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AAAS Aids Thriving Vietnam in Science and Technology Development
China and India get most of the headlines, but Vietnam is quietly emerging as a powerhouse of Asian economic development. With an economic growth forecast of 7 percent per year over the next five years, it is second only to China, and like China, the nationís leaders are focused on science and technology.
Now AAAS, joined by partners in U.S. government and education, is working with high-ranking Vietnamese leaders to promote S&T cooperation between the two countries and to encourage sustainable urban development and improved science education. Last May, a high-level delegation from Vietnamís National Assembly visited AAAS in Washington, D.C., to discuss development of a legal framework that would encourage S&T growth in their country. In July, AAAS helped organized a high-level development conference in Hanoi.
“The leaders of Vietnam have a very clear understanding of the importance of S&T investment,” said Vaughan Turekian, chief international officer at AAAS. “They see China, they see Korea and Japan, and they see that these countries are all investing heavily in science and technology.”
Thirty-one years have passed since the bitter end of the Vietnam War, but the United States and Vietnam recently have built closer relations. The two nations restored diplomatic ties in 1995, and this spring, they agreed in principle on terms for Vietnam to join the World Trade Organization. In November, leaders of 21 Pacific Rim countries—including U.S. President George W. Bush—are scheduled to meet in the capital city of Hanoi for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit.
“The United States engages Vietnam on a broad spectrum of science and technology issues, a dialogue that has improved as the overall bi-lateral relationship has broadened,” said U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Michael W. Marine. “I believe that as Vietnam continues to develop, our cooperation on science and technology will continue to deepen.”
Turekian and high-ranking officials from Arizona State University worked with the Vietnamese Ministry of Science and Technology and the U.S. embassy to organize the Vietnam-U.S. Scientific Forum on 24 July, which explored issues of sustainability and science education. During the five-day visit, the U.S. delegation was hosted by Bui Hai, Vietnamís vice minister of science and technology, and also met with Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat, among others.
Anthony “Bud” Rock, a career U.S. State Department staffer who joined Arizona State this year as a special adviser for strategic international initiatives, said the university has a strong program in sustainable urban growth, while AAAS has an international network of scientists who can provide guidance as Vietnam works to strengthen university-based science education.
"Our goal is to work with the Vietnamese toward a science-based approach to policy development and a science-based approach to sustainable urban development," Rock said, "and to make science a cornerstone of education reform in the country."
Turekian said the next step for AAAS may be to organize Vietnamese-U.S. scientific exchanges and workshops.
Edward W. Lempinen
20 September 2006