ANKARA, April 28 — China held a virtual meeting with five South Asian nations on Tuesday to build a joint response to health emergencies and build capacities to face future challenges.

China’s State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi hosted the meeting that was focused on the coronavirus with counterparts from Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

“China and five countries in South Asia agreed on building a reserve platform for emergency-responding supplies while enhancing capabilities in dealing with huge public health crises and exploring COVID-19 vaccine cooperation,” Anadolu Agency quoted Chinese daily Global Times.

Wang asserted China opposes “willful and illegal interfering with other countries’ internal affairs or coercing others to pick sides.”

“If unilateral coercion continues to run rampant, small and medium-sized countries will be the first to suffer,” he added.

Wang also referred to the COVID-19 situation in India, which is facing a coronavirus tsunami, and said Beijing was ready to extend help.

Wang said, however, that Chinese enterprises “took active action with support from the government (and) the first batch of oxygen machines have arrived in India.”

India reported more than one million infections in just three days including thousands of deaths and has emerged as the world’s epicentre of the virus which has exposed its health infrastructure with patients gasping for oxygen and limited space inside hospitals.

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said China took the step and brought together “on one forum to unite, focusing on the common challenge of the COVID-19.”

“South Asian countries need greater regional cooperation and this forum provides us a platform to do so, specifically to improve our response to COVID-19 and preparedness for future emergencies. Our success lies in mutual partnerships. Together we can and together we must,” he said on Twitter.


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