China-led South Asia initiative gets regional support

The region needs active cooperation to effectively respond to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic like economic recovery and uplifting rural livelihood, said Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena at a meeting on the COVID-19 response, a regional initiative taken by China

Apr 28, 2021
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Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena (File)

The region needs active cooperation to effectively respond to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic like economic recovery and uplifting rural livelihood, said Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena at a meeting on the COVID-19 response, a regional initiative taken by China. A China-led foreign minister-level meeting on the regional Covid-19 response saw participation from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. 

During the meeting, Gunawardena also reiterated that taking appropriate measures to maintain a steady and equitable flow of critical medical equipment, medicine, and vaccines to nations in need, under the guidance of the UN and WHO was essential to contain the epidemic and avoid relapses.

Members expressed the view that effective response should have at its core, a process to address issues on the supply of emergency needs during natural and other disasters, the use of technology, and other tools and platforms for poverty alleviation in the rural economies.

The China-led initiative came at a time when the regional countries, that were relying on India for vaccine supply, failed to receive a seamless supply after India forced the Serum Institute of India (SII) to prioritize its own demand, hampering its contractual obligations to other nations.  

Bangladesh, which had earlier rejected the field trial of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine, is now looking for the same vaccines. Other countries in the region are also looking towards China.