A special meeting of the ASEAN Coordinating Council (ACC) and a special conference of ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers on cooperation in responding to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) took place in Vientiane, Laos, on February 20.
A special meeting of the ASEAN Coordinating Council (ACC) and a special conference of ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers on cooperation in responding to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) took place in Vientiane, Laos, on February 20. The ACC's special meeting, initiated by Vietnam as Chair of ASEAN, was attended by the Foreign Ministers of ASEAN member countries and the ASEAN Secretary-General. Chairing the meeting, Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh said the event was a step to timely implement the ASEAN Chair's Statement released on February 14 on the bloc's collective response to COVID-19. Minh stressed that in the face of the epidemic, ASEAN needs to promote its cohesive and responsive spirit, and intensify cooperation within the bloc as well as between the bloc and its partners for the effective response to challenges posed by COVID-19, thus preventing negative impacts on people's life and member countries' development as well as the process of community building and ASEAN's joint activities. Listening to the ASEAN Secretary General's update on the COVID-19 epidemic situation and ASEAN's response so far, the ACC welcomed the timely and effective measures of member countries, the health care cooperation channel and ASEAN specialized agencies in sharing information and experience in preventing, diagnosing, treating and controlling the disease. Deputy PM Minh proposed the next steps for ASEAN based on the ASEAN Chair's statement, including promoting joint efforts and actions of the ASEAN Community through the transparent sharing of information; smooth and effective coordination among relevant agencies in the ASEAN system and at both national and regional levels as well as international cooperation for the effectively response to and control of the disease. He also urged more support for nationals of ASEAN member countries in needy situations, and mutual trust and help among member countries. At the same time, Minh suggested pursuing a balanced approach to combating the epidemic and maintaining open economic connectivity policies while upholding responsibilities of the Governments in disseminating precise and timely information related to the epidemic situation and prevention measures to their citizens and member countries.
The ACC will compile a report on the COVID-19 situation to be submitted to ASEAN leaders at the 36th ASEAN Summit, slated to take place in Vietnam in April. On the occasion, Deputy PM Minh affirmed that ASEAN activities in Vietnam in 2020 will go ahead as schedule, and Vietnam will take measures to ensure safety for participants. After the ACC special meeting, the Foreign Ministers of 10 ASEAN member states and Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi attended another special meeting to discuss ways to cope with the COVID-19 epidemic. FM Wang Yi informed the meeting on the situation of COVID-19 in Wuhan and other localities of China. He thanked the regional countries and the international community for their material and spiritual support for China, and pledged to work to ensure the safety and the best support for ASEAN citizens living, working and studying in China. ASEAN Foreign Ministers affirmed their solidarity and support for China's efforts in combating the epidemic. They offered sympathy to China for the great losses caused by COVID-19 while expressed the belief that with the Chinese Government's resolve, capacity and strong measures, the country will overcome difficulties and put the epidemic under control The Foreign Ministers of ASEAN and China agreed to push ahead with the sharing of information and best practice, and help enhance capacity in diagnosis and research on vaccine and medicine for COVID-19 through available cooperative channels between the two sides. ASEAN and China also affirmed that they will try to minimise the epidemic's impacts on their respective countries' socio-economic development while maintaining economic, trade, investment and tourism exchange between the two sides. Deputy PM and FM Minh shared Vietnam's disease control work and cooperation with China over the recent time in the field, and pledged that Vietnam will continue to promote effective cooperation within ASEAN and between ASEAN and partners, especially China, in fighting COVID-19. At the end of the meeting, the Foreign Ministers of ASEAN and China passed a statement of the Special ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers' Meeting on the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).
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