International media highly appreciate ASEAN’s intra-bloc solidarity

Saturday, 2020-06-27 09:31:59
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Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc speaks at the opening ceremony of the 36th ASEAN Summit. (Photo: NDO/Tran Hai)
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NDO – Many international news agencies on June 26 reported on Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, together with the leaders of ASEAN member states and partners, participating in the opening session of the 36th ASEAN Summit via video conference.

In an article published on the same day, the US-based Associated Press (AP) said the summit aimed to show the mutual solidarity of ASEAN member countries and discuss the establishment of a regional emergency fund in response to the COVID-19 crisis. It outlined that due to the impact of the pandemic, dozens of sideline meetings as well as the customary handshaking and group photo-taking rituals that have been a tradition at ASEAN’s annual summits could not take place as usual. Even so, this year’s conference still had a colourful opening ceremony with traditional songs and dances taking place at the location in Hanoi with 200 Vietnamese officials and foreign diplomats in attendance. The delegates sat close to each other without needing to wear masks, while other heads of state watched the event from afar via large screens.

According to the AP, in his speech, PM Phuc emphasised that COVID-19 was a test for ASEAN. The disease is igniting many challenges across the fields of politics, economy and society, and inciting various disagreements among global powers.

* Meanwhile, France’s Agence France-Presse (AFP) quoted the Vietnamese PM’s remarks as saying that the COVID-19 pandemic, which broke out and spread widely since early 2020, has swept away the accomplishments humanity had accumulated over many years, while claiming lives and threatening the health and safety of millions.

* In Indonesia, the business journal Insider Stories quoted PM Phuc’s opening remarks where he put forward that strengthening cooperation between countries around the region is crucial and is something that must be highlighted during this pandemic period to promote regional economic recovery.

“While the entire world is stretched thin in its fight against the pandemic, irresponsible acts and those in violation of international law are still taking place, affecting the environment of security and stability in certain regions, including our own region,” the newspaper quoted PM Phuc as writing.

The Tempo website cited Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi as saying that at the summit, Indonesian President Joko Widodo talked of two major challenges faced by ASEAN nations in combating the COVID-19 pandemic, namely COVID-19 mitigation and its socio-economic impacts.

According to Kompas, President Widodo told the summit that he had assigned relevant ministers to discuss the possibility of opening an ASEAN tourism corridor, saying that this could prove to be very important in order to accelerate economic recovery and indicate the strategic significance of the ASEAN Community.

Kontan and Republika newspapers said the Indonesian President had emphasised the importance of enhancing cooperation among ASEAN member nations in the fight against COVID-19.

* Meanwhile, ASEAN Secretary General Lim Jock Hoi affirmed that taking place amid the COVID-19 context, the 36th ASEAN Summit was vivid evidence of ASEAN’s solidarity and leadership manifested via concrete regional cooperation. He underlined that such a level of solidarity is much needed in response to this pandemic.