COUNTRIES that make up the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) should aspire for long-term resiliency in a post-pandemic world by accelerating inclusive digital transformation, Asean Secretary General Dato Lim Jock Hoi said.
Hoi reiterated this on Sunday as Asean marked its 54th anniversary.
Hoi, in a video message to mark the anniversary, urged Asean leaders to achieve sustainability in the region across all sectors, including in investment, agriculture, financing, infrastructure, energy and disaster management.
The message of this year's anniversary highlighted Brunei Darussalam as Asean chair for 2021 with the theme ''We Care, We Prepare, We Prosper.''
"Asean has taken the opportunity to consolidate and become a more inclusive and resilient community since the strike of the Covid-19 pandemic in Asean in March 2020," Hoi said.
He noted "there is now more comprehensive public information about the virus."
Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi urged Asean member states to assume an active role in shaping regional dynamics and promote the principle and values enshrined in the Asean Outlook on the Indo-Pacific region.
"The pandemic is hardly our only challenge, regional peace and stability also demand our attention. Great power rivalries show no signs of diminishing anytime soon and have the potential to sow division among us," she said.
"Rather than being a pawn in this new Cold War, Asean must be at the driving seat in shaping regional dynamics," Marsudi said.
Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. earlier said disputes in the South China Sea (SCS) should be resolved peacefully in accordance with international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
During the Asean-China Ministerial Meeting on August 3, Locsin, country coordinator of Asean-China dialogue relations, said the Philippines had moved forward the negotiations on the Code of Conduct in the SCS despite the challenges posed by the pandemic.
At the end of the meeting, the Philippines turned over the coordinatorship of the Asean-China Dialogue Relations to Myanmar.
The Philippines will now assume coordinatorship for Asean-European Union Dialogue Relations for 2021-2024.