Safeguard international public health security with solidarity

The following is a statement from Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Brunei Darussalam Yu Hong on the Special ASEAN Plus Three Summit on COVID-19

On April 14, the Special ASEAN Plus Three Summit (APT) on COVID-19 was held via video conference.

His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam; Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China Li Keqiang; the leaders of the other nine ASEAN member countries; Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and Secretary General of ASEAN Dato Paduka Lim Jock Hoi attended the meeting.

During the tough time of the COVID-19 outbreak, all the leaders reached a consensus to cooperate to combat the COVID-19. It demonstrates the strong wish that all the East Asian countries are committed to safeguard the health of their people and revitalise regional economy at an early date, believing the regional countries share the same future.

In his remarks, Premier Li Keqiang noted that with more than 200 countries and regions affected to date, COVID-19 is gravely threatening the health, safety and life of the people around the world, and is putting the global economy under severe strain.

Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Brunei Darussalam Yu Hong.
PHOTO: JAMES KON

At the recent Extraordinary G20 Leaders’ Summit, Chinese President Xi Jinping highlighted the imperative for the international community to strengthen confidence, act in unity and make a collective response by comprehensively stepping up international cooperation.

APT countries need to build greater awareness of our community with a shared future and send a message of partnership, solidarity and mutual assistance to secure an early victory against COVID-19 in East Asia.

Premier Li Keqiang pointed out that in responding to the outbreak, the Chinese Government has consistently adhered to a people-centered approach, adhered to the principles of shoring up confidence, strengthening unity, following a science-based approach and taking targetted measures, and been open and transparent all along.

So far China has achieved major progress in containing the outbreak, and life and work is returning to normal at a faster pace in the country. Going forward, China will keep up the control measures to forestall a resurgence of infection. Any complacency in this regard would be misplaced. In the face of an epidemic of such magnitude, the fortunes of all countries are closely inter-connected; no country can handle the disease by itself.

Premier Li Keqiang put forward China’s proposals on APT cooperation in fighting the outbreak. First, APT countries need to enhance all-round epidemic cooperation and build up public health capacity. To curb the spread of the virus, coordination and collaboration among APT countries need to be strengthened. China will continue to do its best to help ASEAN member countries through grant assistance and via commercial channels. China proposed the setting-up of an APT reserve of essential medical supplies. APT countries also need to support WHO in playing a leading role, and work together to safeguard regional and global public health security.

Second, APT countries need to revitalise economic growth and deepen regional economic integration. APT countries need to further ease tariffs, eliminate barriers, boost the flow of trade and investment, and keep markets open to each other. They need to maintain the necessary flow of people and goods and stabilise the industrial and supply chains. APT countries also need to work toward signing the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement within this year as agreed and endeavour to take regional economic integration to a higher level.

Third, APT countries need to intensify policy coordination to weather all kinds of risks and challenges. They should remain confident about their ability to overcome the financial risks and challenges brought by COVID-19, and serve as an anchor of stability for the region. We need to make good use of mechanisms such as the Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralization (CMIM), and support multilateral financial institutions in their efforts to ensure adequate liquidity. We should also strive to ensure regional grain supply and market security.

The participating leaders share the view that in the face of the unprecedented challenge posed by COVID-19, APT countries should carry forward the tradition of cooperation, demonstrate solidarity and join hands in tackling this challenge. It is important to enhance experience and information sharing, conduct joint research and development of drugs and vaccines, and build up regional mechanisms for epidemic control.

APT countries need to enhance macro economic policy coordination, ensure the smooth functioning of the industrial and supply chains, gradually restore social and economic order, and anchor market confidence. They should make the best effort toward signing the RCEP agreement within this year. The relations and cooperation among APT countries will only emerge stronger from defeating the virus.

Virus knows no borders, outbreaks regardless of race. No country can tackle this disease on its own. We are all in this together. China was the first country to report the COVID-19 virus. We will never forget the invaluable assistance provided to us by APT countries at the most difficult time.

After the outbreak’s worldwide spread, China has endeavored to overcome its own difficulties and provide humanitarian support to relevant countries in their efforts to combat the outbreak.

As of April 12, the Chinese Government has provided or is providing medical supplies to 140 countries and international organisations, including surgical masks, protective gears and testing reagents. China donated USD20 million to WHO, sent 14 medical teams to 12 countries and held 83 video conferences with experts from over 153 countries and international organisations.

Local governments, enterprises and civil organisations in China also donated medical supplies to over 100 countries, regions and international organisations. China offered to assist some countries in commercial procurement with requests through diplomatic channels.

Facing the unprecedented outbreak, solidarity is the most powerful weapon. China, Japan, South Korea and ASEAN member countries have been supporting, helping each other and working together. On February 20, the Special China-ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on COVID-19 was convened in Vientiane, the Laos, and the China-ASEAN Medical Experts’ Video Conference was held at the same time.

On March 31, the second video conference took place for sharing experience and enhancing cooperation. On April 7, the Special Video Conference of ASEAN Plus Three Health Ministers Meeting was convened.

Viruses are a common enemy of humanity. The Chinese people will continue to stand side by side with others in East Asia and across the world in navigating these tough times. I am confident that together we will prevail over the outbreak.