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Vice Foreign Ministers of China-Afghanistan-Central Asian Countries Hold a Virtual Meeting on Trade and Connectivity

2020/12/09

On December 9, 2020, Vice Foreign Minister Luo Zhaohui chaired the virtual China-Afghanistan-Central Asian Countries (CA5) Vice Foreign Ministers' Meeting on Trade and Connectivity. Deputy Foreign Minister of Afghanistan Meerwais Nab, Deputy Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan Marat Syzdykov, Deputy Foreign Minister of Kyrgyzstan Azizbek Madmarov, Deputy Foreign Minister of Tajikistan Muzaffar Huseynzoda, Deputy Foreign Minister of Turkmenistan Vepa Hajiyev and Deputy Foreign Minister of Uzbekistan Sidikov Furkat Ahmedovich attended the meeting.

Luo Zhaohui said, against the coincidence of the once-in-a-century changes and COVID-19, global economy has dipped into recession, and countries in the region are facing common challenges. China has spearheaded the fight against the pandemic and economic recovery through its own efforts and under the support of the international community. In this context, the holding of a virtual meeting among CA5's vice foreign ministers on trade and connectivity to establish a new platform for regional cooperation would be of positive significance to spurring regional economic recovery and safeguarding regional stability and prosperity. China put forward four proposals for the cooperation:

First, deepening the cooperation on global COVID-19 response 2.0. China is willing to cooperate with all parties on vaccines and fulfill its commitment to make vaccines, once developed and put into use, global public goods. China will strengthen the exchange of experience in keeping the pandemic out of national borders, reduce the disruptions of the pandemic on the livelihoods of countries, and cooperate in poverty alleviation and food security. China opposes the politicization and stigmatization of COVID-19, firmly supports the World Health Organization in playing a key leadership role in the global fight against the pandemic, and promotes the building of a global community of health for all.

Second, expanding economic and trade cooperation. All parties should push forward the resumption of work and production in a steady and orderly manner, put in place "fast tracks" and "green lanes", expand regional trade, and increase logistics exchanges at ports. All parties should further step up cooperation in agriculture, energy, infrastructure, production capacity and other fields, and improve the level of industrialization. China is willing to leverage its strength in digital technology and scale and work with all parties to build a "digital Silk Road".

Third, advancing connectivity. China is willing to continuously spur the connectivity of the Belt and Road Initiative with development strategies of different countries, strengthen the "hard connectivity" of railways, highways, air routes, pipelines and other infrastructure, and promote the "soft connectivity" of transport facilitation. China supports the extension of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to Afghanistan for synergistic development of CPEC and China-Central Asia-West Asia Economic Corridor.

Fourth, deepening cooperation on the counter-terrorism and security fronts. China is ready to join the international community in combating all terrorist organizations, including the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, and safeguarding the achievements of international counter-terrorism. China supports the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process, welcomes the progress in the negotiations among Afghans, and is pleased to see the situation in Afghanistan remains stable.

All participants spoke highly of China's proposals and success in hosting the meeting, which built a new platform for regional countries to exchange experience and deepen cooperation. The participants expressed their willingness to further deepen cooperation in the fight against COVID-19, conduct regular exchange of experience in the anti-pandemic battle, and safeguard the right of countries to use vaccines on an equal basis. They will strengthen economic and trade cooperation, lower regional tariffs, reduce trade barriers, stimulate investment, maintain regional food security, establish a new model of cooperation adapted to the pandemic situation, and explore new drivers of economic growth. They will take steps to unleash the full potential of regional connectivity, ensure smooth transport of goods, and maintain the stability of regional industrial and supply chains. The participants call on all parties to intensify counter-terrorism cooperation, jointly combat terrorism, extremism, drug trafficking and other transnational criminal activities and maintain regional security and stability. They support the Afghan peace and reconciliation process, and will promote the extension of regional connectivity projects to Afghanistan and provide more support for the peace and reconstruction of Afghanistan.

The participants agreed to hold follow-up meetings and discuss the establishment of a mechanism to materialize the outcomes.

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