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China ‘ready’ to aid Afghan economy after peace restored; Ambassador Wang Yu

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KABUL: In an online event celebrating the 71st anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the Ambassador of China in Afghanistan, Mr. Wang Yu said on Sunday that in the past 71 years, China has experienced profound integration and moved forward together with the rest of the world.

Here is Mr. Wang Yu’s full statement:

Your Excellency First Vice President Amrullah Saleh,

Your Excellency Former President Hamid Karzai,

Honorable Ministers and Ambassadors,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear friends,

Welcome to our online event marking the 71st anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Hereby, on behalf of the Chinese Embassy in Afghanistan, I would like to express our heartfelt thanks to all friends for your long-term interest in China’s development and support for China-Afghanistan friendship!

In the past 71 years since its founding, the PRC has undergone dramatic changes and worked a development miracle unseen in human history. In 1952, China’s GDP was only RMB 67.9 billion, or 119 per capita. With decades of hard work, GDP in 2019 was close to RMB 100 trillion (USD 14.4 trillion), or close to RMB 71,000 (USD 10,300) per capita.

In the past 71 years, China has experienced profound integration and moved forward together with the rest of the world. It is now the largest trading partner of more than 120 countries and regions and accounts for about 11% of global imports. It has been the world’s second largest import market for 11 consecutive years and a major supplier of global manufacturing. By January 2020, China had signed cooperation documents on jointly building the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) with 138 countries and 30 international organizations. Following the steps of travelers and men of virtue at the age of ancient Silk Road, China is connected more closely with the world.

Dear friends,

The COVID-19 pandemic, the biggest ‘black swan event’ in 2020, still wreaks havoc around the world. In the past eight months and more, under the strong leadership of President Xi Jinping, the Chinese government have united the people of all ethnic groups across the country in an effective fight against the pandemic.

China was one of the first countries in the world to put the pandemic under control. When people’s safety and health were under a sudden attack and serious threat of the novel coronavirus, the Chinese government put the people and their lives first and took resolute measures. In a bit more than one month, the spread of the epidemic was initially contained. In 2 months or so, the number of new indigenous cases every day was brought down to a single digit. And then within about 3 months, the number of confirmed cases in Hubei Province, where the first outbreak was reported, was brought down to zero, with economic and social order restored. Nowadays, there has been no new local case in China for more than a month.

China was among countries first to provide support and assistance for other countries, especially the worst-hit ones. We have launched the most extensive emergency humanitarian operations with the most limited time frame. We dispatched 34 teams of medical experts to 32 countries, arranged 283 batches of assistance to 150 countries and 4 international organizations and provided and exported pandemic response supplies to more than 200 countries and regions, involving a total of 151.5 billion masks, 1.4 billion protective suits, 230 million goggles, 209,000 ventilators, 470 million test kits and 80.14 million infrared thermometers. These have strongly supported developing countries, including Afghanistan, in their pandemic control efforts.

China was also the first major economy to grow since the outbreak of COVID-19, with multiple economic indicators turning positive. In the second quarter, GDP grew by 3.2%. Various institutions have forecasted that the Chinese economy is on track to grow at a medium-to-high rate of 5-6% in the third quarter, with positive growth for the year as a whole.

Dear friends,

Under the leadership of the government, Afghanistan has made remarkable progress in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and is now actively returning to work towards resumed socio-economic development. The recent opening of intra-Afghan negotiations marked the start of a crucial phase of the peace and reconciliation process. It was a milestone event influencing the course of Afghan history.

On 12th September, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi attended the first Video Opening Ceremony of Intra-Afghan Negotiations. The Chinese side stressed that all parties to the peace talks should put the interests of the nation first, follow the fundamental direction of a political settlement, adhere to the Afghan-led principle and stick to a broad and inclusive framework goal. China hopes that the future arrangements for Afghanistan will resolutely fight against terrorism, pursue a foreign policy of peace and friendship and steer Afghanistan onto the path to peace, stability and development. China will, as always, continue to be a supporter, mediator and facilitator for its peace and reconciliation process.

Dear friends,

This year marks the 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Afghanistan. Our bilateral relations have withstood the test of the pandemic and the ever-changing international situation and remained steadfast in many aspects.

First, the tradition of mutual understanding, trust, support and assistance has remained steadfast. Since 2001, China has provided billions of RMB in assistance gratis for Afghanistan and built a number of infrastructure facilities benefiting Afghan people, including the Republic Hospital in Kabul and the National Vocational and Technical Institute. Afghanistan adheres to the one-China principle and firmly supports China on issues concerning sovereignty, integrity and security.

Second, the general trend of consolidation and deepening of our friendship has remained steadfast. It is a miracle in the history of international relations that our two countries, linked by mountains and rivers, have had exchanges for over 2,000 years without any conflict. President Xi and President Ghani have been meeting each other annually since 2014. This year, due to the pandemic, the two leaders have maintained contact through letters, which sustained the positive momentum of high-level exchanges. In recent years, China has consistently ranked among the most popular in opinions polls among Afghans. Exchanges between the two countries have deepened, with frequent personnel exchanges.

Third, China and Afghanistan remain steadfast in strengthening economic and trade exchanges and jointly exploring BRI cooperation. Since the two countries signed the memorandum of understanding on jointly building the BRI in 2016, their exchanges in the political, economic and cultural fields have thrived. Direct freight trains and direct flights between Urumqi and Kabul have greatly facilitated our economic and trade exchanges. The export of Afghan pine nuts to China has increased the income of Afghan farmers and businessmen and given Chinese consumers the gourmet’s luck. Afghan businessmen told me that a lot of Afghanistan’s foreign trade is related to China, and more than 300 Afghan companies and over 700 Afghan businessmen stay in China for business.

Dear friends,

The past 65 years of China-Afghanistan relations have been fruitful and gratifying. Looking into the future, we have great expectations.

We expect closer cooperation between our two countries to bring peace, economic and social prosperity to Afghanistan. China is ready to take an active part in Afghan economic development in the post-peace era. Within the BRI framework, China will help Afghanistan to fully tap its geographic advantage as the heart of Asia and achieve economic self-sufficiency.

We expect strengthened coordination for the two countries to move out of the shadow of COVID-19. We are making steady progress towards delivering the sixth batch of pandemic response supplies to Afghanistan. We are also pushing for the opening of ‘fast track’ for personnel exchanges and ‘green channel’ for trade in goods as soon as possible, and expanding bilateral trade and personnel exchanges.

We expect the friendship between our two peoples to deepen and be carried on from generation to generation. We look forward to further promoting exchanges between the two governments, parliaments, think tanks, media organizations, youth and women so as to enhance mutual understanding and friendship between the two peoples.

Dear friends,

The over 2,000 years of exchanges between China and Afghanistan have fully demonstrated that the two countries are indeed good neighbors, brothers, friends and partners who have mutual affinity and share weal and woe. Let us join hands to create an even better future for bilateral relations and build a community of shared future for mankind.

Thank you!

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