State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi highlighted on Tuesday the importance of Belt and Road cooperation against the backdrop of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and said China's new development paradigm will provide greater momentum and more development opportunities for the world.
Wang made the remark as he delivered a speech via video link at the opening ceremony of the fifth Silk Road International Exposition and the Investment and Trade Forum for Cooperation between East and West China in Xi'an, Shaanxi province.
BRI cooperation is becoming a model for protecting people's safety and well-being, restoring economic and social activities and unleashing development potential, he said.
Highlighting the importance of promoting public health cooperation amid the pandemic, Wang said partners involved in the BRI should share information and carry out joint prevention and control measures against the virus.
He also stressed stepping up international cooperation on the research and development of vaccines, as well as their production and distribution, in order to make them accessible and affordable for developing countries.
China has been working closely with BRI partners in terms of developing vaccines. For example, Chinese companies have carried out phase-3 clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccines in Russia, Egypt, Indonesia, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates.
So far, China has signed BRI cooperation documents with 140 countries and 31 international organizations, and a large number of projects have been carried out. Despite the impact of COVID-19, China and BRI partners including Central Asian countries have witnessed growth in trade and investment since last year.
The trade volume of commodities between China and BRI-related countries was $1.4 trillion last year, a year-on-year increase of 0.7 percent, according to the Ministry of Commerce.
To promote the BRI's high-quality development, Wang called for efforts among partner countries to improve interconnectivity in terms of the fast exchange of personnel and commodities amid the pandemic, infrastructure construction, the harmonization of rules and regulations, and the digital sector.
He underlined the importance of BRI partners upholding the multilateral trading system, pushing forward the construction of free trade zones, building an open world economy and speeding up cooperation in emerging areas such as cross-border e-commerce.
Partner countries should also pay attention to green development by finding a path forward for people and nature to live in harmony, Wang said, calling for more green cooperation in the infrastructure, energy and finance sectors in order to contribute to sustainable development.
Officials from Slovakia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan also attended the opening ceremony and gave speeches.
They all spoke highly of the achievements in the joint building of BRI and called for deeper cooperation with China in areas including international anti-pandemic efforts under the BRI framework in order to boost world economic recovery.