Written by The Editorial Department / Translated by Zhang Xiaoyan
“We will strengthen cooperation against COVID-19, enhance capacity building in public health, and increase policy dialogue, step up information sharing and vaccine cooperation,” said Chinese President Xi Jinping in the important speech delivered at the opening ceremony of the 17th China-ASEAN Expo (CAEXPO). These sonorous and powerful words have cleared the haze of the pandemic and brought hope for China-ASEAN cooperation in combating the COVID-19 viruses.
We will always help each other. In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, CAEXPO has actively taken up the responsibility as the public products of the China-ASEAN cooperation, and it has been seeking development on the basis of cooperation and making efforts to build a platform for improving public health cooperation and restoring regional economic vitality.
Close ties help create a new “model” of cooperation against COVID-19
Last year, the 17th CAEXPO held under the normalized prevention and control of COVID-19 attracted wide attention. The “rise and fall together, share safety and danger, and work together” has become the most vivid illustration of the China-ASEAN community of shared future in this context.
Last year’s CAEXPO provided a pavilion of exhibition on public pandemic prevention and health for the first time to display pandemic prevention materials and health-related enterprises and products. The exhibition area exceeded 1,000km2 in size, where a great variety of pandemic prevention materials were displayed, ranging from negative pressure ambulances and nucleic acid detection vehicles to protective clothing and goggles. In front of the booths, there was an endless stream of traders. The Internet orders poured in, and the pandemic prevention materials became “hot sales”. “In one single order the demand is one or two hundred in numbers, which made the supply short in stock,” said Chen Yuehe, a Chinese mask-making machine seller attending CAEXPO. It is no exaggeration that the exhibition and sharing of anti-pandemic achievements at CAEXPO has become the most universal “sense of security” for people of all countries.
Following the spirit of the Joint Statement of the China-ASEAN special meeting of foreign ministers on COVID-19, the 17th CAEXPO last year held the Health Silk Road construction and the 3rd China-ASEAN Health Cooperation Forum in the form of “1+6”, which further provided 6 sub-forums, including the China-ASEAN Disease Prevention and Control Cooperation Forum, the China-ASEAN Forum on Dentistry, the China-ASEAN Traditional Medicine Forum, the China-ASEAN Hospital Management Cooperation Forum, the China-ASEAN Health Emergency Cooperation Forum and the China-ASEAN Food Safety, Nutrition and Health Cooperation Forum, with the establishment of regional and international cooperation mechanisms for pandemic disease prevention and control promoted. Among them, the China-ASEAN Disease Prevention and Control Sub-Forum focused on the new issues and new challenges in prevention and control cooperation against COVID-19 and other infectious diseases, with wide exchange of views on the pandemic surveillance, prevention and control strategy, prevention and control technology, as well as information sharing.
Cooperation, cooperation, and more cooperation. The 18th CAEXPO to be held from September 10 to 13 this year has released an increasingly strong signal that it will focus on a joint COVID-19 prevention:
The public pandemic prevention and health exhibition areas will be provided as before, where the achievements of pandemic prevention and control and business opportunities in the big health industry are to be displayed, promoting international cooperation against COVID-19 for ASEAN. China will continue to provide the best support and assistance to the ASEAN countries concerned in combating the pandemic in terms of medical material supply, production, R&D and application of vaccines.
The AIDS program and training course of the Lancang River-Mekong River cross border joint prevention and control of infectious diseases in the Guangxi Sino-Vietnam border area will be held to help implement the China-ASEAN Healthy Silk Road training project, support the cooperation in the relevant economic areas of ASEAN’s comprehensive recovery framework, and explore effective ways to strengthen business personnel exchanges between the two sides in the normalized prevention and control of COVID-19.
A number of programs will be held, including the International Medical Innovation Cooperation Forum and special promotion conference, China-ASEAN Drug Cooperation Development Summit Forum, International Forum on Traditional Medicine and Health Tourism, etc, to promote the construction of human health community.
In the face of the severe challenges posed by COVID-19, CAEXPO will continue to expand its openness, continue to promote trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, further promote regional economic integration, and contribute to the promotion of post-pandemic economic recovery in the region and to building a new “model” for the international anti-pandemic efforts.
Seeking opportunities in times of crisis and finding new prospects for regional development
Facing the unprecedented pandemic of COVID-19, no country in the world is immune. After arduous efforts to effectively control the pandemic at home, China immediately put itself into the global pandemic prevention cooperation.
Under this adverse situation, the development of China-ASEAN cooperation has unexpectedly ushered in the exciting news: in 2020, ASEAN surpassed the EU and became China's largest trading partner.
The growth of bilateral trade that went against the trend, is not only a vivid example of China-ASEAN working together to promote the construction of a community with a shared future for mankind, but also a sublimation of China and ASEAN to turn the crisis into opportunities, to seek opportunities in the crisis and to broaden a new model of cooperation and development.
In the 17th CAEXPO, the online version of CAEXPO came into effect and as an exhibition that never ends has provided an “air corridor” for the China-ASEAN trade cooperation. From coffee, durian and other “loves between teeth” to paper, steel and other “soft and hard currencies”, more and more products have found their way into the Chinese market; The signing of RCEP has made China and ASEAN countries a “model room” for mutual promotion and common prosperity in the world... Despite the heavy pressure of the pandemic era, the economic resilience of China and ASEAN has not been weakened.
Into the 30th year, the China-ASEAN relations have become closer. Through a series of practical events, the 18th CAEXPO will further promote the sharing of a large number of materials and technologies, so as to bridge the “immunization gap” among countries around the world.
“Without China’s vaccine assistance and export, Cambodia could not have vaccination provided to its people at all.” “China’s vaccine is safe and effective, and China's assistance to Laos has provided strong support to the pandemic prevention and control in Laos.” Leaders of Cambodia, Laos and other countries spoke highly of China's support to the global pandemic prevention efforts. One by one, the "fast tracks" for personnel and the “green lanes” for goods connect China and ASEAN, and the discussions and exchanges of accelerating the pace of cooperation and development help open the mind of each other. The materials and technical assistance given and taken time and again are like the rain in drought, not to be forgotten as the moon and the sun.
Over the past 30 years, China and ASEAN have always adhered to the spirit of partnership, shared hardships and opportunities; Over the past 17 years, CAEXPO has stayed true to its original aspiration and shouldered its mission to improve the quality of China-ASEAN relations and to promote the regional development.