China calls for greater connectivity, openness, inclusiveness to tackle global crises

By He Yin

China will work with its partners to develop the Belt and Road into a model of cooperation for meeting challenges through unity, Chinese President Xi Jinping recently said in a written message to the High-level Video Conference on Belt and Road International Cooperation.

The Belt and Road will also be a model of health for protecting people’s safety and well-being, a model of recovery for restoring economic and social activity, and a model of growth for unlocking development potential, Xi added.

The Chinese President’s message demonstrated the firm confidence of China and its Belt and Road partners in promoting high-quality cooperation, and bolstered various countries’ confidence in defeating the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic urged countries to take effective countermeasures to tackle global crises and realize long-term development.

All nations’ destinies are closely connected, and humanity is a community with a shared future.

“Be it in taming the virus or in achieving economic recovery, humanity cannot succeed without solidarity, cooperation and multilateralism. The right approach to tackling global crises and realizing long-term development is through greater connectivity, openness and inclusiveness,” Xi said.

Since the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) was proposed nearly seven years ago, China and its BRI partners have signed 200 government-to-government cooperation documents, launched more than 2,000 projects, and created tens of thousands of jobs created in the partner countries.

The family of BRI partners has continued to expand, with more solid progress in trade and economic exchanges, greater connectivity, and more solid foundation of public opinion, which can inject positive energy into the global COVID-19 response confidence into world economic recovery.

Rather than holding back Belt and Road cooperation, COVID-19 has only highlighted its strong resilience and vitality. In the face of the virus, BRI partners have extended a helping hand to each other, and many of them lent valuable support to China.

China, on its part, provided assistance to 122 BRI partners to support their response to the virus. It also sent medical teams to 25 countries and shared its experience in containment, diagnostics and therapeutics with all countries without reservation.

In the first five months, the China-Europe Railway Express made 28 percent more trips and transported 32 percent more freights from a year ago. To date, it has transported 12,524 tons of medical supplies, serving as a key cargo lifeline and bond of solidarity on the Eurasian continent. It has made great contributions to the global fight against COVID-19 and greatly mitigated the pandemic’s impact on global industrial and supply chains.

As former Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharaf said, the world is facing unprecedented challenges and must work together through the global cooperation mechanism, adding that this is where the BRI can make a difference.

When the pandemic weighs down the global growth, countries must promote common development through greater cooperation, so as to improve people’s welfare. To turn the BRI, the largest platform for international cooperation, into a model of recovery for restoring economic and social activity conforms to the practical interests of people in all countries.

From January to May, China’s actual use of foreign direct investment from countries and regions participating in the BRI rose 6 percent year on year, and the country’s non-financial outbound direct investment in these countries and regions also saw a 16 percent growth from a year ago.

Projects including the China-Laos railway and the Budapest-Belgrade railway are well underway, and a number of projects suspended due to COVID-19 have also resumed work. Besides, China established a “green channel” for transportation, customs clearance, as well as Belt and Road economic and trade and people-to-people exchanges.

Belt and Road cooperation, pressing ahead against all odds, is demonstrating participating countries’ firm determination to pursue common development.

The future of the BRI lies in expanding the cooperation to new areas. President Xi called for joint efforts to build a “Silk Road of health” in June 2016. After the outbreak of COVID-19, countries have a surging demand for public health cooperation.

Pushing forward the Belt and Road health cooperation and the development of a “Silk Road of health” will add new substance to high-quality Belt and Road cooperation.

Besides, promoting the building of the digital Silk Road and a “green Silk Road” will create new engines of growth for the partner countries and new impetus for global recovery.

The Belt and Road Initiative has the potential to act as an accelerator for the achievement of universal health coverage and the Sustainable Development Goals, said Director-General of the World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, adding that China’s recent emphasis on the ‘Health Silk Road’ and the ‘Digital Silk Road’ points to the importance of innovative forms of cooperation to deal with the challenges that human beings collectively face.

The pandemic neither changes the general trend of economic globalization nor hinders open and cooperative development.

The broad consensus reached at the High-level Video Conference Belt and Road International Cooperation fully demonstrates the BRI partners’ vision to make the Belt and Road a model of cooperation, health, recovery and growth.

As long as the BRI partners uphold the principle of wide consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, and continue to enhance synergy between strategies for high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, they can surely help all countries tackle global crises and realize long-term development, and make new important contributions to building a community with a shared future for mankind.