The foreign ministers of China, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh held a video conference yesterday on combating the new coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. The meeting, chaired by Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, discussed the six countries’ fight against the epidemic.
Wang Yi said he had also sent an invitation to India and expressed a willingness to provide support to the Indian people in line with India’s needs. Wang Yi recalled that the first group of oxygen concentrators from Chinese companies arrived in India.
Wang Yi also cited four initiatives by the six countries on anti-epidemic cooperation:
1- Jointly, the consensus to fight the epidemic should be strengthened. “Good neighbors are blessings” the tradition of the East must be conveyed. It should focus on urgent tasks such as epidemic prevention and economic recovery. Attempts to label the virus and politicize the epidemic must be opposed. The necessary role of the World Health Organization (WHO) in the fight against the global epidemic should be supported.
2- Concrete cooperation must be deepened. China is ready to resort to flexible methods such as unrequited assistance, commercial procurement, and filling production within the framework of the six-country cooperation mechanism so that people in South Asia can obtain a more diverse and stable vaccine supply. The spread of mutated viruses should be prevented. China is also willing to establish the China-South Asian Countries Emergency Supply Reserve Base based on the recommendations of other parties.
3- The economy must recover in the period after the epidemic. China is ready to run “express channels” and “green channels” for commodity transport to facilitate personnel change. Cooperation in new business formats such as the digital economy and high-quality co-construction of the Belt and Road initiative should be encouraged, and China proposes to establish the China-South Asian Countries Poverty Reduction and Development Cooperation Center.
4- An international and regional environment should be created that help all countries to develop. China stands firmly by justice and defends the international system at its core, with the United Nations (UN) at its core, and the international order, with International Law at its core. China resolutely resists illegal acts such as meddling in the internal affairs of other countries and forcing them to choose sides.
Five other foreign ministers who attended the meeting participated in China’s initiatives. The five countries argued that vaccines should not be monopolized by several countries to avoid an immune deficit and adhered to the principle of fair and equal distribution, and praised China’s efforts to realize the availability and affordability of vaccines in developing countries.
The five countries supported the establishment of a reserve base and poverty reduction center proposed by China. Representatives of the participating countries expressed their readiness with China to increase cooperation in areas of industrial chain and supply chain stability, poverty reduction, and nontraditional security such as food, expressing opposition to interference in internal affairs and double standards and maintaining regional openness and inclusiveness.