|Remarks by State Councilor Wang Yi At the Meeting of the Advisory Council of The Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation 2021|
Members of the Advisory Council,
It gives me great pleasure to meet with old and new friends. Let me begin byextending my warm congratulations on the opening of this year’s meeting of the Advisory Council of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation.
This year marks the eighth anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) put forth by President Xi Jinping. Recently, President Xi Jinping attended and delivered important remarks at the third symposium on Belt and Road development. He spoke highly of the fruitful achievements in Belt and Road cooperation over the past eight years, and set outclear requirements for the continued, high-quality development of Belt and Road cooperation.
The past eight years have witnessed pioneering efforts. China and the cooperation partners, guided by the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, have achievedsolid and significant outcomesin high-quality Belt and Road cooperation with hard connectivity as the direction, soft connectivity as the support and people-to-people connectivity as the bond.
The past eight years have also seen hard-won progress. China and the cooperation partnershave explored new opportunities despite the global recession, and deepened cooperation against protectionism, providing impetus for recoveryand growth in various countries and opening up space for international cooperation. To date, the BRI has become the world’s largest platform for international cooperation.
This year has been extraordinary in the journey of Belt and Road cooperation. Confronted by the global pandemic and a fluid international landscape, we have taken President Xi Jinping’s proposal foran even closer Belt and Road partnership as our guide, and steadilyadvanced Belt and Road international cooperation. We have achieved a series of new progress and achievements, lending new impetus to the global efforts to fight the pandemic and protect people’s well-being, and providing new underpinning for countries to boost cooperation and recover the economy.
First, our practical cooperation has made steady progress. The China-Laos railway recently entered operation, and helps Laos realize its long-held dream ofturning from a land-locked to a land-linked country. The cross-sea bridge built with China-Croatia collaboration was successfully connected.Africa’s tallest skyscraper was topped out. And construction of the main body of the Qatar World Cup main stadium was completed on schedule. In the first ten months of this year, China’s investment in its cooperation partners grew by 14.6 percent, and their trade up by 23 percent. The China-Europe Railway Express completed 12,605 services and delivered 1.216 million TEUs of goods, up by 26 percent and 33 percent respectively year-on-year. With both the freight services and cargo volumes hitting record highs, the railway express has become a strong anchor of stability in the global supply chain. China has established e-commerce cooperation mechanisms with 22 countries, and its trade in cross-border e-commerce in the first half of this year rose by over 20 percent year-on-year, broadening the prospects for cooperation on Silk Road e-commerce.
Second, the green Silk Road has shown great vitality. President Xi Jinping announced at the General Debate of the 76th Session of the UN General Assemblythat China will step up support for other developing countries in green and low-carbon energy development, and will not build new coal-fired power projects abroad. Over the course ofthis year, severallarge wind power, hydro-power and other clean energy projectsjointly undertaken by China and relevant countries have started operation, and China is working with Saudi Arabia on the world’s largest energy storage project. China and 31 cooperation partners jointly launched the Initiative for Belt and Road Partnership on Green Development, and the second Belt and Road Energy Ministerial Conference was successfully convened. Policy communication and practical cooperation on green and low-carbon development are advancing in a coordinated way, which have become the dual pillars of the green Silk Road.
Third, the Silk Road of health has delivered remarkable progress. China has given strong support to other countries in their fight against COVID-19, providing anti-COVID supplies including vaccines, masks and protective suits on a continuous basis. Ninety percent of these supplies have gone to Belt and Road partner countries. This year, China and 31 cooperation partners jointly launched the Initiative for Belt and Road Partnership on COVID-19 Vaccines Cooperation, and championed closer cooperation on vaccine export, assistance, joint production, technology transfer and other areas,to build a Great Wall against COVID-19. To date, China has provided nearly 2 billion doses of vaccines to over 120 countries and international organizations, accounting for one third of all vaccines administered worldwide minus China. Chinese companies have worked with 19 developing country partners on joint vaccine production,and developed an initial annual capacity of over one billion doses. With concrete practices on the ground, China’s promise of making the vaccines a public good is becoming a reality.
Fourth, the cooperation network has grown more sophisticated. This year, another seven countries signed Belt and Road cooperation documents with China, raising the number of BRI family members to 145. Last June, the Asia and Pacific High-level Conference on Belt and Road Cooperation was successfully held. The 30 participating countries made a joint call for fighting the pandemic in unity, speeding up a green transition and boosting sustainable recovery of the world economy. More than 40 meetings were held under Belt and Road multilateral cooperation frameworks this year, covering green development, taxation, energy, finance, disaster relief, think tanks, media, culture and arts. Chinese provinces and cities hosted a string of Belt and Road-themed events based on their respective strengths and distinctive features. In a word, Belt and Road exchanges and cooperation in various fields have been flourishing with many highlights.
Experience over the past year once again shows that BRI cooperation has not stopped because of COVID-19; on the contrary, it has become a road of hope that bolsters resilience and boosts confidence. The BRI has never been a geopolitical strategy, but a road of development that helps deliver the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and drives shared progress and prosperity. Moreover, the BRI has not created the so-called “debt trap”, but serves as a road of opportunity that delivers mutual benefit. The BRI will not damage the environment, but is a green road that facilitates low-carbon growth, environmental protection and climate response.
Our world is facing the combined impacts of a pandemic and major changes unseen in a century, and the global recovery has come to a critical juncture. President Xi Jinping made it clear that the BRI needs to aim at high-standard, sustainable and people-centered growth, consolidate the basis for connectivity cooperation, open up new space for international cooperation, and work for higher-standard cooperation, better deliverables from inputs, higher-quality supply and stronger resilience in development. With that in mind, China hopes to work together with all partners on the following fronts:
First, upholding a people-centered philosophy of cooperation. Meeting our people’s aspiration for a better life is why we started the BRI in the first place. We will continue to focus on economic growth, job creation, livelihood protection and poverty reduction, and deepen practical cooperation with partner countries in the economic, trade, health, poverty reduction, education and agricultural fields. We will develop more cooperation projects that improve people’s lives,todeliver more real gains to people across the partner countries. China will continue to carry out anti-COVIDcooperation with other parties. We will fulfill our commitments announced by President Xi Jinpingof providing another one billion doses of COVID vaccines to Africa and donating an additional 150 million doses to ASEAN countries. We will deepen cooperation with other developing countries on the joint production of vaccines for an early victory over COVID-19 and help bring life back to normal across countries at an early date.
Second, following the cooperation principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits. The BRI is the common cause of all our partners. China will step up policy communication with other parties, pursue a coordinated approach to COVID response and BRI cooperation, work with our partners on the funding support, supporting services and security safeguards of cooperation projects, and share responsibilities, risks and benefits. We need to improve bilateral, trilateral and multilateral cooperation mechanisms to make the BRI global partnership network more solid, more substantive and more productive. Following the principles of openness, inclusiveness and transparency, China welcomes more countries and institutions to join tripartite or multiparty cooperation under the BRI.
Recently, some countries have proposed new initiatives of international infrastructurecooperationand a regional economic framework. In China’s view, the yardstick in judging an initiative should be whether it puts development first, whether it is open and inclusive, whether it pursues mutual benefit, and whether it is action-oriented. Any attempt to sever ties among countries and the industrial and supply chains, form exclusive blocs, or even draw lines along ideology and stoke political confrontation runs counter to the trend of history and is bound to be rejected by history. Here, I wish to reiterate that China welcomes and is open to all cooperation initiatives that are truly beneficial to enhancing connectivity, boosting economic growth, improving people’s well-being and advancing social progress. China is prepared to communicate and cooperate with such initiatives to expand complementarity and forge synergy.
Third, keeping to the direction of high-quality and high-standard cooperation. Belt and Road cooperation has entered the new stage of high-quality development. We will align with the widely accepted international rules and standards more proactively, carry out more high-quality projects, shape more best practices, and make sure thatprojects are sustainable economically, fiscally, financially and environmentally. We will build up connectivity with other countries, and keep global supply and industrial chains stable and smooth with joint efforts. We welcome the participation of more countries in the Initiative for Belt and Road Partnership on Green Development to pursue deeper cooperation on green infrastructure, green energy, green investment and green finance. We will accelerate efforts to fuel Belt and Road cooperation with digital technology, and generate more deliverables in the areas of 5G, big data and cross-border e-commerce, to help developing countries bridge the digital divide. We will continue to tackle corruption with zero tolerance, and keep the Silk Roadclean and transparent.
Fourth, embracing the vision of cooperation for common development around the world. Pursuing sustainable development and delivering the UN 2030 Agenda are innate goals of the BRI cooperation. We will continue to take the BRI forward as part of the global development cause, and pursue economic, social and ecological development in a coordinated manner. Through Belt and Road cooperation, we seek to help other developing countries, especiallythe least developed ones, in their efforts to reduce poverty, and make the BRI a pathway to poverty alleviation for developing countries. China’s new development paradigm will unleash the huge vitality and potential of the big Chinese market, bringing more market and development opportunities to our BRI partners.
The Global Development Initiative President Xi Jinping put forth last September aims to promote international cooperation in the eight areas of poverty alleviation, food security, COVID-19 response and vaccines, development financing, climate change and green development, industrialization, digital economy and connectivity. The Initiative is very much along the lineof the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and seeks more robust, greener and more balanced global development. This Initiative and the BRI may complement and reinforce each other to generate greater synergy for advancing common development.
This year marks the centenary of the founding of the Communist Party of China (CPC). One important piece of experience the CPC has gained in leading the Chinese people in the 100-year struggle isto embrace a global vision, both seeking happiness for the Chinese people and contributing to the shared progress of the world. We will stay committed to peace, development, equity, justice, democracy and freedom, the common values of humanity. We will stay committed to openness and mutual benefit, and away from isolation and zero-sum game, and provide impetus to the building of a community with a shared future for mankind through high-quality Belt and Road cooperation.
The BRF Advisory Council has lent important intellectual support to Belt and Road international cooperation. The Council issued its first report in 2019, and many of the recommendations therein have been adopted. I am happy to see the Council will release a new report today, which presents its findings and suggestionsbased on the BRI’s new developments and new circumstances. We will earnestly study and make the most of the report, and hope that the Council will bring more wisdom and inputs to the high-quality Belt and Road cooperation.
To conclude, I wish the meeting a full success.