People walk out of the 18th China-ASEAN Expo venue in Nanning, capital of southern China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, September 13, 2021 (Xinhua / Lu Boan)
Leaders of China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) agreed on Tuesday to deepen cooperation to help the region recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, including the rapid implementation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP).
In a joint statement released following the 24th ASEAN-China summit held online, China agreed to support ASEAN’s comprehensive recovery framework and its implementation plan, which will guide the two sides in deepening of their cooperation in various fields, including public health, social security, economy, integration, digital transformation and sustainable development.
ASEAN commended China for its active cooperation in the implementation of the key priorities identified in the framework, such as the training of cadres and health professionals in the response to health emergencies, support for the COVID response fund. -19 ASEAN and expanding cooperation on COVID-19 vaccines.
The two sides stressed the importance of economic integration between China and ASEAN to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and accelerate the region’s economic recovery.
The leaders agreed to promote the China-ASEAN free trade agreement and explore greater mutual openness in other areas under the free trade agreement, “including creating more opportunities trade in the digital economy and fostering new sources of growth and cooperation “.
They also stressed the need to strengthen cooperation to improve connectivity and resilience of supply chains in the region by exploring “the development of economic corridors, as well as economic, trade and industrial parks”.
In another joint statement, ASEAN and China agreed to expand cooperation to promote green and sustainable development in the region.
ASEAN kicked off its 38th and 39th Summits under Brunei’s presidency on Tuesday via a virtual conference, with tackling the COVID-19 pandemic and promoting economic recovery high on the agenda.
Besides Brunei, ASEAN also includes Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.