On 19 February, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi made impromptu remarks at the welcoming dinner of the Special China-ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting on Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) and the fifth Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Vientiane, Laos.
Wang Yi highlighted the unusual significance of the gathering at a time when the Chinese people are making united efforts to control the outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). He said that the Chinese nation has not flinched in the face of the sudden attack and the rapid spread of the virus, still less will the country be defeated by it. Under the personal guidance of President Xi Jinping, the 1.4 billion Chinese people are united as one, and a nationwide mechanism to mobilize resources from across the country has been set up to win this all-out, people's war against the epidemic.
Wang Yi pointed out that thanks to China's extraordinary efforts, the situation is changing on the ground. Although Hubei and Wuhan remain the hardest hit area, the outbreak there has been brought under effective control. And there is heartening news from across China outside Hubei. For instance, new confirmed cases have been on a decline for 15 days running and the number of cured and discharged cases has been rising steadily. As of yesterday, more than 14,000 patients had been cured and discharged from hospital. Yesterday was of great significance, as for the first time, the number of cured and discharged cases surpassed that of new confirmed cases. These figures indicate a turnaround and show that, ferocious as it may be, the epidemic is controllable and curable. In fact, mankind has evolved through constant struggle against viruses and epidemics. Likewise, China has emerged stronger in the course of overcoming various trials and tribulations. China has the confidence and determination to defeat the epidemic at an early date.
Wang said that the virus is the common enemy of mankind and requires a collective response from the international community. China is not fighting the epidemic alone. Instead, it has the understanding and support of countries across the world. So far, leaders of over 160 countries and 30-plus international organizations had sent letters or messages to express their firm support for China.
Wang noted that China and ASEAN are close neighbors connected by mountains and rivers. Just like the Lancang River and the Mekong River, they are a family and a community with a shared future. Friends from ASEAN countries have stood firmly with China from the very beginning. Prime Minister Hun Sen of Cambodia changed his schedule and made a point to visit China, proving with his actions that a friend in need is a friend indeed. Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha of Thailand made a video personally to demonstrate Thailand's deep friendship with China. Many people in the region, like some local police in Indonesia and singers from Malaysia, have shown their support to the Chinese people in various ways. Vietnam, as the chair of ASEAN, issued a Chairman's statement on ASEAN's collective response to COVID-19 to express full support for China, which represents the common aspiration of all ASEAN countries. Foreign Minister Saleumxay Kommasith of Laos made extraordinary arrangements in such a short time for tomorrow's two important meetings. The Philippines, as the country coordinator for China-ASEAN relations, did a lot of coordination work within ASEAN. In fact, all ASEAN friends have made their share of contributions to tomorrow's meetings.
Wang said that the friendly sentiments of ASEAN and the international community as a whole have boosted China's confidence in prevailing over the epidemic, making the people in China feel that the winter is not that cold and spring will come soon. He shared his confidence in the success of the upcoming meetings. The meetings will not only advance the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) and help build an LMC economic development belt, but also send a clear and firm message to the world about China and ASEAN working together to fight the epidemic, protect people's health, and promote regional health security. He expressed his belief that emerging from the test of the epidemic, China's relations with ASEAN and its member countries will become even stronger.