• Melo Acuna

ASEAN and China talk of further cooperation and collective COVID-19 response

ASEAN-China consultation held

MANILA – The Department of Foreign Affairs said the 26th ASEAN – China Senior Officials’ Consultation (ACSOC) was held last Wednesday, July 1, 2020 where the participants reviewed the progress in ASEAN-China Strategic Partnership and its future direction. Coordinator for ASEAN-China Dialogue Relations for a period of three years from 2018, co-chaired the meeting with China. Asst. Secretary Junever M. Mahilum-West led the Philippine delegation while Asst. Foreign Minister Chen Xiaodong headed the Chinese delegation.

Asst. Secretary Mahilum-West said since the establishment of the ASEAN-China Dialogue Partnership in 1991, mutually-beneficial cooperation with China frew across all three ASEAN Community pillars, the political-security, economic and socio-cultural, Next year, ASEAN and China will celebrate 30 years of their relations.

The delegates exchanged views on regional developments as well as the aspiration to agree to an effective and substantive Code of Conduct in the South China Sea to further contribute to regional peace, security and stability and in accordance with international law including the 1981 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). They also talked about maritime cooperation initiatives to build trust and confidence in the region.

They committed to continue and strengthen health cooperation to fight COVID-19 by way of information exchange, sharing of best practices, capacity building of health personnel and vaccine research production.

“We look forward to more comprehensive mechanisms to advance ASEAN-China cooperation various priority areas. We hope to maximize our engagements towards positive outcomes in our region,” Mahulim-West said. She explained this partnership is important at it has proven instrumental in collectively responding to and mitigating the impact of COVID-19.

They also discussed matters about the ASEAN-China Year of Digital Economy Cooperation highlighting initiatives to further enhance digital connectivity, smart solutions, e-commerce, e-learning, and platform to support MSMEs to continue to boost economic growth and application of ICT-enabled responses to COVID-19.

The meeting took place two days before Foreign Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr. warned China on its naval exercises in the Paracel Islands, off Viet Nam. It will be recalled, Locsin, in a video message, released Friday afternoon said while the exercises will not affect Philippine territory, he said should it reach Philippine sovereignty, it will be met “with severest response, diplomatic and whatever else is appropriate.” (Melo M. Acuña)

Asst. Secretary Juniver Mahilum-West, Director-General of ASEAN-Philippines and Temporary SOM Leader of the Philippines talks with ASEAN-China Senior Officials Consultation delegates held via video conference last Wednesday, July 1st. (DFA Photo)

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