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Wang Yi: Foreign Ministers of China and ASEAN Agreed to Work Closely and Support Each Other to Jointly Overcome Difficulties with Strong Confidence


On 20 February 20, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with the press after attending the China-ASEAN Special Foreign Ministers' Meeting on Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19), together with Foreign Minister Saleumxay Kommasith of Laos, the host country of the meeting, and Foreign Secretary Teodoro Lopez Locsin of the Philippines, the country coordinator of ASEAN-China relations.

Wang Yi noted that the foreign ministers of China and 10 ASEAN countries held a successful special meeting on jointly fighting against the coronavirus disease. Foreign ministers reached important consensus that China and ASEAN should work together to deal with the epidemic and agreed that the two sides should help and support each other, strengthen confidence and overcome the current difficulties together. Some foreign ministers also suggested that a special meeting of China-ASEAN leaders be held at an appropriate time to further chart the course for improving public health cooperation and promoting health security of the people in the region.

During the meeting, clinical medical experts from China and ASEAN countries also held a video conference in parallel, focusing on exchanges of diagnosis and treatment plans and experience.

Since the outbreak of the epidemic, ASEAN countries have stood firmly side by side with China, providing valuable support for its fight against the epidemic. Governments of various ASEAN countries have expressed their sympathies and extended a helping hand to China. The ASEAN people made donations voluntarily. It once again demonstrates the fine tradition of China and ASEAN supporting and helping each other, and China will bear in mind this true friendship shown in adversity.

Wang Yi pointed out that under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, China has established a national prevention and control system. The Chinese people, united as one, have been racing against time to fight against the disease and achieved important positive results. The number of diagnosed patients have continued to decline and the number of cured patients have increased rapidly. Diagnosis and treatment plans have been improved, and the cure rate has significantly risen. Difficulties and hardships lead to true success. We believe that with the hard efforts of the Chinese people and the strong support of ASEAN countries and the international community, we will be able to triumph over the epidemic.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, the Chinese government has effectively prevented its global spread by sharing information in a timely manner and taking decisive measures in an open, transparent and responsible manner. By far, confirmed cases outside China account for only about 1% of all cases, behind which is the extraordinary efforts and tremendous sacrifices that the Chinese government and people have made. ASEAN countries, World Health Organization (WHO) and the international community highly appreciate this and fully recognize China's important contribution to safeguarding regional and global public health security.

Wang Yi noted that China and ASEAN are like brothers with a shared future. In the face of the epidemic, strengthening unity and deepening cooperation is the only correct choice. We all agree to take the joint fight against the epidemic as an opportunity and make joint efforts in the following aspects:

First, strengthen synergy and make joint efforts for prevention and control. We will promote close coordination between health, quarantine, transportation and border control departments of the two sides to jointly prevent the spread of the regional epidemic. The two sides will share information on the epidemic, prevention and control measures and research results in a timely manner. Within this year a China-ASEAN Health Cooperation Forum will be held to invite health ministers of various countries to attend and sum up the experience and achievements in fighting the epidemic.

Second, take a long-run view and establish a long-term mechanism. Efforts will be made to explore the establishment of a China-ASEAN public health emergency liaison mechanism and the establishment of China-ASEAN epidemic prevention material reserve center to speed up the response to public health emergencies and step up the ability of material support. A full play will be given to the role of the China-ASEAN Health Ministers Meeting. Support will be given to more health cooperation projects and more public health emergency professionals will be fostered through the China-ASEAN Cooperation Fund.

Third, take a science-based and rational approach to prevail over panic. Professional and authoritative advices of the World Health Organization should be respected, the progress of epidemic prevention and control should be assessed in a timely manner, and consideration should be given to resume normal people-to-people exchanges and practical cooperation at an early date in line with respective national conditions.

Fourth, turn crises into opportunities and cultivate new growth points of cooperation. While the epidemic has brought severe challenges, it has also given rise to new sectors and new business models. This year is the China-ASEAN Year of Digital Economic Cooperation. We can strengthen cooperation in e-commerce and mobile payment and particularly help small and medium-sized enterprises affected by the epidemic to take advantage of the digital economy for renewed growth. By strengthening cooperation on smart cities, we will build an intelligent, intensive and humanized "urban brain" to improve the ability to respond to, make decisions on and deal with major public emergencies.

Wang Yi pointed out that panic is more frightening than the virus while confidence is more important than gold. Although the epidemic will affect China's economy to a certain extent, it is only short-lived and limited. The epidemic has hindered to some extent the economic cooperation between China and ASEAN countries, but this can be overcome and remedied. China's economy has strong momentum and resilience, and the long-term upward trend will not change. The interests of China and ASEAN are highly integrated with the closely linked supply chain and industrial chain. After the epidemic, the need for cooperation will rebound and be released in a quickened pace, and the space for cooperation will be further expanded. We firmly believe that China-ASEAN relations will reach a new high in the joint fight against the epidemic and the building of a China-ASEAN community with a shared future will be more solidly advanced after this test.

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