Bangladesh, China and four South Asian countries have said “vaccine nationalism” will hinder the global efforts to defeat Covid-19, and underscored the need for avoiding the “immunity gap”.
The six countries agreed that vaccines, as a key weapon to defeat the Covid-19 pandemic, should be distributed in accordance with the principle of equity and justice.
State Councilor and Foreign Minister of China Wang Yi, acting Foreign Minister of Afghanistan Mirwais Nab, Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen, Nepalese Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali, Pakistan Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena held a video conference on joint response to Covid-19 on Tuesday.
They exchanged views on international and regional cooperation on pandemic response and post-Covid economic recovery, according to a joint statement issued on Wednesday.
To push forward practical cooperation in relevant fields, China announced its decision to establish a China-South Asian Countries Emergency Supplies Reserve, set up a China-South Asian Countries Poverty Alleviation and Cooperative Development Center, and hold a China-South Asian Countries E-commerce Cooperation Forum on Poverty Alleviation in Rural Areas.
The other participating countries also expressed support.
The Foreign Ministers noted with satisfaction the concerted and productive efforts made by their countries since the start of Covid-19 to combat the virus and promote economic recovery in the spirit of overcoming challenges through cooperation and mutual assistance.
The Foreign Ministers pointed out that Covid-19 is a common enemy of humankind, and that countries should step up solidarity and cooperation to win the final victory over it.
China expressed its readiness to provide continued medical supplies and technical assistance to the participating countries to the best of its ability.
Chinese initiative was appreciated, the joint statement reads.
The Foreign Ministers reiterated their firm support to WHO’s due role in the global cooperation against Covid-19 and acknowledged that tracing the origin of the virus is a matter of science and a global mission.
They expressed opposition to politicising the issue.
The participating countries will strengthen cooperation in tracking Covid-19 mutation closely.
The Foreign Ministers appreciated China’s efforts in addressing this challenge.
China will act on President Xi Jinping’s important statement on making the vaccines a global public good, and carry out continued vaccine cooperation with the participating countries in a flexible manner, including co-production of Covid-19 vaccines.
The Foreign Ministers recognised the serious impact of Covid-19 on the global economy and its complex implications for the sustainable development of all countries.
They agreed to deepen Belt and Road cooperation, open their borders under the premise of pandemic prevention and control for smooth trade, keep the industrial and supply chains stable and secure, and give a stronger boost to economic recovery and the improvement of people’s lives.
China agreed to support the participating countries to overcome the impact of Covid-19 on their economies through the enhanced level of economic cooperation and collaboration.
The Foreign Ministers stressed the importance to strengthen cooperation in poverty reduction, food security and other non-traditional security fields to protect the livelihood of people with special attention to the most vulnerable groups.
To facilitate personnel exchanges against the backdrop of Covid-19, the Foreign Ministers agreed to discuss the possibility of mutual recognition of digital “health codes”.
The Foreign Ministers agreed to make these mechanisms inclusive, transparent, sustainable and demand-driven ones.
They agreed to closely follow the development of Covid-19 situation in India, and expressed their willingness to provide needed support through respective channels in consultation with India.
The Foreign Ministers agreed to maintain the momentum of cooperation among the six countries, hold consultations at the Foreign Minister, Vice Foreign Minister/Secretary and Director General levels, expand cooperation areas and lend impetus to future cooperation.
Besides, the six countries welcomed the active participation of other countries in the region in a spirit of openness, inclusiveness and win-win cooperation.
Earlier, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin said the meeting is the latest example of China and South Asian countries standing in solidarity to fight the epidemic and restart economic and social development.
He said it is also an integral part of anti-epidemic cooperation at international and regional levels.
"China keeps the door wide open for the participation of other South Asian countries, including India in the spirit of openness, inclusiveness and win-win cooperation," said the Spokesperson on Tuesday.