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By Prince Golez

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and China will work together to advance the development and distribution of a coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccine, President Rodrigo Duterte said Thursday.

In his speech during the ASEAN-China Dialogue, Duterte, the country coordinator for ASEAN-China relations, welcomed China’s promise to make its vaccine a global public good, a Palace statement read.

The East Asian country had earlier said that Asean members will have priority access to Chinese vaccines once they are available.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that on behalf of Asean states, Duterte thanked 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.

“[Duterte] 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,” Roque also said.

Meanwhile, Duterte reaffirmed Asean’s commitment to fully and effectively implement the 2002 Declaration of the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.

The regional bloc, according to him, looks forward to the conclusion and adoption of a substantive Code of Conduct in the South China Sea consistent with international law, including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Duterte likewise 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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