Vietnam-Australia relations focus on Governor-General visit.

By Robert Dougherty

Australia’s Governor-General David Hurley is visiting Vietnam to mark the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Australia and Vietnam.

The Governor-General is scheduled to meet with Vietnam’s President Vo Van Thuong, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, and General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam, Nguyen Phu Trong, during the visit from 3 to 6 April. The Governor-General and Mrs Hurley will also attend events in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to celebrate trade, cultural, and people-to-people relations between the two countries.

At the invitation of the President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, the Governor-General and Mrs Hurley will undertake a state visit to Vietnam.

Governor of Victoria, Linda Dessau, will serve as Administrator of the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia during the visit.

A Vietnam government news spokesperson said bilateral relations have developed rapidly and sustainably, bringing about various benefits to the two countries in the last five years.

“The two nations have become increasingly important trade partners of each other, especially after their senior leaders agreed to upgrade their relations to a strategic partnership in March 2018 and adopted the Enhanced Economic Engagement Strategy in November 2021,” the spokesperson said.

“Notably, while Australia has become one of the seven largest trade partners of Vietnam, the Southeast Asian nation is also Australia’s 10th largest trader. “Vietnam and Australia share many economic cooperation frameworks, in which the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership strongly supports bilateral trade and investment relations. “Australia also supported Vietnam’s COVID-19 prevention and control, particularly through the supply of over 26.4 million vaccine doses, including 14.4 million doses for children.

This makes Australia the Southeast Asian nation’s second biggest vaccine supplier, after the US.” Human Rights Watch Australia director Daniela Gavshon said she was hopeful the visit would provide a platform for Australia’s Governor-General to publicly and privately raise a number of serious human rights concerns with the Vietnamese leadership. “It’s crucial that he discuss the plight of more than 160 people in prison for peacefully exercising their basic rights,” she said. “Hurley should urge the Vietnamese government to release all political prisoners.

He should make a special appeal for the immediate and unconditional release of 73-year-old Australian citizen Chau Van Kham and prominent activists such as Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, Tran Anh Kim, Le Thanh Tung, Hoang Duc Binh, Le Dinh Luong, Pham Doan Trang, Pham Chi Dung, Nguyen Tuong Thuy, and Can Thi Theu.

“Hurley should also call on the government to end restrictions on the right to freedom of movement imposed on activists and human rights defenders.

“Hurley should call on the authorities to allow religious organisations to freely conduct their religious activities without interference.

I look forward to continuing to strengthen Australia-Vietnam ties as we celebrate our 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations next year.”

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