The 37th ASEAN Summit and related conferences take place at a time when the situation in the region and world is fluid and changing and sees complex challenges, including complicated developments in the COVID-19 pandemic. Particularly, the pandemic has made a number of activities within the framework of the ASEAN Year 2020 either delayed or held in a virtual form. In this situation, the ASEAN Community has proved to be a united, responsive, cohesive, and comprehensively strong bloc that has been able to adapt to various situations, overcome difficulties, challenges, and snatch opportunities.

The 37th ASEAN Summit held virtually by Vietnam

In fact, ASEAN has effectively promoted the spirit of “Cohesiveness and Responsiveness” in strengthening solidarity and cooperation among its members. The ASEAN emergency medical response system has worked effectively with its partners since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak. ASEAN member countries proactively shared information and experience in monitoring and treating COVID-19 patients as well as preventing and controlling the pandemic in the region. All ASEAN member nations made strong political commitments and launched comprehensive plans to fight the pandemic in their own countries as well as in the entire region, which again demonstrated the bloc’s unity, and its members’ empathy and support for one another.

For example, ASEAN has founded the COVID-19 Response Fund, Emergency Medical Supply Stock and Standard Procedures for Responding Public Medicine Emergencies, maintaining cooperation and effectively addressing negative impacts of the pandemic.

Additionally, the initiatives and priorities, particularly the ASEAN Community’s Vision Toward 2025, orientations for ASEAN development beyond 2025, review of the implementation of the ASEAN Charter, development of sub-regions in connection with ASEAN and promotion of ASEAN’s image and identity, which were proposed by the 2020 ASEAN Chair of Vietnam and adopted by all ASEAN members, have contributed positively to strengthening the ASEAN Community.

According to regional observers, Vietnam as the rotational ASEAN Chair in 2020 has contributed importantly to ASEAN’s successes in the year. Meanwhile, both regional officials and experts agreed that Vietnam started its ASEAN Chairmanship at an especially hard time when the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the region and world. In this context, the 2020 ASEAN Chair has always coordinated closely with other ASEAN member countries and played an active role in leading the bloc to overcome difficulties and challenges. As a result, Vietnam has been widely recognized as an active, responsive, creative, and responsible ASEAN Chair in 2020.

In spite of challenges, particularly the complicated developments of the COVID-19 pandemic in the region and world, Vietnam is still determined to hold the 37th ASEAN Summit and related conferences online. The 37th ASEAN Summit is a good chance for leaders and senior officials from ASEAN member countries to review the implementation of the year’s initiatives and priorities, the results of the building of the ASEAN Community, as well as to outline orientations for the bloc’s cooperation and development in the year to come. Meanwhile, the meetings between ASEAN members and partners aim to assess the outcomes of cooperation between ASEAN and its partners and strengthen relations and connections between the two sides.

All of the meetings will serve as forums for leaders and officials of regional countries to discuss challenges, especially the COVID-19 pandemic, for regional countries and the region as a whole, as well as to seek effective solutions to these issues.

The year of 2020 is coming to an end, and the 37th ASEAN Summit will be the last important event in the ASEAN Year 2020. This also means that Vietnam’s ASEAN Chairmanship 2020 will soon be closed, but the ASEAN Year 2020’s theme “Cohesiveness and Responsiveness” will remain as a trademark of the bloc.

In the spirit of “Cohesiveness and Responsiveness,” we believe that the 37th ASEAN Summit and related meetings will be a big success while the ASEAN Community will continue to be united, expand internal cooperation and cooperation with its partners, overcome any difficulties and challenges, and further develop in the years to come. 

Written by Editorial Board

Translated by Thu Nguyen