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Enhancing China-Caribbean cooperation in jointly building the Belt and Road

Monday, June 29, 2020

ON June 18, the high-level videoconference on Belt and Road international cooperation was held in Beijing under the theme 'Belt and Road International Cooperation: Combating COVID-19 with Solidarity'. It was attended by the foreign ministers or other ministers from 25 countries, World Health Organization (WHO) Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and under secretary general of the United Nations and administrator of the UN Development Programme Achim Steiner.

Chinese President Xi Jinping pointed out in his written message to the conference that China will do what it can and contribute its share to an early global victory against COVID-19 and to the recovery of the global economy. COVID-19 has made clear that all nations have their destinies closely connected, and humanity is in fact a community with a shared future. Be it in taming the virus or in achieving economic recovery, humanity cannot succeed without solidarity, cooperation and multilateralism. The right approach to tackling global crises and realising long-term development is through greater connectivity, openness and inclusiveness. This is where Belt and Road international cooperation can make a big difference.

President Xi underscored that China is committed to peaceful development and mutually beneficial cooperation. China will work with its partners to develop the Belt and Road into a model of cooperation for meeting challenges through unity, a model of health for protecting people's safety and well-being, a model of recovery for restoring economic and social activity, and a model of growth for unlocking development potential. High-quality Belt and Road cooperation among participating countries will contribute to a community with a shared future for mankind.

China and the Caribbean have offered mutual support in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. China actively expanded its cooperation efforts and response to fight COVID-19 by issuing relief supplies throughout the islands. China held a special vice foreign ministers' meeting on COVID-19 via video link on May 11, expanding its reach in Caricom to dialogue on the shared vision of building a community for the shared future of mankind to consolidate diplomatic relations between China and the Caribbean. With a spirit of cooperation Caricom has taken effective measures to slow the spread of COVID-19, which has shown some hard-won results.

China and the Caribbean have enhanced solidarity and cooperation in international affairs facing COVID-19. China's commitment is unwavering and a testament to our long-standing friendship with the Caribbean. China will continue to pursue greater cooperation and stronger ties with the Caribbean. Our cooperation will elevate to new levels in the areas of trade and investment, communications and regional and international coordination.

While we seek to return to a “new normal”, COVID-19 is still affecting many parts of our world. China and the Caribbean are challenged to fight COVID-19 while reviving our economies and securing people's livelihoods. We must be people-centric in our approach, mobilise our resources, and become unified in minimising the fallout from COVID-19.

Despite our challenges we must be relentless in fighting COVID-19, and China will continue to support the Caribbean's response to COVID-19 by providing supplies, assembling expert teams, and facilitating the procurement for medical supplies. We are working together toward safer public health for China and Caricom. The COVID-19 vaccine will be used as a global public product once it is developed and deployed in China. This will be China's contribution to ensuring vaccine accessibility and affordability in developing countries, and Caricom will also benefit from it.

There is a need for greater cooperation on public health, economic revival and people's livelihoods. China will work to assist the Caribbean's COVID-19 response by working with the UN, WHO, members of the G20 and other partners in a way that respects Caribbean progress and development.

Upholding multilateralism in the midst of COVID-19 is our strongest resolve. Working with the Caribbean, China seeks to uphold the UN system of global governance and provide support to the WHO in the global COVID-19 response. We believe in justice and a world of equity for all, and oppose the politicisation and stigmatisation of COVID-19, racial discrimination and ideological biases.

The Caribbean achieving sustainable development matters to China, with the development of its logistics and supply chains enhancing connectivity and competitive partnerships. The Belt and Road Initiative provides a new platform for cooperation that promotes a more balanced benefit distribution worldwide and the achievement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. China will explore greater cooperation with the Caribbean in business prospects including infrastructural development, agriculture, telecommunications, digital economy, fiscal cooperation, unimpeded trade and foreign direct investment for the common well-being of our peoples.

Jamaica signing the cooperation plan on jointly building the Belt and Road in 2019 represents a further strengthening of the relationship between China and Jamaica. Given Jamaica's leading role in the Caribbean and China being the biggest foreign investor and major international development partner of Jamaica, China looks forward to jointly promoting Belt and Road with Jamaica to set up all-dimensional, multi-tiered and composite connectivity networks, and realise diversified, independent, balanced and sustainable development in the Caribbean.

I recently received some invaluable proposals for future cooperation from our Jamaican friends, which are deeply appreciated. We will work with our Jamaican and Caribbean stakeholders to further explore cooperation in key areas such as regional civil aviation network, logistic services, agricultural businesses, e-commerce, and telecommunication service in education.

I am convinced that with our concerted efforts, the Caribbean Community will become more economically diversified, viable and resilient. As China expands its horizons with Caribbean partnerships, cooperation between China and Caricom will be continuously strengthened and more fruitful.

— Tian Qi is China's ambassador to Jamaica