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China and Afghanistan Join Hands against COVID-19 in Strengthened Belt and Road International Cooperation

By Wang Yu, Chinese Ambassador to Afghanistan

While COVID-19 continues spreading around the world, world economies all face huge challenges. A few days ago, China successfully held the High-Level Video Conference on Belt and Road International Cooperation. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, foreign minister and ministerial officials from 25 countries, WHO Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and UN Under-Secretary-General and UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner joined the discussion on responding to the COVID-19 pandemic with solidarity, promoting economic and social recovery and jointly building a community of shared future for mankind.

Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered a written message to the meeting. He stressed that promoting connectivity and upholding openness and inclusiveness are the only way to cope with global crises and achieve long-term development, in which process international cooperation with the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) framework has an important role to play. China is committed to peaceful development, mutual benefit and win-win. It stands ready to work with partners and develop BRI cooperation into a model for health, recovery and growth that protects people’s safety and well-being, restores economic and social activities and unlocks development potentials. Xi envisions the development of a community of shared future for mankind through quality collaboration under BRI.

President Xi’s speech was honest and down-to-earth, focusing on people’s health and well-being, economic recovery and long-term future development. He expressed a firm confidence in continued cooperation among all parties to jointly build the Belt and Road. The global response to the COVID-19 pandemic is also an opportunity to enrich cooperation in health. Countries should therefore unite to fight against the pandemic towards truly becoming a community of shared future.

China and Afghanistan enjoy a friendship of over a thousand years since the early years of the Silk Road. In the new era, our two countries have always followed the Silk Road spirit of peace, cooperation, openness, inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit. We seek a future of common development and stand hand in hand against challenges. Our friendship has further deepened in the process of BRI cooperation and by jointly building a community of shared future.

With unity and pragmatism, our two countries are steadfast in conducting cooperation and enjoying its benefits. We have benefited greatly from practical cooperation in economy, trade and people-to-people exchanges within the BRI framework. The direct freight train service has greatly facilitated our economic and trade exchanges. Imports of pine nuts to China have helped to increase income for Afghan farmers, bring profits to businesses involved and give Chinese consumers another great delicacy. Cooperation between the two countries is still deepening and a number of cooperation projects are being advanced in an orderly manner, thus benefiting people of both countries.

Our solidarity in pandemic response has been exemplary in the pursuit of health for the people. The virus knows no national borders and will only be defeated through solidarity and cooperation. China and Afghanistan have stood by each other in the pandemic, setting a great example for the international community. In the early days of the outbreak, Afghan leaders sent to their Chinese counterparts messages of the most sincere sympathy and the firmest support. When COVID-19 also hit Afghanistan, China has sent three batches of more than 10 tons of needed medical supplies and held two teleconferences for medical experts to share the Chinese experience of pandemic control. Bearing in mind the vision for a community of shared future in health, China stands ready to further strengthen cooperation with Afghanistan in pandemic response and provide assistance within the best of its ability.

With a well-based confidence, our two countries are intensifying efforts for recovery. After an arduous fight of over two months, China was among the first countries in the world to put COVID-19 under control and to restore the orders of production and life at accelerated speeds. On the basis of consolidated pandemic prevention and control, China has moved to stabilise the supply and industrial chains, open wider to the outside world and convey confidence in and strength for global economic recovery. A few days ago, President Ghani told me that the Afghan government has taken a series of prevention and control measures and an economic stimulus package in response to the pandemic. He expressed the hope to further strengthen COVID-19-related exchanges and economic and trade cooperation. China stands ready to actively share its experiences with Afghanistan and be of some help for Afghanistan in its effort to effectively deal with the economic and social impact of the pandemic and restore order in production and life.

With eyes on the future, our two countries see and share a path to growth. With its unique geographical position and rich resources, Afghanistan has great potential to participate in regional economic cooperation. China is the largest developing country in the world and has unique experience in economic development. With respective advantages, our two countries enjoy a strong complementarity. The BRI provides new development opportunities and horizons for both Afghanistan and China. There are bright prospects for our cooperation. Now that Afghanistan has entered into a critical period of peace and reconciliation and the Afghan people face a precious opportunity to put an end to the war and chaos that have lasted 40 years. On the basis of the existing cooperation and bearing in mind the principle of achieving and benefiting from common development through consultation, China stands ready to make further efforts to create opportunities and expand space for development, deepen and enrich its strategic partnership and pragmatic cooperation with Afghanistan in all fields and contribute together to the development of a community of shared future by furthering the BRI.

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