Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh proposed two key tasks that ASEAN should focus on doing in the time to come during the ongoing 38th ASEAN Summit on October 26.
Firstly, ASEAN needs a holistic, synchronous and flexible approach to COVID-19 control with the involvement of the entire community, with people and businesses being the centre and subject, and with the goal of addressing difficulties caused by the pandemic in the spirit of "benefits harmonised, risks shared".
For an effective implementation Chinh emphasised the need to improve the efficiency of coordination mechanisms, improve the capacity of the health system, be proactive in vaccines and treatment drugs and raise the people's awareness. On this occasion, he announced a list of medical supplies worth millions of US dollars to be contributed to the ASEAN Regional Reserve of Medical Supplies.
Secondly, the Vietnamese Government leader stressed the necessity for ASEAN to position itself in the world’s reshaping socio-economic relationship, and consolidate its role as the nucleus of dialogue, cooperation and multilateral and multi-layered economic integration processes in the region.
The bloc needs to consider taking advantage of new factors such as digital transformation, digital economy, circular economy, green technology, renewable energy and high-quality human resources to participate more deeply in regional and global supply chains and improve the attractiveness of the ASEAN market.
In order to continue implementing Vietnam’s priorities in the ASEAN Chairmanship year 2020, PM Chinh announced a plan to organise the ASEAN Forum on Sub-Regional Cooperation for Sustainable Development and Inclusive Growth on November 30 in Hanoi.
At the summit, leaders of ASEAN countries discussed efforts to build the community and respond to the pandemic. They agreed to ratify the ASEAN Travel Corridor Agreement Framework (ATCAF), and actively considered the possibility of mutual recognition and application of electronic vaccination certificates for people. The countries also suggested soon putting into operation the ASEAN Reserve for Medical Supplies and the ASEAN Centre for Response to Public Health Emergencies and Emerging Diseases (ACPHEED).
They approved, recognised and announced many important documents, such as the Bandar Seri Begawan Declaration on the Strategic and Holistic Initiative to Link ASEAN Responses to Emergencies and Disasters (ASEAN SHIELD), ASEAN Leaders' Declaration on Upholding Multilateralism, and ASEAN Leaders' Declaration on the Blue Economy.
ASEAN should play more active, responsible role in matters impacting on region
Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh speaks at the 39th ASEAN Summit, which was held virtually on October 26.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) should play a more active, proactive and responsible role in all issues impacting on the region, thus helping the ten-member bloc to maintain its centrality, Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh said at the 39th ASEAN Summit, which was held virtually on October 26.
Promoting its spirit of independence in behaviours and neutrality in addressing and balancing relations will help ASEAN avoid being passive in competition between powers, the PM said.
He, therefore, called on major countries participating in the region to show their sense of responsibility, respect international law, not to affect regional peace and stability, respect ASEAN’s role, and fully consult ASEAN through mechanisms established and led by the bloc.
PM Chinh stressed the need to uphold intra-bloc solidarity, core values and power, as well as responsibility and constructive spirit of all member countries, to help ASEAN reach consensus and carry forward its centrality and prestige.
The bloc should prove its mettle and self-reliance in maintaining peace, security and stability in the East Sea, he said.
While affirming Vietnam's principled stance on the East Sea, the PM suggested countries promote commitments to observing international law, act responsibly, practice self-restraint, take no actions that would cause tensions and complicate the situation, and cooperate in issues of shared concern like maritime environmental protection, illegal fishing combat and humanitarian aid to fishermen, among others.
He also proposed fully and effectively implementing the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) and reaching an effective and efficient Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC) between ASEAN and China as soon as possible in line with the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982 UNCLOS), which serves as a framework adjusting activities at sea.
PM Chinh expressed his sympathy with difficulties facing Myanmar, especially impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and called on parties to take action responsibly for the common interests of the region, push ahead with the implementation of the five-point consensus so that the bloc’s envoy can visit the country as soon as possible, and increase humanitarian aid to Myanmar people.
The participating leaders shared the view that ASEAN needs to work harder to strengthen and deepen its partnerships, encourage the partners to support and practically contribute to the building of the ASEAN Community, and join efforts to deal with emerging challenges, particularly the COVID-19 pandemic and comprehensive and sustainable recovery.
They welcomed the UK becoming the 11th dialogue partner of ASEAN in August 2021.
The leaders said amid the current difficulties, ASEAN’s centrality plays a key role that should be further consolidated and respected, and suggested promoting dialogue, trust building and cooperation for common interests.
They expressed their concern over the situation in the East Sea, including unilateral activities that have escalated tensions, eroded trust and destroyed the maritime environment.
The leaders reiterated the need to step up trust building, practice self-restraint, not to complicate the situation, and maintain peace, stability, security, safety and freedom of navigation and aviation in the East Sea.
Leaders emphasised their stance on the settlement of disputes in the East Sea via peaceful measures on the basis of international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS.
For the Myanmar matter, they agreed to provide more assistance for the country, affirming that solidarity is the key for ASEAN and Myanmar to find out effective solutions to the current complex issues in the country.
At the meeting, the ASEAN leaders also looked into other regional and international issues of shared concern, including the situation on the Korean Peninsula./.