recommendations," the spokesperson said.