A man wearing a face mask walks in Lujiazui financial district in Pudong, following the coronavirus disease outbreak in Shanghai, China on Thursday.
Finance ministers and central bankers from China, Japan and South Korea agreed on Friday to redouble their efforts to help the region recover economically from the novel coronavirus while vowing to defend the multilateral trade and investment system.
“China, Japan and Korea are committed to enhance our cooperation and communication with each other as well as ASEAN countries to work towards fast economic recovery in our region,” they said in a joint statement after a teleconference, referring to the 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations.
“While remaining vigilant to the future uncertainties ... (we) affirm the importance of maintaining an open and rule-based multilateral trade and investment system,” they said.
The annual meeting comes after the coronavirus triggered deep downturns in regional economies, disrupting global trade and supply chains, and heightening market volatility in Asia and beyond.
Highlighting worries about risks of a hit to market liquidity, Japan and Malaysia signed a bilateral currency swap arrangement that enables authorities to swap up to $3 billion of their currencies.
The financial leaders also promised to help boost Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralisation (CMIM), a web of multilateral currency-swap arrangements deemed crucial to the region's financial safety-net.
“We expect the CMIM ... to be further strengthened to assist the regional economies dealing with various crisis situations including pandemics,” they said.
He meets new South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol in Seoul and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo, leaders who share anxieties about North Korea and China and are eager to build on their long alliances with Washington.
China hosts the leaders of squabbling neighbours South Korea and Japan on Tuesday, flexing its diplomatic muscle with America’s two key military allies in Asia and seeking regional unity on how to deal with a belligerent North Korea.
The spectre of new confrontation between Pyongyang and Washington hangs over meetings between China, Japan and South Korea this week, with growing risks North Korean actions could end an uneasy detente and upend recent diplomatic efforts.
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