On June 23, 2021, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi presided over the Asia and Pacific High-level Conference on Belt and Road Cooperation via video link in Beijing. Deputy prime ministers, foreign ministers and other political leaders from 29 countries, including Colombian President Iván Duque Márquez, Fijian Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama, Solomon Islands Foreign Minister Jeremiah Manele and Foreign Ministers from Indonesia, Philippines, Mongolia, Vietnam and Maldives, as well as representatives of international organizations, such as Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Achim Steiner, and Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) Alicia Bárcena Ibarra attended this meeting, themed “Enhance Anti-pandemic Cooperation and Boost Economic Recovery”.
Wang Yi firstly read out the written remarks from Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Wang Yi said in his speech that in 2013, President Xi Jinping proposed the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Since then, with the joint efforts of all parties, this important initiative has shown strong vigor and vitality, and yielded good results and progress. Over the past eight years, the BRI has evolved from a concept and vision into real actions and 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 9.2 trillion U.S. dollars. Direct investment by Chinese companies in countries along the Belt and Road has surpassed 130 billion U.S. dollars. The BRI has truly become the world’s broadest-based and largest platform for international cooperation.
Wang Yi said that last year, 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. Together, we have put up an international firewall of cooperation against COVID-19, provided a stabilizer for the world economy, and built new bridges for global connectivity. The fast-growing and fruitful Belt and Road cooperation is a result of the solidarity and cooperation among BRI partners. Belt and Road cooperation is guided by the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits. It practices the concept of open, green and clean development. And it is aimed at high-standard, people-centered and sustainable growth.
Wang Yi said that, the Communist Party of China (CPC) will mark its centenary. Under the CPC leadership, the Chinese people will soon complete the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects, and on that basis, embark on a new journey of fully building a modern socialist country. At a new historical starting point, China will work with all other parties to continue our high-quality Belt and Road cooperation and build closer partnerships for heath cooperation, connectivity, green development, and openness and inclusiveness. These efforts will generate more opportunities and dividends to all. China puts forward four suggestions:
First, we need to continue to deepen international cooperation on vaccines. China will actively implement the important measures announced by President Xi Jinping at the Global Health Summit. China will provide more vaccines and other urgently-needed medical supplies to BRI partners and other countries to the best of its ability, and support waiving intellectual property rights on COVID-19 vaccines, all in an effort to help all countries defeat COVID-19.
Second, we need to continue to strengthen cooperation on connectivity. We will continue to synergize infrastructure development plans, and work together on transport infrastructure, economic corridors, and economic and trade and industrial cooperation zones. We will accelerate the building of the digital Silk Road, and make smart connectivity a new reality in the future.
Third, we need to continue to promote cooperation on green development. China is ready to step up cooperation in such areas as green infrastructure, green energy and green finance, and develop more environment-friendly projects with a high standard and high quality.
Fourth, we need to 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 faster regional economic integration. China will work with all sides to keep global industrial and supply chains open, secure and stable.
Wang Yi said that the Asia-Pacific is the fastest-growing region with the greatest potential and most dynamic cooperation in the world. It is playing an increasingly important role in the global fight against COVID-19 and economic recovery. The Asia-Pacific region should be a pacesetter of development and cooperation, not a chessboard for geopolitics. Asian and Pacific countries are the pioneers, contributors and examples of Belt and Road international cooperation. China is ready to work with Asia-Pacific countries to promote high-quality Belt and Road development, provide Asia-Pacific solutions to the global fight against COVID-19, inject Asia-Pacific vitality into global connectivity, and 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.
Colombian President Iván Duque Márquez said, his country appreciates China’s commitment to making COVID-19 vaccines a global public good for all. He held the view that vaccine cooperation meets the common interests of all countries and shall be free from any political, economic and financing barriers in any case. The Conference has adopted the Initiative for Belt and Road Partnership on COVID-19 Vaccines Cooperation and the Initiative for Belt and Road Partnership on Green Development that demonstrate the significance of international cooperation on fighting the pandemic and the necessity of jointly promoting green, low-carbon and sustainable development. Colombia will enter into and work with other countries to implement the above initiatives.
Hon. Minister Jeremiah Manele said, the government and people of Solomon Islands welcome this Asia and Pacific High-level Conference on Belt and Road Cooperation and support the launching of the BRI partnerships on COVID-19 Vaccines Cooperation and Green Development respectively. Solomon Islands remain grateful to China, for supplying us with Sinopharm vaccines, and prior to that equipping us with testing equipment, medical supplies and infrastructure renovation of our national health system. I believe that the BRI Green Development will be an important mechanism to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. It will contribute towards improving the health of our planet and eradicate poverty. I wish to acknowledge China’s solidarity, support and contribution towards our major infrastructure development projects.
Representatives present extended their supports to the conference convened by China. They held the view that the conference is timely and important, and helps all countries deepen cooperation on coping with global challenges including COVID-19, economic recovery and climate change, and helps the Belt and Road cooperation make new progress. In the face of COVID-19, the international community must work together in solidarity to overcome challenges. The world is not safe until every country has eliminated the pandemic. Vaccines should be fairly distributed as a global public good, and be made more accessible and affordable in developing countries. They expect to further step up the Belt and Road cooperation for green and sustainable economic recovery, accelerate the implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal for 2030, and promote low-carbon, resilient and inclusive post-COVID economic growth.
The conference published the Initiative for Belt and Road Partnership on COVID-19 Vaccines Cooperation and the Initiative for Belt and Road Partnership on Green Development jointly launched by the 29 countries.