The freshly-concluded sixth Mekong-Lancang Cooperation (MLC) Foreign Ministers’ Meeting offered a chance for countries to affirm their commitments to cooperation in addressing urgent issues in the region,
thus ensuring sustainable and inclusive socio-economic development, a Vietnamese official has said.
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Nguyen Quoc Dung, head of Vietnam’s ASEAN SOM (Photo: VNA)
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Nguyen Quoc Dung, head of Vietnam’s ASEAN SOM, made the statement during an interview given to reporters following the meeting and the Special ASEAN-China Foreign Minister’s Meeting, held virtually in China’s Chongqing city. The Vietnamese delegation to the events was led by Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son.
The ministers reviewed and proposed orientations to promote the strategic partnership and comprehensive cooperation between ASEAN and China, and the MLC mechanism in the time ahead, significantly contributing to peace, security, stability and prospereous development in the region, Dung said.
At the Special ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, the countries stressed the strategic importance of the ASEAN-China relationship to the region, as well as its contributions to development in each country.
They consented to give high priority to collaboration in COVID-19 combat and recovery.
China pledged to further help ASEAN countries improve their medical capacity in response to the pandemic, and in vaccine research, development, production and distribution, while stepping up vaccine supplies to the nations.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son (first from left) poses for a group photo with other ministers (Photo: VNA)
The ministers compared notes on regional issues, especially those regarding the East Sea and Myanmar, and affirmed that maintaining an environment of peace, security and stability in the region, including the East Sea, is the shared concern and interest of ASEAN and China.
They welcomed the organisation of the 19th ASEAN-China Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) on the implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) ahead of the Special ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers’ Meeting.
They also committed to further implementing the DOC fully and effectively and resuming negotiations for an effective and substantive Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC) in line with international law and the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982 UNCLOS).
The MLC-6 Meeting set out four priorities for the coming time, including cooperation on water resources and the environment to address major regional issues such as the Mekong River ecological environment, floods and droughts, and climate change, enhancement of collaboration in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccine production and technology transfer, and coordination in building the Mekong – Lancang Economic Development Belt and connecting it with existing economic corridors in the region.
Regarding the contributions of the Vietnamese delegation to the meetings, Deputy FM Dung said in his address at the Special ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son affirmed that Vietnam will actively work with ASEAN countries and China to strengthen political dialogue, improve mutual understanding, trust and respect, and promote comprehensive cooperation, making the bilateral relationship a model of stable and sustainable partnership between neighbouring countries.
Son also called for strengthening efforts to respond to COVID-19 and promote recovery, making effective use of ASEAN – China Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement, expanding regional connectivity via connecting the implementation of the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity (MPAC) 2025 with the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), promoting sub-regional cooperation, and stepping up sustainable development cooperation in line with the theme of ASEAN-China cooperation this year.
Apart from appreciating China’s valuable support for Vietnam in COVID-19 response, the Vietnamese FM emphasised the importance of efforts by ASEAN and China to maintain an environment of peace, security, stability and rule of law in the region.
He affirmed that Vietnam will continue to work with ASEAN countries and China to fully and effectively implement the DOC and build an effective and efficient COC in accordance with international law and the UNCLOS 1982.
At the MLC-6 Meeting, FM Son proposed sharing experience in fighting the pandemic and transferring technology on vaccine production in a practical and effective way; facilitating the cross-border circulation of goods to support economic recovery during and after the pandemic; and stepping up cooperation in the sustainable management and use of water resources of the Mekong River.
During his attendance at the meetings, Minister Bui Thanh Son held talks with Chinese State Councillor and Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi, and had bilateral meetings with Lao Foreign Minister Saleumxay Kommasith and Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Prak Sokhonn to discuss bilateral relations and issues of shared concern./. VNA
Artworks play role in fighting COVID-19 in Vietnam
Under the scorching sun of Hanoi, a group of young artists meticulously wield their brushes to paint colorful art murals to help combat COVID-19.
Nguyen Manh Quang, the group’s representative, said the project ‘Fighting the Pandemic like Fighting Your Enemies’ was aimed at honoring frontliners and calling for social awareness in protecting public health.
“We first painted a 15-square-meter mural in Hoan Kiem District’s Phuc Tan Commune,” Quang said.
“We later received support to make big murals, ranging from 20 square meters to 105 square meters, in Dong Da, Ha Dong, and Tay Ho Districts.”
The next destination is Cau Giay District. The group sets a goal to cover walls of 10 to 20 square meters in the Vietnamese capital with art on the theme of COVID-19 fighting and prevention.
Quang said the project was funded by artists and some donors.
He expressed the expectation that district authorities and Hanoians could give helping hands to spread the idea, especially finding big, plain walls for these artworks.
|A team of three to four artists can complete a mural of 20 square meters in two to three days in Hanoi. Photo: Ha Quan / Tuoi Tre|
|On this mural, the 5K message conveying the Ministry of Health’s advice and warnings against COVID-19 is visualized in Hanoi. Photo: Ha Quan / Tuoi Tre|
|An artist braves Hanoi’s hot weather to complete a mural. Photo: Ha Quan / Tuoi Tre|
|A mural delivers a message hailing social solidarity to fight against COVID-19 in Hanoi. Photo: Ha Quan / Tuoi Tre|
|A nurse ‘angel’ protecting the earth from COVID-19 is painted on a mural in Tay Ho District, Hanoi. Photo: Ha Quan / Tuoi Tre|
Woman’s ‘zero dong supermarket’ a lifesaver for some in Mekong Delta
Duong Thanh Ha of Mekong Delta’s Can Tho City has set up a charity stall with vegetables and foods to help people facing economic hardships due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
For nearly a month now she and her husband have been waking up before dawn to pick vegetables in their garden and take them to her ‘zero dong supermarket’ behind Phuoc Long Pagoda in Le Binh Ward, Cai Rang District.
It is actually a small stall with many varieties of farm produce that Ha harvests or others donate.
While she was busy stacking the items on the shelves, some traders from nearby wet markets stopped by to donate vegetables.
From time to time people would drive up, and place bags of rice, instant noodles, sugar, or cooking oil in gaps in the shelves and quickly leave.
Scrap collectors, lottery ticket sellers and motorbike taxi drivers show up now and then to grab for some supply. Seeing a timid old woman selling lottery tickets taking only a handful of vegetables, Ha said kindly: “Please take more. You are [also] welcome to come back and take more if you want.”
Duong Thanh Ha’s ‘zero dong supermarket’ has a variety of farm produce for people to choose from and take for free. Photo by VnExpress/Dien Phan.
Ha, 60, used to be a merchant, but retired two years ago and handed the family business to her children.
In late May, when many farmers growing sweet potato in the neighboring province of Vinh Long could not sell their harvest due to the Covid outbreak, they offered to give it to Ha so that she could distribute it to those in need.
She rented a vehicle for a few days to transport the sweet potato from Vinh Long to Can Tho, and many people who had received it from her said: “We are very grateful… Having them for breakfast and lunch helped us save some money to pay our rent.”
Ha realized then that many poor workers were feeling the economic pinch caused by the pandemic. They were hoping to eat reasonably well, but were helpless as their incomes fell or disappeared, and that was when she decided to open the ‘supermarket.’
At first she only put up vegetables and fruits from her garden, but within a few days, as word spread about her charity effort, many people began to bring in food while others living far away contributed money for her to buy more vegetables.
She also uses some of her own money to stock the stall.
“At first I could only help with things I had. But thanks to benefactors from far and near, I have been able to maintain this for nearly a month now.”
In the beginning she would occasionally ask her adopted daughter to watch over the stall. But this made people afraid to come in since they could not see anyone inside. Since then Ha is inside almost all day until 6 p.m, only going for a short break at noon.
Besides picking vegetables and stacking the shelves, she also spends time talking to people who come in to assuage their embarrassment at taking things for free.
Ha with a basket of squash at her ‘zero dong supermarket’in Cai Rang District, Can Tho City.Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Tram.
There are times when she sees people wearing gold jewelry and coming in luxury cars stop by her stall. She still welcomes them, helps them choose what they want but advises them to take only enough.
“If they have a need, I’m willing to share with them. It could be that they were not able to earn money that day.”
Do Thi Phuong Dao, 44, who sells spring rolls nearby, said: “There was less and less stuff at Ha’s stall after a few days. I thought the place would close down soon. But after a few days I saw many people bring food to donate, and so now every day hundreds of people come to take the goods. I have seen Ha choose fresh items to put on the shelf and take home less fresh ones to eat herself.”
Ha said she is “so happy that I cannot sleep” at seeing so many people make donations.
“The community’s cooperation has helped this stall survive for a long time,” she said, adding that she has the same joy with those receiving free produce from the stall.
At around 6 p.m., knowing the stall was about to close, Chau Thi Chi, 67, who sells lottery tickets, hurriedly comes in to grab some broccoli to cook with pork she bought on the way home.
She said: “Before the epidemic I used to sell more than 200 tickets a day, but now I can only sell half even if I head out early and return home late. Everyone is feeling the economic crunch, so they rarely buy lottery tickets.
“I have been coming to this stall every day since it was first set up and could save the money needed to buy vegetables. The vegetables here are very fresh in the evening and there is a large variety to choose from.”
Lifestart Foundation donates e-bikes to disadvantaged students in Quang Nam
|Three students receive e-bikes from the Lifestart Foundation – PHOTO: NHAN TAM|
QUANG NAM – Lifestart Foundation donated three electric bicycles valued at VND12 million to disadvantaged students at Le Thanh Tong and Dung Si Dien Ngoc schools in the central province of Quang Nam.
The students are all from underprivileged families who only own aging bicycles.
Karen Leonard, Order of Australia Medal, Founder of Lifestart Foundation, said, “Apart from supporting disadvantaged students with the Lifestart Foundation Education Scholarships, we are also thrilled to reach out to the larger community to provide the students with transportation. The provision of much needed e-bikes reduces some of the dangers for the students when they have to travel far for studies and enables them to travel long distances much quicker.”
The donation is one of the many activities of the Lifestart Foundation community. Founded in 2000 by Leonard, an Australian, and supported by a team of dedicated volunteers, Lifestart Foundation is a grassroots, not-for-profit charity that helps disadvantaged Vietnamese families become self-sufficient.
This is achieved through their two largest projects, Education Scholarships for disadvantaged students and their Housing Improvement project.
To date, Lifestart Foundation’s investment in the disadvantaged youth of Central Vietnam is in excess of VND26 billion (around 1,500,000 AUD).
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