Building Community With Shared Future

The beginning of the new decade was met with the sudden 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 said, China always puts people's lives and health first. Under the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping 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 ten, 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 dropped to less than ten. Wuhan is now at the most crucial stage of the battle. The number of its new confirmed cases is expected to continue its way straight downward until 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. The economic and social development of the whole country is well on its way back on track. President Xi Jinping stressed that the negative impact of the epidemic on China's economy will be temporary and short-lived. The fundamentals sustaining sound economic growth haven't changed and will not change. With its great resilience, robust domestic demand and strong industrial base, we have full confidence and capability in meeting the targets of this year's economic and social development and in the meantime move closer to our goals in the longer term.

Epidemic prevention and control in ASEAN Member States (AMS) are also remarkable. The situation in Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia has been put under effective control. The World Health Organization has highly commended the efforts of ASEAN countries. Some AMS have adopted economic stimulus policies to minimize the negative impact of the epidemic.

China and ASEAN conducted exemplary international cooperation in fighting COVID-19. 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 ROK) Senior Officials Meeting on Health Development was held on 3 Feb to share information and good practices.

As close neighbors, ASEAN Members States rendered China timely and strong material and moral support. The Heads of State/Government or Foreign Ministers of all AMS 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 15 Feb, expressed ASEAN's firm support of China and emphasized the spirit of a cohesive and responsive ASEAN Community in facing the challenge.

On 20 Feb, the Special ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers’ Meeting was held in Vientiane, the Lao PDR. As the first multilateral meeting on COVID-19, the meeting highlighted the tradition between China and ASEAN to stand side by side and help 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.

China and ASEAN spearhead the building of a community with a shared future for mankind. In 2013, President Xi Jinping 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 of 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.

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