"East Asia cooperation has been strengthened in the joint efforts on combating the pandemic, and it shows to the world that we must adhere to multilateralism and international cooperation to achieve recovery and development under the new normal," Ou Boqian, secretary-general of the Trilateral Cooperation Secretariat (TCS), told Xinhua in an exclusive interview on Tuesday.
The 24th leaders' meeting of the ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) plus China, Japan and South Korea is scheduled to be held online on Wednesday.
Under the new normal, the series of leaders' meetings on East Asia cooperation significantly boost consensus and confidence, playing a leading role in deepening regional anti-pandemic cooperation and economic integration with a win-win strategy, Ou said.
"The pandemic is a big test," Ou said, noting that when standing at the crossroads of the future of mankind, countries resolutely opt for unity and cooperation, and make concerted efforts for a community of shared future, regardless of their respective development levels, cultures and political systems.
Ou pointed out that 10+3 (10 ASEAN members and the three East Asian countries) is the main channel for East Asia cooperation.
As neighbors in Asia, China, Japan, South Korea and ASEAN countries have dealt with many major crises in the region side by side and are the mainstay of maintaining regional development and stability, she added.
Since the pandemic started, the 10+3 countries have quickly initiated emergency response, strengthened public health cooperation, established "fast track" and "green channel", stabilized regional industrial and supply chains, and adhered to multilateralism and free trade, which have maintained the hard-earned prosperity and stability in East Asia, Ou said.
As a good model for multilateralism and international cooperation, the trilateral cooperation among China, Japan and South Korea could be even more dynamic if coordinated with ASEAN, she said.
East Asia cooperation should focus on consolidating regional public health cooperation with "ASEAN plus" as its core, deepening economic integration in East Asia, enhancing people-to-people understanding and mutual friendship to lay the foundation of shared cultural values of East Asia, and grasping the opportunity of the digital economy to facilitate economic transformation in East Asia, she added.
The 10+3 cooperation will not only enable the East Asian economy to achieve a sustainable intra-regional circulation but also inject a strong impetus into the global economic recovery, Ou said.
East Asia cooperation will witness stronger momentum and broader prospects in the post-pandemic era, she added.