ASEAN sees recovery with China aid

Published May 7, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin


The COVID-19 pandemic is not yet over, but many countries around the world are already drawing up plans for recovery — which could take a number of years.

As early as last April 14, the Philippines met with its fellow Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members in an ASEAN-Plus-Three (APT) Summit on line with China, Japan, and South Korea. In the video conference with the other leaders, President Duterte said: “ASEAN must remain open for trade, crisis or no crisis…. No country can stand alone. Let us, therefore, ensure the supply chain connectivity and the smooth flow of goods within our region…. ASEAN must collaborate and coordinate within our region and beyond.”

China Premier Li Kequiang, also by video link from Beijing, called on the ASEAN-Plus-Three leaders to pool their efforts against COVID-19, pledging that China would support ASEAN in setting up a COVID-19 response fund, support the establishment of an APT reserve of medical supplies, and provide to ASEAN 100 million face masks, 10 million protective suits, and other medical supplies.

He urged the APT nations to further ease tariffs, eliminate barriers, boost trade and investment, and keep markets open to each other. He proposed the signing within a year of a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement to take regional economic integration to a higher level.

China, he said, supports ASEAN recovery with the $240-billion Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralization currency swap fund and the Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank (AIIB) $10-bilion fund for a COVID-19 recovery facility. The Philippines has already expressed its intention to negotiate a $2-billion economic recovery package from the AIIB.

There have been reports of some United States officials claiming to have seen a report of the COVID-19 virus in a Wuhan laboratory. World Health Organization (WHO) Director Tedros Ghebreyesus urged against any effort to “politicize this virus” and called on all nations to stick to constructive and cooperative relations in the midst of the crisis.

President Duterte, in a televised briefing industry, while thanking President Xi Jinping for China’s assistance to the country, also deplored the maligning. This is really a time for global cooperation and not for geo-politicking.