On July 9, 2020, the video conference of the working group of ASEAN-China Think Tanks (NACT) on "China-ASEAN cooperation on poverty alleviation amid COVID-19" was held successfully. The meeting was jointly hosted by China Foreign Affairs University (CFAU) and the Institute of Foreign Affairs (IFA) of Laos. Nearly 30 representatives, including poverty alleviation experts from China and ASEAN countries, and members of the Country Coordinator Institute for NACT, attended the meeting. Mr. Xu Jian, President of CFAU and Mr. Mai Sayavongs, President of IFA attended the meeting and delivered opening speeches.
The sudden outbreak of COVID-19 has seriously affected and challenged the economic and social development of countries in this region. How to mitigate the impact of the economic slowdown on the poor, and how to curb the widening gap between the rich and the poor are common issues for China and ASEAN countries. Experts present conducted in-depth discussions on topics including "COVID-19 Pandemic and Poverty Alleviation", "Models of E-Commerce and Poverty Alleviation", "Sustainable Agricultural Development and Poverty Alleviation" and other topics related to poverty alleviation amid COVID-19..
Experts present agreed that, during the pandemic, China and ASEAN countries have worked closely together, setting a model for international cooperation in fighting the disease and demonstrating the vitality of the China-ASEAN shared community for mankind. Under the new normal of disease prevention and control, China and the ASEAN countries need to further strengthen policy coordination, work together to address challenges and maintain the momentum of poverty alleviation in this region.
Countries in this region should adopt a "people-centred" approach regarding the pandemic and a “people-centred” developing concept. In order to promote poverty alleviation and explore new economic models, it is necessary to 1) increase investment in economic infrastructure and human capital, 2) emphasize the connections between the "three rural issues" and the poverty problem, and 3) promote a multi-faceted approach involving communities, enterprises and international development partners. In particular, the countries in the region should seize the opportunity of the 2020 China-ASEAN Year of Digital Economy Cooperation and make use of the digital economy platform to provide more entrepreneurship and employment opportunities for the poor. The discussions at the conference were insightful and animated. The consensus reached at the meeting will be submitted in an appropriate form to the decision-making authorities of each country in the region for reference.
ASEAN-China Think Tanks (NACT) is an important Track II diplomacy mechanism under the China-ASEAN Cooperation Framework. NACT conducts 2-3 joint working group studies and organizes working group meetings every year. Experts and scholars from China and ASEAN countries are invited to conduct in-depth studies and put forward practical and feasible policy recommendations on key and difficult issues in China-ASEAN relations. The Chair's statements of the 21st and 22nd China-ASEAN Summit have highly endorsed the NACT Working Group outcomes.
It is reported that NACT will also hold the “China-ASEAN Digital Platform Management Working Group Meeting” and the “China-ASEAN Fourth Industrial Revolution and Employment Working Group Meeting” in the near future.