Advancing Global Sustainable Development Through High-quality Belt and Road Cooperation
– Opening Remarks at the Seminar on Advancing Sustainable Development Goals with the Belt and Road Cooperation
Zhang Jun, Assistant Foreign Minister
Bangkok, 27 May 2019
Your Excellency Ms. Armida Alisjahbana, Executive Secretary of ESCAP,
Your Excellency Mr. Damdin Tsogtbaatar, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia,
Your Excellency Mr. Mukhtar Tileuberdi, First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan,
Ladies and gentlemen,
This side event jointly sponsored by China, Kazakhstan, the King Prajadhipok’s Institute of Thailand and the Secretariat of ESCAP aims to share experience and wisdom to strengthen the synergy between the Belt and Road Initiative and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. At the outset, please allow me to extend, on behalf of the Chinese government and in my own name, a warm welcome to all of you!
The 2030 Agenda, adopted at the UN Sustainable Development Summit in 2015, sets out the direction for the development of countries and for international development cooperation. As a development-oriented agenda, it embodies the aspirations of our peoples for a better life, and facilitates the efforts in tackling global risks and challenges.
Actions speak louder than words. The implementation of the 2030 Agenda requires not only strong political commitments but also concrete actions. As a staunch supporter for the UN development pillar, China attaches great importance to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, and is among the first in releasing its national implementation plan and a progress report. China is working towards high-quality economic development, and is determined to lift all rural population below the current poverty line out of poverty by 2020. China has actively supported a stronger global partnership for development, and by measures such as setting up the China-UN Peace and Development Fund and the South-South Cooperation Assistance Fund, extended strong support to the efforts of other developing countries in implementing the 2030 Agenda.
The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) raised by China is designed to promote connectivity and common development, which is highly compatible with the vision, goals and measures of the 2030 Agenda. The Initiative focuses on policy synergy, infrastructure development, unimpeded trade, financial cooperation and people-to-people bond, which are intrinsically linked to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The synergy between the BRI and the 2030 Agenda has already been formed in promoting sustainable development.
The Belt and Road cooperation has facilitated global economic growth, and injected strong impetus to sustainable development. Some international research institutions believe that in 2019, the Belt and Road cooperation will contribute at least 0.1% to global economic growth. Through the Belt and Road cooperation, some land-locked countries have gained access to the sea, some countries have built their first railway or expressway, and some have established their own automobile or rail equipment industries. Economic growth has been catalyzed by projects such as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, China Railway Express to Europe, China-Thailand Railway, and China-Laos Railway.
The Belt and Road cooperation has promoted trade liberalization and facilitation, and opened up more space for sustainable development. Through the Belt and Road cooperation, wheat produced in Kazakhstan has found its way to Southeast Asian markets through rail-sea combined transport, goods from Chongqing, China could arrive in Jakarta, Indonesia within two days, and the travel time between Addis Ababa and Djibouti has been shortened from 7 days to 12 hours thanks to the launch of the Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railway. According to World Bank statistics, the Belt and Road cooperation will reduce the cost of global trade by 1.1% to 2.2%, and increase the trade volume among BRI participating countries by 4.1%. All these are concrete actions supporting the UN agenda of international trade for development.
The Belt and Road cooperation has delivered better lives for peoples, and provided strong safeguards for sustainable development. The 82 economic and trade cooperation zones within the Belt and Road framework have created nearly 300,000 local jobs, including over 30,000 in the Thai-Chinese Rayong Industrial Zone. More than 300 local companies were involved in building the Mombasa-Nairobi Railway, and over 90% of the employees were local. The Karot Hydropower Project in Pakistan, when completed, will provide clean energy for five million people. These facts echo the people-centered vision of the 2030 Agenda that leaves no one behind.
The Belt and Road cooperation has helped improve global economic governance, and contributed to an enabling environment for sustainable development. Inspired by the Silk Road spirit of peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit, the Belt and Road cooperation seeks solutions to current global challenges by drawing wisdom from history, making an important contribution to global economic governance. Guided by the golden rule of extensive consultation, joint efforts and shared benefits, we will continue to uphold multilateralism, oppose protectionism, and strive for green, low-carbon and sustainable development. These endeavors help foster a conducive international environment for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
Last month, the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation was successfully held in Beijing. Promoting Green and Sustainable Development to Implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda was high on the agenda of the Leaders’ Roundtable, and the Joint Communique adopted by the leaders reaffirms a strong commitment to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. More than 20 items on the Forum’s List of Deliverables are directly related to UN institutions. The MOU on the Belt and Road Initiative for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, signed by State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi of China and Executive Secretary Alisjahbana of ESCAP on the margins of the Forum, starred as one of the key deliverables of the event.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Our world is undergoing major changes unseen in a century. Unilateralism and protectionism have seriously affected international cooperation. Uncertainties and destabilizing factors in the world economy have become more pronounced. All these poses growing challenges to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Facing various risks and challenges, the international community calls for closer international cooperation, more effective connectivity, and more open and inclusive world economy, as this will help secure more consensus, pool more strength and foster more cooperation for sustainable development.
To this end, we will better synergize the Belt and Road Initiative and the 2030 Agenda, so as to explore more sources of global economic growth, create more space for the development of developing countries, and make greater contribution to international development cooperation.
We will stay firmly committed to promoting high-quality Belt and Road cooperation. In pursuing development, we must bear in mind not only the present but also the future. We will follow the principle of extensive consultation, joint efforts and shared benefits, pursue open, green and clean cooperation, and work towards high standard, people-centered and sustainable development. We have launched the Green Investment Principles for Belt and Road Development, the Guiding Principles on Financing the Development of the Belt and Road, the Debt Sustainability Framework for Participating Countries of the Belt and Road Initiative, the Green Silk Road Initiative and the Clean Silk Road Initiative, and we will continue to ensure that the vision of sustainable development remains a vital part of Belt and Road cooperation.
We will join hands in building a global partnership on connectivity. Connectivity is the backbone of the Belt and Road cooperation. We are committed to building an all-round connectivity network centering on economic corridors, supplemented by major transportation routes like the China Railway Express to Europe, the New Land-Sea Corridor and information expressway, and reinforced by major railways, ports and pipeline projects. We will also improve soft connectivity in norms, standards and people-to-people exchanges. In this process, we will continue to advocate the spirit of win-win partnership, and work actively to explore synergy among different connectivity initiatives. All partners participate in, contribute to and benefit from the cooperation on equal basis. The so-called “certain country first” and a zero-sum game approach will never be an option, nor should one pursue its own development through economic bullying or at the expense of others.
We will further deepen practical cooperation in all areas. The Belt and Road cooperation is results-oriented and practical cooperation. We will continue to follow the government-guided, business-led and market-driven approach, develop more high-quality projects through bilateral, tripartite and multilateral cooperation, and support the sustainable development of participating countries with concrete deliverables. In this connection, we will draw on universally accepted international rules, standards and best practices, strive to build high-quality, sustainable, resilient, affordable, inclusive, accessible and broadly beneficial infrastructure, and ensure the economic, fiscal, financial, social and environmental sustainability of the projects. Meanwhile, we firmly oppose using state power to suppress international cooperation, intervene in business operations, and distort global markets.
We will continue to work with the UN development agencies to promote global sustainable development. The two sides need to encourage the G20 and other mechanisms to place development high on the agenda of global macroeconomic policy coordination, so that the implementation of the 2030 Agenda will be a main theme for international economic cooperation. We need to work together to strengthen global connectivity, so that more land-locked countries will become land-linked, and more developing countries will benefit from the global value chains. China and the UN agencies have recently signed several cooperation agreements in such areas as digital economy and space information corridor, and jointly initiated cooperation platforms such as the International Coalition for Green Development on the Belt and Road. On that basis, the two sides may jointly build the Innovation Silk Road and the Green Silk Road, which could help developing countries benefit from the opportunities of the new industrial revolution, and make green development as one of the key features of the Belt and Road cooperation.
The Belt and Road cooperation has come to a new starting point. China will continue to work with all partners to promote high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, and secure more opportunities, inject greater impetus, and build stronger confidence and hope for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.