Viet Nam proactively promotes ASEAN joint efforts against COVID-19
Vietnam, as ASEAN 2020 Chair, has been proactively promoted joint efforts of the 10-member group in the fight against COVID-19 with the spirit of "cohesive and responsive", said Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Quoc Dung at a press conference in Hanoi on April 9.
Dung said after consulting ASEAN leaders, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc issued the ASEAN Chairman's Statement on February 14, affirming the bloc’s high determination and political commitment to control and prevent the pandemic.
The ASEAN Coordinating Council, composed of ASEAN Foreign Ministers, held two sessions on March 20 and April 9 under the chair of Viet Nam’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh to discuss measures for stronger collaboration within the bloc and with its partners.
Emergency response mechanisms in ASEAN and its partners namely China, Japan and the Republic of Korea (ASEAN+3) have been launched right after the disease outbreak.
The ASEAN Defence Ministers, Economic Ministers, and Ministers in charge of tourism have issued statements and agreed on action measures to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.
As ASEAN 2020 Chair, Viet Nam pushed the establishment and organisation of the teleconference of the ASEAN Coordinating Council Working Group on Public Health Emergencies on March 31 to take steps to implement intra-bloc coordination against COVID-19 in the coming time.
Specific recommendations included containing the spread of the pandemic; supporting affected people in ASEAN countries, including those living, working and studying in each other's member states and in the third countries; and mitigating the disease’s impact on socio-economic development.
The ASEAN countries also pledged to strengthen solidarity and mutual assistance, share efforts, and enhance resilience to cope with the pandemic.
At the meeting of the ASEAN Coordinating Council, ministers agreed to hold the ASEAN Special Summit and the ASEAN+3 Special Summit on COVID-19 Response online on April 14. The events will be presided over by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, who is Chair of ASEAN and Chair of ASEAN+3.
The countries’ leaders are expected to adopt a joint statement of ASEAN Special Summit and another of the ASEAN+3 Special Summit on COVID-19 Response reaffirming their strong commitment and determination in preventing and eliminating the risks of the pandemic that threaten people's lives and socio-economic stabilisation of the member states.
In response to reporters’ queries about evaluating the cooperation of the US and China with ASEAN in the COVID-19 fight, Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Quoc Dung, who is head of the ASEAN Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) Vietnam, said Viet Nam supports the two powers in promoting their role in the world, adding that the country has also cooperated with the two countries since the beginning of the combat.
Within the framework of ASEAN, China was the first country, then the US and the European Union (EU), to have first meetings with the bloc in this joint effort. This is the hope and endeavour of the ASEAN countries to strengthen partnerships with these countries.
“We have received very strong commitments from China and the US in supporting and uniting with ASEAN in fighting the pandemic,” he said.
Regarding the organisation of meetings under the ASEAN Chairmanship Year 2020, Dung said the complicated developments of COVID-19 forced the postponement of the 36th ASEAN Summit and ASEAN-New Zealand Leaders' Summit from April 8-9 to the end of June in the central city of Da Nang.
Since it is impossible to predict the end of the pandemic, Vietnam has to prepare backup plans such as conducting online meetings, he added.
Founded in 1967, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam.
The pandemic has spread to all ASEAN member countries with a total of more than 14,000 infection cases, including 493 deaths./.