|File photo: dangcongsan.vn
A highlight of 2021 was ASEAN countries’ collaboration to control the COVID-19 pandemic and strengthen connectivity with partners outside the bloc. Member countries focused their resources on handling the pandemic and recovering the economy.
Maintaining cooperation, preserving community identity
The COVID-19 pandemic was worse last year than in 2020. ASEAN also had to deal with aggressive competition between world powers and instability in Myanmar. With the rest of the international community, ASEAN had address such longstanding problems as non-traditional security challenges, economic recession, a widening gap between the rich and the poor, climate change, and environmental pollution.
Amidst that global perfusion of unusual developments, ASEAN maintained its identity, developed its community, united its members, gained its partners’ respect, and played a central role in regional pandemic response and recovery.
The COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund allocated 10.5 million USD from its 25.8 million USD budget to buy vaccine doses for member countries. The ASEAN Regional Reserve of Medical Supplies (RRMS) received donations and commitments to contribute worth more than 15 million USD. The ASEAN Overall Recovery Framework (ACRF) was also implemented.
ASEAN Community building progressed. More than 90% of ASEAN’s Master Plans were implemented, creating tangible benefits for many people. And ASEAN has maintained its position in global trade despite the pandemic.
ASEAN’s central, open, inclusive role
ASEAN’s global position was raised through close relationships and cooperation with its partners. This was illustrated by high-level exchanges and upgraded partner relationships with major countries. The UK’s becoming ASEAN’s 11th dialogue partner confirmed ASEAN’s attractiveness and demonstrated its desire to strengthen relations with countries who acknowledge ASEAN's central, open, and inclusive role and vision for the Indo-Pacific region.
ASEAN affirmed the importance of peace and stability in the East Sea (internationally known as the South China Sea.) ASEAN showed its determination to make the East Sea a region of peace and cooperation through self-restraint, respect for the law, trust building, and environmental protection, and, together with China, to fully implement the Joint Declaration of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) toward a Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC) that accords with international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
ASEAN’s quick and effective reaction to the Myanmar issue was praised internationally.
This year, amidst regional and global challenges, ASEAN will continue to promote solidarity and carry out important tasks, particularly the building of a fair, strong, and inclusive ASEAN Community that embodies the motto "One vision, One entity, One community."