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Global Britain and Vietnam
20th November 2018 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
As global trade becomes increasingly maritime in nature, so too it is beginning to follow the centre of the global economy, from the Atlantic to the Indo-Pacific. Over the past decade, the Indo-Pacific has become a new fulcrum for trade and geopolitics linking the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and the Asia-Pacific. ASEAN, the US, Australia, India, and Japan, have all embraced the concept. However, the increased militarisation of the South China Sea trade route since 2014 has deep geopolitical implications – ones that affect Vietnam and the UK – who both rely on it as the main corridor for Europe-Asia trade. In 2016, more than $5.3 trillion in trade flowed through the waterway, with the UK and Vietnam accounting for $42 billion and $143 billion respectively. As Global Britain considers its future shorn of the EU, what will its role in the Indo-Pacific look like?
The Henry Jackson Society is delighted to host Dr Hai Binh Le and Dr Hung Son Nguyen, visitors from the Diplomatic of Vietnam, to a discussion that touches upon Global Britain and its role in Asia, strategies for the Indo-Pacific, and mutual concerns about the South China Sea. Joining Dr Le and Dr Nguyen, will be HJS Asia Studies Director Dr John Hemmings and HJS Global Britain Director James Rogers to discuss their recent Policy Paper The South China Sea: Why it Matters to “Global Britain.
Dr Hai Binh Le a Ph.D. in International Relations, Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam. He is Vice President of the Academy cum Director General of the Institute of Foreign Policy and Strategic Studies. He began to serve in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2000, posted to the Embassy of Vietnam in Brunei Darussalam from 2000 to 2003, then worked at the Chief Cabinet Office of MOFA from 2004. He took the duty of Secretary to the Minister from 2005 to 2011, promoted to Deputy Director General of Policy Planning Department in 2008. He served as the Ministry’s Spokesman from 2014 to 2017 and moved to the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam in April 2017 to be its Vice President. Le Hai Binh wrote several books and articles both in Vietnamese and English.
Dr Hung Son Nguyen is the Acting Director-General, Bien Dong Institute for Maritime Studies of the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam. Prior to his current designation, Nguyen Hung Son was Deputy Director-General of the Institute for Strategic Studies at the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam. His research focused on major powers relations and foreign policies, regional security governance, particularly maritime security, and the foreign policy of Vietnam. As a diplomat, Nguyen Hung Son served as Minister Counsellor of the Vietnam Embassy in Ottawa, Canada and Second Secretary of the Vietnam Embassy in Stockholm, Sweden. He also served as Director of Political affairs division at the ASEAN department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, during which period he extensively participated in regional summits, and had hands on experience on many regional processes and issues involving ASEAN. Nguyen Hung Son got his MSc degree on International Economics from Birmingham University, and a Phd degree on International Relations at the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam.
Dr John Hemmings is the Director of Asia Studies Centre at the Henry Jackson Society and an Adjunct Fellow at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies. Prior to his doctoral studies, he was a visiting fellow at Pacific Forum CSIS and a research analyst at the Royal United Services Institute in Whitehall, working on Northeast Asia security and defence policies. He has written on foreign and security policy in Northeast Asia for nearly 10 years and had research positions at the Royal United Services Institute and the Asia Foundation. He contributes political analysis to various media, including the BBC, the Telegraph, Fox News, CNN, the Mainichi Shimbun, the Diplomat, and the National Interest; and is a regular on Monocle 24 Radio.
James Rogers – is Director of the ‘Global Britain’ Programme at the Henry Jackson Society, of which he is a founding member. Formerly, he held a number of positions at the Baltic Defence College in Estonia and has worked at the European Union Institute for Security Studies in Paris.
The Henry Jackson Society was honoured to host Dr Hai Binh Le and Dr Hung Son Nguyen alongside Ambassador Tran Ngoc An. Dr Le and Dr Nguyen discussed with HJS Asia Studies Director Dr John Hemmings and HJS Global Britain Director James Rogers Vietnamese and British perspectives on the South China Sea.
Dr Le started the discussion by explaining that the term “Indo-Pacific” was first coined in 2007 and that the region encompasses a variety of countries with diverse interests and alliances. He predicted that the Indo-Pacific will increasingly attain attention due to the two rising powers in the region, China and India. He stressed that the UK and Vietnam need to think about a common future, as they share many interests. Afterwards, Dr Nguyen addresses the conflict in the South China Sea. Dr Nguyen describes the conflict as a layered dispute, which involves a territorial, legal, and geostrategic dispute. He recommended that the UK should support the upholding of the Law of the Sea and as an old naval power could convince emerging powers that too much militarism increases the chances for conflict.
Dr Hemmings expressed his hopes that the Indo-Pacific will become part of the national conversation in the UK. As there are many shipments through the region, the UK has significant economic interests in the area and should be involved in the region. He also pointed to the competition between authoritarian and democratic powers in the regions. China’s interests in the region should be considered but the rule of law must be upheld. Mr Rogers stressed that the UK needed to appreciate the gravity of the situation. China’s strife for a place in the sun should not eclipse other states in the region. The South China Sea is central to maintaining a rules based order and connects to the interests of European countries. The term Indo-Pacific should therefore be widely adopted to understand the connection between the two oceans. The UK has increasingly challenged unlawful actions in the South China Sea and should also in the future uphold UNCLOS and contests illegal claims.
Ambassador An closed the debate by expressing his wish for future discussions on this important issue. The Henry Jackson Society would like to thank Dr Le, Dr Nguyen, and Ambassador An for joining us for this event to share their expertise.