by H.E.CAO Xiaolin, Chinese Ambassador to Tonga
The Asia-Pacific is the fastest-growing region with the greatest potential and most dynamic cooperation in the world. It is home to 60 percent of the world’s population and 70 percent of its GDP. It has contributed over two-thirds of global growth, and is playing an increasingly important role in the global fight against COVID-19 and economic recovery.
China hosted the Asia and Pacific High-level Conference on Belt and Road Cooperation via video link on 23 June, 2021. Leaders and senior officials from 29 countries and international organizations attended the Conference and exchanged views on the theme of “Strengthen Cooperation against COVID-19 and Boost Economic Recovery”. The participants jointly put forward the Initiative for Belt and Road Partnership on COVID-19 Vaccines Cooperation as well as the Initiative for Belt and Road Partnership on Green Development, and pointed out the direction of Belt and Road cooperation for the next stage.
President Xi Jinping proposed the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in 2013, aiming to carry on the Silk Road spirit and co-build an open platform for cooperation with all countries to generate new driving forces for the development of all countries. Over the past eight years, under the guidance of the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, with the joint participation and efforts of all parties, the BRI has evolved from vision into reality and brought about enormous opportunities and benefits to countries around the world. To date, up to 140 partner countries have signed documents on Belt and Road cooperation with China. Trade between China and BRI partners has exceeded US$9.2 trillion. Direct investment by Chinese companies in countries along the Belt and Road has surpassed US$130 billion. A World Bank report predicts that the BRI, if fully implemented, could increase global trade by 6.2 percent and global real income by 2.9 percent. The BRI has truly become the world’s broadest-based and largest platform for international cooperation.
Despite the sudden outbreak of COVID-19, Belt and Road cooperation did not come to a halt. It braved the headwinds and continued to move forward, showing remarkable resilience and vitality. The Belt and Road partners extended helping hands to each other, pooled their strengths and jointly made great contributions to put up an international firewall of cooperation against COVID-19.
The secret behind BRI’s success is that we are committed to equal consultation, mutual benefit and win-win results, openness and inclusiveness, as well as innovation and progress. All cooperation partners, regardless of economic size, are equal members of the BRI family. None of our cooperation programs are attached with political strings and we never impose our will on others from a so-called position of strength. As President Xi said, the BRI came from China, but it creates opportunities and good results for all countries, and benefits the whole world. It is a public road open to all kinds of systems and civilizations, and is not ideologically biased. It is open to all cooperation initiatives in the world that are conducive to closer connectivity and common development. BRI began in the economic sector, but it does not end there. It is becoming a new platform for better global governance through forging the Silk Road of health, green Silk Road, digital Silk Road and a pathway to poverty alleviation.
At a new historical starting point, China will work with all other partners to continue our high-quality Belt and Road cooperation and build closer partnership for health cooperation, connectivity, green development, and openness and inclusiveness.
Deepen International cooperation on vaccines
First, we will continue to deepen international cooperation on vaccines. The 29 participants of the conference including China jointly launched the Initiative for Belt and Road Partnership on COVID-19 Vaccines Cooperation, in order to promote fair international distribution of vaccines and build a global shield against the virus. China will actively implement the important measures announced by President Xi Jinping at the Global Health Summit, and support Chinese vaccine companies to transfer technologies to other developing countries and carrying out joint production. We will also support waiving intellectual property rights on COVID-19 vaccines in an effort to help all countries defeat COVID-19.
Strengthen cooperation on connectivity
Second, we will continue to strengthen cooperation on connectivity. China will continue to synergize infrastructure development plans, and work together on transport infrastructure, economic corridors and economic, trade and industrial cooperation zones with our partners. Meanwhile, we will embrace the trend of digital transformation and development of digital industries by accelerating the building of digital Silk Road, and make smart connectivity a new reality in the future.
Promote cooperation on green development
Third, we will continue to promote cooperation on green development. The 29 participants of the conference including China jointly launched the Initiative for Belt and Road Partnership on Green Development to inject new impetus into building the green Silk Road. China stands ready to step up cooperation in areas such as green infrastructure, green energy, and green finance, and develop more environment-friendly projects with a high standard and high quality.
Advance free trade in our region
Fourth, we will continue to advance free trade in our region and the world. China will work for the early entry-into-force of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), and keep global industrial and supply chains open, secure and stable. China will open our door even wider to the world. And we are ready to share China’s market dividends so as to enable closer ties and broader space for economic cooperation among BRI partners.
Tonga is a pioneer, contributor and example of Belt and Road international cooperation. China and Tonga have conducted many successful and mutually-beneficial cooperation under the BRI. China welcomes Tonga to give a favorable consideration to joining the Initiative for Belt and Road Partnership on COVID-19 Vaccines Cooperation as well as the Initiative for Belt and Road Partnership on Green Development.
Upholding the principles of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, China is ready to work with Tonga and other Asia-Pacific countries to promote high-quality Belt and Road development, provide Asia-Pacific solutions to the global fight against COVID-19, transmit Asia-Pacific confidence to the sustainable recovery of the world economy, so as to make greater contributions to building a community with a shared future in the Asia-Pacific region as well as a community with a shared future for mankind.