Pursuant to the decision initiated by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao at the “Special ASEAN-China Leaders Meeting on SARS” held in Bangkok, Thailand at the end of April 2003, the National Development and Reform Commission, Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China jointly held from 15 to 16 July 2003 the “China-ASEAN Symposium on Economic and Social Impact of SARS”. Senior economic, social and health officials from ASEAN member countries, representative from the ASEAN Secretariat, senior officials and experts from China’s central government and local governments in Beijing, Shanghai, Guang Dong, and Hong Kong and Macao SARs, participated in the symposium. The participants held in-depth discussions on the impact of SARS on economy and society and shared experiences and lessons learned in addressing the SARS epidemic and in implementing countermeasures to revive the social and economic activities in China and ASEAN countries. The symposium was a great success. The participants have reached the following common understanding:
The leadership of Chinese Government, which is highly accountable, has made China, in a short span of time, succeeded in containing the SARS epidemic.This achievement not only helps China to alleviate the impact of SARS on Chinese economy and society, but also significantly contributes to quick economic recovery of other countries, particularly ASEAN Member Countries. ASEAN countries have also quickly adopted and implemented effective measures to fight against SARS and have succeeded in preventing and controlling the spread of SARS. This should help rebuild confidence, mitigate the undesirable social impact of SARS, and in due course help to re-stimulate economic growth in the region.
The participants also noted that economic and social impact of SARS is a temporary and will not change the general trend of sustained and rapid development of Chinese economy as well as the overall economic development of ASEAN.
Although SARS has been brought under control, and social and business confidence have been quickly returning back to normal, the participants agreed to remain full vigilant and stressed the importance of using lessons learned from SARS experience to strengthen capacity and surveillance system at national and regional levels in close collaboration with related international organizations in order to swiftly and effectively address challenges of future outbreak of infectious diseases which may emerge any time.
China and ASEAN are good neighbours, good partners and good friends. Through this symposium, China and ASEAN have deepened their mutual understanding and trust, shared their social and economic measures in the fight against SARS and in mitigating its consequences, and experiences in carrying out countermeasures and looked to the future economic development. The deep friendship and comprehensive cooperation between China and ASEAN have been developed by many years of careful cultivation. Bilateral friendship and cooperation have been further strengthened during the joint fight against SARS.
In the future, China and ASEAN will work together to enhance the economic and trade cooperation and exchange, promote the prosperity and development of this region thus contributing to the prosperity and development of the Asian as well as world economy.
The participants to the symposium expressed their deep appreciation to the Government and people of China especially to the National Development and Reform Commission, Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China for the warm and generous hospitality extended to all participants and for the excellent arrangement made for this symposium.