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VIENTIANE -- China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) vowed here Thursday to strengthen cooperation in fighting the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak by sharing information and best practice in time and reduce impact of the epidemic on socio-economic development of affected countries.
The two sides made the commitment in a statement issued after the Special ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers' Meeting on Coronavirus Disease held here on Thursday.
The ministers emphasized in the statement the growing urgency and need for cooperation in COVID-19 surveillance, prevention, detection and control, given the fact that ASEAN and China have close links and are each other's major tourist destinations with an annual travel flow of over 65 million visits, and China being the largest trading partner of ASEAN while ASEAN is the second largest trading partner of China.
The ministers recognized ASEAN and China's decisive measures to address COVID-19 through prompt sharing of information and other significant efforts to contain the epidemic and to protect regional and global public health security, according to the statement.
They expressed full confidence in China's abilities to succeed in overcoming the epidemic and commended all frontline fighters against the disease, as China appreciated the sympathy support and assistance offered by ASEAN member states to its response efforts.
The ministers agreed to step up the regional cooperation against COVID-19 by sharing information and best practices in a timely manner, including exchanging available epidemiological information, technical guidelines and solutions for epidemic prevention and control, diagnosis, treatment and surveillance, said the statement.
They also agreed to strengthen cooperation in risk communication and community engagement readiness and response to ensure that people are rightly and thoroughly informed on COVID-19 and are not being misled by misinformation and fake news.
The ministers promised to strengthen policy dialogue and exchanges on the latest development of the COVID-19, including its control and treatment, and its related study and research through existing mechanisms such as the ASEAN-China Health Ministers' Meeting and the ASEAN-China Senior Officials' Meeting on Health Development, according to the statement.
In a long run, the ministers agreed to enhance capacity to prevent and control emerging and re-emerging infectious and communicable diseases, and engage in exchanges of relevant data and technology and personal training.
On the economic front, the statement said that support will be given to enterprises affected by the epidemic, especially micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), including through promotion of digital economy to facilitate economic activity during epidemics and make full use of the ASEAN-China Year of Digital Economy Cooperation.
In addition, the ministers committed to reducing the impact of the epidemic on the economic and social development of all affected countries, jointly maintaining people-to-people exchanges, trade and investment activities in the region.
The special meeting was co-chaired by Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, and Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin. ASEAN Secretary-General Lim Jock Hoi also attended the meeting
Founded in 1967, ASEAN currently groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.