Passengers at Changi international airport in Singapore. (Photo: AFP/VNA)
The ASEAN Plus Three (ASEAN+3) cooperation mechanism has been running in high gear since the outbreak of COVID-19, and the collective response fully demonstrates the close neighborliness and friendship, Chinese Ambassador to ASEAN Deng Xijun has said.
ASEAN+3 comprises member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China, Japan and the Republic of Korea (RoK).
In a written interview with China's Xinhua News Agency recently, Deng said Southeast Asian countries responded immediately by offering each other assistance and working together in the collective fight since the outbreak of COVID-19.
Efforts of ASEAN+3 have proved to be highly effective in protecting people's health and lives, maintaining normal exchanges and minimising the impact of the disease on economy and society, he said.
Deng further said that ASEAN+3 health authorities have maintained close communication through the ASEAN+3 health development framework to find ways of strengthening cooperation in public health emergencies.
According to the ambassador, the ASEAN+3 cooperation mechanism was set up in response to the Asian financial crisis in late 1990s and then emerged even stronger from the international financial crisis in 2008.
Through mutual help under this mechanism, the ASEAN+3 countries also stood strong against SARS, the highly pathogenic avian influenza and the Indian Ocean tsunami, he said.
As an important member of the ASEAN+3 mechanism and a major country of the region, Deng said China has been a strong advocate and productive participant of ASEAN+3's collective response to the COVID-19 outbreak via medical supplies, policy coordination, information sharing and medical personnel support.
With regard to the upcoming special ASEAN Plus Three Summit on COVID-19 via video conference, Deng said it will be the first leaders' meeting that covers the East Asian region in response to COVID-19 and also the first special meeting so far among ASEAN+3 leaders since the mechanism was established.
Deng said the summit will particularly boost the ASEAN+3 cooperation in public health and significantly enhance emergency response to major disasters in regional countries, thus further cementing the foundation of an East Asian community.
Deng believed that the regional impact of the pandemic is also high on the agenda and leaders will talk about how to better coordinate macroeconomic policies and stabilise regional supply chains.
The ambassador also said that China will keep a close contact with other countries on the pandemic containment and trade-related measures, fully implement the ASEAN-China free trade agreement, actively work with other parties towards the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) this year and expand regional cooperation in emerging areas such as the digital economy.VNA