Vietnam voiced concerns on Tuesday over regional tensions in the East Sea but said they will not lead to conflict, in line with a new defense document that stresses international cooperation.
The White Paper released Tuesday is only the third since 1998 and for the first time included details of the nationââ‚¬â„¢s military budget and armed forces strength, said Lieutenant General Nguyen Chi Vinh, deputy minister of defense.
Asked about tensions in the East Sea, Vinh said: ââ‚¬Å“This is a matter of concern to the Vietnamese national defense but the complications over the East Sea will not lead to conflictsââ‚¬.
Vinh said that although the East Sea issue is a matter of concern, international law provides a basis for a resolution.
ââ‚¬Å“As a party to the disputes over the East Sea it is the policy of our party, state and the Vietnamese national defense to ensure that all will be settled through peaceful means,ââ‚¬ he told an audience that included journalists, foreign military attaches and other diplomats.
Vinh said Vietnamââ‚¬â„¢s ââ‚¬Å“peaceful and self-defenseââ‚¬ policy has not changed from earlier White Papers, and the country is seeking to step up its international security cooperation to help build regional stability.
But he said Vietnam faces a challenge ââ‚¬Å“from the hostile forces who are using such matters as democracy and human rights to destabilize our country.ââ‚¬
The White Paper said Vietnamââ‚¬â„¢s defense budget in 2008, the latest year given, was VND27 trillion (US$1.4 billion), or 1.8 percent of gross domestic product.
It said the armed services, known as the Vietnam Peopleââ‚¬â„¢s Army, have 450,000 active personnel and a reserve of five million in a nation of about 86 million people.
The White Paper also said the armed forces operate 98 businesses including flight and seaport services, telecommunications and shipbuilding.
Since the first White Paper, which lacked such details, Vietnam has in recent years sought a higher international profile.
Vinh said the latest document aims to ââ‚¬Å“enhance understanding and trustââ‚¬ with the international community.
But at the press conference Vinh was vague when asked for details about weapons procurement to modernize its ageing arsenal.
Russian media reported earlier this year that Vietnam had ordered several SU-30MK2 fighter jets and was to sign a deal for submarines.
Vietnam has used ââ‚¬Å“a significant volume of Russian weaponsââ‚¬ both in war and peace, Vinh said, but to modernize the military it is considering many sources including Russia.
He did not answer a question about what major items could be purchased.
Vietnam, a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, is training its military personnel for UN peacekeeping missions, the White Paper said.
When conditions are right, ââ‚¬Å“I think weââ‚¬â„¢ll participate,ââ‚¬ Vinh said.
Vietnamââ‚¬â„¢s military, established 65 years ago, defeated both French colonialist and American forces during decades of war.
Source: Thanh Nien, AFP