The Vietnam-UK Network (VUKN) celebrated its 5th anniversary with a lively dinner for some 100 supporters and guests, hosted by the Rt Hon The Lord Dholakia, in the Cholmondeley Room, House of Lords, on 16 January. Among the guests were Members from both Houses, including Wayne David MP, Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Vietnam and several of its members, the Rt Hon Ed Vaizey MP, the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Trade with Vietnam, and British Ambassador-designate to Vietnam, Gareth Ward.
During the first half of the evening Vice Chairman Warwick Morris introduced the host, who welcomed everyone to the House, and then the Ambassador of Vietnam, HE Tran Ngoc An, who read out a congratulatory message from HE Pham Binh Minh, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs*. Chairman Ben Chapman talked about the Network’s aims and achievements to date, and expressed his appreciation to existing sponsors and corporate members. The Ambassador then presented the Rt Hon Sir Hugo Swire MP, a former FCO Minister, with a Network Recognition award for his much appreciated support during the early years of the Network.
The Rt Hon Sir Hugo Swire MP was Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office from September 2012 to July 2016. While his responsibilities were wide, and not just for Asia, he paid assiduous attention to the UK’s relationship with Vietnam. This included meeting with many senior Vietnamese visitors, leading on major Strategic Partnership events, and visiting Vietnam on at least two occasions, including with the then Prime Minister David Cameron. He was a greatly valued supporter of the Vietnam UK Network from its very beginning, and was principal guest and speaker at the Network’s first annual dinner.
During the second half, Vice Chairman Paul Smith introduced the evening’s Keynote Speaker, the Rt Hon Mark Field MP, FCO Minister of State for Asia and the Pacific, who spoke of his recent visit to Vietnam for Strategic Partnership talks and highlighted some of the many areas of cooperation that now exist between the two countries, in this the 45th anniversary year of diplomatic relations. In his response, Ambassador An highlighted the growth in trade and investment and, like Minister Field, congratulated the VUKN on the valuable support it has provided to the development of bilateral links since its establishment in January 2013.
After a few words from Ed Vaizey, a draw was held for two Vietnam Airlines tickets kindly donated by the airline’s representative and VUKN Committee member Phan The Thang, the lucky winner being from Asia House. Paul Smith then made some closing remarks, emphasising in particular opportunities for Britain in the business, education and hi-tec sectors in Vietnam, and urging those present to continue to support the work being done by the Network. Additional sponsors would be most welcome.
A final toast to the Vietnam-UK Network was given by Minister Mark Field.
*Letter from Deputy Prime Minister, Prime Minister of Foreign Affairs, Socialist Republic of Viet Nam, Mr Pham Binh Minh
On behalf of the Government of Viet Nam, I would like to extend my warmest congratulations on the 5th anniversary of Vietnam-UK Network.
Over the past 5 years, Vietnam-UK Network has become an umbrella group bringing together organisations and individuals in the UK with shared interests in Viet Nam and achieved positive results in enhancing the mutual understanding and cooperation between the two countries. I highly appreciate the meaningful voluntary work of all Network Committee members, especially Chairman Ben Chapman, who helps bring the Network to its current position.
I am confident that with your concerted efforts, Vietnam-UK Network will continue to grow, making further contributions to the Strategic Partnership between Viet Nam and the UK.
On the occasion of the New Year, may I wish you all good health, great happiness and great success.“