State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi Chairs the High-level Video Conference on Belt and Road International Cooperation

On the evening of 18 June, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi chaired the High-level Video Conference on Belt and Road International Cooperation in Beijing. Foreign ministers/ministerial-level officials from 25 countries, Director-General of the World Health Organization Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, and Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme Achim Steiner attended the meeting.

Wang opened the meeting with a written message from President Xi Jinping.

Wang said that thanks to the active participation and strong support of all parties, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has evolved into the largest platform for international cooperation. Over the past year and more, despite headwinds like COVID-19 and a sluggish global economy, Belt and Road cooperation has pressed ahead against all odds and made further progress, with an ever expanding family of partners, growing trade and economic exchanges, enhanced connectivity, and strong solidarity and mutual assistance among BRI partners. All this has highlighted the strong resilience and vitality of Belt and Road cooperation.

Wang stressed that to defeat the virus and tide over this crisis, the world must come together in solidarity, partnership and cooperation. BRI partners have the responsibility and indeed the obligation to set an example, and endeavor to:

·step up public health cooperation, facilitate the assistance and provision of containment supplies and the research and production of therapeutics and vaccines, push forward the development of a "Silk Road of health", and explore the establishment of regional response liaison mechanisms for public health emergencies. This will further contribute to the global fight against COVID-19.

·strengthen connectivity. It is important to get key Belt and Road infrastructure projects restarted as early as possible, keep industrial and supply chains secure to provide a solid underpinning for the economic recovery of all countries.

·carry out cooperation in innovation. Efforts should be made to strengthen cooperation in 5G, big data, artificial intelligence, and cloud computing, push forward the building of the digital Silk Road, and build a "green Silk Road" to inject fresh impetus into sustainable global growth.

·firmly reject unilateralism and protectionism, and stay committed to an open world economy. The multilateral trading system must be defended, and trade and investment liberalization and facilitation enhanced, in an effort to foster a more open, inclusive and balanced economic globalization that benefits all. It is also necessary to synergize the Belt and Road Initiative and other bilateral and multilateral cooperation programs for win-win results.

Wang emphasized that to beat the virus and energize economic recovery is a pressing task facing all countries. China will strengthen communication and coordination with Belt and Road partners on a priority basis. Specifically, China will focus on the following areas:

·support countries in fighting COVID-19 and resuming economic and social development;

·give positive consideration to the needs of Belt and Road partners in the development and application of vaccines;

·discuss the establishment of fast-track lanes for cross-border flows of people and goods with Belt and Road partners;

·hold a transportation ministers' conference with Belt and Road partners, as part of the efforts to maintain the smooth functioning of international industrial and supply chains;

·join hands to promote Silk Road e-commerce, and advance cooperation in smart cities and green development.

Wang reaffirmed China's readiness to work with international partners to make the Belt and Road a model of cooperation, health, recovery and growth, and open up a brighter future for Belt and Road cooperation.

Mr. Achim Steiner, speaking on behalf of UN Secretary-General António Guterres, pointed out that COVID-19 is another reminder that we have no choice but to uphold multilateralism and strengthen solidarity and cooperation in order to achieve sustainable development. He recognized China's ever more important role in supporting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and expressed confidence that Belt and Road cooperation could help enable better responses to the economic, social and environmental impact of COVID-19. He stressed that the UN values the BRI and will continue to work closely with all parties.

On behalf of WHO, Dr. Tedros highly commended the role China has played in supporting the global response to COVID-19 and its assistance and support to countries in need. Under the current circumstances, President Xi Jinping's call for a global community of health for all is of great significance, to which Belt and Road cooperation has a lot to contribute. He also underlined WHO's support for the development of a "Silk Road of health" and a "green Silk Road".

Participants spoke highly of China's proposal to convene this timely and necessary conference, and thanked China for its efforts and contribution to Belt and Road cooperation and the global response to COVID-19. COVID-19 has driven home the importance of building a community with a shared future for mankind. It is incumbent on all countries to enhance solidarity and cooperation, oppose politicization and stigmatization, uphold multilateralism and support the UN and WHO in playing an important role.

Participants hailed the BRI as an important platform for concerted efforts against COVID-19 and for economic recovery. They expressed support for joint response to the virus, closer public health cooperation and the building of a "Silk Road of health". They also agreed to work for greater connectivity, orderly resumption of cross-border movement of people and goods, reopening of economy, security and stability of the global industrial and supply chains, sustainable development, and a "green Silk Road".

Participants expressed their readiness to further implement the consensus of the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, advance practical cooperation in various fields, and make Belt and Road cooperation even more fruitful.

The Joint Statement of the High-level Video Conference on Belt and Road International Cooperation: Combating COVID-19 with Solidarity was adopted by consensus at the conference.

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