Special ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers' Meeting on Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Convened in Vientiane
2020/02/20

The Special ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers' Meeting on Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) was held on 20 February in Vientiane, Laos. The meeting was co-chaired by State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Foreign Secretary Teodoro Lopez Locsin of the Philippines, the country coordinator for ASEAN-China relations. Foreign ministers of ASEAN member states attended the meeting.

In his remarks, Wang elaborated on the robust measures China has taken in fighting the epidemic and their clear effect. He said, under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, the 1.4 billion people of China are united in fighting the epidemic. China has taken the most comprehensive, rigorous and thorough measures, built an effective prevention and control network to cut off the spread of the virus, and shown the world how fast China can act to treat the patients. China's actions have gained time for the world and proved that it is a responsible major country. With the strong leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC), the clear strength of our system in mobilizing the entire nation and extraordinary resources at our disposal, we are confident that China can and will prevail over the epidemic at an early date.

Wang pointed out that the outbreak poses a challenge to China's economic and social development, but the impact will only be temporary and limited. The Chinese economy is highly resilient and full of vitality. Its long-term trajectory will remain positive. China has survived and thrived in many trials and tribulations. In each case, we were able to turn challenges into opportunities and adversity into a brighter future. We will not only secure a final victory over the epidemic, but also strive to meet the targets of economic and social development.

Wang said that epidemics respect no national borders. China and ASEAN countries are like members of a family with a shared future. The two sides should engage in closer and more proactive cooperation to effectively prevent the spread of the virus, protect the life and health of all our people, and knit a closer China-ASEAN community with a shared future. Through such cooperation, the two sides will work to improve public health management in the region and further contribute to regional and global public health. For this purpose, Wang put forth four proposals:

First, enhancing collaboration for better inter-agency response. Greater coordination must be secured between the health, quarantine, transportation and border control agencies of the two sides. A Special China-ASEAN Leaders' Meeting on COVID-19 could be held at an appropriate time to plan and set the direction of cooperation at a higher level.

Second, looking ahead and setting up permanent mechanisms to serve the long-term interests of the two sides. To facilitate more rapid response, a China-ASEAN liaison mechanism could be established to enhance public health emergency preparedness. Efforts could also be made to put in place China-ASEAN reserve centers for epidemic-control provisions.

Third, being guided by reason and overcoming fear. The professional and authoritative recommendations by WHO should be respected. Normal travel and trade should be fully resumed at an early date.

Fourth, turning the challenge into an opportunity and fostering new areas of cooperation. The two sides should harness the power of the Internet and digital technologies to speed up the transformation of their economies, and step up cooperation in e-commerce and mobile payment. Greater efforts are required to upgrade urban management and strengthen the response, decision-making and management capabilities in major public emergencies.

The ASEAN foreign ministers appreciated the importance of this timely meeting. They applauded China's resolute measures in battling the epidemic and its open, transparent and highly responsible attitude, and commended China for its admirable resolve in setting up an inter-agency system with unprecedented scale in human history. Fully recognizing China's important contribution to public health security at regional and global levels, the ASEAN foreign ministers expressed their confidence that China will soon prevail over the outbreak. They stressed that ASEAN and China should work more closely together in busting rumors and preventing panic, and make utmost efforts to avoid disruptions to normal exchanges and cooperation. With these efforts, the fight against the epidemic will become yet another success story of ASEAN-China cooperation. ASEAN countries are ready to strengthen experience sharing and mutual learning with China in a joint effort to better ensure health security in the region.

The meeting adopted the Statement of the Special ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers' Meeting on the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

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