February 21, 2020
The Asean Coordinating Council (ACC) and the Asean-China Foreign Ministers met on Thursday in Laos to discuss to how to respond to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
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 aimed to implement the ASEAN Chair’s Statement released on February 14 on the bloc’s collective response to COVID-19.
Minh said that in the face of the epidemic, ASEAN needed to promote its cohesive and responsive spirit, and intensify co-operation within the bloc and between the bloc and its partners to respond to challenges posed by COVID-19.
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, healthcare co-operation and ASEAN agencies to share information and experience in preventing, diagnosing, treating and controlling the disease.
Deputy PM Minh proposed the next steps for ASEAN, including promoting joint efforts and transparent sharing of information, with effective co-ordination among agencies at both national and regional levels, as well as international cooperation.
He also called for more support for nationals of ASEAN member countries in need, along with mutual trust.
At the same time, Minh suggested pursuing a balanced approach in fighting the epidemic and maintaining open economic policies, while ensuring regular updates were made available to the public.
The ACC will compile a report on the COVID-19 to be submitted to ASEAN leaders at the 36th ASEAN Summit, slated to take place in Vietnam in April.
Deputy PM Minh said ASEAN activities in Vietnam in 2020 would go ahead as scheduled, and Việt Nam would take measures to ensure safety for participants.
After the 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 epidemic.
FM Wang Yi informed the meeting of the situation in Wuhan and other localities in China. He thanked regional countries and the international community for their material and spiritual support for China, and pledged to work to ensure the safety of ASEAN citizens living, working and studying in China.
The ASEAN Foreign Ministers affirmed their solidarity and support for China’s efforts to combat the epidemic, and offered their sympathies for China’s great losses. They also expressed their belief that with the Chinese Government’s resolve, capacity and strong measures, the country would overcome these difficulties.
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 cooperative channels between the two sides.
ASEAN and China 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 COVID-19 fighting.
At the end of the meeting, the Foreign Ministers of ASEAN and China issued a statement of the Special ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).