Pathway to sustainable development for Cat Ba Archipelago

Hai Phong: With the Ha Long Bay – Cat Ba Archipelago recently becoming Vietnam’s first inter-provincial UNESCO-listed world heritage site, the job to ensure a harmony between the conservation of the archipelago and the exploitation of related economic benefits has become a major concern for both local authorities and residents.

The Cat Ba Archipelago off the coast of the northern port city of Hai Phong is the largest limestone archipelago in the country, boasting over 360 islands, including Cat Ba Island to the south of Ha Long Bay. It was also recognised by UNESCO as a world biosphere reserve. Meanwhile, Ha Long Bay in the neighbouring province of Quang Ninh was named by UNESCO as a world heritage site twice in 1994 and 2000.

Former Vice Chairman of the Hai Phong People’s Committee Associate Prof. Dr. Dan Duc Hiep said swift action following the UNESCO recognition is imperative.

He underscored the need to transform the Cat Ba tourist area into a high-quality, reputable coastal tourism hub that caters to t
he needs of both domestic and international travellers.

According to him, it is necessary to prioritise a number of projects, including those building the Cat Hai – Cat Ba cable car system and various entertainment and recreational facilities meeting international standards, as well as promoting environmental protection. Additionally, the city needs to adopt clean, eco-friendly transport methods on Cat Ba Island.

Hiep also stressed the urgency of developing an action plan and engaging in discussions with Quang Ninh authorities on the related investment and utilisation of the transport infrastructure and docking areas in the archipelago’s Lan Ha Bay.

In a meeting with local voters in early December, Deputy Prime Minister Tran Luu Quang highlighted the responsibility of local authorities and residents, as Vietnam is committed to strict adherence to international heritage conservation regulations.

He said the construction and development of tourism projects on these sites must comply with these regulations./
Source: Vietnam News Agency

MIC plans to boost digital infrastructure, digital applications in 2024

Hanoi: In 2024, the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) will focus on key tasks, including the development of digital infrastructure and digital applications to boost the digital economy, creating new momentum for economic growth and labour productivity, Minister of Nguyen Manh Hung has said.

Presenting a report at the MIC’s conference on reviewing activities in 2023 and launch tasks in 2024 on December 29, Hung highlighted some notable results of the information technology and communication (ICT) sector in 2023.

Notably, the total revenue of the entire sector reached 3.74 quadrillion VND, an increase of 1.49% compared to 2022.

In addition, the sector contributed approximately 99.3 trillion VND (4.09 billion USD) to the State budget.

According to the ministry, the 2023’s national digital transformation campaign with the dual goal of developing the digital government, digital economy, and digital society, as well as fostering the growth of strong digital technology enterprises in Vietnam has a
chieved positive results.

Efforts to build and improve the legal framework continue to be prioritised, with the Electronic Transactions Law and the Telecommunications Law being passed by the 15th National Assembly.

In the postal sector, Vietnam witnessed the explosion of e-commerce, contributing to driving the digital economy. Postal service revenue reached 58.9 trillion VND (2.42 billion USD), a 9.3% increase compared to 2022.

In terms of telecommunications and digital infrastructure, despite being a developing country with low average income, Vietnam has made significant strides with 4G coverage rate higher than that of developed countries, reaching 99.8%.

Currently, the ministry is conducting 5G trials in 59 localities, with a 99.8% population coverage rate for 4G. The percentage of smartphone users out of the total mobile phone users continues to increase to 84.4%. This is the sector’s effort to achieve the goal of 100% smartphone users by the end of 2024.

Digital technology revenue reached 142 billi
on USD, with Vietnam accounting for 28.7% of the total value. Approximately 1,500 digital technology enterprises generated revenue from the international market, an increase of nearly 4% compared to 2022.

Concerning internet information security, it remains a bright spot as citizens are now fundamentally protected in cyberspace. The national harmful domain detection and prevention system has blocked 9,073 law-violating websites, including 2,603 scam websites, protecting over 10 million people from accessing illegal and fraudulent online sites.

Regarding the publishing sector, the market revenue for audiobooks was recorded at over VNÐ102 billion, doubling compared to 2022. The rate of publishers registering activities for electronic publishing is estimated to reach 40.3%, exceeding the plan by 20%; the number of electronic book titles published during the year is estimated at 4,600, a 31.4% increase, bringing the e-book ratio to 15.3% of the total published products.

Speaking at the conference, Deputy Prime
Minister Tran Luu Quang affirmed the crucial role that the information technology sector plays in Vietnam, as digital transformation is both a goal and a driving force for the country’s development. “In this context, digital transformation is a vital part of administrative reform,” he said.

The Deputy Prime Minister emphasised that bridging the gap with developed countries could only be achieved through science, technology, digital transformation, and innovation. However, he also pointed out that one of the biggest obstacles to digital transformation was the institutional and policy framework.

Apart from formulating regulations, amending outdated decrees, the ministry needed to swiftly and urgently develop new decrees and regulations, ensuring that they meet the required standards, he said.

For specific sectors, especially those requiring special mechanisms, Quang noted the importance of tailored mechanisms.

Furthermore, he urged the ICT sector to rectify and put an end to media irregularities, implement
the second phase of the National Development and Management Plan for the Press until 2025 to reorganise media agencies, and pay more attention to book publishing, as books always hold value in social life./.
Source: Vietnam News Agency

ASEAN FMs issue statement on maintaining, promoting stability in maritime sphere in Southeast Asia

Hanoi: The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Foreign Ministers on December 30 issued a statement on maintaining and promoting stability in the maritime sphere in Southeast Asia.

In the statement, the ministers said they closely follow with concern the recent developments in the East Sea and reaffirmed the importance of maintaining and promoting peace, safety, security, stability, and freedom of navigation in and overflight above the maritime sphere of Southeast Asia, particularly the East Sea.

‘We also reaffirm the need to restore and enhance mutual trust and confidence as well as exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability, avoid actions that may further complicate the situation and pursue peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with the universally recognised principles of international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS,’ wrote the statement.

The FMs underscored the importance of the full and effective impl
ementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) in its entirety and committed to working towards the early conclusion of an effective and substantive Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC) that is in accordance with international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS.

They also reiterated the importance of peaceful dialogue that contributes constructively to the promotion of regional stability and cooperation in the maritime domain. Welcoming the recent holding of a maritime dialogue between China and the US in Beijing and the meeting between US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the margins of the APEC Leaders’ Meeting in California, they hoped that such dialogues will continue to further ASEAN’s efforts to strengthen stability and cooperation in the region’s maritime sphere.

This is the 5th time ASEAN has issued a statement on maritime issues since 1995, with the most recent statement on the East Sea released in 2014./.
Source: Vietnam News Agency

Da Lat marks 130th anniversary with UNESCO title of Creative Music City

Lam Dong: Da Lat, an enchanting city nestled in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong, marked its 130th anniversary and received the prestigious title of “UNESCO Creative Music City” at a ceremony on December 30.

In his address, Deputy Prime Minister Le Minh Khai urged Da Lat city to pursue a development strategy in accordance with development orientations of the Central Highlands region, aligning with both regional and provincial master plans for the 2021-2030 period, with a vision to2050.

He reiterated the determination to build Da Lat into a hub of the southern Central Highlands, making it a pivotal development centre in the region and the country as a whole, and a crucial link to the region and the world.

The city must actively engage and effectively leverage its role as a member of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network, thereby substantially increasing the cultural industry’s robust contributions to the local economy, Khai said.

At the ceremony, a representative of UNESCO in Vietnam presented a let
ter recognising Da Lat’s official accession to the UNESCO Creative Cities Network to the city’s leaders.

The event entertained the audience in an epic narrative told through music, dance, and art performances, with the resonant echoes of gongs recounting the 130-year journey of Da Lat’s formation and development.

The origin of Da Lat, once a pristine land inhabited by the K’Ho Lach ethnic group, could be traced back to the moment when explorer and physician Alexandre Yersin discovered it and proposed to the Indochina Governor-General the construction of the Lang Biang Plateau as a resort hub of Indochina.

Over the course of 130 years, with ups and downs, Da Lat has evolved into a renowned tourism city, often described as the “city in the forest, forest in the city,” and the “Vietnam Flower Festival City’.

The city has earned accolades as the “ASEAN Clean Tourism City” twice and stands as one of the most romantic destinations in Asia. Beyond its allure as a tourist hotspot, Da Lat also stands at the forefr
ont of the country’s high-tech agricultural production./
Source: Vietnam News Agency

PM outlines tasks for environment sector in 2024

Hanoi: Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh has emphasised the need for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE) to train and build a contingent of capable officials and public servants to fulfill the difficult and complicated tasks related to land, natural resources and minerals.

While delivering a speech at the MoNRE’s conference to review its performance in 2023 and launch tasks for 2024 held in Hanoi on December 31, PM Chinh asked the ministry to seriously and effectively follow the resolutions and conclusions of the Party Central Committee, the Politburo, and the Party Central Committee’s Secretariat as well as resolutions of the National Assembly (NA) and Government on the key tasks and solutions for socio-economic development in 2024.

Regarding the task of refining institutional frameworks and laws, the government leader suggested an immediate focus on resolving any impediments to the amended Land Law, with the aim of securing the NA’s approval at its upcoming session.

Cumbersome and unne
cessary administrative procedures that hinder development and cause inconvenience for people should be removed, he said.

The ministry should focus on digital transformation, green transition and circular economy, while pooling resources to establish databases on land, the environment and minerals connected with the Ministry of Public Security’s population database, he said.

The PM asked the ministry to drive the development of maritime economy, concentrating on meticulous planning to ensure land reserves for development, and review priority land bases earmarked for the planning of economic and industrial centres along the coastline.

Among the slated tasks for 2024, the ministry was tasked with evaluating water resources and forecasting challenges to propose strategic solutions to ensure water security.

Additionally, the MoNRE needs to deploy an action plan to fulfill the country’s political commitments with partners to support just energy transition, developing industries based on ecosystems, and deployin
g adaptive models to bolster resilience and minimise losses caused by climate change, PM Chinh said, adding that these initiatives involve specific projects and support mechanisms tailored for businesses./.
Source: Vietnam News Agency

Thailand warns of rampant cybercrimes

Bangkok: The Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) of Thailand has highlighted five types of cybercrimes running rampant in the past year, and is warning people to avoid being tricked online.

The first involves call centre scammers, who, they said, are always coming up with new tactics to deceive people.

Another involves online shopping scammers who set up bogus retail websites to rip off victims. Some ask shoppers to transfer money online for goods they will never receive. In some cases, the goods shoppers do receive are fake or of low quality and are not what is advertised.

Another type of scam involves a “hybrid method” where victims are lured into a relationship with a scammer before being asked to invest their money into a false investment scheme.

There are also job offer scams targeting people seeking employment.

From March 1, 2022 to December 20, 2023, over 314,000 complaints were filed to the police. Of them, 160,819 involved shopping scams./.
Source: Vietnam News Agency

Thailand to face greater competition in fruit exports

Bangkok: Thai Deputy Minister of Commerce Napintorn Srisunpang has said Thai fruit exports will face more challenges in the future, especially in China’s market, due to greater competition.

In the first 10 months of this year, Thailand exported 1.74 million tonnes of fruits, up 12.7% year on year. The export value was worth 174.27 billion THB (5.06 billion USD), up 31.9% year on year.

The top five exported fruits were durian (965,284 tonnes), longan (274,064 tonnes), mangosteen (245,049 tonnes), mango (104,154 tonnes) and pineapple (36,618 tonnes).

China has been Thailand’s top fruit importer, accounting for 91.6% of the total value, followed by Malaysia (2.0%), Hong Kong (China) (1.6%), Indonesia (1.0%) and the Republic of Korea (0.8%).

The deputy minister explained that Vietnam has gained advantage in durian exports due to a longer harvest period, so the country can meet the demand of the Chinese market when Thailand is in the production period.

The General Administration of Customs China has allowed T
hailand to export 22 fruits, including tamarind, custard apple, papaya, star fruit, guava, rambutan, longkong, sapodilla, passion fruit, mandarin orange, orange, pomelo, pineapple, banana, coconut, jackfruit, longan, durian, mango, lychee, mangosteen and rose apple./.
Source: Vietnam News Agency

Strong offshore earthquake strikes eastern Indonesia

Jakarta: Indonesia’s Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) on December 31 detected a 6.4-magnitude earthquake shaking the Sarmi area, northern Papua province, in early morning.

As reported by the country’s national news agency Antara, the quake was triggered by a thrust fault in the Anjak Mamberamo zone at a depth of 50 kilometers.

The BMKG did not issue a tsunami warning, and there have been no reports of damage caused by this earthquake.

Indonesia is frequently exposed to earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and tsunamis due to its location on the Pacific Ring of Fire. In January 2021, a 6.2-magnitude earthquake in the country’s West Sulawesi province resulted in 100 fatalities and nearly 6,500 injuries./.
Source: Vietnam News Agency