By Wan Yu
On March 7, a press conference was held on the margins of the fifth Session of the 13th National People’s Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, during which Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi answered questions from Chinese and foreign media about China’s foreign policy and external relations.
For the world, the year ahead continues to be full of challenges, Wang said, adding that at such a critical moment, countries need solidarity, not division; dialogue, not confrontation.
He said as a responsible major country, China will continue to hold high the banner of multilateralism, work with all peace-loving and development-seeking countries to strengthen solidarity and cooperation, jointly meet challenges, and continue to promote the building of a community with a shared future for mankind. Together, they will strive for a brighter and better future for the world, Wang noted.
The minister introduced the progress of the Belt and Road cooperation at the press conference. He said despite the impact of the pandemic and other factors, Belt and Road cooperation has maintained a sound momentum.
According to him, the physical connectivity of infrastructure made solid progress under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) last year. Major projects such as the China-Laos railway and the new Haifa port in Israel were completed. The construction and operation of projects in relation to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the Piraeus port, the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed rail and the Budapest-Belgrade railway advanced steadily. The China-Europe Railway Express reached new records in the number of freight services and the amount of cargo transportation, providing a strong boost to economic recovery in relevant countries.
The institutional connectivity of rules and standards yielded fruitful results, he noted. Since the start of the last year, 10 more countries have signed Belt and Road cooperation documents with China, extending the BRI family to 180 members. A successful Asia and Pacific High-level Conference on Belt and Road Cooperation was held, and the initiatives for Belt and Road partnership on vaccine cooperation and green development have both received wide support.
The people-to-people connectivity featuring mutual help and assistance continued to deepen, Wang said. China has given strong support to other countries in their fight against COVID-19, and is working on joint vaccine production with 20 developing country partners, most of which are BRI partner countries. A large number of “small yet smart” assistance programs have been steadily carried out to help people in partner countries improve income and livelihood.
These facts aptly show that Belt and Road cooperation is moving forward with more partners, stronger foundation and brighter prospects, Wang said, and it is sure to bring new development opportunities to the post-COVID world.
Wang also briefed the press on the implementation of the Global Development Initiative (GDI). He said COVID-19 has had a serious impact on the global development process, and developing countries, in particular, are taking the brunt. It is against this backdrop that Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed the GDI at the UN, calling on all countries to focus on development, pool their efforts and meet challenges together, he noted.
The minister said that the centerpiece of the GDI is to put people front and center. Its primary goal is to facilitate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Highly responsive to the needs of various parties, the GDI has soon been warmly received and supported by the UN and nearly 100 countries.
He introduced that in January this year, representatives from over 100 countries and more than 20 international organizations attended the launch of the Group of Friends of the GDI at the UN headquarters in New York, building greater international consensus on implementing the GDI.
Wang said China believes that good development is sustainable and true development is development for all. He told the press conference that China will work with all parties in four areas to implement the GDI step by step.
First, China will forge synergy in priority areas. It will focus on the most pressing concerns of developing countries and advance practical cooperation in such areas as poverty reduction, food security, economic recovery, employment training, education, health and green development, so that all 17 Sustainable Development Goals will be met by 2030 as scheduled.
Second, China will respond to the needs of all countries. It will follow the spirit of open and inclusive partnership and the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits. It welcomes the participation of all parties in flexible ways in light of their needs and strengths.
Third, China will partner with cooperation mechanisms. It will work with all interested international and regional organizations and especially the UN system to seek complementarity with the development processes of small island developing states, landlocked developing countries, and least developed countries. This way, the country could give play to the respective strengths of various parties and forge a global synergy.
Fourth, China will reach out to partners of all sectors. It values the role of the private sector, NGOs, experts, think tanks and the media in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, and welcomes the recommendation and participation of all parties.
In short, the GDI is another major initiative proposed by President Xi after the BRI, Wang said, calling it another clarion call to mobilize global development cooperation, and another endorsement of putting people front and center as a core concept of human rights.
The GDI has drawn up a road map for narrowing the North-South gap and addressing development imbalance, and given a boost to the 2030 Agenda, he said.
China will work with all countries to pursue and follow through on the GDI, ensuring that no country or individual is left behind and no aspiration is overlooked, and to jointly build a global community of development, he said.