Credit by Reuters | Foreign ministers of Asean and China shaking hands at a meeting in Vientiane, Laos, on Feb 20, 2020
ASEAN, China Foreign Ministers Pledge to Combat Coronavirus Outbreak
POLITICS & DIPLOMACY Beyond

ASEAN, China Foreign Ministers Pledge to Combat Coronavirus Outbreak

The foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China on Thursday began a special meeting in Vietniane, Laos, to discuss measures adopted by Beijing to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

It is co-chaired by Chian’s Wang Yi and Philippine foreign secretary Teodoro Locsin Jnr, who is also the country coordinator of ASEAN-China Dialog Relations.

In an opening speech, Locsinsaid that apart from the health impacts of the Covid-19 disease, the outbreak has been “massively detrimental” to trade, travel, and the global economy.

“Enemies such as Covid-19 demand action, compassion, and cooperation,” Locsin said, as quoted by South China Morning Post. “Strengthening cooperation can help pave the way to subduing this enemy.” 

A similar meeting was held in 2003 following the outbreak of Sars.

Philippine Foreign Minister Teodoro Locsin Jr thanked China for its “unprecedented domestic measures and quick action” – apparently referring to the lockdowns of several large cities as the virus billowed out.

Mask-clad tourists visit the Grand Palace in Bangkok on February 1, 2020. Image: EPA-EFE
Mask-clad tourists visit the Grand Palace in Bangkok on February 1, 2020. Image: EPA-EFE

But he recognised the “massively detrimental” economic impact of the disease, which has constricted global trade and tourism vital to many South-east Asian economies, noted The Straits Times.

The epidemic has disrupted trade and supply chains and slowed regional tourism, forcing countries to downgrade their growth forecast for the year and plan stimulus measures to help business stay afloat.

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