China, ASEAN, other regional countries to step up cooperation in post-pandemic recovery
Foreign ministers of China, member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and other regional countries agreed to further strengthen cooperation in economic recovery in the post-COVID-19 era during the 53rd ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting and related meetings which wrapped up on Saturday.
As COVID-19 response and post-pandemic recovery took up a bulk of the meetings' topics, China, the ASEAN member countries and other regional countries repeatedly stressed the importance of joint efforts in effectively addressing the issue.
Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi addressed on the issue on multiple occasions during the meetings, which were held under the chair of Vietnam, the rotating chair of ASEAN for this year.
"The most urgent task of the summit is to gather consensus in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, promote the revival of economic cooperation, and maintain the overall situation of regional peace and development," Wang said via a video link at the East Asia Summit on Thursday, which celebrates the 15th anniversary of its founding this year.
He called for providing new impetus to the fight against the pandemic, supporting the World Health Organization, and jointly building a regional "anti-pandemic firewall."
Wang also stressed new measures for economic recovery and striving to make East Asia a source of stable growth for the world economy in the post-pandemic era.
When attending the 21st ASEAN-China, Japan, the Republic of Korea (ROK) (10+3) Foreign Ministers' Meeting on the same day via video link, Wang said that all parties should continue to coordinate the anti-pandemic and developing needs, create a new aspect for cooperation in the post-pandemic era and promote 10+3 cooperation to a new level.
He said that China suggested improving the level of public health governance, continuing to support the WHO in playing an important role in the global fight against the pandemic, and jointly opposing the politicization of the pandemic and the stigmatization of other countries.
Wang's calls echoed his words at the Special ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers' Meeting on COVID-19 held in Vientiane, Laos in late February, when the pandemic had just broken out globally. He stated back then that China and the ASEAN had vowed to join hands to fight the COVID-19 to forge a closer community of shared future.
"This is time for the ASEAN Plus Three mechanism to prove its value and capacity in the pandemic combat," said Vietnamese Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Binh Minh at the meeting. He also suggested China, Japan and South Korea continue their coordination with ASEAN in this regard, and intensify the cooperation in the research and production of vaccines and medicines against COVID-19.
At the ASEAN-China Ministerial Meeting held on Wednesday, the ASEAN applauded China's cooperation and support in the fight against COVID-19, and suggested China actively participate in the bloc's initiatives such as the COVID-19 response fund, regional reserves of medical supplies and recovery framework.
Wang said China is willing to work with them to actively promote exchanges and cooperation in the post-pandemic period, face up to global and regional challenges together, and foster a closer China-ASEAN community with a shared future.
Wang made proposals to join efforts to thoroughly prevail over the epidemic, promote regional economic recovery, promote sustainable development, and improve the long-term planning for China-ASEAN cooperation.
The 53rd ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting and related meetings began on Wednesday, with 42 documents reviewed and approved over four days, Pham Binh Minh announced at a press briefing Saturday.
In a joint communiqué published after the ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting, the foreign ministers called for the effective operationalization of the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund, and looked forward to further progress on the various initiatives to respond to COVID-19. They also looked forward to the submission of the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework and its implementation plan to the ASEAN summit later this year.
Moreover, they stressed enhanced collaboration and sharing of experience with ASEAN's partners in research, development, the production and distribution of vaccines, providing access to medicines for COVID-19 and other diseases in future public health emergencies, and making them available and affordable to all as global public goods.
Key issues including the ASEAN Community Vision 2025, sub-regional cooperation multilateralism, non-traditional security challenges and others were also discussed during the meetings.
Founded in 1967, the ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Vietnam is the ASEAN chair for 2020.