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Vice Foreign Minister Luo Zhaohui Attends the Launching Ceremony of the Everlasting China-South Asia Online Expo

2020/12/12

On December 12, 2020, Vice Foreign Minister Luo Zhaohui attended and addressed the launching ceremony of the Everlasting China-South Asia Online Expo in Kunming. Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Yunnan Provincial Committee Ruan Chengfa announced the launch, Acting Governor of Yunnan Province Wang Yubo delivered a keynote speech, Assistant Minister of Commerce Ren Hongbin, senior officials from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, and consul generals of a number of countries in Kunming attended the ceremony in person or via the Internet.

In his speech entitled "Let the Online Expo Open a New Chapter for Regional Cooperation", Luo Zhaohui said, COVID-19 makes it difficult to hold the China-South Asia Expo (CSA Expo) in the conventional form, but the disease neither weakens the willingness of all parties to cooperate nor holds back their cooperation efforts. Due to the pandemic, this year's Everlasting CSA Expo is rolled out online, not only marking a major innovation in holding the Expo, but also becoming a significant move to build a new platform for digital economic cooperation. It will create more opportunities for, inject greater momentum into and provide a bigger stage for the development of all countries. I am very happy to learn that over 9,300 enterprises from more than 90 countries and regions, including eight South Asian countries and 10 Southeast Asian countries, have unprecedentedly signed up for this online Expo, fully demonstrating the confidence of these countries in and their expectations for the development of China, as well as their resolve and aspiration to be part of the joint endeavors.

Luo Zhaohui said, in a time of unprecedented global changes and a once-in-a-century pandemic, the world economy is dipping into recession, de-globalization and unilateralism are becoming prevalent, and unstable and uncertain factors are obviously piling up in the international environment. China has managed to show a boom beyond compare, leading in both the anti-pandemic battle and economic recovery, achieving remarkable results in poverty alleviation and being on the cusp of victory in completing the building of a moderately prosperous society. In the fight against the pandemic, China and other countries in the region have supported and helped each other across the mountains, streams and foreign lands by sharing the anti-virus experience and providing each other with anti-virus supplies. This led to thriving cooperation in combating COVID-19, brisk "cloud diplomacy" and rising bilateral trade against the headwinds. The first three quarters saw a year-on-year growth of five percent in the trade between China and ASEAN countries to over USD481.8 billion and a year-on-year growth of 11 percent in the trade between China and the Lancang-Mekong countries to USD225.3 billion. The signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) as scheduled not long ago has strongly boosted the region's economic recovery and growth.

However, countries in the region are still challenged by the arduous tasks of preventing and controlling the pandemic, fixing the economy and improving people's livelihoods. We should, with firm confidence, strengthen unity, focus on cooperation and work together to maintain regional peace, development and stability.

First, we should maintain close contacts and continuously enhance mutual political trust. The pandemic has temporarily changed the way people contact with each other, but there are always more solutions than difficulties, and "cloud diplomacy" has become a new normal. President Xi Jinping has stayed in close contacts with leaders of regional countries through phone calls and letters, steering bilateral relations and regional cooperation. Premier Li Keqiang has attended many meetings on regional cooperation. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi has interacted frequently with colleagues from various countries online and offline. We should continue to maintain high-level contacts, strengthen top-level design, provide strategic guidance and promote comprehensive cooperation through diverse and flexible approaches.

Second, we should remain prudent and work together to win the battle against COVID-19. The world is a global village and the mankind lives in a community with a shared future. It is impossible for any country to fight against a once-in-a-century pandemic on its own. As of this morning, the number of confirmed cases worldwide exceeded 70 million with 1.6 million deaths. The pandemic battle remains critical. To cope with the second wave of COVID-19, China is willing to deepen the anti-pandemic cooperation with South and Southeast Asian countries, strengthen the sharing of information and experience on pandemic prevention and control, advance vaccine research, development and use, carry out sustainable public health cooperation, and focus on addressing non-traditional security challenges such as poverty reduction and food security.

Third, we should seize opportunities to accelerate economic recovery and development. The Belt and Road Initiative, which features cooperation across the land and the sea and between the east and the west, connects the past with the present, and benefits the five continents, has been widely recognized by the international community in the past seven years, and has been included in the resolution of the United Nations General Assembly. Under the Initiative, 138 countries and 31 international organizations have signed relevant cooperation documents with China. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor, the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor, the China-Laos Railway and the Jakarta-Bandung High-speed Railway are progressing smoothly. China is willing to make further contribution to the Belt and Road Initiative with other countries and also enhance the connectivity of development strategies. At present, we should pool efforts to put "fast tracks" and "green lanes" in place, maintain the stability of industrial and supply chains, and speed up the economic and industrial recovery and development. At the same time, we should have our eyes on the post-COVID era and create more cooperation highlights in the digital economic fields such as big data, artificial intelligence, e-commerce, smart city and telemedicine.

Fourth, we should give full play to our advantages and further tap local cooperation. Yunnan, a remarkable province with outstanding people and rich natural resources, is an important corridor, front for opening up and center for stimulating the development of nearby places in Southwest China by facing Southeast Asia, South Asia and West Asia and shouldering the Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean. In words, it holds all the aces. Taking advantage of its superior location, Yunnan Province has actively organized the CSA Expo and the China-South Asia Cooperation Forum, making important contributions to promoting exchanges and cooperation between China and neighboring countries. How wide our vision is determines how far we can go. We expect and believe that the place south of the colorful clouds will soar into the sky.

(The CSA Expo is organized by the Yunnan Provincial Government to promote pragmatic cooperation and friendly exchanges between China and South and Southeast Asian countries in economy, trade and culture. The online expo allows online negotiation and contract signing using such technologies as region-wide marketing & promotion, live streaming, 3D display, artificial intelligence and big data analysis. It is a key and innovative move to spur regional cooperation against the pandemic.)

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