The beginning of the new decade was met with the outbreak of COVID-19. The battle against it has now come to a critical moment when negative and positive elements coexist and the window of containment is getting narrower. The future of mankind is, once again, tightly interlocked in the face of an epidemic.
China and ASEAN, as close neighbors, have been going through the test for two months. The even closer friendly bonds between our peoples will further energize the building of a closer China-ASEAN community with a shared future.
China and ASEAN have been leading the fight against COVID-19. As Chinese President Xi Jinping has said, China always puts people's lives and health first. Under the strong leadership of the Communist Party of China’s Central Committee with Comrade Xi at its core, comprehensive epidemic prevention and control deployment has been carried out immediately after the outbreak, including many unprecedented, creative measures.
Notable progress has been brought about so far. The number of new confirmed cases in provinces other than Hubei has by and large stayed below 10 now, and the emergency response measures in many provinces have been cut from Level I to Level III. In Hubei, the number of new confirmed cases in cities other than Wuhan has now dropped to less than 10.
Wuhan is now at the most crucial stage of the battle. The number of its confirmed cases has plunged from over 1,000 in the first half of February to above 100 in recent days and is expected to continue its way straight downward to zero in the near future.
China has accumulated much experience in this fight that other countries may find helpful. China’s performance, greatly encouraging indeed, will significantly boost the confidence of other countries to fight and win. China’s efforts have not only safeguarded the health and safety of the Chinese people, but also contributed greatly to global public health security.
The Chinese government is taking coordinated measures to contain the epidemic and advance economic and social development. President Xi Jinping has stressed that the negative impact of the epidemic on China’s economy will be temporary and short-lived. The fundamentals sustaining sound economic growth have not changed and will not change.
With the country’s great resilience, robust domestic demand and strong industrial base, we have full confidence and capability in meeting this year’s targets for economic and social development and moving closer to our goals in the longer term.
Epidemic prevention and control in ASEAN member states have also been remarkable. The situation in Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia has been put under effective control, and no more new cases were reported in Cambodia and the Philippines for more than two consecutive weeks.
The World Health Organization has highly commended the efforts of ASEAN countries. Some ASEAN members have adopted economic stimulus policies to minimize the negative impact of the epidemic.
China has provided ASEAN and the rest of the international community with timely updates on the epidemic in a spirit of openness and transparency. The special video conference of the ASEAN Plus Three (China, Japan and Republic of Korea) Senior Officials Meeting on Health Development was held on Feb. 3 to share information and good practices.
As close neighbors, ASEAN member states rendered China timely and strong material and moral support. The heads of state or government or the foreign ministers of all ASEAN members extended to the Chinese government and people their sympathy, support and solidarity through phone calls, messages and visits. The Chairman’s Statement on ASEAN Collective Response to the Outbreak of Coronavirus Disease 2019, released on Feb. 15, expressed ASEAN’s firm support of China and emphasized the spirit of a cohesive and responsive ASEAN community in facing the challenge.
On Feb. 20, the Special ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers’ Meeting was held in Vientiane. As the first multilateral meeting on COVID-19, the event highlighted the tradition between China and ASEAN of standing side by side and helping each other in difficult times as well as our deep friendship formed in sharing weal and woe. The ministers reached an important consensus on the China-ASEAN joint response to the epidemic. They agreed to work together in this critical moment and set an example for global cooperation in combating the epidemic.
In 2013, President Xi proposed to build a closely-knit China-ASEAN community with a shared future during his visit to Indonesia. Over the years, China and ASEAN have never stopped working toward this goal.
We foster good neighborliness and strengthen political and strategic mutual trust. We pursue win-win cooperation for common development and shared prosperity. We firmly stand by the other’s side to prevail over risks and challenges.
We nurture close people-to-people ties based on our time-honored friendship. We champion openness and inclusiveness to build more diverse and harmonious societies, to name but a few. These unremitting efforts have ushered China-ASEAN relations into a new stage of all-round development.
The joint fight against COVID-19 has made China and ASEAN more aware of the importance and urgency of building a community with a shared future. The awareness itself will be a strong push to the growth of the ever-promising China-ASEAN relations.
Under the current circumstances, China and ASEAN still need to continue close cooperation in epidemic containment and public health, in order to defeat the epidemic as soon as possible and safeguard people’s health and well-being. In the meantime, it’s important for us to seize the opportunity and substantiate our major cooperation agenda with concrete initiatives for more visible benefits to the people.
Such progress will further materialize and expand our relations, foster enabling conditions for the upgrading of our relations at the much-expected 30th anniversary of our dialogue process in 2021 and inject fresh impetus to a closer China-ASEAN community with a shared future.
Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to ASEAN
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.