On 28 December 2021, co-hosted by the National Development and Reform Commission of China (NDRC) and the ASEAN-China Centre (ACC), the ASEAN-China Cooperation Forum on Building High-Quality Belt and Road was held both online and offline in Beijing.
Mr. Ning Jizhe, Vice Chairman of NDRC, Mr. Fu Hua, Editor-in-Chief of Xinhua News Agency, Ambassador Wang Fukang of the Asian Affairs Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China, representatives of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), the Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE) and other Chinese government bodies took part in the offline forum. Senior government officials, heads of international organisations and diplomatic envoys of ASEAN and China attended and addressed the forum in the form of recorded video or video connection, including Mr. Sonexay Siphandone, Member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party and Deputy Prime Minister of the Lao PDR, Mr. Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, Indonesia’s Coordinator for Cooperation with China and Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investments of Indonesia, Mr. Haji Mohd Amin Liew Abdullah, Brunei’s Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance and Economy, Mr. Lim Jock Hoi, Secretary-General of ASEAN, Mrs. Khamphao Ernthavanh, Ambassador of the Lao PDR to China, Mr. Jose S. L. Sta. Romana, Ambassador of the Philippines to China, Mr. Deng Xijun, Ambassador of China to ASEAN, and Mr. Chen Dehai, Secretary-General of ACC. Nearly 500 people attended the forum online.
Vice Chairman Ning Jizhe pointed out that in the 8 years since the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) was put forward, practical progress and fruitful achievements in building the BRI have been made by joint efforts of all parties from ASEAN and China. At the Special Summit to Commemorate the 30th Anniversary of ASEAN-China Dialogue Relations last month, the two sides jointly announced the establishment of an ASEAN-China Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. Standing at a new starting point in history, China is ready to work with ASEAN Member States (AMS) to further unleash bilateral potential, enhance practical cooperation in all areas and write new chapters in ASEAN-China cooperation in building the BRI.
Secretary-General Lim Jock Hoi said although the COVID-19 pandemic has posed challenges to regional economic growth by undermining consumption and commerce, the ASEAN economy still shows remarkable strength and resilience, thanks to China’s support to the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework. ASEAN and China should fully synergize development strategies and continue to enhance cooperation in digital economy transformation, intelligent manufacturing, smart city, 5G and big data, to achieve regional connectivity and sustainable development in all areas.
Senior AMS government officials and diplomatic envoys highly appreciated the implementation of the BRI. Deputy Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone mentioned that the Laos-China Railway is a landmark project under the BRI and a milestone witnessing traditional friendship between the two countries in the new era. Coordinating Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan said that since the Indonesia-China relations were officially upgraded to a comprehensive strategic partnership in 2013, the two countries have made trade and investment flourish by encouraging investment, enhancing cooperation and promoting infrastructure construction. Minister Haji Mohd Amin Liew Abdullah said the BRI has provided important support for Brunei to realise its “National Vision 2035” and promote economic diversification. Ambassador Jose S. L. Sta. Romana said that with China’s support, significant progress has been made in major infrastructure projects of the Philippine “Build, Build, Build” plan, which has improved the livelihood of millions of local people and advanced infrastructure construction in the Philippines. Ambassador Khamphao Ernthavanh fully recognised the significance of the Laos-China Railway and hoped that China will play a more important role in building high-quality BRI. All the guests expressed hope for further cooperation on high-quality BRI development with China to benefit the people of both sides.
Secretary-General Chen Dehai said high-quality BRI cooperation has marked highlights in the development of ASEAN-China Strategic Partnership and will have broad prospects as relations between the two sides keep upgrading. ACC will continue to play a bridging role and join hands with related parties to make greater contribution to strengthening the ASEAN-China Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.
The forum is one of the important events to implement the spirit of the Special Summit to Commemorate the 30th Anniversary of ASEAN-China Dialogue Relations and further enhance ASEAN-China cooperation in building high-quality BRI. In-depth discussions were held at the forum, focusing on such areas as combating the COVID-19 pandemic, infrastructure, trade and investment, green development, and financial and people-to-people exchanges. Representatives of the MIIT, the MEE and the National Health Commission of China (NHC) delivered keynote speeches respectively on building a digital, green and healthy Silk Road. Speakers from the China Centre for International Economic Exchanges, the China State Railway Group Co., Ltd. and the China Development Bank shared experience and achievements in BRI international cooperation.
At the forum, Vice Chairman Ning Jizhe and Ambassador Khamphao Ernthavanh signed the Memorandum of Understanding on Establishing Coordination Mechanism for Belt and Road Cooperation on behalf of NDRC and the Ministry of Planning and Investment of the Lao PDR respectively.