TEXT: Keynote Speech by H.E. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi at Asia and Pacific High-level Conference on Belt and Road Cooperation | 23 June 2021
Colleagues & Friends,
In 2013, President Xi Jinping proposed the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Since then, with the participation and 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 into real actions, and received warm response and support from the international community. To date, up to 140 partner countries have signed documents on Belt and Road cooperation with China. The BRI has truly become the world’s broadestbased and largest platform for international cooperation.
Over the past eight years, the BRI has evolved from vision into reality, and brought about enormous opportunities and benefits to countries around the world. Trade between China and BRI partners has exceeded 9.2 trillion US dollars. Direct investment by Chinese companies in countries along the Belt and Road has surpassed 130 billion US dollars. A World Bank report suggests that when fully implemented, the BRI could increase global trade by 6.2 percent and global real income by 2.9 percent, and give a significant boost to global growth.
Notably 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. China and BRI partners have held over 100 meetings to share experience on COVID prevention and control. By mid-June, China has provided more than 290 billion masks, 3.5 billion protective suits and 4.5 billion testing kits to the world, and helped many countries build testing labs. China is engaged in extensive vaccine cooperation with many countries, and has donated and exported more than 400 million doses of finished and bulk vaccines to more than 90 countries, most of which are BRI partners.
Together, we have provided a stabilizer for the world economy. We have held dozens of BRI international conferences to share development experience, coordinate development policies, and advance practical cooperation. We have kept most BRI projects going. Energy cooperation under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor provides one-third of Pakistan’s power supply. The Katana Water Supply Project in Sri Lanka has made safe drinking water available to 45 villages there. Statistics show that last year, trade in goods between China and BRI partners registered a record 1.35 trillion US dollars, making a significant contribution to the COVID response, economic stability and people’s livelihood of relevant countries.
Together, we have built new bridges for global connectivity. China has carried out Silk Road e-commerce cooperation with 22 partner countries. This has helped sustain international trade flows throughout the pandemic. In 2020, the China-Europe Railway Express, which runs through the Eurasian continent, hit new record numbers in both freight services and cargo volumes. In the first quarter of this year, the Express dispatched 75 percent more trains and delivered 84 percent more TEUs of goods than in the same period last year. Hailed as a “steel camel fleet”, the Express has truly lived up to its name and played an important role in giving countries the support they need in fighting COVID.
The fast-growing and fruitful Belt and Road cooperation is a result of the solidarity and cooperation among BRI partners. More important, as President Xi Jinping pointed out in his written remarks to this Conference, 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.
We are always committed to equal consultation. All cooperation partners, regardless of economic size, are equal members of the BRI family. None of our cooperation programs are attached with political strings. We never impose our will on others from a so-called position of strength. Neither do we pose a threat to any country.
We are always committed to mutual benefit and win-win. The BRI came from China, but it creates opportunities and good results for all countries, and benefits the whole world. We have strengthened policy, infrastructure, trade, financial and people-to-people connectivity to pursue economic integration, achieve interconnected development, and deliver benefits to all. These efforts have brought closer the Chinese dream and the dreams of countries around the world.
We are always committed to openness and inclusiveness. The BRI is a public road open to all, and has no backyard or high walls. It is open to all kinds of systems and civilizations, and is not ideologically biased. We are open to all cooperation initiatives in the world that are conducive to closer connectivity and common development, and we are ready to work with them and help each other succeed.
We are always committed to innovation and progress. In the wake of COVID-19, we have launched the Silk Road of health. To achieve low-carbon transition, we are cultivating a green Silk Road. To harness the trend of digitalization, we are building a digital Silk Road. To address development gaps, we are working to build the BRI into a pathway to poverty alleviation. Belt and Road cooperation began in the economic sector, but it does not end there. It is becoming a new platform for better global governance.
In a few days, 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.
First, we need to continue to deepen international cooperation on vaccines. We will jointly launch the Initiative for Belt and Road Partnership on COVID-19 Vaccines Cooperation 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.
China will provide more vaccines and other urgently-needed medical supplies to BRI partners and other countries to the best of its ability, support its vaccine companies in transferring technologies to other developing countries and carrying out joint production with them, 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 further harness the China-Europe Railway Express to promote port and shipping cooperation along the Maritime Silk Road and build a Silk Road in the Air. We will embrace the trend of digital transformation and development of digital industries by accelerating 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. We will jointly put forth the Initiative for Belt and Road Partnership on Green Development to inject new impetus into building the green Silk Road. We are 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. We support parties to the Belt and Road Energy Partnership in enhancing cooperation on green energy. We encourage businesses involved in Belt and Road cooperation to fulfill their social responsibilities and improve their environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance.
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. We will open our door even wider to the world. And we are ready to share China’s market dividends with all to make sure that domestic and international circulations will be mutually reinforcing. This will also enable closer ties and broader space for economic cooperation among BRI partners.
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. The Asia-Pacific region should be a pacesetter of development and cooperation, not a chessboard for geopolitics. The stability and prosperity of this region should be treasured by all regional countries.
Asian and Pacific countries are the pioneers, contributors and examples of Belt and Road international cooperation. As a member of the Asia-Pacific region, China is ready to work with Asia-Pacific countries in the spirit of partnership 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.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021