ASEAN and China: Partners vs coronavirus

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    ON the fifth month after the outbreak of the coronavirus 2019  that started in Wuhan, the world has seen the worst of the pandemic that eventually spread across the globe.

    The Philippines is actually doing better than some of the countries in the region and in the world despite the lack of testing capacity. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region is fortunate enough to be on the sunnier and warmer latitude and longitude of the earth, and the government of President Duterte has done everything to buttress the physical and economic health of the people.

    ‘Talk of recovery from the devastating economic toll the pandemic has taken on various countries is now on the minds of national and global leaders.’

    Talk of recovery from the devastating economic toll the pandemic has taken on various countries is now on the minds of national and global leaders. A developing consensus is arising from many of the major multilateral financial institutions and private ratings agencies focusing on the shape of the emerging economic-financial scene following the meltdown.

    China is clearly the early favorite of economists to rise above the negative growth range and back to positive growth. The first to be hit by what later on became a pandemic, China responded with “draconian” lockdown measures, contract tracing, and “people war” mobilization to defeat the virus.

    While China suffered a contraction of its economy in the first quarter of 2020, it has now opened its manufacturing sector almost fully, and thus recovering.  The United States, with its late response to the pandemic, was hit doubly hard, with some 30 million Americans out of their jobs, oil prices crashing down and with them, the stock market and the rest of the financial sector.

    It is imperative for the Philippines to enhance further the warm Philippines-China ties, maintain even more positive relations between the two peoples. We also note the flood of medical supplies such as tons of face masks, PPEs, respirators and ventilators, from its national government to ours, from its provinces and cities to their sister-provinces and cities here, in an almost never-ending caravan of China’s Health Silk Road of support for Filipinos.

    At the ASEAN plus 3 Video-link Summit on COVIC-19 last April 14, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang called on countries to open a “fast-track lane” to facilitate trade, accelerate the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) to facilitate integration, and use mechanisms, such as, the Chiang Mai Initiative (CMI) foreign exchange reserve pool totalling $ 240-billion.

    China-ASEAN mutual assistance secures our region’s future, come hell or high water or coronavirus, united in forging an economic recovery that will be stronger than ever.