President Duterte has pushed for closer cooperation between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China on the development, sale, and distribution of affordable vaccines against COVID-19, Malacañang said.

MAKI27 1024x682 - Duterte pushes for closer cooperation between ASEAN, China on COVID-19 vaccine
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte
(RICHARD MADELO / PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque made the statement as Duterte virtually participated in the 37th ASEAN Summit and Related Summits hosted by Vietnam Thursday.

In a statement, Roque said that the President welcomed China’s promise to make ASEAN countries to be among the first to receive the vaccine.

“The President said ASEAN encourages close cooperation, collaboration with China in the development and equitable distribution of safe, effective, affordable vaccines, diagnostics, and medicines,” he said.

“[He] welcomed China’s pledge to make the COVID-19 vaccine a global public good which China has promised ASEAN to be the first, will be among the first to benefit,” he added.

According to Roque, Duterte, who serves as ASEAN’s country coordinator for China, expressed the regional bloc’s appreciation to the latter’s willingness to assist in the response to the pandemic.

“The President expressed ASEAN’s appreciation to China for its pledge to contribute to the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund, another cooperation, initiatives for Public Health Emergencies and its support to ASEAN’s Regional Reserve of Medical Supplies and provisions for assistance to ASEAN member-states,” he said.

“PRRD added that ASEAN looks forward to China for support and for a Comprehensive Recovery Framework and its implementation plan to allow for ASEAN’s robust recovery, resiliency, and sustainability,” he added.

Duterte likewise reaffirmed ASEAN’s commitment to the full and effective implementation of the 2002 Declaration of the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea in its entirety.

According to Roque, the President likewise reiterated that ASEAN will work towards the conclusion and adoption and effective substantive Code of Conduct in the South China Sea consistent with international law including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The Palace official said that the ASEAN welcomed the designation of 2021 as the ASEAN-China Year of Sustainable Development Cooperation, where ASEAN encourages cooperation with China in areas such as poverty eradication, food security, environment protection, and climate change.

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