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Chinese premier eyes further regional solidarity, cooperation against COVID-19

(Xinhua)    09:28, November 15, 2020

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang attends the 23rd leaders' meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) plus China, Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK) (ASEAN Plus Three), which is held via video link, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, Nov. 14, 2020. (Xinhua/Zhang Ling)

BEIJING, Nov. 14 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Saturday called for further solidarity and cooperation with regional countries in fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic, along with the safeguarding of peace and stability.

Li made the remarks in a speech at the 23rd leaders' meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) plus China, Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK) (ASEAN Plus Three), which was held via video link. The leaders of 10 ASEAN countries, ROK President Moon Jae-in, and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga also attended the meeting.

Li said the COVID-19 pandemic had impacted the global economy severely and brought many challenges to regional economic integration in East Asia. "In April this year, we held a special meeting of leaders from ASEAN-China, Japan and the ROK on fighting the pandemic, and agreed to strengthen cooperation to meet the challenges of COVID-19, open markets to each other, and stabilize the supply chain as well as the industrial chain."

For more than half a year, all parties have actively promoted the implementation of the results achieved at the meeting, effectively advanced regional epidemic prevention and control as well as economic recovery, indicating the important role of ASEAN Plus Three as the main channel for East Asian cooperation, he said.

Noting that the ASEAN Plus Three achieved primary results in the prevention and control of the pandemic, with the resumption of work and production, as well as the orderly recovery of the industrial chain and the supply chain, the premier said that relevant international agencies predicted that East Asia may become the only region in the world to achieve positive economic growth this year.

"The development resilience of East Asian countries has increased our confidence in dealing with challenges. I believe that, as long as we further enhance solidarity and cooperation, gather wisdom and strength, and turn crises into opportunities, we will definitely be able to overcome the impact of the pandemic, safeguard regional peace and stability, and create a new situation of regional peace and prosperity," Li said.

Li proposed that regional countries should enhance anti-epidemic cooperation and promote public health capacity building, saying that China stands ready to actively carry out international cooperation on vaccines with all parties and promote the construction of an ASEAN Plus Three emergency reserve center for medical materials.

He called for accelerating the construction of free-trade areas and deepening the regional integration of East Asia, noting that the parties concerned will formally sign the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement, which will play a positive role in boosting world economic recovery.

Premier Li proposed facilitating the regional supply chain and industrial chain, improving the competitiveness of the East Asian industrial system, and gradually building a regional network of fast lanes and green lanes under the premise of effective epidemic prevention.

Regional countries should also seize the opportunity brought by the digital economy to build an innovation highland in East Asia, adhere to the principle of marketization, and create a fair, just, and predictable environment for business cooperation, he said.

In order to achieve sustainable development in East Asia, Li said the parties concerned should focus on cooperation on the livelihoods of society and people, and China is willing to implement the second phase of the poverty-reduction cooperation initiative in East Asia, while strengthening cooperation on climate change as well as disaster prevention.

Leaders participating in the meeting said the ASEAN Plus Three was established against the backdrop of the Asian financial crisis, and has made great progress on cooperation in various fields over the past 23 years. They hoped the meeting would further build consensus, improve the level of public health and security, carry out joint prevention and control, and deepen cooperation on vaccine and drug research and development to ensure the accessibility and affordability of vaccines.

They also agreed to keep the market open, safeguard food security, achieve sustainable development, strengthen connectivity and the docking of development strategies, make full use of the opportunities brought by the digital economy, and promote regional peace, stability, development and prosperity. 


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