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China’s foreign minister proposes joint fight against virus

Wang suggests China-Asean leaders’ meeting.

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Updated: February 21, 2020

China proposed on Thursday a special China-ASEAN leaders’ meeting on novel coronavirus pneumonia to be held at an appropriate time to plan and guide co-operation from a higher level.

State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi made the proposal during a special foreign ministers’ meeting of China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in the Lao capital of Vientiane regarding the epidemic.

In 2003, a special China-ASEAN leaders’ meeting was held in Bangkok, Thailand, in response to the SARS outbreak.

At Thursday’s meeting, Wang detailed strong measures China is using to fight the epidemic and the results achieved. He called for closer and more active co-operation between China and ASEAN to stop the contagion’s spread, safeguard the health of people in all countries and build a closer China-ASEAN community with a shared future.

He proposed coordinated co-operation between China and ASEAN among departments related to public health, quarantine and transport, as well as the establishment of lasting mechanisms such as a China-ASEAN center for material reserves.

Wang also called on the two sides to resume business and personnel exchanges and co-operation at an early date and cultivate new growth areas such as e-commerce and mobile payments to help medium, small and micro-sized companies affected by the epidemic.

Impacts on economic co-operation can be fully overcome, and pent-up demand will be met after the epidemic, Wang said.

The ASEAN foreign ministers spoke highly of China’s measures in fighting the virus as well as the openness, transparency and responsibility China has shown. They affirmed China’s contribution to maintaining regional and global public health security.

They also agreed to enhance ASEAN-China co-operation to crack down on rumors, prevent panic and avoid impacts on normal exchanges and co-operation.

On Wednesday, before the meeting, Wang met separately with ASEAN’s secretary-general and the foreign ministers of the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam to discuss joint efforts against the epidemic. Lao President Bounnhang Vorachit met with Wang on Thursday.

ASEAN Secretary-General Lim Jock Hoi told Wang that ASEAN firmly stands with China against the epidemic and believes that the relationship will be stronger and more resilient through joint efforts to overcome the virus.

ASEAN is willing to work with China to strengthen co-operation on health security through the ASEAN-China (10+1) and ASEAN-China-Japan-Republic of Korea (10+3) frameworks, Lim said.

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