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Remarks by Assistant Foreign Minister Qian Hongshan At the Belt and Road Side Event Of the 72nd Session of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific

2016/05/19

Bangkok, 18 May 2016

Executive Secretary Shamshad Akhtar,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Welcome to the Side Event of the Belt and Road, from Vision to Action.

The Belt and Road Initiative, proposed by President Xi Jinping in 2013, is a uniquely Chinese idea which drew inspiration from the shared aspiration of people across the world for peace and development, from the ancient Silk Road, and from the wisdom of the East. It is a public good that China hopes to provide to the world. It is designed to form synergy between the development strategies of various countries, draw on their respective strengths and unleash the huge development potential of this region to achieve common progress.

The Belt and Road Initiative has been warmly welcomed by the international community. More than 70 countries and international organizations have expressed their readiness to take an active part in it. More than 30 countries have reached cooperation agreements with China. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is up and running. The Silk Road Fund is channeling funding to specific projects at a faster pace. More and more early harvest has been achieved in infrastructure connectivity, economy and trade, industrial investment, financial services, environmental protection and people-to-people and cultural exchanges. This has brought new hope, new prospects and new impetus to the economic development of the region and beyond.

Cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative is guided by the Silk Road spirit featuring peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit. It envisages close coordination, wide consultation and joint contribution among the parties and aims to forge partnerships through dialogue and discussion with a focus on connectivity. This is very much in line with the purposes of ESCAP. At last year's ESCAP session, the resolution on Strengthening Intraregional and Interregional Connectivity in Asia and the Pacific was adopted, recommending that ESCAP Secretariat play an active role in the Belt and Road and other development initiatives. As a follow-up to the resolution, the Chinese Foreign Ministry and ESCAP Secretariat signed a letter of intent on cooperation last month to harness the expertise of the Secretariat and deliver more benefits to people of all countries through cooperation in regional connectivity and under the Belt and Road Initiative. The two sides will co-host a policy seminar this year to bring relevant countries together to discuss what specific actions can be taken to advance this initiative.

Practical cooperation under the Belt and Road is now in full swing. The Asia-Pacific, as one of the leaders of the global economy, holds vast potential and prospects. In China's view, all countries in the region are welcome to join the cooperation through ESCAP as an important platform with the following priorities.

First, infrastructure connectivity. Connectivity provides the foundation for the Belt and Road and has been a long-time focus and strength of ESCAP. The Trans-Asia Railway Network, the Intergovernmental Agreement on the Asian Highway Network and the Intergovernmental Agreement on Dry Ports are excellent examples of ESCAP cooperation. Through connectivity projects, we can bring together the resources of the Belt and Road and match them with the functions of ESCAP to boost the development of the Asia-Pacific.

Second, trade, investment and industrial cooperation. The economic complementarity between Asia-Pacific countries offers tremendous potential for cooperation. Closer cooperation on industrial investment and new industrialization helps improve the region's industrial chain, value chain and supply chain and turn economic complementarity into drivers of growth. With the help of ESCAP, we will further promote trade and investment liberalization and facilitation and speed up industrial investment cooperation to strengthen the self-development capacity of countries in this region.

Third, cultural exchanges and "people-to-people connectivity". One important part of the Belt and Road is to promote regulatory convergence and friendship between the people. ESCAP, as a key intergovernmental mechanism in the region, is equipped with strong professional knowledge and expertise. It is a reliable platform for all its member states. We should support ESCAP in linking the development plans of various countries and sub-regions, harmonizing laws, regulations and standards, facilitating the flow of people and providing the institutional underpinning for an open Asia-Pacific economy.

The Chinese government is ready to work with ESCAP Secretariat and its member states to enhance policy coordination, carry out practical cooperation, enhance connectivity, enforce the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and jointly tackle bottlenecks in regional and global development. This year, the Chinese government will provide one million US dollars and 1.5 million RMB yuan to the China-ESCAP Cooperation Program. In the coming five years, China will contribute 1.6 million US dollars each year to the Centre for Sustainable Agricultural Mechanization.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Belt and Road Initiative is not an exclusive project by China but a vision that requires the concerted efforts of all sides. We hope that today's side event, with the support of ESCAP, will pool wisdom and insights for the development of the Belt and Road and common development of the whole region. I wish the side event a full success.

Thank you.

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