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Apr 12, 2020 / 09:49

How Vietnam promotes its ASEAN cohesive role in coronavirus battle?

Hanoi has activated all virtual channels available to keep ASEAN discussions ongoing.

Vietnam has made efforts to drive the ASEAN through the coronavirus stom by taking action to promote its responsive and cohesive leadership as the ASEAN Chair.

 Vietnam takes ASEAN Chair 2020. Photo: AFP

Shortly after the pandemic broke out in China in late 2019, Vietnam has been proactive and transparent in disseminating information on the pandemic situation and acting for a united response to the fight against the virus, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Nguyen Quoc Dung said at a press conference in Hanoi on April 9.

On February 14, it issued the ASEAN Chair’s statement on the outbreak, highlighting the urgency of the problem and committing to ASEAN’s collective response.

The statement listed measures which, if implemented, could complement ASEAN member states’ national responses to the pandemic. These include, among others, timely sharing of information on Covid-19 detection and treatment, standardized measures of health inspection at borders and entry points of the member states, and consular assistance to ASEAN nationals in needy situations.

On February 19, the ASEAN defense ministers issued a joint statement on defense cooperation against disease outbreaks.

As per Vietnam’s initiative, the Bangkok-based ASEAN Center of Military Medicine is preparing for a table-top exercise, focusing on sharing of experiences and best practices of ASEAN armies, especially on military quarantine camps and military field hospitals for Covid-19 patients.

 ASEAN and China foreign ministers at a meeting against Covid-19 on February 20. Photo: VGP

On February 20, ASEAN foreign ministers met with their Chinese counterpart at the Special ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Covid-19), committing to joint emergency response to Covid-19. ASEAN emphasized the importance of transparent information sharing and the growing urgency and need for cooperation in the disease surveillance, prevention, detection, and control.

On March 10, The 26th ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM)’ Retreat approved Vietnam’s 12 prioritized initiatives on economic cooperation in ASEAN. A joint statement was released with an aim to maintain ASEAN supply chains and facilitate businesses’ access to input materials in the context the spreading Covid-19 epidemic.

On March 20, an ASEAN-EU ministerial teleconference on coping with the pandemic was held, marking the cooperation in sharing of information and experience, policy consultation, especially in diagnosis, treatment, and vaccine production. With the attendance of Vice-President of the European Commission and High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrel, the two sides committed to support their citizens in each region.

 Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh at the ASEAN-EU ministerial teleconference. Photo: Baoquocte

Vietnam has also joined three phone discussions at the deputy foreign minister level with the US, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia, New Zealand – a configuration coined by some media outlets as the “Quad-Plus.” Throughout these engagements, the key message is to keep the spirit and habits of international cooperation alive and well, especially in information exchange on the pandemic, mutual assistance for each other’s nationals affected by movement restrictions, and mitigation of disruptions to the supply chains.

On March 31, Vietnam pushed the establishment and organization of the teleconference of the ASEAN Coordinating Council Working Group on Public Health Emergencies to take steps to implement intra-bloc coordination against Covid-19 in the coming time.

On April 1, The ASEAN Coordinating Council Working Group on Public Health Emergencies and United States inter-agency officials held a video conference was held to discuss public health challenges and strengthen coordination to face non-traditional security challenges, especially the unprecedented challenge of Covid-19.

On April 4, Deputy Foreign Minister and head of the ASEAN Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) Vietnam Nguyen Quoc Dung held phone talks with acting Australian Deputy Foreign Minister and head of the SOM Australia on ASEAN and East Asia Summit (EAS) Justin Hayhurst to discuss joint work via regional cooperation mechanisms in fighting against the pandemic.

 Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh chairs online teleconference of ACC on April 9. Photo: Baoquocte

On April 9, the 25th meeting of the ASEAN Coordinating Council (ACC) was held in the form of video conference under the chair of the council’s chairman – Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh. It continued to examine the directions and measures for ASEAN coordination in containing the spread of the epidemic and mitigating its impacts on society and the economy.

Vietnam has actively engaged in multi-directional diplomacy, both in its national capacity and as the ASEAN Chair, to keep external partners informed and supportive of its own and ASEAN efforts to fight the disease, Hoang Thi Ha, lead researcher on Political & Security Affairs at the ASEAN Studies Centre, ISEAS Yusof-Ishak Institute, Singapore, said on The Diplomat.