Deputy PM highlights power of solidarity in ASEAN cooperation to combat COVID-19

Monday, 2020-04-13 18:11:30
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Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh (C) chairs an online meeting of the ASEAN Coordinating Council on April 9 to promote ASEAN's synchronous efforts in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
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NDO – Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh has written an article on ASEAN cooperation in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, during which he describes solidarity as the bloc’s strength in combating the disease.

It is the shared responsibility of each nation, each government and regional and global mechanism to fight the pandemic, the official said, adding that drastic actions are being taken by governments and people in Southeast Asia and around the world to fight this common enemy.

In particular, ASEAN member states have offered assistance to one another and created the best possible conditions for ASEAN citizens in each of their countries, which demonstrates the ever more significant role of solidarity, and international cooperation and coordination to a further extent, he stated.

As an organisation with a central role in the region, ASEAN is the common roof for member countries to weather the COVID-19 storm together, the deputy PM said, emphasising that throughout its history of development over the past five decades, ASEAN has become stronger after each difficulty, challenge and crisis.

“It is time for ASEAN to continue promoting that precious tradition and show its mission as a prop for member states in the most critical of moments,” he noted.

The official stressed that since the beginning of the year, Vietnam, in its capacity as ASEAN Chair, has joined with member countries to identify the theme for 2020 as “Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN”, aiming to accelerate the building of the ASEAN Community and promote the bloc’s role in a turbulent world. The sudden outbreak of COVID-19 and its unprecedented consequences in all aspects have further shown that such a theme and motto are timelier and more appropriate than ever.

Since the outburst of COVID-19, Vietnam and ASEAN have really demonstrated their quick and timely response-ability to the pandemic as well as their cohesive capacity in policy and action coordination among members, he said. After the early issuance of the ASEAN Chair’s Statement on the bloc’s joint response to COVID-19 on February 14, ASEAN convened a series of important ministerial meetings in the fields of health, economics and defence, to ensure synchronous coordination in epidemic prevention and control.

At the same time, ASEAN promptly organised many meetings with its dialogue partners such as China, the EU and the US, as well as a number of important international organisations, including the World Health Organisation (WHO), to share experience and discuss effective support and response measures against the disease.

Deputy PM Minh revealed that on April 14, Vietnam will host the Special ASEAN and ASEAN+3 (with China, Japan and the Republic of Korea) Summits on the COVID-19 response, where leaders will work out specific measures and initiatives to further promote cooperation in disease prevention and control, while ensuring the region’s dynamic and sustainable development in the long term.

To cope with and repel COVID-19, he suggested that ASEAN and its partners promptly mobilise common resources, especially the region’s medical supply stock, to meet urgent requirements, in addition to establishing a cooperation fund for the pandemic prevention and control on the basis of taking advantage of available resources and support of partners, including the UN and the WHO.

The deputy PM also proposed improving the efficiency of policy and action coordination, focusing on developing ASEAN’s common response in disease scenarios, and in the immediate, organising online drills on pandemic response between the member countries.

Fighting the pandemic should go hand in hand with combating economic recession and social instability, he said, stating that no country should be left alone and no one should be left behind in the battle.

He stressed the need to develop a strategy for the termination of COVID-19 in each country and to foster regional coordination for the early suppression of the disease and bringing countries’ socio-economic life back to a normal and stable trajectory.

Deputy PM Minh called on countries to share together and persistently implement common values on free trade and investment facilitation, avoiding the disruption of supply chains, in addition to quickly normalising cross-border trade and circulation activities when the epidemic is under control, so that all driving forces are utilised for inclusive and sustainable socio-economic recovery and development in the whole region.

He emphasised ASEAN’s shared responsibility and centrality in contributing to ensuring that the post-pandemic world and region will continue to integrate, prosper and become more sustainable.

Over the past three months, Vietnam’s efforts in its capacity as ASEAN Chair have truly shown the spirit of cohesiveness and responsiveness, the official said.

With the solidarity and cohesion between ASEAN member countries, as well as the support and close cooperation of other partners, Vietnam believes that the ASEAN boat will join the region and the world in sailing past the challenges of the pandemic, he concluded.