China yesterday pledged further assistance to Southeast Asian nations in battling the COVID-19 pandemic, as Beijing seeks to boost its influence with a region where chief geopolitical rival the US is also looking to strengthen ties.
Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi (王毅) told his counterparts from ASEAN that China had already delivered 100 million doses of vaccine to Southeast Asian nations, along with other pandemic-fighting materials and technical help.
Wang likened the challenge to earlier economic crises, the 2003 SARS outbreak and the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, saying all were faced with “practical action arising from feelings of brotherly concern and the care of watchful neighbors.”
“In the process of jointly overcoming challenges, we have deepened friendship, mutual trust and common interests,” Wang told the ministers assembled in Chongqing for meetings marking the 30th anniversary of formal relations between China and ASEAN.
Wang said that China and ASEAN should explore establishing an expert panel to strengthen cooperation throughout the vaccine process, from research to use, and work to build production and distribution centers to help make vaccines affordable and accessible in the region.
He said that China would “urgently implement” the China-ASEAN Public Health Cooperation Initiative, continue to support the ASEAN Emergency Medical Materials Reserve and strengthen the building of regional public health capacity.
“China will work with ASEAN to overcome the outbreak as soon as possible,” Wang said.
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