ASEAN chairman and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has issued a statement on Asean’s joint response to the Covid-19 epidemic – the acute respiratory disease caused by the 2019-Novel Coronavirus.
The statement expressed concerns raised by Asean leaders about the complicated development of the epidemic, which has seriously impacted people’s lives and the development of Asean countries as well as the region and the world as a whole.
Stressing Asean solidarity and spirit of a “cohesive and responsive” community, Asean leaders affirmed their strong commitment to joining hands to control the spread of the epidemic to ensure public safety.
The statement welcomed the efforts under the framework of Asean medical cooperation with its partners – China, Japan and South Korea.
It noted that Asean would enhance coordination at both national and regional levels, coordinate joint work among relevant sectors for a synchronised and effective approach, and stronger cooperation with the World Health Organisation, partners and international organisations.
The statement also affirmed the solidarity and strong support of Asean for the tremendous efforts the government and people of China as well as the international community are making to respond to the epidemic.
Asean countries would maintain an open-door policy and agreed to coordinate in quarantine work at border gates of the member countries, the statement said, requiring diplomatic representative agencies of Asean countries in a third country to provide consular support for Asean citizens when necessary, and cooperate to fight fake information on the Covid-19 epidemic.
Asean leaders pledged to give high priority to fighting the epidemic and called for joint efforts with the international community.
As part of Asean’s joint response to the Covid-19, Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Binh Minh, as Asean Coordinating Council (ACC) chairman, proposed organising an extraordinary meeting of the ACC and coordinating with China to hold a special Asean-China Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on joint efforts to deal with Covid-19 during the upcoming 5th Mekong-Lancang Cooperation (MLC) Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Vientiane.
The meeting is scheduled to be held from February 19-20 and will be attended by Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi.
Cambodian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Prak Sokhonn will lead a delegation to attend the meeting, the ministry said in a press release on Saturday.
Sokhonn’s attendance “will not only strengthen unity and cooperation at this critical time of global health threats, but also demonstrate Cambodia’s support to and confidence in all necessary measures taken by the Chinese government to combat the spread of Covid-19”, the ministry said.
Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Geng Shuang said Wang would talk about China’s “forceful measures” on countering the epidemic.
“He will also discuss with his counterparts on strengthening the joint prevention and control measures against the deadly virus,” he said.
Geng said the meeting would also explore ideas on the setting up of a long-term and effective collaboration mechanism on public health to safeguard the people in these regions.
“Since the Covid-19 outbreak, China and Asean countries have been in close communication.”
“For the two sides to hold a special meeting within such a short period has shown our determination in supporting each other through difficult times,” he said.
Geng noted that a special Asean-China leaders meeting was also held during the severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak in 2003.
Meanwhile, The Post’s Mech Dara reports that Kin Phea, the director-general of the International Relations Institute at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said the meeting was also important because it would promote and strengthen trade, investment, relations, and cooperation in prevention of other illegal boundary crimes, such as drug problems.
“The key benefit of the MLC meeting is the opportunity to attract investment and support from China.
“The country has commited to contribute to the trade, economic and infrastructure development of the countries along the Mekong River,” he said.
“The epidemic is a collective responsibility and a concerted effort of all countries in the region and the world. There is no limit to the infectious disease, so it requires a concerted effort.
“We hope the meeting will exchange views on this issue and discover appropriate measures to contain the growing epidemic disease,” Phea said.
VIET NAM NEWS/THE STAR (MALAYSIA)/ASIA NEWS NETWORK