ASEAN fosters defence co-operation in response to pandemic

May 15, 2020 - 11:44

ASEAN defence senior officials held a video conference on Friday to share experiences of ASEAN defence forces in preventing the COVID-19 pandemic and discuss future co-operation direction for disease response.


Vietnamese defence officials attend the video conference on Friday morning. — VNA/VNS Photo Dương Giang

HÀ NỘI ASEAN defence senior officials held a video conference yesterday to share experiences of ASEAN defence forces in preventing the COVID-19 pandemic and discuss future co-operation direction for disease response.

The leaders said that the ASEAN Defence Senior Officials’ Meeting (ADSOM) was a valuable opportunity for the bloc to share good practices which the defence establishments of ASEAN member states have contributed to their respective government’s effort in preventing and dealing with the pandemic. Through such exchange, ASEAN will be able to address future diseases more effectively.

Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Defence Senior Lieutenant General Nguyễn Chí Vịnh said the COVID-19 pandemic had affected the whole world and ASEAN member states are not an exception. As ASEAN Chair 2020 and also a country affected by COVID-19, Việt Nam shared sympathy with ASEAN countries in terms of difficulties and losses during this period.

He appreciated ASEAN member states’ efforts in fighting the pandemic and believed ASEAN countries would soon push back the pandemic.

At the ASEAN Defence Retreat in February, the defence leaders agreed that in spite of the pandemic, the member states still commit to ASEAN defence co-operation within the planned framework.

In fact the ASEAN defence co-operation has become increasingly practical, especially in implementing joint statement of ASEAN defence ministers in COVID-19 prevention and control, Vịnh said.

The Vietnamese National Defence Ministry highlighted that when the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, the ministry has proactively participated in the joint efforts of the Vietnamese Government in addressing the disease through various means such as using military barracks and units as the quarantine locations for people returning from overseas; participating in disinfection and detoxification in areas identified as outbreaks; research and production of test kits.

The ministry has also managed and supervised borders, border areas and co-operated with countries including Laos, Cambodia, China, Russia, Myanmar, Cuba to promote experience sharing and supporting each other in the fight against COVID-19.

Deputy Minister Nguyễn Chí Vịnh thanked ASEAN countries’ military forces for joint efforts with Việt Nam to respond to the pandemic.

At the meeting, ASEAN defence leaders said that COVID-19 was not only a medical crisis but also a total crisis for humanity, potentially leading to geopolitical changes in the world as well as changes in international relations, especially among powers.

They agreed that it was necessary and timely for ASEAN to prepare scenarios and plans to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic as well as unpredictable developments of the disease in the future.

Regarding diseases as a type of non-traditional security threats, they said other threats such as cyber security, water, food security continue to have complicated developments, posing risks on the lives, health and livelihoods of billions of people around the world.

Despite the threat from COVID-19, hotspots around the world continue to cause concern, which in turn makes the risk of conflict more prominent.

The East Sea (internationally known as the South China Sea) situation continues to have new and complicated developments. If the involved parties do not remain calm, exercise restraint and strengthen co-operation in order to resolve the disagreement, the tension could escalate and change the status quo, posing counter-productive threats to regional peace and stability, according to the senior officials. VNS