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Safeguard International Public Health Security With Solidarity

On April 17th, Ambassador Yu Hong's article entitled "Safeguard International Public Health Security With Solidarity" published in " Borneo Bulletin "

On 14 April, the Special ASEAN Plus Three Summit on COVID-19 was held via video conference. Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China, Li Keqiang, His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar 'Ali Saifuddien Sa'adul Kharir Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-pertuan of Brunei Darussalam and the leaders of the other nine ASEAN countries as well as Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of the World Health Organization, Secretary General of ASEAN, Lim Jock Hoi attended the meeting. During the tough time of the outbreak of COVID-19, all the leaders reached the 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 revitalize regional economy at an early date, believing the regional countries sharing 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. At the recent Extraordinary G20 Leaders' Summit, 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 a people-centered approach, adhered to the principles of shoring up confidence, strengthening unity, following a science-based approach and taking targeted measures, and has all along been open and transparent.

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 all 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 countries through grant assistance and via commercial channels, and 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 revitalize 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 stabilize 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 endeavor 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 is 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 COVID-19 outbreak is spreading worldwide, 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 organizations, including surgical masks, protective gears and testing reagents. China donated $20 million to WHO, sent 14 medical teams to 12 countries and held 83 video conferences with experts from more than 153 countries and international organizations. Local governments, enterprises and civil organizations in China also donated medical supplies to more than 100 countries, regions and international organizations. 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 countries have been supporting, helping each other and working together. On 20 February, the Special China-ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting on Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) was convened in Vientiane, the Laos, and the China-ASEAN Medical Experts' Video Conference was held at the same time. On 31 March, the second video conference took place for sharing experience and enhancing cooperation. On 7 April, the Special Video Conference of ASEAN Plus Three Health Ministers Meeting was convened.

Brunei is an important member state of ASEAN. China has been in close contact with Brunei for concerted efforts to combat the COVID-19 epidemic. The Chinese State Councilor and Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi expressed his confidence that the unity, cooperation and mutual trust between the Chinese people and the peoples of ASEAN countries will be further strengthened in the joint fight against the outbreak, during his phone conversation with Brunei Foreign Minister II Dato Erywan Pehin Yusof on 24 March. Foreign Minister II Dato Erywan Pehin Yusof hoped that exchanges between ASEAN countries and China shall be resumed as soon as possible when the outbreak ends.

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

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