On November 10 2020, China, Sri Lanka together with Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan held a vice foreign ministerial-level video conference on COVID-19 response, chaired by Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Luo Zhaohui. Regional Cooperation State Minister of Sri Lanka Tharaka Balasuriya, Foreign Secretary Of Bangladesh Masud Bin Momen, Foreign Secretary of Nepal Bharat Raj Paudyal, Foreign Secretary of Pakistan Sohail Mahmood joined the online discussion.
In the opening remarks, Vice Minister Luo Zhao said that the second wave of COVID-19 epidemic is hitting the world and the global economy is in a deep recession. As developing countries and friendly neighbors, the five countries face similar challenges in responding to the epidemic and restoring their economies. We should consolidate the consensus on fighting COVID-19, continue cooperation, and transmit the "positive energy" of regional countries facing challenges. The Chair of the conference gave an introduction on China's latest achievements and experience in the fight against COVID-19, as well as China's economic recovery and efforts to to accelerate the establishment of a "dual circulation" development pattern in which domestic economic cycle plays a leading role while international economic cycle remains its extension and supplement.
State Minister Balasuriya briefed other four countries about Sri Lanka’s strategies and achievements in the fight against pandemic. Among the multiple measure taken to prevent the spread of Covid19 includes localized lockdowns, limiting inter-district travel, and discouraging movement of individuals. In addition, steps have also been taken to introduce the ‘work from home’ concept to schools, universities and also places of work to prevent social. He also praised the very effective public health system throughout the country, as well as the effective contribution of the public by cooperating with the authorities and adhering to health guidelines.
Balasuriya appreciated the support received from donor countries including China, which provided equipment and medical supplies, and pointed out a significant shortfall in resources in the wake of a second wave. Hence the Minister proposed that regional countries should cooperate in following important aspects:
1) Sharing of rapid testing equipment, ventilators and experiences in diagnostics, treatment and medicine.
2) Early access to a Vaccine that is affordable to developing Countries.
3) Closer cooperation and sharing of experiences on border control, cross border transmission, containment measures at points of entry and emergency response.
4) Assistance and sharing of experiences on economic recovery including debt relief.
5) Cooperation to ensure smooth functioning of industrial and supply chains.
Other parties appreciated China's material assistance, experience sharing and commitment to make the COVID-19 vaccine an international public good. All five countries expressed their commitment to unite to fight against the epidemic, deepen cooperation in jointly building the Belt and Road Initiative, maintain the stability of industrial and supply chains, promote economic recovery and improve people's livelihood, and jointly promote the building of a community of human health. They also agreed that the meeting was useful and constructive and looked forward to the next round for further discussion.
As a conclusion, China released a Chair’s Statement of the Conference (Annex) after the meeting.
Chair's Statement of the Vice Ministerial-Level
Video Conference on COVID-19 Response
Among China, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka
(10th November, 2020)
To jointly defeat COVID-19, protect people's lives, safety and health, and accelerate economic and social recovery and development, China, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka (hereinafter referred to as “the Five Parties”) convened a vice ministerial-level Video Conference on COVID-19 Response on November 10th, 2020. The Five Parties had in-depth exchanges on cementing the political consensus on jointly fighting COVID-19, enhancing cooperation on containing the coronavirus and restoring economic development and movement of people, and achieved positive results.
The Five Parties agreed that humanity lives in a community with a shared future and solidarity and cooperation is the most effective weapon against COVID-19. In the context of long-term COVID-19 containment, the Five Parties will uphold multilateralism, firmly support the World Health Organization in playing a leading role in the global fight against COVID-19, actively promote international cooperation on COVID-19 response, and push forward the building of a global community of health for all. The Five Parties reiterated their opposition to politicization and stigmatization by using COVID-19. It is important to pursue science-based, professional exchanges on prevention and control of COVID-19 and its evolution and growth should be judged on the basis of objectivity, impartiality and scientific evidence.
The Five Parties agreed that the autumn and winter seasons are a crucial period for COVID-19 containment and vowed to strengthen information sharing and coordination of policies and actions to cope with the impact of the second wave of the pandemic. The Chinese side is ready to step up cooperation with the other four parties in testing, diagnostics, treatment and medicine, and continue to provide them with assistance of containment supplies. China has pledged that COVID-19 vaccine development and deployment in China, when available, will be made a global public good. China is also ready to consider providing vaccines to developing countries positively, the other four parties included.
The Five Parties agreed that countries linked by land ports should establish joint response mechanisms in border areas. Standard operating procedures will be developed on COVID-19-related notification, border control, containment measures at points of entry and emergency response to prevent cross-border transmission. Pre-departure screening will be actively promoted to ensure the safe and orderly cross-border movement of people. Each Party will provide necessary treatment to COVID-19 infected nationals of the other parties in accordance with its own capacity.
The Five Parties agreed on the importance of coordinating COVID-19 response and economic and social development and will advance Belt and Road cooperation to boost post-COVID-19 economic recovery and development. Efforts will be made to facilitate the orderly resumption of major cooperation projects and keep the industrial and supply chains stable. Infrastructure connectivity under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative will be advanced at a faster pace. Smooth transportation of goods at border ports will be facilitated with sufficient containment measures in place.
The Five Parties agreed to keep up consultations on COVID-19 response, poverty alleviation and other non-traditional security issues of shared interest on an ad hoc basis, and explore the establishment of relevant working groups. In a spirit of mutual trust, openness and win-win cooperation, the Five Parties welcome other regional countries to join the cooperation against COVID-19 and are ready to engage in dialogue and communication with them.EndFragment